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MPs vote to clean up politics

Elected officials will no longer be able to employ family members after MPs adopt wide-ranging ethics bill 

MPs and senators will be banned from employing family members after the National Assembly adopted a bill to help clean up national politics.

The French parliament last night made good on a top campaign promise of President Emmanuel Macron, approving legislation preventing MPs and ministers from hiring family members by 412 votes to 74 against. There were 62 abstentions.

It was the second of two public ethics bills to pass through parliament. The first was approved last week by a similarly large majority. In combination, the two bills prohibit ministers, MPs and locally elected officials from employing family members, prevent anyone with a criminal record seeking elected office, and bar parliamentarians from holding advisory roles during their terms in office.

Under the new law, hiring a spouse, partner, parents or children will be punishable by three years in prison and a fine of €45,000. Any salaries or payments to family members may also be refunded.

Moreover, any elected official who fails to declare any interests or pay their taxes in full can be removed from office and be barred from seeking election for three years.

The vote came after the government performed a u-turn on Mr Macron's proposal to give his wife, Brigitte, an official First Lady role, complete with an official budget, paid for by public funds.

There will no "modification to the constitution, new resources nor any remuneration" for Mrs Macron, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said in a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday.

Les Republicains' Presidential candidate Francois Fillon was hamstrung by allegations in January that he had employed his wife Penelope as a publicly-funded assistant for years despite little evidence of any work. He was charged with misusing public money in March and failed to reach the second round of voting. He denies any wrongdoing.


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