The regular Parliamentary Register of Percuniary Interests was published in January of this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Bill English’s pecuniary interests were declared in that register as:
Hon Bill ENGLISH (National, Clutha-Southland)
1. Company directorships and controlling interests
Resolution Farms Limited – farming
6. Real property
Family home, Dipton
But earlier this week the first ever MP’s expenses register was published. It revealed, in relation to Bill English and a property in Karori, Wellington, that he was claiming from the Government almost $1000 a week expenses to live in:
A search of the title by the Dominion Post showed the Karori home was bought by Mr English and his wife, Mary, for $800,000 in 2003. However, in March this year the title was transferred to Mrs English alone.
A spokesman for Mr English said the home, now worth an estimated $1.2 million, was always owned by a family trust.
They show he claimed $23,763 for Wellington accommodation costs in the first six months of the year for living in the Karori house.
A spokesman for Mr English told the newspaper the ownership of the house had remained with a family trust.
The transfer of title in March was caused by “changes in the trustee arrangements for personal and family reasons”.
Okay, so a couple of questions:
Question 1: Why does the home in Karori, which was in the joint title of Bill and Mary English from 2003 until March of this year, not appear in Bill English’s register of pecuniary interests published in January of this year?
Question 2: Is it lawful, and if so, is it ethical, for a Minister to claim almost $1000 a week to live in a house in Wellington that is owned by his wife, who also works as a medical practitioner in Wellington, together with the younger of his kids, who also live and go to school in Wellington.
English is the MP for Clutha Southland. As the Register of Pecuniary Interests reveals, he owns property there, but I understand it is or was either leased or rented out. So where does he stay when he is in his electorate overnight on constituency matters. In a motel or hotel perhaps, with the costs of that being charged back too.
Do I see another Ministerial resignation coming on?
Pity for me personally if it is English, because I have a bet with someone that Nick Smith will be the next to go (and Paula Bennett must already be on shakey ground too).