812. Allegations of non-registration
and non-declaration clearly have to be judged against the requirements
at the relevant time which, in some instances, were less precise
or onerous than they are now. Nevertheless, since 1975, Members
have always been required to have the general purpose of the Register
in mind, which is to disclose any financial or other material
benefit which might be thought to affect their conduct as Members
or influence their actions in Parliament. Against this requirement
it is often a matter of common sense as to whether a particular
benefit should be disclosed, even if it does not fall conveniently
within a specific category in the Register. But the strong implication
is that Members should always err on the side of disclosure.
813. In addition to the
stay at the Ritz (dealt with earlier) the main allegations against
Mr Hamilton under this heading are considered below:
1989 Mr and Mrs Hamilton spent a few days as guests of
Mr Al Fayed on the estate of Balnagown Castle. This was clearly
a benefit of substantial value and should, in my view, have been
registered. Mr Hamilton regarded it as "private hospitality":
but this is a concept not recognised by the Register and, given
the lobbying he was conducting at the time on Mr Al Fayed's behalf,
the benefit could certainly have been thought to affect his conduct
as a Member.
Hamilton acknowledged receiving two Harrods hampers - one
in 1988 and one in 1989. By today's standards these would be
registrable, but I am inclined to think that this may not have
been the accepted position at the time.
most, if not all, other lobbyists, IGA regularly paid commissions
to Members who introduced new business. In 1987/88 Mr Hamilton
received an introduction commission of £4,000 and a consultancy
fee of £7,500 in relation to the National Nuclear Corporation.
He registered the latter but not the former, on the grounds that
the introduction payment was ex gratia and unexpected.
In my view there is no doubt that the introduction commission
should have been registered since it might have been thought to
affect Mr Hamilton's conduct as a Member. This was also
the view of the Select Committee on Members' Interests at the
time and, although the Committee recognised that the categorisation
of the Register was unsatisfactory, they did not see this as a
justification for a failure to register such payments.
(iv) In 1989
Mr Hamilton received an introduction fee from IGA of £6,000,
which had been agreed in 1988, in respect of US Tobacco (UST).
Since this was his second such fee, it could no longer be argued
that it was wholly unexpected. It should, in my judgement have
been registered during 1989 and, in any event, in January 1990
after the Registrar had specifically reminded Members at the end
of 1989 of their obligation to declare single payments.
(v) Also in
1989 Mr Hamilton enjoyed a three night stay at a hotel
in New York at the invitation of UST. This, I think, was a marginal
case, since he was on Select Committee business and his accommodation
would have been paid for anyway. Nevertheless, the benefit could
still have been thought to affect his conduct as a Member and
would have been better registered.
(vi) It has
been suggested that the payment relating to UST was, in fact,
a consultancy fee and not an introduction payment. The evidence
to the inquiry of Mr Walter, the former UST executive was not
conclusive on this point. But this is not an important distinction
if, as is the case, the payment was registrable in either event.
(vii) In 1990
Mr Hamilton received £667 from Strategy Network International
for a month's consultancy work before becoming a Minister. He
suggests that this would have been disregarded, as being de
minimis, in 1990 and that, in any case, he resigned his appointment
within the four-week period allowed for the registration of a
new interest. In my view it is spurious to argue that an interest
acquired and relinquished within four weeks is non-registrable;
and the amount involved was far from negligible. I conclude that
it should have been registered.
814. There is a general
obligation on Members to the effect: "if in doubt, register".
Mr Hamilton seems to have adopted the opposite principle
and, if in doubt, gave himself the benefit of it.
815. Running through much
of Mr Hamilton's evidence on these matters is a misconception
that the scale of a benefit - and thus of any obligation it might
be thought to create - is defined by the cost it represents to
the giver. This is false. It is the value to the receiver which
matters and the fact that this may be notional and not the subject
of a formal transaction makes no difference. This has always
been the case and there is no reason for Mr Hamilton to
have believed otherwise.
816. Mr Smith now
accepts that he was in error in not registering his interest with
House of Fraser when he first received cash payments from Mr Al
Fayed. His position on non-registration is exacerbated by the
fact that this was not a case of oversight, or an innocent but
reasonable misinterpretation of the registration rules: Mr
Smith chose not to register his paid employment with Mr Al
Fayed, because that was Mr Al Fayed's preference.
817. In February 1989 Mr
Smith acknowledged such an interest - but only hesitantly
- following an open letter from Mr Tiny Rowland accusing him of
being in Mr Al Fayed's pay.
818. In my view Mr Smith's
Register entries were wholly inadequate and their removal after
two and a half weeks was a disingenuous attempt to conceal his
financial interest with House of Fraser from public notice.
819. I have no doubt that
the payment by Mr Greer of £5,319 to Sir Andrew Bowden
was intended as a contribution to election expenses; and as
such, should have been registered. It was not.
820. Sir Andrew also
received lecture fees from Mr Greer. He had an entry entitled
"Lecturing and Broadcasting" in the Register. Although
the source of funds was not identified, this was probably regarded
as adequately meeting the requirements at the time.
821. Sir Peter Hordern
properly registered his consultancy with the House of Fraser under
the category "Employment or Office". Having done so,
he saw no necessity to register hospitality he had received from
Mr Al Fayed at the Ritz and Balnagown Castle. In my view the
spirit of the Register requirements would have been better observed
by separate registration, particularly as the hospitality was
personal to Mr Al Fayed, whereas the consultancy was with House
of Fraser. On the other hand, the rules were not as clear cut
in the 1980s as they are now and I would not see this as grounds
822. In July 1990 the Select
Committee on Members' Interests criticised Sir Michael's
entries in the Register as "insufficiently detailed"
and for appearing to connect introduction payments received from
Mr Greer (on behalf of IGA) to work carried out for the Unitary
Tax Campaign "with which they were not associated except
in the most tenuous manner." At the same time it concluded
that there had been no "clear infringement of the rules."
823. It can, I think, be
safely assumed that the Select Committee would have expressed
itself differently had it been aware, not only that the number
of commission payments to Sir Michael had been understated,
but that, in his evidence to the Committee, Sir Michael
had omitted altogether to refer to the direct, regular payments
received from Mr Greer or IGA which had the effect of putting
Sir Michael on an annual, but undisclosed, retainer with
the lobbying organisation. I believe the concealment was deliberate.
824. Like Mr Hamilton,
Mr Brown received a £6,000 introduction fee from Mr
Greer in respect of US Tobacco which was neither registered nor
declared for tax purposes. Mr Brown now accepts that the
payments (received in instalments) should have been registered;
and he has informed the tax authorities of the position so that
they may reach a decision on whether the payments were taxable.
As with Mr Hamilton, the receipt of a substantial commission
payment for the introduction of a company with whom Mr Brown
had had an existing, but unpaid, relationship, demonstrates the
importance of registration.
825. Mr Brown received
his payments in three instalments during the course of a year.
The amount of the commission payment was directly linked to the
fees charged by IGA, and if the lobbying contract had not run
the course of the year, the introduction fee would, no doubt,
have been reduced. Therefore, if either Mr Brown or Mr
Hamilton were to continue to promote the interests of US Tobacco,
whatever their beliefs and personal views, the House and the public
should have been informed, by registration, that a financial relationship
existed between the Members concerned and the lobbying company
826. Lady Olga's
services to Mr Greer were undertaken and paid for before
she became a Member. I agree that, under the existing rules,
this interest was not registrable or declarable, even though she
invoiced Mr Greer for the payment after her election. So far
as the 1993 Adjournment debate on the Royal Marsden Hospital is
concerned, it is clear that Lady Olga had a legitimate
constituency interest in pursuing the matter.
827. The allegations against
Mr Malone under this heading are that, in November 1985,
when PPS to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, he
met Mr Al Fayed and subsequently reported to Mr Brittan in a way
which was helpful to Mr Al Fayed's cause; and that he subsequently
received an election donation from Mr Greer of £1,000 at
the 1987 election.
828. In my view Mr Malone
has no case to answer. His meeting with Mr Al Fayed was a normal
action for a PPS; there is no reason to associate the election
donation with a meeting which took place some eighteen months
earlier; and since he was not in any case elected in 1987, no
question of his registering a campaign donation could have arisen.