Conflict of Interest?
I still haven't had a proper response to my letter to Humza Yousaf, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, which was sent by email on 30 September 2021 - see below:Dear Mr Yousaf
Public Money and SNP Politicians
I understand that a Glasgow councillor with a full-time role in Glasgow City Council is also employed in your Glasgow Pollok local constituency office.
I would be grateful if you can explain the nature of the councillor's employment in your office - including the time commitment involved and cost to the public purse?
Because it seems extraordinary that a public official is able to draw two public salaries at the same time, especially if one of the roles (eg council role) has already been classified as a full-time commitment and paid accordingly.
I realise, of course, that I am not one of your constituents, but nonetheless I hope you will respond to my enquiry because the issues involved are obviously of much wider public concern.
I look forward to your reply.
I think the issues raised in my letter were very reasonable because it doesn't sound fair or like good practice to be employing someone in your office (using public funds) who is already receiving a generous full-time salary courtesy of Glasgow City Council - via the taxpayer of course.
So maybe Humza can't provide a good answer, maybe the letter hasn't been passed on to him by his office staff - who knows?
But it's probably time to start raising the issue elsewhere to get to the bottom of what's been going on since the SNP won control of Glasgow City Council in 2017.
SNP - Gaming The System (September 27, 2021)
Mhairi Hunter and Jennifer Layden are both senior councillors in Glasgow whose roles are regarded as a full-time commitment because of their additional responsibilities over a backbench councillor who is paid at two-thirds of the full time rate.
The full-time rate can vary depending on the nature of the role and according to Glasgow's Register of Interests Jennifer is paid a salary of £35,000 while Mhairi receives £26,000 - around £15 and £20 an hour respectively.
Yet both SNP councillors have other paid jobs - Jennifer works in Humza Yousaf's office having previously enjoyed a similar role in Margaret Ferrier; while Mhairi has a role in none other than Nicola Sturgeon's office and a separate paid commitment as a member of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.
Now I have no problem with councillors being properly remunerated - I was a member of the independent (SLARC) committee which recommended a new salary structure for elected councillors in Scotland in 2006.
Yet the SLARC regime is now being abused because no one has been scrutinising the system since the former SNP finance minister, Derek Mackay - who resigned in disgrace of course, decided that independent oversight was no longer necessary and that the SLARC committee should be disbanded.
The upshot is that we have large sums of public money being used to pay Glasgow councillors decent salaries to perform a wide range of part-time and full-time jobs - yet these salaries are also being topped up by SNP MSPs and MPs by employing councillors in their offices.
In effect, the system is being 'gamed' when the public interest demands independent scrutiny, openness and transparency.
Glasgow - More Senior Councillor Salaries (May 06, 2021)
Cllr Mhairi Hunter is another senior councillor in Glasgow with a full-time role as Convener for Health and Social Care Integration for which she's entitled to a salary of @ £26,000 plus expenses.
The salary details are not explained in the Council's Register of Interests, but there are three additional entries declared under Remuneration as follows:
1) Part-time constituency assistant to Nicola Sturgeon MSP
2) Co-Chair Glasgow City Integration Joint Board
3) Board Member Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board
Now I don't know what Nicola Sturgeon's assistants are paid, nor do I know the salary details of the Co-Chair of Glasgow's Integration Joint Board, but the last time I looked Members of GGCHB received a salary of @ £10,000 a year.
I suspect these additional jobs, in this case, are likely to amount to an overall package worth around £50,000 a year, perhaps more.
On this evidence senior councillors in Glasgow are are pretty high earners and hold down more than one job even though their council salary is calculated on the basis of being a full-time commitment.
I'll be interested to see how other backbench and senior councillor salaries in Glasgow pan out, but since the SNP got rid of SLARC (the independent oversight committee on councillor salaries) no one is keeping a watchful eye on what is going on.
SNP, 'Double Dipping' and Public Money (14/04/21)
Anyway, the link between the justice secretary and Glasgow councillor Jennifer Layden is that she works as a part-time caseworker in Humza's constituency office, having done so previously for the SNP's Margaret Ferrier.
Here's what Jennifer Layden's entry in the Council's register of Interest says:
"Part time caseworker for Margaret Ferrier MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, January until October 2020"
Part-time caseworker at the office of Humza Yousaf MSP, December 2020