151 MPs set to escape crackdown on employing family members
Defence secretary Michael Fallon employs his wife Wendy as a senior caseworker.
New MPs will not be allowed to hire members of their family after the next election, under new guidelines announced today by Ipsa.
“We believe that the employment of ‘connected parties’ is out of step with modern employment practice, which requires fair and open recruitment to encourage diversity in the workplace,” said the parliamentary watchdog’s chair Ruth Evans.
The new rules will come into force at the next election, expected to take place in 2020 - but the 151 MPs who currently employ "connected parties" will be able to continue to do so.
The plan has not gone down very well with Conservative MP Roger Gale who employs his wife Suzy as an office manager.
The benefits of employing a spouse are “enormous”, he told the Press Association. "Obviously, I trust her implicitly, she knows what I think and why I think it and constituents can call on her whenever I’m not around," Gale added.
But as he let off steam on the Today programme, the Tory MP caused a sexism row on Twitter by referring to female staff in his office as girls.
Discussing his wife’s work, Gale insisted: "She is utterly dedicated to her job - as indeed are all the other girls in my office - but they don’t work in the same way and the same hours. Together they do a very, very good job."
And later, he added: "She will visit constituents if necessary if they are in distress, as indeed will the other girls."
Some 151 of the the 650 MPs at Westminster - almost a quarter of the total - employ family members, including 84 Conservatives, 50 Labour and 10 SNP MPs.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon, transport secretary Chris Grayling and Tory chairman Patrick McLoughlin are among the senior Tory politicians who currently employ family members, according to analysis by PoliticsHome.
Labour politicians employing family members include shadow cabinet member Kate Osomor and prominent backbenchers Jess Phillips, Caroline Flit and Michael Dugher.