Sunday, 21 October 2007

A pretty straight kind of Guy MkII

Aided and abetted by Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

Gordon Brown is facing accusations he has breached Westminster expenses rules after subletting his constituency office to party colleagues.

The Dark Lord signed a £1600 "sub-under-lease", which allows Labour activists to use part of his taxpayer-funded office in Mordor / Kirkcaldy.

But Commons rules state MPs "may not sublet accommodation which you lease and pay for out of the allowances".

The prime minister is now "clarifying" his office sublet agreement with the Westminster authorities.

The row stems from the leasing arrangement on the Fife office shared by Brown and Labour MSP Marilyn Livingstone.

The pair began to sublet an office from an insurance company in 2005, a deal worth £13,500 a year in rent to the firm.

Deeds from the National Archives show Brown and Livingstone, in early 2006, then agreed a sub-under-lease with Labour Party Nominees Limited for a yearly charge of £1647.

The deal enables the local Labour Party to use a room in the constituency office as well as sharing amenities with the two politicians. Brown, Livingstone and Scottish general secretary Lesley Quinn all signed the lease.

However, the House of Commons "green book", which sets out the rules on MPs expenses, makes clear subletting accommodation is no longer allowed.

In a section on constituency offices marked "Sublets", the rule states: "In view of the practical difficulties which may arise, you may not sublet accommodation which you lease and pay for out of the allowances."

It adds: "Exceptions may be allowed for sublets existing in January 2002 when this restriction was introduced." Brown's rent deal was signed in 2006.

Whilst there is no apparent suggestion that our Master personally benefited financially from the arrangement, the sublet raises questions over his compliance with the Commons rules on expenses.

It would seem that our new Master seems to have the same understanding of probity and respect of rules and procedures as his predecessor.

Plus ça change….

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