MI5 budget to hide costs of security

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Indy Politics
THE COST of security for the homes of Cabinet ministers is likely to be hidden in the budget of MI5 under the Home Office, following changes disclosed by the Prime Minister's office yesterday, writes Colin Brown.

Officials at 10 Downing Street said the Government had changed the system under which the cost of installing anti- terrorist security in the homes of Cabinet ministers was included in the budgets of individual ministries. Under new arrangements, the cost of such security will be contained in a single departmental budget.

They refused to identify the budget, but it is thought it will be part of the Home Office budget, covering the operations of MI5, which now leads the coordination of police operations against terrorism.

The issue has become highly sensitive, following controversies over payments from public funds to Norman Lamont, the Chancellor, and John Gummer, the Minister of Agriculture.

There was renewed controversy yesterday over a report that Mr Gummer received pounds 17,000 for security at his Suffolk home from his ministry's budget. However, Downing Street yesterday denied a claim that the Property Services Agency had opposed the sum spent on Mr Gummer's home. They said the PSA had no role in security installation.

Mr Gummer was criticised by a Commons select committee recently for failing to declare that a food company had spent pounds 2,000 to restore a pond at his home for an agricultural show.

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