Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Keeping 'er indoors happy.

The Telegraph reports that MPs wives are revolting, er, against the coming ban on parliamentarians being able to employ spouses and family members, and suggests that this may end up watering down the restrictions if they get their way.
Scores of MPs among the 201 who currently employ spouses or relatives have protested amid predictions of a mass revolt on the floor of the Commons when Sir Christopher’s final recommendations are debated. Others have threatened legal challenges to any ban.
A Whitehall source said it was expected that some sort of compromise deal would be thrashed out because the protests had reached such a “serious” and “potentially damaging” level.
The source added: “The ban on employing family members is proving to be by far the most incendiary of all the Kelly plans.”
I'll fucking bet it was. This must be a real money spinner for some and the potential for abuse of this privilege has been known about for a long time. Christ, way before the big expenses scandal, when the scale of that particular piss take was still only suspected rather than known, politicians were getting it in the neck for paying generous tax funded salaries to spouses and children for little or no work, and rightly so. I have no problem if an MP employs a family member who is (a) able to do the job and (b) actually does it but this was a licence to pay wives, husbands, sons and daughters thousands of pounds a year for opening a few envelopes now and then. The Derek Conways of the world deserve what they fucking get and it's naive to think that they're the only ones.
One possible solution is to ban new MPs from employing family members but to permit existing employment arrangements to continue – the same policy as adopted by the European Parliament after this year’s elections in June.
Another option is to impose the ban on new MPs and phase out existing deals over a period of years – although this would entail generous taxpayer-funded “transitional payments”.
Spouses who are among the protesters include Eve Burt, wife of Alistair Burt, the deputy Conservative chairman, who has worked for her husband for 27 years and is currently his office manager/executive secretary on a salary of £33,500. She has said: “How can you make a bunch of people redundant who’ve got contracts?”
Look love, you don't get to keep your job if hubby loses his seat, right? If you want something more solid fuck off down to Office Angels or something. Still, rather annoyingly she's made a pretty good point. It's never going to be a good idea to rip up or amend contracts unilaterally and retrospectively, even if the person on the receiving end is a smug arsehole laughing all the way to the bank, which is more or less what I said about Fred Goodwin when calls came for his contract to be adjusted to suit Harridan Harperson and her kangaroo court of public opinion. But when the contract is public sector, as inevitably it is when an elected politician is using taxpayers' money to hire staff, shouldn't the public be involved as the ones funding the fucking thing?
One senior MP said: “There will be legal challenges to this if they try to enforce it.
“It can’t be legal to exclude a particular class of person from being employed in a particular job. Kelly would be well advised to have a transitional period if he is going to change the rules, or to abandon this altogether.”
Yes, I agree, though to be honest it's your collective greed and venality that's brought things to this point. If you want to blame someone Mr/Ms Unnamed Senior MP, then blame Conway and pricks like him, and the rest of your disHonourable friends who provided so many expenses related headlines recently.

Still, you're right that someone should not be excluded from a job because they're married or related to the person they're working for. If nothing else it could theoretically prevent the best person for the job from actually doing it if they happened to be a relative. Look, if an MP interviews a dozen people and it turns out their spouse or one of their kids or whatever is best qualified for the job then fair enough - no fucking about, just hire them and be done with it. But what if the contract, to use Mrs Burt's term, was awarded improperly, which is arguably the case if no one else was interviewed, no other applicants even considered and, quite possibly, the position never even advertised? If it was a contract to supply boots for soldiers or build a school or pretty much anything else in the public sector questions would rightly be asked: why was the contract just awarded instead of being put out to competitive tender and was there really nobody else who could do it.

Same goes for the other 200 MPs with family members on the payroll. I genuinely don't have any objection to it in principle because vast numbers of people work together with family in the real world. You can see that simply by picking up a Yellow Pages and counting how many businesses have the format "Smith & Smith" or end in "& Sons", and many thousands more will have family helping in an unofficial or unadvertised capacity. It would be natural, for example, if one spouse ran a bookshop and the other was an accountant for the latter to do the books for the former, and as long as they are qualified and do it properly where's the harm? The same should be applied to MPs, and if they were paying for office staff out of their own salary I'd say they could even do so without advertising just as my hypothetical book seller did. However, since the taxpayers has to cough up for an MPs staff salaries on top of what the MP already gets I think it reasonable that the taxpayers are assured that they're getting the best value for their money, and that means an MP advertising for and hiring the best people he can find rather than giving his wife 30 grand because she's good with her tongue and therefore can be expected to lick a fucking stamp now and again.

So, Mrs Burt, perhaps your employer and husband would like to show us a copy of the advert for the dual role of his executive secretary and office manager and tell us how many other applicants were considered, not to mention what made you more suitable. If he wants to discuss it only with the people of Bedfordshire North that's fine by me, but don't you and the other spouses/offspring on constituency payrolls just sit smugly on your contracts. Show they were awarded properly or take the consequences.

1 comment:

JuliaM said...

"So, Mrs Burt, perhaps your employer and husband would like to show us a copy of the advert for the dual role of his executive secretary and office manager..."

Can't they get round this by simply stating that one of the duties is to sleep with the boss?

Well, except if you want to employ your son or daughter.

Well, maybe that'd still fly in, say, Norfolk constituencies...

Related Posts with Thumbnails