Following on from Guido yesterday, this morning the Mail and the Mirror go after the MPs who top up their household income by employing their wives and daughters, creaming off the taxpayer. A quarter of MPs give a job to their family, the taxpayer forks out £4 million-a-year to pay the wages of family members. The problem is not so much that relatives of MPs have these jobs, rather the often non-existent selection process. How did they get the job? What was the selection process? How can they ever be sacked?
One of the most common complaints Guido receives from parliamentary researchers is that in some cases family employees simply don’t do any work for their money. They often aren’t even aware the wife is employed at all…
Back in 2009 after the expenses scandal Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life report into MPs’ Expenses and Allowances looked into this in detail. They found that MPs paid family members on average nearly £2,000 more than non-family members.
The Committee determined
- Such arrangements are at odds with good employment practice in the private and public sector.
- There would be line-management issues between two people who had a personal relationship and “it is difficult to see how such an approach could ever operate satisfactorily in practice, given the personal relationships involved.”
- Employing family members is fundamentally unmeritocratic, restricting access for others to political experience and jobs.
- The employment of family members has been banned in a number of other legislatures.
- MPs’ offices are not small family businesses. They are supported by public funds.
For those reasons the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended that
MPs should no longer be able to appoint members of their own families to their staff and pay them with public funds. Those currently employing family members should be able to continue to do so for the life of one further Parliament or five years, whichever is the longer.
MPs quietly scuppered the family gravy train being derailed…