3pm update: Guido blogs that Harry Cole has reported Brown to the Standards Commissioner over this matter on behalf of the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics
Conservative frontbencher Greg Hands is demanding an explanation from Gordon Brown as to why he did not declare a £50,000 secret fund of Labour cash used to pay for his own private polling in the MPs' Register of Interests – and is threatening to ask the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate the matter.
The "fund with no name" has come to light in the memoirs of former Labour General Secretary, Peter Watt, which are being serialised in the Mail on Sunday. It is suggested that up to £50,000 of Labour donations were secreted to this fund, which did not appear in Labour Party accounts, and that Brown, whilst Chancellor, used the money for his own polls because he did not trust those commissioned by Tony Blair and his party.
Greg Hands suggests that Brown's failure ever to declare the fund was in breach of the Commons rules on MPs' registering financial interests.
In his letter to Brown, he states:
"In light of Mr Watt's serious allegations, I would like to know on what basis you judged it unnecessary to declare the fund. As
a matter of public interest, I believe it is important that you clarify
these issues urgently as I believe there may be grounds for
investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards."
Below is the letter in full: