Brown’s “expectation” Hain will survive

The prime minister has said he expects Peter Hain to remain in government but accepts the work and pensions secretary’s future lies out of his hands.

Gordon Brown said it would be a “great loss” if Mr Hain had to resign from his Cabinet positions over the latest funding row to beset the Labour party.

Mr Hain, who is also secretary of state for Wales, confirmed last week that he had failed to declare £103,000 in donations to his deputy leadership campaign.

The Electoral Commission and parliamentary commissioner for standards are now investigating the failings, which Mr Hain has insisted are “purely administrative”.

John Lyon, the parliamentary commissioner, confirmed this morning he would launch an investigation into how Mr Hain failed to declare £103,000.

Mr Hain could be suspended from parliament if the report, prompted by a complaint from Conservative MP David Davies, is critical.

In an interview with the Sun newspaper, Mr Brown said Mr Hain had “taken his eye of the ball” but has apologised.

“The matter must rest with the authorities, who will look at these matters,” Mr Brown continued. “It would be my expectation that he will carry on in government.”

Last week Downing Street said the prime minister had “full confidence” in his beleaguered secretary of state.

Yesterday Mr Brown continued to back Mr Hain: “Peter was a great secretary of state for Northern Ireland. He has been a reforming secretary of state for work and pensions. Many people admire his work.

“He has apologised for the delay in submitting his financial records. No one is suggesting that anyone has given wrongfully to his campaign.”

Nevertheless questions continue to be asked as to why donations totalling £50,000 were channelled through the Progressive Policies Forum – a “thinktank” with no staff or publications to its name.

Mr Hain read a statement outlining his account of events on Saturday night but the Conservatives argue he has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation.

David Cameron warned his “time will be up” if he continues.

The Tory leader said: “It’s no good when all these questions are being asked just to sort of come out and read out a statement and then scurry back indoors again.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cameron said the prime minister was “dithering” over whether to sack Mr Hain.

He explained: “If I was in the prime minister’s shoes I would say to Peter Hain: ‘Look, you’ve got to get out there, you’ve got to explain yourself; you’ve got to answer all of the questions and if you can do that, then maybe your job is safe but if you can’t you will have to go.’ I sense the prime minister is dithering over this issue.”

The Tories have been threatened by the own funding scandal after it emerged George Osborne failed to inform the parliamentary commissioner for standards of £500,000 received last January.

The Conservatives blame unclear advice, pointing out the shadow chancellor reported the money to the Electoral Commission.