Fiona Mactaggart MP has backed a new campaign calling on politicians to do the right thing and pay their interns.
This week Fiona attended the Parliamentary launch of Let’s Get Our House In Order, a cross-party campaign spearheaded by Salford and Eccles MP Hazel Blears.
Fiona signed a pledge promising to pay any interns she takes on to ensure that young people from poorer backgrounds are not denied access to valuable opportunities. MPs from across the political spectrum joined Ms Blears in urging fellow politicians to stop exploiting young people by offering them long-term unpaid internships.
Fiona said “If we set an example and paid their interns MPs would be in a stronger position to call on businesses and other organisations to follow their lead. Anyone who works set hours and has set responsibilities is entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
“Many of today’s politicians began their career with a long-term unpaid internship with an MP before going on to get a permanent job in their office. But the problem is that these unpaid internships are largely restricted to young people from better off backgrounds who can afford to live and work for free.
“Many of these opportunities are in London, where the cost of living is particular high. I believe it is better for our democracy if we have politicians from a mix of different backgrounds but unpaid internships make that much harder to achieve.”
Ms Blears, who has also called for advertising of long-term unpaid internships to be banned, said: “It is difficult for politicians to tell companies in industries like fashion and the media to stop exploiting people in this way when they are still using unpaid interns themselves.
Ben Lyons from Intern Aware, the campaign for fair internships, said: “We are really pleased to see Fiona supporting Hazel Blears’ Let’s Get Our House in Order campaign.
The launch of Let's Get Our House In Order followed a Westminster Hall debate on the issue that Fiona contributed to, which was secured by Ms Blears. Fiona has a paid intern in her office in Westminster and is at present advertising for an apprentice caseworker to help her constituents in Slough