Lamont to be criticised over gift

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Indy Politics
Norman Lamont, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is to face criticism from a powerful cross- party Commons committee over his handling of the pounds 18,414 donation he received to meet legal fees involved in evicting a 'sex therapist' from his London home, writes Nicholas Timmins.

Mr Lamont failed to declare the gift, received anonymously from Conservative Party sources, in the Register of Members' Interests. He has argued there was no need for him to do so because an anonymous donation could not affect his actions.

The House of Comons Select Committee on Members' Interests decided at a 2 1/2 hour meeting yesterday that Mr Lamont did not breach the rules, which on Monday it will recommend should be tightened up to make clear that anonymous gifts are covered.

But the committee is understood to have concluded that the Chancellor should at the least have consulted the registrar who runs the listings of members' interests to clarify whether the sum ought to be declared.

Labour MPs are likely to use the finding, agreed unanimously, to renew their attacks on the Chancellor's judgement.

The committees met on the eve of the Public Accounts Committee today receiving Sir John Bourn's report on the pounds 4,700 payment the taxpayer made to Mr Lamont to cover private lawyers' fees for handling press inquiries over the affair.