Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Late Lunch Briefing

Time for the fallout

So Derek Conway has been suspended from the house and will step down as an MP at the next general election (insuring that he keeps a good salary for another year or two and bumps up that pension fund). The fallout from all this won’t just affect the Tory party. It is looking like all MPs will have to change their rather cushty set up – and quite right too.

Why are MPs so different?

I do not have a problem with MPs employing members of their family. But only if they are actually doing the job and doing it to the standard that should be expected of someone being paid out of the public purse. All other public bodies have to go through an arduous bureaucratic process to show that when they employ someone it is done in a transparent and fair process – not discriminating against any race or other minority. In fact, employing someone in a public sector body is one of the most complex processes known to mankind. All sorts of people have to get involved and at each stage you have to make it absolutely clear why that candidate has got to the next round. So why are MPs so different?

Time to take the problem out of their hands

They have effectively been given a bottomless pit of our cash to handout to whoever they want to. I propose that recruitment is taken out of the hands of MPs, unless they want to pay them out of their own pocket. The Houses of Parliament should set up an administration department with HR experts who are then in charge of the recruitment process. By all means MPs should play a part in this process, but it is scrutinised and policed. Just like every other public sector body in this country. From the government and parliament that gave us the Gershon report and is always talking about efficiencies, isn’t it time you got your own house in order?

Prove it

Of course, our dear MPs won’t ever do this because it will be inconvenient for the ones who abide by the code of conduct and a damned right nuisance for the ones who are pocketing a fortune through the current system. But if they truly want to prove that they aren’t a bunch of corrupt, money grabbing fiends who are exempt from the law then they won’t opt for any half way houses and run with this option. Either they want to stamp this menace out, or they don’t. I bet they don’t.


ThunderDragon said...

"The Houses of Parliament should set up an administration department with HR experts who are then in charge of the recruitment process."

What, and give unelected people that power instead? Every HR department I've ever come into contact with have been useless - and knowing how Parliament works, one there would be even worse than usual.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Looks a healthy meal.

jmb said...

I do not have a problem with MPs employing members of their family.
Well I have to say I see that as a conflict of interest as it certainly proved to be.

Garbo said...

Thunder Dragon -

I am not suggesting they put crap HR people in to do the job! I share you cynical opinions on your stereotyped HR employee, but to assume that all people in HR are useless and no good is a bit unfair! Why do you think all companies and organisations have them?

It is not giving unelected people power either. We're talking about a body to employ researchers and secretaries - they won't be going in to the chamber voting on anti-terror laws! They will be booking meetings in diaries and handling emails and reading wikipedia and hansard.

All the HR people will do is provide their expertise in to what the skills needed are and will also be independent when selecting the candidate - i.e. they won't hand out the job to the MPs son who should be (will be) studying for a degree 200 miles away. The MP should still be very much involved in the process, but this way failed candidates will be able to challenge a decision if they suspect foul play - enough of a check on the MPs and inline with all other public sector body recruitment processes.

Garbo said...

jmb - if they are right for the job and go through the proper process (as I outline above to ThunderDragon) then I see no reason why they can't employ family or friends. The chances of them actually being the best candidate for the job is certainly less than it is now.

What I mean is, in principle I have no problem, as long as they go through the same process as everyone else and are awarded the position on their merits not their relationship with the MP.