Shadow housing minister apology over £60k union payments

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey has apologised in the House of Commons for failing to declare payments of almost £60,000 for work he carried out for Unite while an MP.

Dromey was Unite’s deputy secretary general when he was elected in May 2010. Just after the election he wrote in his register of interests that he was leaving the post and was declining a salary from after the election. Dromey told the parliamentary committee on standards and privileges he was then asked to stay on to deal with an internal matter.

A report by the committee says Dromey failed to declare £28,173 in wages and a £30,000 “ex gratia” payment paid to him by the union between June and November 5 2010. He did not register the wages until October 4th 2010 or the £30,000 payment until July 7 2011.

The standards commissioner John Lydon says the failure was unintentional and welcomed Dromey’s co-operation with the inquiry. The committee’s report however says the breeches were “serious”. The report also criticises Dromey’s failure to declare an interest before interventions in two Parliamentary debates.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Dromey said: “I failed to update in time my initial registration in respect of payments received from my previous employer during the months of June to October 2010. This I have now done. I also failed to declare an interest in speaking in two debates on 16 June and 16 September 2010.

“Notwithstanding that the commissioner found, and the Committee noted, that the breaches were unintentional, I want to apologise unreservedly to the House, and I will in future fully abide by the rules of the House.”

Dromey also had use of a telephone and car provided by the union for which £4,145 was deducted from the November payment of £30,000.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen originally called for an investigation into the payments. He says as Labour party treasurer for six years and the husband of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, an MP since 1982, Dromey should have known he needed to register the payments earlier.

He says: “Once again, Labour have been found guilty of putting the vested interest of the trade unions ahead of the interest of the British people. Ed Miliband can talk all he likes about taking on the unions, but unless he publicly reprimands his Shadow Minister’s misconduct, people will see him for what he is – weak and in the pockets of his union paymasters.”