Last week Teresa supported the launch of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements Scheme, which offers 12 people the opportunity to complete a paid internship in Parliament.
Teresa is critical of the use of unpaid internships in Parliament, which in practice means that many people work for no pay rather than genuinely volunteer. As well as being against the law, this means that only wealthy or London-based people can gain access to working in Parliament. The Speaker’s paid scheme hopes to attract people from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds, in a bid to make Parliament more inclusive and open.
Teresa spoke at a packed event in Parliament on the day of the launch held by National Union of Students, University of London Union, Unite, Intern Aware, Internocracy, Interns Anonymous and the Intergenerational Foundation.
“I have seen how the unpaid internship system in Westminster blocks access to people from ordinary backgrounds. There will be many bright, politically-engaged young people in Erith and Thamesmead who would love to work in Parliament but aren’t able to because they can’t afford to work for free for months on end.
“I hope the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements scheme will help open up internships in Parliament to people from places like Erith and Thamesmead. We need to make politics more representative of our society and not just something for the elite.
“Genuine volunteering and work experience placements are good ways to get an insight into how a place works – but they should not have set hours, job descriptions or last for months, as many internships do.
“The Government needs to do more to crack down on the exploitation of interns, and that includes what goes on in Parliament. We need proper enforcement of the National Minimum Wage law to make sure that young people are not being taken advantage of in a tough job market.
“I encourage anyone in Erith and Thamesmead who is passionate about politics to apply to the Speaker’s scheme by visiting the Social Mobility Foundation’s website at www.socialmobility.org.uk.”