Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 12:55 UK

Osborne donation complaint upheld

George Osborne
Mr Osborne has said he did not think the donations had to be declared

A complaint over donations worth 487,000 to shadow chancellor George Osborne has been upheld by the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.

But it said it "would not be fair or reasonable to criticise him" over the money, which was not entered into the Register of Members' Interests.

The money was given to Conservative Central Office and declared to the Electoral Commission.

It was then transferred to fund Mr Osborne's office.

'Followed the rules'

The complaint was made by Labour MPs Kevan Jones and John Mann.

Mr Osborne said: "I am pleased that the committee have cleared me of any wrongdoing in this matter.

"I maintained all along that I always followed the rules and advice as I understood it. I am glad that the rules have now been clarified and I will of course continue to adhere to them."

But Mr Mann said: "The report shows that there is clearly a methodical system that has been put in place to hide donations.

"The shadow cabinet member asks for a donation, a donation goes to Conservative Central Office and they allocate it to same frontbench spokesman."

In its report, the standards committee recommends that the Registrar of Members' Interests and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards "should always be consulted about points of difficulty and uncertainty in the interpretation of the rules".

It adds that "those seeking guidance should be as clear and as focused as possible about the question they are asking and the reasons for so asking".

It goes on to say that "in the case of identifiable donations received through a party's central office, it would aid clarification if the fact that the donation was received through that office were recorded in the register entry".

The report notes that it is clear "that a similar policy of not including in their register entries details of financial support received from Conservative Central Office was followed by most members of the shadow cabinet".

It urges Mr Osborne's colleagues to register any such donations, adding that "provided they do so within four weeks of the date of publication of this report, he [the standards commissioner] should not entertain any complaints about previous non-registration".

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