Monday, 9 June 2014

Keeping it in the Family.

According to he Mule Martin Shipton
A third of the National Assembly’s 60 AMs, including four Cabinet Ministers, the Opposition leader and the Government Chief Whip, have employed family members during the current Assembly term, we can reveal.Yet while members of the newly elected European Parliament have been barred from employing relatives, the Assembly is currently maintaining the line that imposing such a ban would be legally challengeable on the grounds that it would infringe the human rights of politicians’ relativesCabinet Ministers Alun Davies, John Griffiths, Edwina Hart and Carl Sargeant have all employed family members during the Assembly term which began in May 2011, as has Welsh Conservative Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies and Government Chief Whip Janice Gregory.Of the 20 AMs who have employed their own relatives, 10 are Labour, nine Conservative and one Plaid Cymru. One third of the 30-strong Labour group employ relatives, while only five of 14-strong Tory group do not.
Their may be in some cases  be a reasonable reason why an AM or MP may employ a relative but it is a practise that is open to abuse as it seemed to be  in the case of former  Tory MP Derek Conway 

Conway employed his son Freddie as a part-time researcher, while Freddie was on a full-time degree course at the University of Newcastle. Conway paid his son the part-time equivalent of a £25,970 salary, amounting to a sum in excess of £40,000 over three years, including pension contributions.Conway was reported to the Committee on Standards and Privileges by former Metropolitan Police Inspector Michael Barnbrook, who had stood against him in the 2005 General Election as a UKIP candidate. After an investigation, in January 2008 the Committee found there was "no record" of what work Freddie had done, and said the £1,000-plus a month he was paid was too high.The ruling did not involve the elder son, Henry Conway, as he was not the subject of the original complaint, but John Lyon, who had recently taken on the post o Parliamentary commissioner for standards, received complaints about similar payments to Henry while he was also a student and doing the "job" which Freddie took over. Lyon decided a complaint from Duncan Borrowman merited investigation. On 29 January 2009, almost a year after the previous report, a further report was published by the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee into the employment of Mr Conway's elder son Henry. There was some evidence of Henry working for his salary, but his father was ordered to pay back £3,758 which had been overpaid and to write a letter of apology to the chairman of the committee. They recommended that the House order him to repay a sum of £13,000 and that he be suspended for 10 sitting days. However, in a subsequent interview with the Mail on Sunday, Derek Conway disputed the allegation that Freddie Conway had rarely travelled from Newcastle to Westminster, instead stating that Freddie "would go up and down like a fiddler's elbow". In light of the evidence, Conservative party leader David Cameron decided to withdraw the Conservative Party Whip, rendering Conway free of any Parliamentary Conservative constraints, effectively leaving him as an independent MP.

In the Assembly it has been suggested the defection of Five years ago the issue led to the defection of South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar from Plaid Cymru to the Conservatives as possibly largely dure to Plaid telling him he couldn't employ his daughter in the Assembly.
Today, as a Tory AM, Mr Asghar employs both his daughter and his wife as job-sharing office manager

If people employ relatives and they actually do the work they may not be a problem and it might be even cheaper than paying someone full time  but the suspicion is that AMs and is open to abuse. and MPs can supplement their family income at the Tax payers expense for non existent work by a relative..

May be as some other workers have to they can provide some form of Log that can be seen to give some indication of just what they are doing and whether they are working for the benefit of the AM or MP constituents or the family coffers.

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