27. In paragraph 12, we set out the three possible
scenarios. Having set out the facts in as far as we have been
able to determine them, we now have to consider the wider implications.
28. We reject Mr Conway's continued arguments,
in relation to his employment of FC, that he did not infringe
the rules relating to the Staffing Allowance. As we have shown
above, there is conclusive evidence that Mr Conway authorised
the payment of bonuses to FC that went way beyond the permitted
ceiling, as clearly set out in the Green Book throughout the period
of FC's employment.
In support of our conclusions, we note that all bonuses for staff
authorised by Mr Conway in the previous three years were within
the permitted level.
29. We note that FC seems to have been all but
invisible during the period of his employment. For the majority
of that time he was based at Newcastle where he was engaged in
a full time degree course at the university. He had little or
no contact with his father's office, either in the House or in
the constituency. No record exists of the work he is supposed
to have carried out, or the hours kept. The only evidence available
to us of work carried out was that provided by FC and his family.
30. This arrangement was, at the least, an improper
use of Parliamentary allowances: at worst it was a serious diversion
of public funds. Our view is that the reality may well be somewhere
between the two.
31. Taking together our assessments of the salary
level paid to FC, and the number of hours for which he was remunerated,
we are of the view that Mr Conway misused the Staffing Allowance.
He should have exercised his judgement more carefully, particularly
as a family member was involved, as he could be seen as having
a clear personal motivation for paying his son over-generously.
He also seemed to be oblivious to the broader reputational risks
to the House of any perception of personal benefit to his family.
32. Mr Conway should repay the overpaid bonus
sums, together with the associated pension contribution received
by FC. We understand that it is the practice of the Department
of Resources, in relation to overpayments of staff by Members,
normally to require only the net overpayment to be repaid, as
it can in most circumstances reclaim the tax and National Insurance
33. On this basis, we are advised by the Department
of Resources that the gross overpayment of £5,831 resulted
in a net overpayment to FC of £3,962.97. 
We recommend that Mr Conway be required to repay this sum. If,
for any reason, the House is unable to reclaim the tax and National
Insurance overpayment, Mr Conway should repay the full cost of
the overpayment, which amounts to £7,161.05.
34. As to the salary paid to FC, we have no doubt
that it was excessive given both his limited experience and the
work he was required to perform. We have given careful consideration
to whether we should require a proportion of this also to be repaid
by Mr Conway. Having regard to paragraph 79 of the Commissioner's
we recommend that he also be required to repay a further sum of
35. Mr Conway's admitted failure to keep proper
records of FC's employment is also to be regretted. Had he paid
more attention to the proper procedures, and used the correct
forms, the DFA would have been unlikely to have paid the excess
bonuses. To this extent he was the author of his own misfortune.
36. We regard this case as a serious breach of
the rules and recommend that Mr Conway be suspended from the service
of the House for 10 sitting days. Mr Conway should also apologise
to the House for his shortcomings by way of a personal statement.
37. This case has demonstrated the importance
of all Members ensuring that the terms on which they employ staff
are reasonable and correct in all the circumstances, and of ensuring
that they maintain adequate staff records. This is particularly
important where there is any relationship with the employee that
might suggest that the terms might be influenced by considerations
of personal benefit. Members' use of allowances is a perennially
sensitive issue, and allegations of real or perceived misuse risk
damage to the reputation of the House as an institution, as well
as to the personal reputations of individual Members. Mr Speaker
has commented that "Members themselves are responsible for
ensuring that their use of allowances is above reproach".
It is in our view important that Members can demonstrate robustly,
if challenged, that this is indeed the case.