Where do you draw the line?

Almost all MPs hire interns. Hundreds, probably thousands, go through Parliament each year. This is a fact we have highlighted on these pages many times over the past year.

We have heard from interns feeling exploited and abused and those who had great experiences and managed to progress from being an intern to a researcher or a caseworker.

We don’t often highlight particular adverts here… but occasionally… just occasionally… something stands out as beyond the pale.

Let me introduce you to David Lidington MP. He is looking for an intern.

The successful candidate will require excellent interpersonal and customer service skills, a basic knowledge of welfare legislation, exceptional organisational skills, a good ability with Word/Outlook, computer literate, and a methodical approach to record keeping.

- A basic knowledge of welfare legislation? Who has that? But anyway, pretty standard so far.

Preference will be given to those candidates with previous experience working in Parliament and/or those currently with a Parliamentary pass.

- Hold on a minute David! This unpaid internship is being advertised to… current interns?! Where is the career progression! MPs claim they are offering opportunities to unpaid interns, but where do you go from here?! Another internship? People have to get paid at some point.

Applications will be considered from those already working in a similar part time role within Parliament.

- Ahh the perpetual intern!

The role is based in David’s Westminster office for 4 days a week from January, and will include a number of tasks including:

– Hmm you could get into a little difficulty with NMW wage legislation here. Set tasks are what constitutes a worker!

Provide the full range of secretarial and administrative support

- Photocopying?

To provide information, advice and support for individuals on a range of financial, health, housing and other social issues

Liaising with government agencies, the voluntary sector and others to resolve problems

- You mean a caseworker, right? That’s a job is it not?

To correspond with constituents on a range of issues

Keeping records of client contact

Other work as directed by his/her line manager.

- You have a line manager? Are they paid?

Crucially, the candidate will be willing to be a key member of a small team and able to work well and independently to strict deadlines.

- “work as directed by his/her line manager”, “a key member of a small team”, “strict deadlines” – how many other ways can he actually describe the circumstances that cover a worker?!

David Lidington is an equal opportunities employer and the intern will be appointed on merit only.

- Or if they can afford to live in London without pay for months on end!

We look at a lot of MPs adverts for unpaid interns… but to describe a position in this way is incredibly rare! Not even one mention of the word “opportunity”.

David Lidington MP, Interns Anonymous calls on you to advertise this position properly with the salary it deserves!

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3 Responses to “Where do you draw the line?”


  1. 1 Barry 12/23/2009 at 8:14 pm

    Yet another good spot from InternsAnonymous. How can David BidIntern MP get away with this?

  2. 2 Joanna 01/07/2010 at 5:49 pm

    Brilliant! More of the same please – name ‘em and shame ‘em, I say. Has someone sent him the link to this article? It would be very interesting to hear his response (which his existing intern would probably be ordered to draft… sigh)


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Interns Anonymous

We want this website to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment. Most importantly, we want this site to be a place where YOU can tell us your story.

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