Conway stripped of £13,000pa Commons position

The disgraced Tory MP Derek Conway has been sacked from a prestigious post in the House of Commons, losing his £13,000 extra salary.

The Speaker, Michael Martin, wrote to Mr Conway yesterday to remove him from the elite chairmen's panel of senior members after The Independent revealed the MP had held on to the coveted position despite being suspended from the Commons and stripped of the Conservative whip following an inquiry into his decision to employ his sons as researchers.

Sources said the decision had been taken because of the highly critical report by the Committee on Standards and Privileges, which recommended Mr Conway be suspended for 10 days and return £13,000 of the money he paid to his son Freddie.

Commons sources insisted that the "usual channels" – made up of whips from the major parties – had begun talks about Mr Conway's position last week.

On Thursday it emerged that Mr Conway was still a member of the 34-strong panel of senior MPs charged with chairing Bill committees despite being suspended from the Commons.

Members of the panel are paid £13,107 on top of their MPs' salary of £61,000 because of the status and workload associated with chairing the standing committees which scrutinise new legislation line by line.

The Speaker's move completes Mr Conway's fall from grace. The former Conservative whip had been tipped as a possible future Speaker, but now his political career is in tatters and he has announced that he will stand down from Parliament at the next election.

Mr Conway has insisted that he is "not a crook" and defended his decision to employ his sons as researchers.

MPs had expressed astonishment that Mr Conway had been permittedto remain on the chairmen's panel and they welcomed yesterday's decision to remove him.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said: "This is completely the right decision, but it's a shame it required the issue to be raised in the media before anyone in the House took action."

Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North, added: "It's better late than never. They have overlooked this. It has been a bit messy."

The controversy over Mr Conway has prompted a review of the way MPs employ their staff and the expenses they claim for office, travel and living costs.

The Speaker is chairing an inquiry by senior MPs into Commons allowances, which is due to report in the autumn. Options for reform being floated by some MPs include making the parliamentary authorities responsible for employing staff or giving MPs a salary increase in return for axing some allowances.

But members of the all-party Commons Standards and Privileges Committee are already calling for MPs to be required to register any relatives they employ by the end of next month.

Mr Conway could not be contacted for comment.

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