Mr. Derek Conway decided to add his “two-cents’ worth” to the debates in the Commons. He, of course, complained about having to return money for employing his sons, as well as comparing his case to that of others. Now, he claimed to have employed his sons, but the evidence did not show his sons did any work. So, he has absolutely no right to whine about it. However, he pointed out that Jacqui Smith’s husband was paid at the top end for being Ms. Smith’s aide when he in fact was a full-time house-husband. We know Richard Timney was paid quite well, but is he really just a house-husband? Do we have any proof that he did any work as an aide?
Which brings up the issue of whether employing family members is appropriate in politics? Mr. Conway claims that 250 MPs employ members of their family or lovers to work as staff. Is it fair that once we’ve elected MPs, we need to further support their families by allowing them to fill up positions in Whitehall? The politicians claim that issues of confidentiality are better served if they employ family members. Are we expected to believe that? Or is it just another route towards additional pay?
It is true that if you want to discuss confidential work with your partner, you can only do so if that partner was part of your team. If not, you are not allowed to talk about it. So, what is wrong with keeping work at work? No one expects an intelligence officer to discuss his/her work at home.
The MPs voted yesterday to allow the House of Commons to employ their staff. But does this mean any changes to the current staff? Does it mean that future nepotism will end, or will MPs still push for their family members to obtain positions? Will they get preferential treatment?
Before the Labour party celebrates any victories over yesterday’s votes, they should consider what impact, if any, the results will have. They are trying to appease the angry public row over MP expenses, but the issues are not resolved. These are temporary measures that may mean nothing in the end.