Monday, 28 January 2008

Tory MP facing suspension over allowances

Derek Conway the Tory MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup is facing a 10 day suspension from the Commons over upheld allegations that he wrongly misused allowances to overpay his son who was working for him part-time. (Wonder if he knows who the allegators are? - don't ask - this is a wonderful modern urban myth about an old Labour Councillor in Lanarkshire.)

The Commons Standards & Priviledges Committee has ruled that he should repay The overpaid bonus sums" . Conway's son Freddie was paid at the full time equivalent of nearly £26 000 per annum but the Committee noted "no records appear to exist of actual work that FC did for his father, or the work he was required to undertake." they added "we are astonished that there appears to be no evidence, independent or otherwise, of any aspect of FC's work for his father" they further said that he had little or no contact with his father's office, either in the House or the constituency." During most of this period Conway junior was studying full time for a degree at Newcastle University. Newcastle is a mere 315 miles & a 5-6 hour drive from Sidcup.

The Committee further added that the arrangement was "at the least an improper use of Parliamentary allowances and at worst, a serious diversion of public funds."

"taking together our assessments of the salary level paid to Fc and the number of hours he was remunerated, we are of the view that Conway misused the staffing allowance."

It's my opinion that events such as these, Labour's ongoing donations troubles and the Gnat's possible problems over allegations that a donor had Scottish Government Ministers intervene in the planning process, all tarnish the public view of politics and politicians. It's high time that we gave serious consideration to the public funding of political parties and banned individual donations of more than, for example, £1000.

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