Top French MP under fire after hiring his own wife
The head of France's parliament faced embarrassment yesterday after it emerged that he had hired his wife as an assistant on the day he began a crackdown on MPs' expenses.
The National Assembly president, Claude Bartolone, from President Francois Hollande's Socialist party, said he wanted a parliament that was "more exemplary, more open and more useful" as he announced a five-year parliamentary budget freeze and a 10pc cut in MPs' expenses.
His clean-up campaign risked being overshadowed by revelations in a political journal that he had taken on his wife, Veronique, as his assistant in charge of women's rights.
The parliamentary chief denied any conflict of interest, saying his spouse had long been in his employment before they married.
"I didn't take on my wife, I married my assistant," he said.
"If bakers can employ their wives to help them out, then why not MPs?" he added.
The opposition Right jumped on the untimely news with a barrage of sarcastic comments.
With the official jobless rate hitting three million, right-wing member of parliament Lionnel Luca wrote on Twitter: "Good news on the unemployment front: Mrs Bartolone is joining her president hubby in his cabinet!"
Fellow right-winger Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet added: "It is troubling coming on the very day we discuss the use of funds earmarked for MPs. It's hardly ideal."
Mr Bartolone announced the belt-tightening drive as his government prepares to unveil an austerity budget tomorrow to plug a €30bn hole in public finances. (© Daily Telegraph, London)