29th May 2009 at 01:00

Building reputations

Misery loves company, and one MP seems determined that the elected members of the Commons should not be the only ones to have their property portfolio opened to public scrutiny.

David Evennett, the shadow minister for skills, asked ministers just how many offices were occupied by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

There is no word yet on whether they are surrounded by moats, but Dius spreads out over a comfortable five offices. Frugal Hefce keeps staff huddled together in two buildings in London and Bristol, while the LSC boasts an awesome array of 51 offices, four in Coventry alone.

Felaw Maltings in Ipswich is also included on the list, which FErret can only speculate was leased by some far-sighted person with an eye for the aptness of the LSC trying to organise things in breweries.

Brought to book

Colleges could end up doing their bit to help MPs acclimatise to a new regime of sackcloth and ashes. One principal mused to FErret that perhaps they could offer DIY courses to the honourable members of the Commons to help them cut down on their bills for maintenance.

An excellent idea! David Willetts, the shadow skills secretary, can surely spare one of his two brains to mug up as an electrician and save us the cost of replacing light bulbs.

Elliot Morley, Scunthorpe's MP, would probably find life easier with the help of a bookkeeping course at North Lindsey College, near the home he forgot he had paid off the mortgage on when he claimed Pounds 16,000.

As for Sir Peter Viggers, perhaps he could study for an animal husbandry certificate so that he could look after his ducks without recourse to a Pounds 1,600 floating house in the style of 18th century Swedish architecture. It will be tough, but needs must.

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