23 Sep 2009

PM's office consulted over English allowances - memo

5:09 pm on 23 September 2009

The Labour Party has released a memo which it says shows the Prime Minister's office set the criteria for Finance Minister Bill English's ministerial housing allowance.

Mr English receives an out-of-town allowance for the house in Wellington he lives in, which is owned by a family trust, because he maintains a house in his Clutha-Southland electorate.

He was receiving the full $700 a week ministerial allowance earlier this year, but following public criticism, he has paid back $14,000. Following public criticism, he has paid back $14,000 of the ministerial allowance he claimed.

The memo given to Labour under the Official Information Act, dated February this year, states that Ministerial Services sought advice from "the 9th floor" on whether leasing a ministerial residence from a family trust was appropriate.

The 9th floor of the Beehive is where the Prime Minister's office is situated.

Labour's Pete Hodgson says the Prime Minister or his office set the criteria for the allowance.