THE political future of Caroline Spelman still hangs in the balance after MPs failed to decide whether she acted improperly by using public money to pay for childcare.
The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee discussed a report by the Parliamentary sleaze watchdog into the Meriden MP’s conduct for two hours yesterday, but deferred a decision.
The body, which has the power to punish MPs who break the rules, is expected to discuss the matter again next Tuesday.
Mrs Spelman has been under investigation over the “nannygate” affair by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, John Lyon, for nine months.
It followed allegations that she paid her nanny, Tina Haynes, using Parliamentary allowances. MPs’ expenses are only supposed to cover activities directly related to their jobs.
Conservative leader David Cameron is thought to have delayed a reshuffle of his shadow ministerial team because of the controversy. Last month, he finally acted by shifting Mrs Spelman from party chairman to shadow communities and local government secretary.
The MP has insisted Ms Haynes was only paid with taxpayers’ money for secretarial work between 1997 and 1998, and her nannying duties were rewarded separately with free board and lodging.
But asked by the BBC last year about the extent of her secretarial duties, Ms Haynes said she only posted letters, “took the odd phone call” and passed on messages “once or twice a week”.
The arrangement ended after the Tory chief whip said it could be “open to misinterpretation.”
The Standards Commissioner originally refused to launch an inquiry as it focused on events from more than seven years ago, but agreed to after Mrs Spelman wanted to clear her name.
Mrs Spelman could not be reached for comment last