The recent appearance of former health secretary Matt Hancock on the ITV reality show, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, caused some controversy.

What was the Member of Parliament for West Suffolk doing heading off to spend three weeks in the jungle, when he should have been in Parliament serving his constituents?

A very fair question. Other MPs, though, have taken on reality TV challenges, such as Nadine Dorries (I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here), Penny Mourdant (Splash) and George Galloway (Celebrity Big Brother).

There has been a strange custom going back centuries that MPs are allowed to have more than one job. The part-time MP role, whilst doing something else, like practicing the law.

The rather weak defence is sometimes put up that they get to see other sides of life. Hardly necessary, given that if the MPs are doing their jobs correctly, they will be getting a very full view of life from dealing with their constituents’ problems.

They need the money? Hardly. MPs have an annual salary of £84,000, well above what the vast majority of people earn. And, they can put so many of their daily activities down to expenses, that much of that salary can be banked.

No, it all seems to go back to this strange tradition of amateur politicians, running back centuries.

There is the job, then there is politics. The politics is not considered in itself enough to fill the whole day. A sort of amateur/professional thing.

There really is little excuse for amateur MPs having roles beyond those for which they are elected – the job demands full-time commitment. Maybe it didn’t in the 18th century but it certainly does today.

So let’s hope that in future our elected representatives keep their focus on the day job (their Parliamentary role) and not decide in the middle of a Parliamentary session to depart to the jungle for a few weeks and generous remuneration.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See