Labour says the Bridgwater and West Somerset Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger should fall into line with new standards in public life and stop employing his wife to help him with his work in parliament.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority says employing family members is “out of step” with modern employment practices. It says the need for transparency and good employment practice outweighs the benefits MPs find in hiring relatives.
Keeping it in the Family
The 61 MPs who were elected for the first time this year are banned from paying salaries to their spouses, children or other relatives. But the ban doesn’t apply yet to members elected before 2017. Of those, 122 have said they are employing family members – and Liddell- Grainger is one of them.
In the latest register of interests he says “I employ my wife, Jill Liddell-Grainger, as Parliamentary Assistant.” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/170707/liddell-grainger_ian.htm
Campaigners for better standards in public life say all MPs should stop employing family members. The director of Unlock Democracy, Alexandra Runswick,said:
“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.”
County Labour Leader Cllr Leigh Redman (Bridgwater South) said: “There is a double standard here. Some MPs have been made to accept that they cannot employ family members. . All MPs – including Mr Liddell-Grainger – should recognise that this is an unacceptable practice. Our MP should recruit his staff in an open manner and should not be paying public money to his wife.”
Something to fall back on
By the way, we have no need to worry on Mrs Liddell-Grainger’s behalf. If Ian sacks Jill from her job at Westminster, she’s got something to fall back on. Her profile on the business website Linkedin lists her as chef and managing director of Jill’s Natural Preserves. And she says : I am very happy to make jam, jellies, marmalades and chutneys to order.” https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jill-liddell-grainger-bb111b46
So parliament’s loss could be jam-making’s gain.