Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Ninth Report


Letter to the Rt Hon Peter Mandelson MP from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Thank you for your letter of 23 February and for your acceptance of my reasoning in suggesting you register the loan from Mr Robinson and for doing so. I appreciate your willingness to answer further questions.

As I shall have to report my conclusions on this matter to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, I would like to be sure that I correctly understand all the surrounding circumstances. It would therefore be most helpful if you could give me a more detailed answer to the following questions.

1.  The flights accepted from Ms Linda Wachner

You explain that these flights were benefits received from a personal friend which had no bearing on your parliamentary role and duties. To allow me to satisfy the Committee on this point, I would be grateful if you would provide me with information about:

(i)  the dates and circumstances of the flights which Ms Wachner provided; for example, I understand that on the most recent occasion Ms Wachner had in any case to fly to Venice and offered you a seat on her plane so that you could continue your holiday there;

(ii)  whether the plane (which was described in the Sunday Times as a corporate jet) was owned by her personally, by her company or by some other company;

(iii)  if owned by her company or some other company, the name of that company;

(iv)  I believe you mentioned to Roger Willoughby that Ms Wachner's company had two outlets in the United Kingdom; if you could confirm this, and at the same time deal with Mr Henderson's question whether her business interests could possibly have come within the responsibilities of the DTI.

(v)  any other matter which you wish to bring to my attention which might bear on this complaint.

2.  The loan from Mr Robinson

Leaving aside the question of transactions between Members, about which I recognise that there is genuine doubt, I need to address the question raised by Mr Redwood as to whether the loan was provided on terms more favourable than would be available commercially. From the account which you gave me in your original letter of 22 December, it seems to me that there are certain aspects of the loan which might reasonably be regarded as 'concessionary'.

For example, it does not appear from your description that any interest on the loan had been paid at the date of your letter, nor is it clear what rates of interest were applicable; the terms of the loan did not specify dates of repayment; and no security for the loan was demanded. Would you also give me the date the agreement was made and the date the loan was provided to you. I assume there was a written agreement for this loan and I would be grateful for a sight of a copy to support your letter. If you have any additional comments on this loan, I would be glad to have them, as I am anxious to avoid making assumptions which you would regard as unfair.

3.  The loan from the Britannia Building Society

Mr Redwood raised the point as to whether the loan from the Britannia Building Society itself amounted to a concession so I feel obliged to raise this with you. I have seen the Britannia press release which you mention. I see they expressed themselves as satisfied with the information you had submitted to them but, as I am not privy to this information, I have no means of reaching a judgement on Mr Redwood's question. I would be grateful if you would provide me with the details of your arrangement with the Britannia, i.e. commencement date and period of loan, total sum borrowed, interest rate and terms of repayment and whether the acceptance of the loan placed you under any obligations for example about other loans on the property. Would you also give me the details of any mortgage which was outstanding on your previous flat at the date the Britannia Building Society made the loan to you.

4.  Perhaps you would also consider Mr Redwood's point concerning other gifts you may have received and let me know whether you have received other gifts which you feel should be registered.

I am sorry to have to put you to this additional trouble, and I would be very happy to discuss any of these matters with you either on the telephone or in person.

25 February 1999


previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 1 July 1999