Do we need career politicians?
It's often said there are too many career politicians in Parliament. But is the criticism justified?
Before the summer recess, shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett launched a drive to recruit more working-class candidates. Another Labour MP, Denis MacShane, has advocated reserving 10% of parliamentary seats for candidates from minimum-wage jobs.
Figures from the House of Commons library show the number of some professions, like political organisers, steadily rising, and others, like manual workers, falling.
The BBC's Esther Webber speaks to some outsiders - and some insiders - about whether you need a "proper job" before you think about running for election.
David Morris became the Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale in 2010. Previously he had worked as a hairdresser and a musician.
"I came from a military background and was expected to join the armed forces but my poor eyesight meant I wasn't eligible.
"My career began sort of by accident: my mother had a hairdresser friend who offered me an apprenticeship and I just loved it.
"I didn't realise that 20 years later I'd still be cutting hair and I'd have my own chain of salons.
"It was my salon that led me to politics. You've heard of the metric martyrs? Well, I was the binbag martyr.
"I was taken to court because I refused to pay what I felt was a ridiculous business rate for rubbish collection after the service was made private in 1991.
"My case was thrown out of court and the local Conservative Party had heard my arguments and said, 'hey, you're pretty good at this!'
"In some ways, hairdressing and politics are not too dissimilar.
"Both require you to be a good listener, to pay attention to detail, and to deal with people from all walks of life.
"I think there is what you might call the 'common sense factor' missing from politicians who've never had another job, but that's not to say they shouldn't be there. You need a cross-section of society, and that includes people like my friend Jacob Rees-Mogg who came from a privileged background and is a brilliant MP, as well as people like myself who left school at 15. I found the Conservative party very welcoming and I'd say to any young person considering getting involved: don't be put off by stereotypes."
Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and a shadow innovation minister.
"I used to be an electrical engineer, specialising in telecommunications. I've worked in the UK, France, Germany and Nigeria, designing and building hardware and software for broadband and wireless networks.
"I was interested in science at school and attended a school where teachers were very supportive of girls getting involved in science, before going on to study electrical engineering at university.
"At the same time, I had a longstanding interest in politics. I joined Labour at 16 and was involved as a volunteer. But I was never very sure about going forward myself until my local MP stood down I said to myself 'now or never'.
"I believe a representative democracy should be representative of the country - drawing from narrow sectors like politics and law is more likely to create group-think and is likely to mean a shortage of new ideas.
"It's especially unfortunate that the scientific and engineering industries are underrepresented in Parliament as they are so important to our economic future.
"No one should assume politics is not for them - engineering and politics could be seen as similar since they're both about making practical improvements to people's lives.
"Denis Macshane's proposal of a minimum wage list is interesting and it's worked in other contexts, like the all-women shortlists. What's essential is that we make every effort to have as diverse a list of potential candidates as possible."
Roger Williams the Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnor, has been a farmer for 43 years.
"After I studied natural sciences at university, I decided to become a farmer and started farming beef, sheep and cereals.
"I still work on my farm now - it's a good escape from Westminster. I also took part in various forms of community work, for the local council, farmers' unions and Brecon Beacons National Park, so I had been involved in politics as a sideline for a long time and had more or less given up on the idea that I would be an MP by the time I got elected in 2001.
"I believe my background in farming does help me understand local people's concerns, especially since the constituency I represent is one of the few where a great many people still work off the land.
"I know what they are talking about when they come to my office with problems because, in some cases, I've been there.
"But I wouldn't necessarily say there are too many career politicians. You need to judge each MP on their own merits and we all have our own strengths.
"That said, I would like to see all the main parties become a bit more ambitious about their recruiting techniques. It's a shame there aren't as many manual workers in Parliament as there once were.
"Do I miss working on the farm full-time? As you get older farming presents more and more of a physical challenges, so it's nice to be able to pick and choose a bit more the jobs I do around the farm, even if I don't get to pick and choose my jobs around Westminster."
The parliamentary researcher
Pamela Nash is the Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts. She's currently the youngest member of the House of Commons and before entering Parliament she worked as a researcher for her predecessor, former home secretary Lord Reid.
"It's often said that people who worked in politics before becoming MPs haven't had 'proper job' but they've forgotten we work extremely hard.
"I worked through sixth form and university, doing ironing, bar work, waitressing in cafes and at the local Boots factory.
BREAKDOWN OF MPs' CVs
- 25% of MPs are drawn from business or finance backgrounds
- 14.5% of MPs were political organisers before they entered Parliament
- 13.8% used to be barristers or solicitors
- 4% of MPs used to be manual workers
Source: House of Commons Library
"After I graduated, I volunteered for my local MP and paid my own way through an internship by working in a shop before I was eventually was taken on full-time by John Reid.
"I'd always been interested in international politics but then I started looking at what was happening locally in my area and felt strongly it was something I wanted to get involved in. I don't think having a political background is necessarily a bad thing.
"Through working for an MP, I learned about the incredibly hard work involved and gained practical experience of constituency work - which is still a part of job I love the most.
"It affects people's lives and you also get the chance to make a difference on bigger scale, which is what politics is all about.
"I looked on my unpaid work as an apprenticeship, and I'd encourage other young people to do the same.
"It's undoubtedly very difficult in the current economic situation but it is possible - and it's important to remember not all politics is about Westminster, party headquarters or large NGOs. You can take on an internship part-time, for example, or volunteer locally."
Father in the House
Conservative MP Ben Gummer represents Ipswich and is the son of former minister Lord Deben - better known as John Gummer.
"Before I became an MP I ran a small company and worked as a consultant. This has influenced my work as an MP enormously since I have experience of running a small business and the difficulties involved in that, which are especially acute at the moment.
"Clearly when I stood in my constituency people knew my father had been a minister - but that wasn't an obstacle. The people I met gave me my own space and did not define me by who my father was.
"Once I had proved myself through my record and my love for Ipswich, they judged me on my own merits.
"Neither was having a politician as a father a particular advantage. It simply meant I went into politics with my eyes open and was under no illusions about what it would be like.
"We shouldn't assume that people with prior experience of Westminster are necessarily a bad thing. Some of the hardest-working people in Parliament have dedicated their lives to their parties.
"But there are certain professions that are overrepresented in Parliament - lawyers, for example - whereas public sector workers like teachers and nurses are underrepresented.
"No-one should be prevented from going into politics for financial reasons, but that is unfortunately the case. There's no quick fix.
"All parties need to make sure they press on with outreach work, pounding the streets and talking to people."