MPs urged to own up on familiy employees

MPs have once again been asked by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee (SPC) to register details of family members they employ as assistants and researchers at public expense.

Graham Dines

MPs have once again been asked by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee (SPC) to register details of family members they employ as assistants and researchers at public expense.

It will be voluntary, until mandatory registration comes in on August 1 when they will have to declare relatives who are paid more than 1% of an MP's salary, which is currently £618 a year.

Before the August deadlines, the House of Commons Members Estimate Committee (MEC) will report the findings of its own inquiry into MPs' pay and allowances.

The SPC said that putting off compulsory registration to August would allow their proposals to be reviewed in the light of the MEC's recommendations. But it said that the scheme should be opened on April 1 to allow MPs to register family members voluntarily if they wish.

So far 29 MPs have responded to consultation on the SPC's initial proposals, including two who said that there was no reason why family members should be treated any differently from other staff and one who said that the privacy of unelected people should be protected.

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The chair of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, Christopher Kelly, told the SPC: “The current ability of Members of Parliament to use public money to employ members of their own family is an unusual arrangement which might not be allowed elsewhere.”

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