Governor Chris Patten is being uncharacteristically tight lipped over revelations in a book presently causing a storm in Britain. Lord McAlpine, former Conservative Party treasur-er and one of Margaret Thatcher's devoted acolytes, says that Prime Minister John Major and Mr Patten sent him to collect a GBP500,000 (about HK$6.2 million) donation to party funds from an unnamed benefactor, alleged to be John Latsis, a Greek shipping tycoon. Latsis was named by the London Times, which is serialising the book. The shipping magnate was widely regarded as a supporter of the military junta which ruled Greece for six years until 1974. Can the story from Lord McAlpine be true? Government House says tersely: 'All enquiries about Tory Party funds should be referred to Conservative Central Office.' That's the British equivilent of pleading the Fifth Amendment in the United States. In London, a spokesman at the prime minister's office said he did not know if the allegation was true, but insisted that Mr Major had been 'absolutely scrupulous'. Lord McAlpine has subsequently left the Conservative ranks to campaign for Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party, which is calling for a referendum on Britain and the European Union. It appears from his book that he does not harbour any warm feelings towards the Governor. It was at McAlpine's house in London that cheers were reported to have broken out when news of Mr Patten's defeat at Bath in the last general election was broadcast. Lord McAlpine says that such cheers may have come from a rowdy party downstairs, but certainly not from a more select group upstairs which included Lady Thatcher. And where was he at the time? 'I don't recall,' he said this week. 'But I wasn't sad to see him go.' It seems Qian Qichen's invitation to Madeleine Albright to attend the handover ceremony wasn't her first. The new US secretary of state called British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind as soon as she was appointed to office, and he invited her there and then. According to the White House, she might not be able to take up the offer from either minister, but word has reached this column that the United States representative likely to attend is Vice-President Al Gore. The trip will probably come as a welcome relief from his troubles at home where his name has been linked with the row about donations to the Democratic Party from Asian businessmen. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised if a 'Brits go home' campaign starts up as the handover nears, but it is turning up in some extraordinary places. An interior designer - expatriate - wanting to consult plans for a restaurant he was working on, went to the Plan Viewing Unit of the Buildings Department in Mongkok on Wednesday and was shown plans dated 1976, which bore no relationship to the present state of the building and did not include the drainage system. When he asked to see the relevant documents, he was told to fill in another form and wait a further week, at which point he asked to see the supervisor, who told him: 'You shouldn't be here anyway. We don't need you, we're Chinese. 'Go home. After June 30 I will only be speaking Cantonese, so there will be no point in people like you coming here.' The restaurant owner, (also expatriate) who was present, promptly took up the conversation in fluent Cantonese, leaving the chap wondering how he could put his unpleasant racist policies into full effect against foreigners who can actually speak the language.