By Ian Silvera
A Liberal Democrat MP, a week after Nick Clegg’s vow to address Britain’s lack of social mobility, has advertised for a ‘volunteer’ intern, I can reveal today.
The first advertisement to go up, for a research intern, was posted on the website W4MP on 31 May.
The advertisement states that the internship is for a minimum of three months and up to 12 months full-time, although the member of the Transport Select Committee would welcome applications from those unable to work full-time.
In a statement, Mr Leech said the purpose of the interns were to help his constituents and people in need of help.
The 41-year-old was keen to stress that he has a strong reputation for helping others which leads to a high volume of correspondence – this workload, he claims, is typically far higher than most MPs.
The Brunel University graduate added that he started his political career volunteering his time as an intern for Manchester Liberal Democrats to get his ‘foot on the ladder’ and that his previous interns have had an exciting and joyful experience.
After questioning Mr Leech if the interns would be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW), he said that he ‘offers financial support by arrangement granted on the merits of the applicant’.
Unpaid interns and social mobility
Campaigners have stated that unpaid internships contribute to Britain’s lack of social mobility.
Campaign group Intern Aware, for example, continue to protest against companies, organisations and MPs who hire unpaid interns.
The group believes that access to internships is unequal and unfair.
By refusing to pay interns a wage, the group believes many people are being excluded from accessing the opportunities which would allow them to get the jobs they deserve.