of employment of Members' family
1.7 The third significant development also followed
an inquiry by the Commissioner and a report of the Committee on
Standards and Privileges, in this case into a complaint about
a Member's employment of a relative paid from the parliamentary
allowances. It is open
to Members to employ their relatives as long as the usual regulations
of the House in respect of employment of Members' staff are adhered
to. Many Members are known to employ relatives, though there has
hitherto been no reliable method of estimating the numbers.
1.8 In the complaint in question my predecessor
found that the employee concerned had been overpaid for the work
which he was likely to have done. The case gave rise to a considerable
amount of negative publicity, not only about the individual concerned,
but also about the system as a whole. The Committee on Standards
and Privileges therefore considered whether Members ought to be
required to disclose details of those relatives whom they employed.
They weighed up various options, and the data protection and freedom
of information implications of each, and published initially a
consultation document and subsequently a set of recommendations.
1.9 On 27 March, the House endorsed the recommendation
of the Committee that Members should record on the Register of
Members' Interests any employment of family members paid from
parliamentary allowances. The result was that from 1 April 2008
Members were able to enter in a new Category 11 of the Register,
published as Part 2, the name, relationship to them and standard
job title of any relatives (by marriage or partnership equivalent
to marriage or by blood) employed and paid from the parliamentary
allowances, together with whether that employment was full or
part time. From 1 August 2008 such registration is to be compulsory.
The description of the purpose of the Register was amended to
read "To provide information of any pecuniary interest
or other material benefit which a Member receives which might
reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions,
speeches or votes in Parliament and such other information
as the House may from time to time require".
1.10 In most respects it was left to Members
to decide the degree of relationship in respect of which registration
was appropriate. The employment of former spouses and partners
is to be registered for three years after the end of the relationship.
1.11 The first edition of the new-format Register,
giving information about employment of family members, was published
on 23 April 2008.