Blowing a Gale over MPs' Working Wives; ON SATURDAY
Byline: QUENTIN LETTS
WATCH out, Westminster: Commons wives are on the warpath. MPs' spouses who work as parliamentary secretaries are hopping mad about moves to bar them from working for their other halves. They are mobilising forces and threatening legal action.
The Arthur Scargill of the group -- actually, that's terribly unfair -- is Suzy Gale, who for 27 years has been secretary to her husband Roger, Tory MP for North Thanet.
Mrs Gale, 62, fears that the forthcoming Kelly Report on MPs' allowances will call for secretarywives to be outlawed.
'We are being sacrificed on the altar of public perception,' she says. 'I have worked since I was 17. What should I do? Do I divorce my husband so that I can go on doing my job?' The magnificent Mrs Gale, one of life's fast bowlers, is not alone. Her sisters in fury include: Eve Burt, wife of Alistair (NE Beds); Sally Hammond, wife of Wimbledon's Stephen; and Julia Luff, wife of Mid Worcestershire's peppery Peter. Other Commons spouses include Margaret Beckett's husband, Leo, and Caroline's Flint's chap, Phil Cole.
Mrs Gale has been on to Acas, the employment dispute people, and the Equality Commission.
'We have rights in employment law which no one seems to have thought about,' she cries. …