One in five MPs are still using taxpayer-funded expenses to employ members of their family – despite the practice being banned for new Members of Parliament.
Official data shows that, of the 589 MPs who returned to Parliament after the June election, 122 have declared the employment of a relative in the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
Yet under new rules, none of the 61 new MPs elected for the first time on 8 June are allowed to do so.
Alexandra Runswick, the director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, said: “The ban on new MPs employing family members reflects the public’s concerns about nepotism and the potential abuse of public money.
“If MPs employing family members is wrong in principle, then when the MP was first elected is irrelevant.”
A clampdown on MPs employing spouses or other family members as staff on their Parliamentary expenses was first announced in 2010. At that time MPs were told they could not employ more than one family member, amid widespread concern over abuse of taxpayer’s money.
Many MPs protested, insisting their long office hours meant working with family members allowed them to avoid the breakdown of relationships.
But in March of this year, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) – which oversees MPs’ expenses and office costs – said a total ban would be introduced for new MPs from the next election.
IPSA said employing family members was ‘out of step’ with modern employment practices, and would not be permitted for new MPs in the next Parliament.
But the watchdog told existing MPs they would not be affected by the ban – meaning that in theory, anyone elected in 2015 or before can continue employing their husband, wife or other family members for decades to come.
Among the MPs who have continued to employ spouses following the June election are several members of the Cabinet, including Tory chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Several of Jeremy Corbyn ’s top team also employ spouses, including Labour chairman Ian Lavery and shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner.
There is no suggestion any of the existing MPs who continue to employ family members have done anything wrong.
Ms Runswick said it was ‘reasonable’ to give MPs’ families time to prepare for a new clampdown – but said a ‘time limit’ was needed on how long the current situation could continue.
“A transitional period is reasonable, particularly as the snap election means that these rules have come into force three years earlier than expected,” she said.
“However, there does need to be a clear end date.
“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, acting chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said it was fair to phase out the practice over the coming years.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
“I’ve never taken a hat-trick in any sort of cricket,” said a delighted Moeen. “I’ve scored a few hat-tricks in football warm-ups, but this is a different sort of feeling… a better feeling.
“I was trying to stay as relaxed as I could be – Broady told me it was the best opportunity I would get with the left-hander being Morne Morkel, a No11. So I just tried to hold my composure and bowl as straight as I could. I told Toby and Stokesy that next time, just try to hit the stumps.”
The all rounder was referring to Toby Roland-Jones and Ben Stokes, who had both been on hat-tricks themselves earlier in the match but couldn’t get it done.
Instead, Moeen teased an edge from Dean Elgar who had made a courageous 136, did exactly the same to Kagiso Rabada with both taken by Stokes, and then returned the next over to have Morne Morkel LBW.
“I’d been trying to toss one up like that for ages, but I struggled a little bit,” admitted Moeen. “But in that over I managed to get a couple wider, then I lobbed one up and he managed to nick it.
“It’s coming out all right, the 18 wickets don’t really matter too much, as long as we’re winning and I can contribute with bat and ball. That’s the most important thing for me.”
England are likely to go into the game in Manchester next Friday with the same team, after they announced just one change to their squad with Steven Finn replacing Mark Wood in the 13 with Keaton Jennings keeping his spot.
Coach Trevor Bayliss said: “Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Westley were outstanding – we’ve tried some guys in the past who have done well early on, hopefully we’ll be talking like this after 10-15 Tests.
“Toby looks like one of his strengths is accuracy – we haven’t got the out-and-out pace that Australia have, so you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the right areas, and Toby’s done that.”
Theresa May yesterday insisted the free movement of people from Europe will end on the day Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
The PM tried to quell a bitter war within her Cabinet over whether free movement could continue for several years after Brexit.
It follows a warning from Chancellor Philip Hammond that a Brexit ‘transition period’ could see free movement effectively continue for up to three further years after 2019.
But the PM’s spokesman said today: “Free movement will end in March 2019.
“It would be wrong… to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.”
The comments appeared to be a slapdown to Mr Hammond’s announcement on Friday of a three-year transition deal after Brexit.
Leading Brexiteers such as Liam Fox said they had not been consulted on the plan, and on Sunday night Boris Johnson was forced to deny he was on the verge of quitting as Foreign Secretary over the issue.
However sources close to Mr Hammond insist the transition deal is likely to see a very similar system to the free movement of people continue for a limited period after Brexit to avoid an immigration “cliff edge” for business.
Monday Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was forced to deny the Tory Cabinet is at war after another week of bitter in-fighting.
He told the Today Programme he “does not recognise” reports of furious behind-the-scenes rows while Theresa May is away on holiday.
And insisted the whole Cabinet backs Mr Hammond’s plan for a transitional deal with Europe lasting up to three years after Brexit to avoid a “cliff edge” for business.
“If you look at where we are now compared to where we were a few months ago, we’ve sent some very positive messages to Brussels about what we want,” Mr Hunt said.
“The other thing that we are completely united on as a Cabinet is that we want Brexit to make Britain more global, and not more insular.”
As the chaos continued Mr Hammond also U-turned on his threat to turn Britain into a tax haven after Brexit.
The Chancellor told French newspaper Le Monde he is no longer considering slashing regulation and taxes if Britain if fails to secure a good deal with Europe, as he had previously threatened.
“I often hear it said that the UK is considering participating in unfair competition in regulation and tax,” Mr Hammond said.
“That is neither our plan nor our vision for the future. I would expect us to remain a country with a social, economic and cultural model that is recognisably European.”
Mr Hammond has been forced to backtrack on the threat after the Tories lost their majority at the general election, knowing they could never get such radical changes through Parliament.
His comments signal another major victory for Jeremy Corbyn , who has repeatedly warned against Tory plans to turn Britain into a ‘bargain basement tax haven’ after Brexit.
Labour’s shadow Treasury secretary Peter Dowd said: “This government has broken down into farce. The Chancellor is not only disagreeing with Cabinet colleagues over Brexit, he is now in open dispute with himself.”
Mr Hammond is touring South America this week and is understood to be planning a visit to Argentina – the first Cabinet Minister to visit in 20 years.
The Red Devils spent £40m to prize the Serb away from Chelsea , with Jose Mourinho eager to work with his former player once again.
Matic believes United can mount a title challenge immediately, despite finishing 24 points behind champions Chelsea last term, as well as push the best in Europe in the Champions League.
“I think that this squad is read because they are mature, they have already worked with Jose for one year, so they know what they have to do and I’m sure that this season we can do many things,” Matic said.
“As a member of the team I think we can do many things. I’m sure we will try to win the Premier League, also the Champions League, you never know what can happen. It’s always special to play in that. Everything is possible.
“All the best teams in Europe are there. And Manchester is one of the best teams in Europe for sure. It’s very difficult to make a plan before the season starts but we will try to win every game.”
Matic’s arrival is thought to be key in freeing up Paul Pogba and he insists his position will provide Mourinho with “balance.”
“That position gives balance to the team and allows you to control the game,” Matic claims. “Playing in the centre of the pitch you have to know all the time where the ball is. But I always give my best, even more in fact.”
Will Manchester United win the Premier League next season?