MPs are to be banned from employing their children with taxpayers' money under new proposals outlined yesterday by Harriet Harman, the Leader of the Commons.
The move is an attempt to address concerns raised about the abuse of research jobs and expenses sparked by the Derek Conway affair. The Tory MP channelled tens of thousands of pounds into the bank accounts of his two sons for work they apparently did while they were at universities outside London. The proposals – under which spouses and partners of MPs would still be able to be employed – are outlined in a consultation paper which says such abuses have undermined faith in the House of Commons. "Recent instances of MPs employing their children have raised public concern and dented public confidence," the paper says.
Ms Harman's proposals could form part of a package of reforms implemented by the Prime Minister as he tries to fight back after a summer of Labour infighting. Ms Harman also said yesterday that the Government was consulting MPs about the need for receipts to be produced for all claims for reimbursement from the public purse, in an attempt to clean up the image of Parliament. Currently, MPs do not have to provide receipts for transactions of £250 and under.
"MPs...must have the resources to do their work effectively, and they must command the confidence, respect and trust of the public," Ms Harman said. "We need arrangements which achieve both these aims."
Currently at least 22 MPs employ their children; some MPs have given jobs to more than one of their offspring.