Ken Follett (on Andrew Marr), on the subject of his wife Barbara Follett’s Parliamentary Office, say he subsidises it by a hundred thousand pounds a year. With the issue of MPs expenses very much to the fore, I looked to see if this squares with Mrs. Follet’s entry in the Register of Interests. And a fascinating exercise it was.

Noting that Paragraph 4 of interests to be entered into the register reads thus:

Sponsorship or financial or material support

In this section the Member is required to register any donation of more than £1,000 received by the constituency association which is linked either to candidacy at an election or to membership of the House, and also any other form of financial or material support as a Member. A ‘linked’ donation is defined as one ‘expressly tied to the Member by name e.g. if it is a contribution to the Member’s fighting fund or a donation which has been solicited or encouraged by the Member’. The obligation to register does not apply to constituency development agreements and other arrangements in which the identity of the Member is not a factor.

And that Barbara Follett’s current entry reads:

FOLLETT, Barbara (Stevenage)

2.Remunerated employment, office, profession etc Communications consultant to Ken Follett (author).

8.Land and Property Residential flat in London, from which rental income is received. Residential house in Cape Town, South Africa, from which rental income is occasionally received.

9.Registrable shareholdings (a)BEK Partnership; recording studio.

One has the following questions:

  1. Is the fact of Mr. Follett’s £100k ‘subsidy’ a registrable matter? (i.e. as “any other form of financial or material support as a Member”)
  2. Is this ‘subsidy’ being disguised under Item 2 of her entry?
  3. How long has Mr. Follett been funding her in this way?
  4. Is Mrs. Follett in breach of her obligations concerning the registration of interests and, if so, for how long has she been thus in breach?
  5. Is this a matter which ought to be taken up by the House of Commons Standards Commissioner?

I think we should most definitely be told.

UPDATE: As the SundayTimes is strictly a breakfast activity in The Huntsman’s household, I had not yet got to this report which details how Mrs. Follett is doing rather well out of the system. When listening to Marr, I failed, through trying to type and eat gum at the same time, to make the correct connection with why Marr was feeding Follett the opportunity to explain away her apparent enrichment. His response is even more interesting in those circumstances and, with respect, thoroughly disingenuous: it remains the fact that the Taxpayer has given her a whole load of moolah to buy a flat when she already had one which was “her own personal investment.” which makes you wonder why Mr. Follett is allowed to benefit from the one being claimed for.

I think we should be told even more.