Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 12:00 UK

Osborne denies breaking fee rules

George Osborne
George Osborne said he had declared the money months ago

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has dismissed a story that he broke his own party's rules by accepting up to 10,000 for speaking at a conference.

He told the BBC he had publicly declared the money seven months ago and was surprised to see it making news.

Conservative Party guidelines say shadow ministers should not accept fees if the subject matter relates to shadow ministerial responsibilities.

Labour MP John Mann has called for the fee to be repaid.

Mr Osborne said the wide-ranging Q&A session had not broken any rules.

Asked about the fee, for speaking to the Institute of Directors' annual conference in Jersey, he told BBC One's Andrew Marr programme: "It's not against Conservative Party rules, it's not against Parliamentary rules because I properly registered it."

'Repay money'

However, Mr Mann said: "David Cameron cannot lecture others if he isn't even enforcing his own party rules. He should order all of this money to be paid back."

Mr Cameron criticised Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week after MPs voted to reject proposed reforms to MPs' expenses. Mr Brown was not at the vote and 33 government ministers were among those who voted reforms down.

I think we do have to change MPs' expenses because the opportunity to change them last week was missed
George Osborne

Mr Osborne said it had been a "tragedy" that MPs had not voted through proposals to reform the expenses system last week and blamed Mr Brown.

"I voted to make those changes transparent, so did David Cameron, but extraordinarily for some reason the Labour Party whips whipped Labour MPs to vote against it, and Gordon Brown didn't show up and that opportunity was missed and it's back to the drawing board with the MPs' allowances."

Asked if the Conservatives would reform expenses if they were in power, he said: "I think we do have to change MPs' expenses because the opportunity to change them last week was missed.. hopefully we will be able to sort it out before the election, but if not - we will have to sort it out after the election."

The committee on standards in public life is believed to be considering its own inquiry into MPs' expenses and Mr Brown has said he was "very disappointed" with the vote adding: "We've got to look at the issue of transparency and accountability and expenses again."

In May, a complaint - brought by Labour MPs John Mann and Kevan Jones - about 487,000 donations to Mr Osborne was upheld by the Commons standards and privileges committee.

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

It had been given to Conservative Central Office and declared to the Electoral Commission, before being transferred to fund Mr Osborne's office.




SEE ALSO
Watchdog set to probe MP expenses
04 Jul 08 |  UK Politics
Tories attack Brown on expenses
04 Jul 08 |  UK Politics
MPs vote to keep homes expenses
04 Jul 08 |  UK Politics
Osborne donation complaint upheld
15 May 08 |  UK Politics

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