The pay of MPs' family members is on average £5,600 higher than other staff, raising obvious questions about nepotism.
One in five MPs continue to employ a family member despite the practice being banned for the most recent intake of members.
122 MPs out of 589 currently employ a relative, according to the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Of these, the vast majority employ their wife, husband or partner.
The practice of employing a relative was banned for MPs who were elected this year, but MPs with existing family members on their staff were allowed to keep them on — and allowed to keep them on indefinitely.
The new rules were introduced by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) earlier this year because, the watchdog said, the practice is out of step with modern employment practises; which obviously raises questions as to why some MPs are still allowed to do it.
The reason to ban the practice is obvious — it leaves the door open to nepotism — and the evidence supports this.
A report by IPSA earlier this year showed that the pay of MPs’ family members is on average £5,600 higher than that of other staff and at the time of the last general election, the average salary of a ‘connected party’ was £31,350 a year.
“The ban on new MPs employing family members reflects the public’s concerns about nepotism and the potential abuse of public money”
Said Alexandra Runswick, the director of Unlock Democracy, a group that campaigns for voting reform.
“While it is reasonable the current employees have some protection, it is important that we move to a situation where the rules apply equally to all MPs”, Runswick added.
It’s clear that this archaic and nepotistic practice must end and MPs should hurry up setting a date for it.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.