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MP in threat to quit over use of wife as secretary row.

A Midland MP has threatened to quit the House of Commons if he is barred from employing his wife as his secretary.

Peter Luff (Con, Mid Worcestershire) said the practice of MPs employing their spouses had probably saved marriages.

He made the comments in his submission to the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is examining reforms to MPs allowances and salaries in response to the expenses scandal. One of the issues the committee is considering is whether MPs should continue to be allowed to recruit and employ staff personally, or whether they should become direct employees of the House of Commons.

Although many MPs do advertise vacancies openly and recruit assistants in a similar way to any other employer, there is nothing to stop them simply appointing a member of their family.

The European Parliament has already decided that it is not appropriate for MEPs to employ relatives.

Jacqui Smith (Lab, Redditch), the former Home Secretary, employs her husband Richard Timney as her Parliamentary assistant, while Lorely Burt (Lib Dem, Solihull) employs her husband Richard Burt as press and research assistant.

Mark Pritchard (Con, The Wrekin) employs his wife Sondra Pritchard as office manager. Mr Luff employs his wife, Julia, as his assistant.

In his submission to the inquiry, he said: "For me, the ability to employ my wife was central to my decision to become an MP and I would seriously consider leaving the House if I were no longer allowed to do so."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 26, 2009
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