Amid endless controversy over pay and perks, Parliament was about to start cleaning up its act. The first change would have been a move to make MPs declare any family members on their payroll. That was the plan, anyhow. All three parties leaders had expressed their support. But the measure, proposed by the standards and privileges committee – which would have sailed through the Commons and become law by early April – has run into sand.
It emerged today that the committee has taken legal advice that exposure of these names would breach employment law. What will happen is that the disclosures will instead be voluntary on the register of members’ interests. Any shift to an compulsory system will have to wait until secretaries’ and researchers’ contracts are changed to get around this. So much for the big spring clean.