We are in the difficult situation in that neither of our MPs – Swire and Parish – have homes in the constituencies they represent. Swire has his second home in Mid-Devon and Parish has his farm in Somerset.
We must assume that Swire’s main home is in London, as he travels widely for his extra jobs and his wife works for him at the Houses of Parliament where he pays her a salary of £35,000 (Parish also employs his wife to work for him there as a “junior secretary” on around £20,000).
Can an MP truly understand the needs of his or her constituency if he or she does not live there?
Should living in the constituency be a requirement of the job (though Swire says it isn’t a job, making it sound in his case as more of a hobby)?
Should the home in the constituency be automatically assessed for their expenses as their main home? This would mean that MPs would be more likely to rent in London – which would not only give them a better appreciation of the cost of living in the city but might also make it more likely that they would spend more time in their constituencies.
Should they have to put in minimum hours IN their constituencies? NOT having half a dozen quick photo opportunities on Fridays when Parliament doesn’t sit and they get away early for their weekend breaks.
Should they have to attend a minimum number of surgeries per month/year to qualify for their salaries and jobs?
Should they have zero-hours contracts? No work for the constituency, no MPs pay?
Of course, if we had a truly local MP such as Claire Wright – born, raised and living in the constituency, steeped in the day to day concerns such as local hospitals, education and social care and with a daughter at school here – it wouldn’t be such a problem.