Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Keeping it in the Family

According to the Daily Mail , Derek Conway , the Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup paid his son Frederick £45,163, including £10,066 in bonuses, for a contracted 17 hours a week between September 2004, when he began an undergraduate degree at Newcastle University, and August 2007.

The committee of senior backbenchers from both sides of the House urged Conway's suspension for 10 days. They ruled the salary was excessive and thought it "unlikely" Frederick, despite his father's insistence to the contrary, had carried out work he was contracted to do.

"Frederick Conway seems to have been all but invisible during the period of his employment," the committee said. "He had little or no contact with his father's office, either in the House or the constituency. No record exists of the work that 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. This arrangement was, at the least, an improper use of parliamentary allowances: at worst, it was a serious diversion of public funds..."

The MP previously employed another son, Henry, in his office. According to the Daily Mail, Henry was paid more than £32,000 in parliamentary allowances and bonuses when an undergraduate between 2001 and 2004.

Conway has employed his wife Colette as his parliamentary assistant at £3,271 a month since 1983.

He has previously been criticised for claiming thousands of pounds in travel and second-home expenses.

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