Philip Hammond MP: [it’s] an abuse of tax-payers funding to pay for something that is available for nothing
Philip Hammond, Tory MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, responded to concerns made by a member of the public that he was not complying with National Minimum Wage Laws in his recruitment of unpaid interns by saying:
“I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer funding to pay for something that is available for nothing and which other Members are obtaining for nothing. I therefore have no intention of changing my present arrangements.”
A damning response to an issue of serious concern. With thousands upon thousands of young people unemployed why don’t our public servants comply with the rules they themselves made law. Although Mr Hammond did not vote to introduce the National Minimum Wage he is compelled to obey it. It is not a case of one rule for MPs, another for the rest of society. The term ‘intern’ does not exempt someone from National Minimum Wage.
The position advertised described primary duties as “research and correspondence, constituency casework and general office administration” and lasted for 6 months.
National Minimum Wage Law states that if you work set hours, doing set tasks that other members of staff rely on and expect you to do then you should be paid basic minimum wage. Except if you are a full time student. As the role advertises for a “recent graduate” then this exception need not apply.
When asked, Mr Hammond and his office were not prepared to check the regulations governing National Minimum Wage Laws via the Minimum Wage Helpline (for any MPs reading… 0845 6000 678).
Some MPs, when questioned on this issue, talk of the important contribution interns make to their office and the great learning experiences they get in Westminster. Mr Hammond mentions neither of these things. He wants a free office administrator to cut costs. “Something for nothing” to paraphrase his terse email. This attitude is systematic of a closed and elitist mentality within Westminster. Concern for young people or even an appreciation of the work they do (18,000 hours of unpaid work in Westminster each week by parliamentary interns) doesn’t even come into it.