One in five MPs employ a family member with taxpayers’ money despite ban

One in five MPs employ a family member with taxpayers’ money despite a ban on the practice for new members of parliament.

Of the 589 returning MPs, 122 have said they employ a relative in the Register of Members’s Financial Interests.

However, under the new rules, none of the 61 new MPs who won their seats at the general election on June 8 are allowed to employ family members.

But campaigners for electoral reform have criticised the figures, saying a clear end date for all MPs employing relatives should be established.

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The ban on new MPs was announced by parliamentary watchdog Ipsa in March, who said employing family members was ‘out of step’ with modern employment methods.

Existing MPs were allowed to keep their relatives in their posts. In the wake of the MPs expenses scandal, a limit of one family member of staff was introduced in 2010.

Alexandra Runswick, director of Unlock Democracy, told the BBC: ‘The ban on new MPs employing family members reflects the public’s concerns about nepotism and the potential abuse of public money.

‘A transitional period is reasonable, particularly as the snap election means that these rules have come into force three years earlier than expected.

‘However, there does need to be a clear end date. If MPs employing family members is wrong in principle then when the MP was first elected is irrelevant.

‘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.’

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: ‘Given the high rate of turnover of both MPs and staff, it is clear that within the next few electoral cycles it will apply to the vast majority of parliamentary staff.

‘Voters must be able to have confidence that our democracy is resourced in an open and transparent way, so it’s welcome that parliamentary authorities have taken steps to reform the system.’

(Picture: PA)