One of the rules MPs managed to block when it was proposed by Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life was the ban on employing family as staff members. Nepotism being the oldest and most basic form of petty corruption.
Staff Members with same surname as employer MPs:
MPs will protest that they pay their spouse / son / daughter / sibling a pittance and they work extra long hours and suchlike. The truth is they deny someone more competent the chance of a job won in open competition. Many MPs really use the staff allowance as a subsidy to family members. Who can forget Derek Conway’s lavish family staffing arrangements, with payments to offspring at university? Peter Hain’s employment of his octogenarian mother despite having a staff of civil servants, special advisers, private secretaries, secretaries and case workers. Bob Spink famously employed his former wife, his lover and her daughter.
Many MPs now employ their wives / partners in their maiden names to disguise the dodge. For example Elaina Cohen is Khalid Mahmood’s partner – he dumped his wife for her – but contrary to the rules of the House he doesn’t declare the relationship. No doubt some of the above will have innocent explanations for why – against best private sector practise – they issue staff passes to family members. They shouldn’t do it, it is nepotism.
*The ‘it’ being our taxes. Research thanks to co-conspirator, James Spencer.
Parliament has finally got round to publishing the list of pass-holders and their various sponsors. Tory Mark Garnier has given one to the nice lady who organises his dining society. For his life Guido can not work out why Labour’s Anne McGuire would need to give unfettered access to a US Embassy ‘Political Analyst’. Sounds very spooky…
Matthew Ball is a lobbyist, and a not bad one at that. He’s the director of the Westminster Bridge Partnership. They lobby on behalf of the Co-Operative group mainly. How nice then of Andy Love, a Co-Op MP, to give him a pass. All day Ball can wander around Parliament pressing flesh on behalf of his clients, keeping it all in the Co-Op family.
Guido is bemused at how, despite clear guidelines on lobbyists being in Parliament, the rules can be broken so blatantly. How about Rosemary Hadow who works for the Lighting Industry Federation, representing a niche but lucrative industry. Conveniently she does a bit of work for the All-Party Parliamentary Lighting Group and hey presto she can have a pass from Tony Baldry. Perfect for spreading the word about the fight against compulsory maximum wattages on light bulbs and other campaigns over drinks on the Terrace eh?
And what about those forgotten lobbyists, pushing for the special interests of a minority. Well seventeen Labour MPs have given a parliamentary pass to trade union political officers, with no fewer than five for Unite. The list is long – could co-conspirators help crowd source the cross referencing of lobbyists and passholders. Have a look through the list yourself and email Guido with any names you might recognise or that stick out…
6lbs 1oz and an early caesarean… Many congratulations.
UPDATE: Official statement comes through:
“The Prime Minister and Mrs Cameron are delighted to announce the birth of their fourth child, a baby girl. Both the baby – who was born weighing 6lbs 1oz – and Mrs Cameron are doing very well. The PM and Mrs Cameron would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the hospital for their help and kindness.”
Looks like Nick might be forwarding those emails to Dave’s Blackberry for a little longer…
David Cameron allegedly went home on the evening of May 10th and told his wife that he wouldn’t be Prime Minister. 24 hours later he was in Downing Street. Publicly the line was that it looked like things were going the other way, but behind the scenes things were rather different. Guido has come across a document drafted in the Cabinet Office on the Sunday afternoon that showed just how far the coalition negotiations had reached and crucially what the civil service were expecting.
By Sunday it was clear to Scott McPherson of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat who the two parties in government were going to be. Labour is not mentioned once in the entire document. He pinged this document around to the key players, including the Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell’s office. The whole document shows the great hand that the civil servants had in guiding the structure of the coalition agreement, with a big tip of the cap to New Zealand. Funny that three days before the deal was done the mandarins already knew the result…
Millionairess Polly Toynbee is on the rampage against public service cuts again this morning:
“Many will see their good faith rewarded with a kick in the teeth. The bullying rudeness and sheer nastiness of Eric Pickles, the chill callousness of Francis Maude and the evident relish with which most ministers flourish carving knives at public services advertise their contempt.”
Whilst managing to get a plug of her book into her column, strangely Polly didn’t feel it necessary to declare any conflict of interests in her special pleading. Given the obvious financial pain Toynbee will be feeling when her husband’s six-figure “loyal public service” non-job at the Audit Commission is scrapped, her readers really should be told about the undue influence this is clearly having on her writing. In the U.S. there would be serious ethical concerns raised about failing to declare such a direct interest. Just because you have three houses to support is no excuse for a drop in journalistic standards…
Seems odd that young Christopher Myers (25) should go from driving William Hague (49) around his constituency during elections, where according to the Mirror, “although he never worked at Tory HQ in London… they became close during campaigns”, to become his third Special Adviser at the Foreign Office.
According to Peter McKay the FCO says the Foreign Secretary “needs another adviser because he has additional responsibilities, having bagged the Peter Mandelson title of First Secretary of State. Perhaps so, but Mandelson didn’t hire young friends as special advisers, so far as I know.” Quite.