News today of another MP ‘apologising’ for something which many other people would be staring at the inside of a police interview room.
Tory MP Derek Conway "employed" his son as a researcher whilst he was a student at university. MPs are fully entitled to employ their spouses or other family members. I’m surprised that this is still the case given the depths of the murky waters many MPs have found themselves in when it comes to money and the lengths which people like Tony Blair have gone to to publicly decry ‘sleaze’. Privately their ethics appear to be somewhat different. I’m sure I’m not the only voter who was completely amazed by the recent revelations that Peter Hain, a man at the very forefront of government, still can’t follow the rules in relation to how they accept cash to fund their exploits, despite the very high profile publicity given to the same subject since his party came into power.
Conway’s son was employed as his father’s researcher at a sum of over £1000 a month, not bad for a 19-year-old student on a full-time degree course. He also received ‘bonuses’ totalling £10,000 & is said to have been paid in the region of £45,000 over three years, but the Standards and Privileges Committee found "no record" of what work he had done nor the hours he’d worked and said the £1,000-plus a month he was paid was too high. There is no evidence that the MP’s son actually carried out any work for his father & that he was overpaid for the position he was given. The MP has been told to repay £13,000 and faces a 10-day suspension from the House.
The committee’s assessment all but acuse the MP of criminal activity saying this arrangement was "at the least an improper use of parliamentary allowances" and "at worst, a serious diversion of public funds".
I expect that Mr Conway is currently counting his lucky stars rather than waiting for the early knock on the door from PC Bloggs of the Met Fraud Squad. He’s apologised to the House & accepted the committee’s assessment & recommendations.
That’s all right then.