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House of Commons spends £2.4m on gagging orders with former staff

11:34 am, 21st June 2018

A total of 53 non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were signed between parliamentary officials and former staff at a cost of £2,507,176.

Every settlement included a confidentiality clause, Commons authorities admitted.

But they insisted they do not stop people who sign the contracts from whistleblowing.

Commons spend on NDAs:

:: 2013 – £916,082
:: 2014 – £405,682
:: 2015 – £182,706
:: 2016 – £584,893
:: 2017 – £317,893

Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities select committee, said the sums amounted to a “significant amount of money” and called for gagging clauses to become “a thing of the past”.

She told the Press Association: “There needs to be as much transparency as there can be as to how this money is being used and why such a relatively large amount of money was needed to deal with severance agreements.”

“It can’t be the drawing up of the contracts, they wouldn’t cost that much to draw up, so it must be the amount of money that’s being paid out.

“Salaries in the House of Commons are not enormous so that does seem to be a significant amount of money.

“There needs to be more transparency on why payments such as this are being made in the first place.”

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said the NDAs “further highlight the importance of changing the culture in Westminster”.

It comes after a former secretary to Speaker John Bercow was given a £86,250 pay-off to bar him from making complaints about his treatment in parliament.

Mr Bercow strenuously denies the claims made against him.