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Contributions to the debate on Derek Conway MP's misconduct

Youngsirgeorge Sir George Young MP (Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges): "At the heart of this case was whether Freddie Conway was appropriately remunerated for the tasks that he was required to perform, and whether the work was actually carried out. The commissioner concluded that Freddie’s rate of pay was unjustifiably high given his qualifications and experience, and that, on the balance of probabilities, he did not need consistently to work his full contracted hours to complete his work. The commissioner also found that bonus payments had been made in excess of the permitted levels. My Committee endorsed those conclusions... Given some of the press comment, however, I should stress that neither the commissioner nor the Committee asserts that Freddie Conway did no work for his father.  A difficulty for the commissioner and my Committee in this case has been the virtually complete absence of evidence of the work that Freddie Conway actually performed, not least when he was at university in Newcastle. The Committee made it clear that it was not for the hon. Gentleman to establish his innocence, but frankly we were astonished that after three years and a substantial amount of expenditure, there was no independent evidence of Freddie’s output—nor, apparently, could anyone outside the family be found who had seen him working."

Frank Field MP: "I should like to support the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges in respect of the motion and to draw some general points from his report, as he did. I do so knowing that while we may individually be held in very high esteem by our constituents, collectively that is not so; it is difficult to think how much lower our collective reputation might sink among voters generally... The right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young) said that other events had come into play and that it was difficult to think of a more severe punishment, but the Committee has been more severe on other Members in other reports, and those Members go around this place as happy as Larry. One of the lessons that I hope that the Committee will think about, not as regards specific cases but generally as regards its policy, is whether our series of punishments is adequate. If this example of what I would see as embezzlement had occurred on this scale in, say, the Refreshment Department, we would expect the person involved to leave the employment of this establishment on the day it was discovered. I believe that we should treat ourselves in a similar manner to how other people employed by this House would be treated."

Peter Bottomley MP: "The view of some outside that we should not employ members of our families or household is wrong. When I first stood for election in 1974, it was against a Labour Member of Parliament who was over 60 and had moved in with his competent secretary as her spouse. The idea that she would have to find some other Member of Parliament for whom to work because they had got together and lived in the same place is absurd."

Full Hansard record.

Related link: Derek Conway apologises to House after using allowances to pay his son for work that was "invisible"


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