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Smith's UK rental $7500 a week

12:00 Sat May 25 2013
AAP
Former Speaker Lockwood Smith is renting a $7500-a-week house in London as the government ponders the sale of the UK High Commissioner's residence.
Former Speaker Lockwood Smith is renting a $7500-a-week house in London as the government ponders the sale of the UK High Commissioner's residence. (Getty)

Kiwi taxpayers are forking out nearly $7500 a week for UK High Commissioner Lockwood Smith to live in rented London accommodation instead of the New Zealand government-owned residence, which is set to be sold.

Dr Smith took up the post in February after stepping down as parliament's Speaker, following more than 20 years as an MP.

Before he started the job, the government decided to sell its four-bedroom high commissioner's residence in Kensington, valued at $5.5 million, which it has owned for about 10 years.

Instead of living there until it is sold, Dr Smith is renting nearby accommodation at a cost of STG4000 ($NZ7453) each week, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Fairfax.

He said London property is some of the world's most expensive and Dr Smith's rent was "in line with what you would expect to pay for properties in that area".

MFAT is also considering what to do with the rented 18-storey New Zealand House building, which houses the high commission and government agencies.

The building, leased to the government until 2048, requires substantial repairs, but a planned $2 million upgrade was put on ice last year amid MFAT cutbacks.