MPs to divulge any family on the payroll

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Indy Politics

MPs will have to provide details of any family members they employ from now on, it was announced yesterday.

The Commons committee on Standards and Privileges, which judges complaints about the conduct of MPs, said it should be compulsory for members to register details of backroom staff on their payrolls by 1 April. Members of the committee said it would produce proposals "as soon as possible". The review comes after the 10-day expulsion of the Conservative MP Derek Conway from the Commons last week after he was censured by the committee for employing his student son Freddie as a researcher.

The MP was also stripped of the Tory whip by party leader David Cameron and announced soon afterwards that he would not seek re-election.

Mr Cameron said all 92 Conservative frontbenchers would now have to declare if they employ family members and give broad details of their salary.

They will also have to publish a breakdown of their office and living allowances, something that goes beyond current rules.

He said the party would publish its own register of frontbenchers and urged Tory backbenchers to do the same. Mr Cameron said: "What you need to have is a combination of rules and transparency so people can see what we are doing with these allowances and then interrogate us about them.

"We then have to be clear that any arrangements we enter into are ones we are prepared to protect and defend in a court of public opinion." Gordon Brown has also insisted that Labour MPs should declare details of any family they employ. The Prime Minister wrote to the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, stating that he was opposed to "a quick fix which would fail to solve the problem in the long term".

He insisted that reforms go further than merely increasing the publication of members' expenses.

Mr Brown said: "I do not believe it will be sufficient simply to require members to provide more information in the future than they do at present concerning their staff and expenses.

"We must also put in place the most robust system that can advise on, monitor, identify and investigate any abuse of the rules." The dash for reform by the major parties came as a committee of senior MPs, chaired by the Speaker of the Commons, agreed to bring forward "root and branch" reform of MPs' allowances by the autumn.

Mr Martin has previously resisted attempts to force the publication of greater detail about members' allowances. The Speakers' Estimates Committee, which will conduct the review, also includes former Conservative chief whip David Maclean, who was at the forefront of efforts to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act. The Commons authorities are currently resisting attempts to use the legislation to force the Commons to have to publish full details of their living allowances.

Conservative sources said they did not want to wait for the review, insisting the public would no longer accept the current system in the wake of the backroom scandal surrounding Mr Conway.