What has Paul Rowen MP got to hide? Rather than giving copies of his allowances claims to his local media including the Manchester Evening News as most of his parliamentary colleagues in Greater Manchester have now done. Or made his excuses and made them wait until official publication Paul Rowen MP has taken the third way with a kind of Open Door policy at his seedy Drake Street office. A place where his Political Agent Dave Hennigan is known to spend the night, sleeping off the excesses of his notworking actvities.
All well and good? Bit unhygenic I suppose? And a fire risk? Oh, not letting sleeping Henn lie, you mean the open doors? Perhaps, if he lets journalists take copies of any and every voucher they want, that'll be fine. But actually he is it seems rationing access to his materials. The Manchester Evening News for example are being given just one hour to check what's there, and more importantly what's not there perhaps. They have been told, we understand from sources close to the Henn, that after today the matter will be closed until the official publication.
Is that really consistent with the full openness and transparency Rowen himself has repeatedly called for? Which he thinks is important? Why on earth can he not do the same as my MP Tony Lloyd? Or his fellow Rochdale MP Jim Dobbin? Or most of the others? What does he have to hide? Will this process not draw the Telegraph's attention to his expenses? Perhaps even to this inquisitive post of mine?
A few questions that come to mind. But on a sample basis let's start with the office rent:
1. Your office was rented from the local Lib Dem Party in 2005 and they still share the use of the premises:
i. How did you determine a fair market rent and the correct shares from time to time of the cost?
ii. How was the money paid to them and accounted for?
iii. Is there a written tenancy agreement?
iv. If so, there must be surely? This is taxpayers money after all. Can we see this?
v. Who did the Lib Dems pay their "head" rent to?
vi. Who are the owners and directors of that company or entity?
vii. Who originally set that company or entity up? Please list them by name?
viii. Who sold them the property? Please list them by name?
ix. Is it right that they donated the head rent back - or an amount of almost 90% of it - to the local party in the first part-year of the arrangement?
x. Is it right that the "head" rent trebled in that year? Versus the previous year?
xi. Is it right that they had previously received that "head" rent as a gift in kind from the owner?
xii. Have you Paul Rowen ever owned shares in or partipated in the governance of this property owner or any of its predecessors?
xiii. Have any other Lib Dem or predecessror party members? Can you list them?
xiv. Is it right that there have been no further accounts from Rochdale Lib Dems after two sets were lodged, late and some time after your election?
xv. Can you explain the lateness and why there have been no further accounts lodged?
xvi. Can you explain how it can be that donations to yourself and to Rochdale Lib Dems, including transactions relating to the landlord and tenancy arrangements, have completely dried up?
xvii. If changed from the original Landlord -> Head Lease -> Sub Lease arrangement reflected in Party accounts can you please explain the current arranegement and any stages between this and the original arrangement?
Phew! And that's (a) just the office arrangements and (b) not exhaustive even for those.
There's the main and second homes and the ACA, the Communications Allowance, and my oh my let's not forget the staffing. Here in Rochdale. At the Parliamentary office. And perhaps further afield. Let's not forget those headings. And in the spirit of openness of course there are Paul Rowen''s business interests, his Ugandan interests for example. And also the expenses and allowances he may receive for Council of Europe work. We don't think he's paying his own way on those ligs. Do you?
Given the huge public interest in MPs expenses we are quite amazed that there are no comments whatsoever on this at Paul Rowen's site. Transparency and accountability in action we suppose. Can always go and try to comment at the "open forum" at Paul Rowen's sister site "Rowen Online" run by Malcolm Porn-O, Hennigan's bosum buddy and recipient of part of those parliamentary allowances through his growing organ Rochdale Online Web Solutions or "Rows" for short.
Purely by coincidence we're sure Rochdale Labour Party have had short shrift from RO since the ROWS-created and possibly future RO-award winning Puttng Rowen First site appeared.
Here is what Rowen told Rowen Online:
“There have been a few data protection issues, as advised by the House and we were strongly advised to wait until they were resolved. I will be in a position on Friday to go through them and will be happy to answer questions that people have.
“As Rochdale’s MP, I have strived to be as transparent as possible and I am now pleased to be able to fully reveal my expenses. At the end of the day, tax payers have a right to know about every penny that is spent.
"The delay has been caused by data protection issues related to bank account and other personal details or private traders.
"I will be more than happy to field any questions.”
Well matey, there are sweet sixteen starters above.
When we've had the answers to those we'll give you some more.