Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that MPs have spent more than £350,000 of taxpayers’ money on employee-related tribunals, redundancies and severance pays over the last five years.
The Daily Mirror reports the costs are only “the tip of the iceberg” because few employees dare to take an MP to a tribunal, fearing the repercussions both for the party they represent and their own future job prospects.
The newspaper quotes Louise Haigh, of trade union Unite’s Parliamentary branch, who said the payouts cover everything from bullying to sexual harassment and MPs who fired staff after having affairs that turned sour.
What is noteworthy is the fact costs skyrocketed from £25,500 in the 12 months to March 2007, to £123,712 in the run-up to last year’s general election.
For the time being the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority handles the Commons’ employment disputes but it will not intervene in the processes.
Union representatives are asking for a totally independent appeals process and appropriate training for the MPs.
GPs gave 15,000 children as young as five chemical cosh
A Channel 4 investigation revealed a steep rise in the number of children as young as five who are “chemically coshed” with antipsychotic drugs prescribed by GPs, the Daily Mail reports. The figures, released after FoIA requests, show 14,999 children, up to the age of 18, were prescribed antipsychotics in 2010, compared with 7,649 in 2001. The newspaper stresses that experts believe drugs meant for serious mental conditions are increasingly used to control children’s behaviour.
Schoolchildren’s truancies lead thousands of parents to prison
A total of 11,757 parents were prosecuted last year for failing to ensure their children’s attendance at school, the Guardian reports. The figures released under the freedom of information act, mention 25 cases being given prison sentences – the longest being 90 days – and more than 9,000 convictions.