RESPECT cannot be demanded, it has to be earned.

These past weeks have not shown politicians in the best possible light and I'm constantly told that people neither respect us nor have confidence in us.

I try to remember what it was like when I could confidentially assert that I respected the police, the entire medical profession and the clergy.

Hardly anyone would agree with me nowadays and I wonder if this is indicative of a general reluctance to see the good despite the occasional wrongdoing or if the concept of generic respect for groups of people has gone forever.

Westminster is reeling from the revelations of the increasingly bizarre office arrangements of the Hon Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup and I'm getting calls by the dozen demanding the full names of all who work in my office, their home addresses and details of their wages and tax payments.

Pressure is now on to ban MPs from employing their husbands or wives although there appears to be no suggestion that lovers or partners cannot work here.

Although we are the most scrutinised of all public servants and have to supply information on matters that BBC journalists, police officers, teachers and councillors would surely be reluctant to divulge, I accept that we have to go the full nine yards in respect of total transparency. For the record I can confirm that, in Westminster, I employ two full time staff and one person for a day a week. None of them are even distant relations.

My wife works in the constituency and is paid for two-and-a-half days a week.

Like me, all the staff are on fixed term contracts and I happen to think that they do an excellent job for the people of Ealing North.