Staff should be checked'

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:15 10 June 2010

A LEAKED report into the MPs expenses scandal says MPs should no longer be able to employ spouses. Such a recommendation by Sir Christopher Kelly in his report, due to be published yesterday, will directly affect East Devon MP Hugo Swire, whose wife, Sas

A LEAKED report into the MPs' expenses scandal says MPs should no longer be able to employ spouses.

Such a recommendation by Sir Christopher Kelly in his report, due to be published yesterday, will directly affect East Devon MP Hugo Swire, whose wife, Sasha, has worked for him since 2001.

"I fundamentally believe MPs should be able to employ whoever they like to do the job, providing they [including family] are subject to checks to make sure they are doing the work," he told the Exmouth Journal after publication of the leaks.

"I don't normally comment on leaks. There are so many rumours, and the Legg and Kelly reports.

"I expect, as such, we will take part in a debate if, and when, we get the chance," said Mr Swire, who is keen to see full details of the report and its recommendations.

"Most of us have contracts with staff and would be in breach of these. MPs don't do a normal job and all their staff are subject to regular checks."

He said MPs would have a vote in the House of Commons on the recommendations in the Kelly report.

Mr Swire said he couldn't see that having spouses working for MPs conflicted with their work and said many spouses felt aggrieved at being portrayed as receiving taxpayers' money "for doing nothing".

Mrs Swire, a qualified journalist, runs her husband's website and press releases and, he said: "Has an extraordinary knowledge of the constituency having worked for me."

At the outbreak of the MPs' expenses scandal, he said Sasha, like all his staff, should be subject to spot checks, adding: "I don't make any exclusions."

The Unite union has said a legal challenge could be made by spouses, but, said Mr Swire: "I don't imagine them manning picket lines.

"It is early days but it has all the hallmarks of a good row. I don't think anything will happen until after the General Election.

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