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11th Nov 2021

MPs spend £2.5million of taxpayer money employing close family members

Ava Evans

More than one in eight MPs currently employ a family member or partner using taxpayer money

New analysis of the Register of Public Interests has revealed one in eight MPs employ a close relative or partner, costing the taxpayer around £2.5m this year alone.

Out of 650 sitting MPs, 86 currently employ a family member, according to research from the ipaper.

It has also been revealed that 45 male Tory MPs had their wives or partners on the parliamentary pay roll as office managers, researchers, assistants and secretaries in 2021.

13 male Labour MPs declared their wives or partners as employees on the most recent financial register.

The list includes Cabinet Minister Simon Hart and Prisons Minister Sir Graham Brady.

One Tory MP, Peter Bone, has declared his partner, Helen Harrison, as his senior parliamentary assistant since 2019. Bone left his wife for the then-physiotherapist in 2018.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has employed her daughter, Jennifer Dorries, as a senior parliamentary assistant also since 2019. Her daughters Philippa and Jennifer have been employed in various roles in Dorries’ office since 2012.

Dorries hit headlines last month after she slammed the BBC for “nepotism”, seemingly forgetting she employed her daughters. In 2013, it was revealed Dorries gave Philippa a whopping £15,000 pay rise – in one year.

IPSA, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has attempted to crack down on nepotism in the house of commons.

From 2017, it was announced there would be provisions for new MPs to employ “connected parties”, meaning no new MPs are allowed to employ their close family members or spouses.

According to data from IPSA, Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope’s wife is the highest-paid “connected party” in Parliament, having earned between £55,000 and £60,000 in 2020.

Conservative backbencher Bob Blackman employs his wife as an office manager. According to the i, Nicola Blackman earned between £45,000 and £50,000 in 2020.

Labour’s Valerie Vaz, the MP for Walsall employs her husband, Paul Townsend as her senior parliamentary assistant. Townsend cost the taxpayer between £45,000 and £50,000 in 2020.

If declared, MPs are allowed to hire close family members or partners but many have raised questions over whether the practice is a sign of deep-rooted nepotism.

With parliament marred by the current sleaze-scandal, the huge number of MPs employing relatives has certainly raised eyebrows.

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