Conservative Diary

« Cameron promises a green consumer revolution | Main | Tory lead steady at 12% in ComRes/ Independent on Sunday poll »

A ban on MPs employing family members will produce new wave of retirements

Last Sunday Jonathan produced a list of Tory MPs retiring at the next election. Because of David Wilshire's resignation that list is already out-of-date.

More retirements are still expected. "At least a dozen, perhaps twenty" was the verdict of one Tory whip talking to ConHome earlier this week.

Sir Thomas Legg's report has been difficult for MPs - and if, after due process, Sir Thomas Legg requires some MPs to make very large repayments a number of MPs will retire - but Sir Christopher Kelly's review into the future expenses system is likely to be even more significant if this morning's Times is correct.

MPs had expected Kelly to ban new MPs from employing relatives but The Times suggests that existing MPs will have to stop too:

"A senior Commons official said that Sir Christopher believed that would create a “two-tier House of Commons” in which older MPs would enjoy privileges that the “Class of 2010” did not. Sir Christopher is said to believe that severe measures are needed to restore public confidence in Parliament. Having been asked by Gordon Brown to overhaul the system, the former civil servant is understood to have sat in on focus groups to experience the depth of public anger. The sessions are said to have strengthened his resolve."

MPs may also have to sell existing second homes and rent in future.

Also in The Times, Eve Burt, wife of Tory MP Alistair Burt, explains why she could continue to be employed as her husband's secretary.  She makes a good argument.  Greg Hands MP made the case for banning employment of relatives on CentreRight last year but he also argued for honouring existing contracts:

"Why are family members allowed to be employed at all? Many other legislatures ban the practice, e.g. the German Bundestag. I don't believe it to be the practice anywhere in our local government, and I think most Conservative MPs would be outraged if, for example, civil servants or bosses of quangos were to employ their family members. Are we really saying that of the UK's 40 million or so labour pool, the person best qualified for the job just happened to be one of the half-dozen or so individuals most closely related to the employer, in this case a Member of Parliament? Also, should MPs benefit from capital gains (or suffer capital losses, for that matter) on residential properties funded by the taxpayer? ...I should add that it would be impractical, unfair and possibly illegal to make this apply to existing members of staff who are MPs' relatives. These should be 'grandfathered' (no pun intended), but in the future - say from the next General Election - no new family members should be allowed on MPs' payrolls."

Tim Montgomerie


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.