The head of an inquiry into Commons expenses hit out at MPs today for lacking principles.
Sir Christopher Kelly said the system appeared to have been 'exploited for personal gain'.
Opening the Committee on Standards in Public Life's first evidence session, he insisted politicians needed to show qualities including selflessness, integrity and honesty.
'These values are timeless,' he said. 'If they had been followed more by more MPs over the past few years we would not be in the situation that we are.'
Giving evidence to the committee, Commons leader Harriet Harman accepted it was "unsustainable" for MPs to keep employing close family members in their offices.
She insisted that often spouses and relatives worked harder than other people would because they "lived the job".
But Ms Harman went on: "I think it is almost impossible to convince the public that actually there is fair employment opportunity.
"I think my own view is that it is just too difficult to sustain public confidence."
The Cabinet minister was also challenged on why the Government had not acted to ensure that disgraced MPs will not receive a pay-off for stepping down early.Reuse content