South Shields MP quizzed after giving husband job as her assistant

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has came under fire after employing her husband as assistant.

Saturday, 19th March 2016, 5:00 am
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and husband Simon after they finished last year's Great North Run.

Mrs Lewell-Buck has taken on Simon Buck as a part-time parliamentary assistant at her constituency office, in Westoe Road, South Shields.

When asked about the appointment, Mrs Lewell-Buck’s office issued a statement, saying: “Simon has worked in the office since late last year and correct protocol was followed.”

Her spokeswoman also wished to make no comment on Mr Buck’s salary – although she denied it was £24,000 a year – and would not discuss whether it was advertised or details of any selection procedure.

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MPs are allowed to employ one ‘connected party’ – which can be a family member or spouse – but South Tyneside Tory councillor Jeff Milburn has raised questions about the appointment.

Coun Milburn, who represents the Cleadon and East Boldon wards, said: “I am aware that it’s fine for MPs to employ their spouses and many do, but I certainly didn’t see any jobs going at the MP’s office.

“I would be curious to know if it was advertised and if anyone else got an 
interview apart from Mr Buck.”

“I just don’t think it would be fair, when we have too many people in our borough without jobs, if this job turns out not to have been advertised generally.”

MPs outside of London can claim up to £140,000 annually to pay their staff.

During the financial year of 2014/145, the Independent Parliament Standards Authority (IPSA) revealed that Mrs Lewell-Buck put a claim in on March 31, 2015 for £129,674, to cover her staff’s wages.

The claim for this financial year’s staff wages are likely to be submitted within the next few weeks.

A statement from Mrs Lewell Buck said: “All staff pay is totally transparent. IPSA govern MPs’ staff salaries, please contact them if you want more information.”

An IPSA spokesman said that a breakdown of wages are revealed every September.

Coun Milburn said: “I don’t see what the big deal is. Why can’t we be told exactly what he does in his role as parliamentary assistant for the South Shields MP?”

When asked about claims that the part-time post had a salary of £24,000, a statement from Mrs Lewell Buck said: “All staff pay is totally transparent.

“The IPSA govern MPs’ staff salaries.

“Please contact them if you want more information.”

The Gazette sent the following questions to Emma Lewell-Buck’s office with regards to her husband’s employment.

• How long has Simon Buck been in his job?

• What are his responsibilities?

• What qualifications does he have for the job?

• Was the role advertised?

• If so, how many people applied for the position?

• What did the selection process entail?