Three Comet country MPs could be hit if Kelly report bans them from employing relatives

THREE MPs in Comet country will be affected under recommendations expected to be announced next week banning them from employing relatives. The report by Sir Christopher Kelly goes before Parliament on Wednesday is expected to push for the phasing out of employing

THREE MPs in Comet country will be affected under recommendations expected to be announced next week banning them from employing relatives.

The report by Sir Christopher Kelly goes before Parliament on Wednesday is expected to push for the phasing out of employing family members over a five year period in the next Parliament, giving staff time to find new jobs.

The recommendations come in response to public anger at the abuses of the expenses system and there is likely to be opposition to the report.

One opponent is Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries who employs her daughter Philippa as her office manager and secretary.


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"It would be suicidal of any MP to employ someone they couldn't trust," said Ms Dorries.

"The reason I employ my daughter is because I can trust her, she works long hours and she is confidential about my private life.

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"The media is always after titbits about MPs for their diaries and now you can do nothing as an MP without being under the spotlight."

Also critical of the possible recommendations is Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, who employs his wife Eve as office manager and executive secretary.

He said: "It is right that if spouses work for MPs their pay is regulated, and their work audited to prevent abuse.

"But if they do a good job and give value to our work, as Eve does, why should someone lose their job in the 21st century just because they are married?"

Mrs Burt said: "I was first employed in 1983 when employment law was quite different - but is that a reason for myself and 200 others to lose our jobs? The suggestion is also that it will be for married employees and civil partnerships - what about those who are in 'relationships' and work together? And how is this policed in the future? A bar on any marriages within Parliament?

"It's a huge topic and should have been dealt with the Commission report on staffing, rather than the Kelly report.

"It wouldn't save any money for the taxpayer by losing me because Alistair would have to employ somebody else and, if anything, the people of Bedfordshire would get a poorer service because I am pretty much here on call all the time and I know the area very well."

North East Herts MP Oliver Heald employs his wife Christine as his office manager.

He said today: "As I am a member of the Kelly Committee - although not taking part in the current enquiry - I have promised Sir Christopher not to comment on his report prior to publication next Wednesday.

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