Pembroke: Second home from home

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The Independent Online
PRESUMABLY on the grounds that if it is all right for the Queen to allow tourists into her house then it's OK for anyone else, Lloyd's names are renting out their London homes and pieds-a-terre rather than suffer the indignity of selling them.

According to the London accommodation agency A Place Like Home, the trend began about a year ago but has picked up recently. The plush pads - which are mainly second homes lest we feel too sorry for the names - are let to business travellers or tourists.

One des res in Belgravia which boasts five bedrooms and four bathrooms is available for a non-recessionary pounds 2,000 a week.

Who stays in these places? A lot of Americans, according to Silvia Lawson Johnston, a partner in A Place Like Home. 'For seasoned travellers, the thought of another hotel room is appalling. To immerse themselves in a little bit of England is enormously appealing.'

HILL SAMUEL, the merchant bank now owned by TSB, is no doubt feeling chipper about its appointment to advise the Government on the Channel tunnel rail link. It is just the kind of prestigious project it needs after a difficult period which has saddled the once high-flying bank with pounds 1.8bn of problem loans.

How did it bag such a high-profile contract? We are assured by the Department of Transport, which made the decision, that the fact that John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, was a director of Hill Samuel from 1968 to 1979 is a mere coincidence.

'Mr MacGregor was careful to distance himself from the decision,' a Department of Transport spokesman says.

CLIVE THOMPSON, chief executive of Rentokil, is probably wise to ban Securiguard, its recently acquired security business, from applying to run prison escort services because it is too risky. Mr Thompson is concerned about the effect on the company's reputation if it suffers a rash of escapes.

Group 4, which recently rebuked Pembroke for describing it as 'the butter-fingered prisoner loser', is constantly indulging in acts of damage-limitation as prisoner after prisoner legs it out of the back of its vans.

Group 4 very proudly says it loses only 0.7 jailbirds a week, half the number mislaid by the police and prison service, and that a further 43 violent attempted escapes have so far been prevented. 'Magistrates are constantly writing to us saying how good our service is,' a spokesman says.

TIM YEO, the environment and countryside minister, will today grit his teeth and smile for the cameras in what we can safely assume will not be a high point in his political career. The reason is that he is taking delivery of a new fridge. Not an ordinary fridge, but an environmentally friendly, CFC-free version which usefully illustrates the Government's save the ozone policy.

Poor Mr Yeo is therefore required to snuggle up to his new domestic appliance surrounded by members of Greenpeace.