“Twenty more MPs put family members on their taxpayer-funded payroll last year despite a public outcry over abuse of the expenses system.
A total of 170 MPs employed relations, at a cost of more than £4 million. The previous year, 150 MPs had family members on the payroll.
The bill for MPs’ expenses reached record levels last year, as more politicians put spouses and children on the public payroll.
MPs’ staff, travel and accommodation costs reached £103 million last year, up from £99 million the previous year and £95 million in 2009.
After the expenses scandal in 2009, the Committee on Standards in Public Life called for employing relations in Parliament to be banned. But it was overruled after protests.
MPs can employ family members on salaries of up to £50,000 a year.
Senior Conservatives who employ relations include Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary; Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary; and Owen Paterson, the former environment secretary. Laurence Robertson, the MP for Tewkesbury, employs his ex-wife and his wife.
Anne Adams is paid £40,000-£45,000 as a senior parliamentary assistant, while Susan Robertson, his former wife, is paid £25,000-£30,000 as a senior secretary.
Mr Robertson insists that the two women “work happily together”.
Christopher Chope, the Conservative MP for Christchurch, employs his wife, Christine, as a secretary for £45,000-£50,000. “Reward and recognition” payments were approved for staff by 28 MPs, at a total cost of £19,762.
MPs are banned from giving such payments to relations.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said reforms to the system after the expenses scandal had saved £58 million over four years.
The head of Ipsa was this week criticised after he approved a proposed 10 per cent salary increase for MPs. David Cameron has opposed the pay rise.
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said MPs should not employ relations unless they go through a genuine, public recruitment process.
Andy Silvester, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be deeply concerned that the cost of Westminster is going up again.
“David Cameron pledged to reduce the cost of politics after the excesses of the expenses scandal. Politicians must be held accountable for their promises. Combined with the ever-increasing number of peers, that promise looks increasingly difficult to keep.
“There’s nothing wrong with employing family members if they’re qualified for the job, but there needs to be total transparency whenever that’s the case.” “
Report from The Telegraph