Clegg steps into Caan nepotism row
Parents should be free to help their children find work, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg indicated as a nepotism row overshadowed the launch of a new Government initiative to open up access to jobs.
Mr Clegg's new social mobility tsar James Caan faced accusations of hypocrisy for employing his two daughters despite arguing that parents should not give children a helping hand but first allow them to attempt to carve out their own careers.
The Deputy Prime Minister said it was not for politicians to tell mothers and fathers what to do but he added that people should not be "sanctimonious" and the Government was not attempting to deny "parental instinct".
Dragon's Den judge Mr Caan insisted his daughters Jemma and Hanah were employed through a "normal process" of recruitment and were qualified for the jobs they were given.
The Deputy Prime Minister, whose financier father helped set up an internship for him at a Finnish bank at the start of his career, said it was natural for parents to want to help their children. But he insisted the Government was taking action to support youngsters who do not have the same opportunities.
Mr Clegg said: "I am a parent, I want to do the best for my child, every parent does. I don't want us to deny parental instinct.
"You shouldn't be sanctimonious about this. All I'm saying is governments, businesses, those who can open doors to youngsters who don't have the luck and good fortune of having supportive parents and families, I think should do so. Not only because it's good for youngsters but it's good for them as well - it's good for governments, good for business, it makes sense all round."
Mr Caan appeared alongside the Deputy Prime Minister to promote the Opening Doors campaign. More than 150 major organisations in the UK have committed to offering fair and open access to their jobs and professions for young people, regardless of background.
He said his elder daughter Jemma worked for four years with other firms before going to work for one of his organisations but he acknowledged that Hanah did a series of internships in his organisations before being given a job.
He rejected suggestions that he was the wrong person to be the Government's social mobility tsar. "I have been doing recruitment for 30 years and have built up a number of substantial organisations - we employ nearly 800 people. I do have experience, I do know what I am talking about," he said.