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Unions to review their Commons payrolls

The teacher unions are to review their relationship with MPs in the light of this week's vote on members' interests.

The vote, which follows the Nolan Committee's recommendations, requires MPs to disclose their earnings from consultancies, bans paid advocacy and restricts their right to debate issues connected with the interests of companies or groups who pay them.

The Committee was set up the Prime Minister to counteract allegations of Parliamentary sleaze after a Sunday newspaper exposed MPs who were prepared to accept money to table questions. However Mr Major made it clear he did not support the Labour amendment bringing in the new rules.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers pays MPs Ann Taylor, Labour, and James Pawsey, Conservative Pounds 7,500 each. Liberal Democrats Don Foster and Simon Hughes share Pounds 7,500 for advising the union.

The National Union of Teachers pays Labour MPs Estelle Morris (Pounds 1,800), Gerald Steinburg (Pounds 2,000), and Win Griffiths (Pounds 1,000). Don Foster is paid Pounds 750.

The Professional Association of Teachers pays Conservative MPs Sir Keith Speed and Patrick Thompson and Malcolm Bruce, Lib-Dem, "less than Pounds 3,000" each.

Peter Smith, general secretary of ATL, said: "Everybody is going to have to look at the implications of this decision. We pay the fees in respect of advice given to the executive committee about the view Parliament takes or is likely to take on issues affecting education and training. We have made it crystal clear in our offers to them that we do not expect them to advocate ATL policy simply because it is ATL policy. They must be able to take whatever view they take."

He pointed out that while Mr Pawsey accepted the ATL shilling he did not feel it necessary to support an early-day motion sponsored by the union calling for the teachers' pay award to be paid in full.

A spokeswoman for the NUT said the union would review the situation when the full effects of the new rules were known.

Nigel Stanley, Westminster liaison officer for the Trades Union Congress said: "The principles are clear enough, but how it will work in practice is more difficult. Is it advocacy for an MP connected with a teacher union talking about education at all or is just if they promote say the NUT's view as opposed to ATL's? These are the areas for the commissioner to sort out."

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