Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sorry Nick, but on the Conway affair, you're wrong

And so, our glorious Leader has spoken on what should be done following the Conway affair. Unfortunately, he's wrong.

This week, a junior officer in HM Revenue & Customs was given a jail sentence for defrauding the department by means of false expense claims. The judge felt that her behaviour put at risk trust in those responsible for public funds. It is my personal view that this was entirely the right stance to take.

So, when I discover that our response to Derek Conway's utter stupidity is to call for limits on the number of family members that can be employed, there is a palpable sense of despair. What impact will that have in terms of public perception? Being generous, precious little.

The only solution is to have a transparent system of recruitment, with independent monitoring and agreed pay scales, just like the Civil Service. The funds used are public in nature, and if family members are good enough, then they will be employed.

There is, in fairness, an issue linked to spouses and partners. In some cases, they met because one worked for the other. In others, employment acts as a means of allowing them to spend time together which would otherwise be denied to them. Perhaps it would therefore be appropriate not to disturb existing arrangements, especially given the disruptive implications to lifestyles and domestic planning.

However, that caveat aside, we must establish clear, transparent procedures, as well as proportionate levels of punishment. Derek Conway will graciously give up his job, take his pension and give up £15,000 or so. He should be in court and, given his obvious guilt, be expecting a prison sentence. After all, he has put at risk trust in those responsible for public funds...


James Schneider said...

Here here. The whole system needs to be openned up and transparent. I wonder how many other MPs have been quietly fiddling?

Taxman said...

The only solution is to have a transparent system of recruitment ... just like the Civil Service
I can't believe you just wrote that, Mark :)

The civil service is the one area where recruitment is even less transparent than in Derek Conway's office!