Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report


Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Complaint against Mr Geoffrey Robinson

1.  Mr David Heathcoat-Amory, Member for Wells, wrote to me on 5 March 1999 (Annex A) enclosing information from Companies House which showed that, between 16 April 1997 and 3 November 1997, Mr Geoffrey Robinson, Member for Coventry North West, held jointly with his stepmother one third of the shares issued by the JCT Property Company, which owned property and unit trusts worth £800,000. He asked me to investigate whether the shares were held personally or in the capacity as a trustee, and whether Mr Robinson had contravened the rules of the House in not registering the shareholding.

2.  Category 9 of the Rules on the Registration of Members' Interests require registration of "interests in shareholdings held by the Member, either personally, or with or on behalf of the Member's spouse or dependent children, in any public or private company or other body which are: (a) greater than 1 per cent of the issued share capital of the company or body; or (b) less than 1 per cent of the issued share capital but more than £25,000 in nominal (i.e. face) value."

3.  Mr Robinson replied (Annex B) that the shares in the JCT Property Company were trust property which he had held only as a trustee of a family settlement established in 1989 by his brother, Peter Robinson, for the exclusive benefit of three specified children (or their eventual dependants) of his father by a second marriage. Mr Robinson himself had been appointed as a trustee following the death of his father in 1993 until August 1997, when he relinquished his trusteeship. He assured me that neither he nor any of his dependants had ever held any beneficial interest in the shares, nor had he been remunerated as a trustee.

4.  I have seen copies both of the original trust deed and of the subsequent deeds validating Mr Robinson's appointment and retirement as a trustee. I am satisfied that the facts are as Mr Robinson describes them and that the terms of the trust afforded no beneficial interest either to himself, his wife or dependent children in the 166 shares in question. These shares were held jointly by himself and his stepmother as trustees of the settlement solely for the period referred to by Mr Heathcoat-Amory, and were then transferred from his name to that of his successor as a trustee.

5.  I agree with Mr Robinson that, in these circumstances, there was no requirement for the shareholding to be registered, and I find that no breach of the Rules occurred.

Elizabeth Filkin

24 March 1999

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