Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Questions 880 - 899)



  880. No doubt Millbank will look forward to another very generous donation.
  (Mr Vaz) If you want to write from Swansea, I am sure we can accommodate you.

  Mr Williams: I do not want anything.

Mr Bell

  881. We are dealing with these sort of untraceable payments and cheque stubs which say "K Vaz". Of course of all MPs yours is the name most easily written on a cheque stub, is it not? It just happens to be the shortest, so there could have been payments to this or that charity and people wrote "K Vaz" because it was easier to write.
  (Mr Vaz) There is one called Vis and I sometimes get his letters but he does not look anything like me. But thank you for that point. (Mr Vaz took instructions)

Mr Bottomley

  882. Who decided the payment of £8,700 would be made to the National Labour Party?
  (Mr Vaz) The party, the agent.

  883. Not the officers?
  (Mr Vaz) No, because the officers cease to exist. The only functioning person at the time of an election, as far as I can remember, and I have now fought five campaigns, is the agent. The agent is in law responsible. He would have consulted the treasurer of the Labour Party before making that decision.

  884. The National Labour Party?
  (Mr Vaz) No, the treasurer of the Labour Party would have asked for the money.

  885. The local Labour Party?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

  886. So these cheques were not paid—
  (Mr Vaz) Not Piara Singh Clair, who was not the treasurer.

  887. So these payments were not paid into the election account, but the decision to pass them on was made by the election agent alone?
  (Mr Vaz) No, because the name of the account does not say "election". The way you settle your election bills is at the end of the time. This is another thing the Telegraph raised. You do not put donors in your election account, you settle your bill, you send a cheque for what you spent, we spent exactly what we were required to spend in the election. If the money arrived before, there were other things the Leicester East Labour Party wanted to do. If the money arrived afterwards, as some of it did, it would be spent on other things because people say, "I want to make a donation" and they do not send you a cheque, so some of this arrived afterwards, so there was no way it could have been spent on the election. If I can remember the election, it was probably June—I am sorry, I do not know the date of the election.

  888. 1 May.
  (Mr Vaz) 1 May—how could I forget? Some of it would have arrived afterwards.

  889. If Mr Vaz finds on reflection he wants to revise the answer it was his election agent alone, it might be helpful to know that. Of the five people named in the register, can Mr Vaz confirm that at least one of those payments was for £5,000?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, but it would not have to be cleared in the National Party's accounts.

  890. I was not asking that question. Can we know whether these cheques, assuming they were cheques—can we assume they were cheques?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

  891. Can we know who the payee was?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, because it was paid into two accounts, the names of which are here. They are successor accounts.

  892. And on the cheque itself, each cheque said that particular account name?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, as far as I am aware. I do not know, I cannot remember. I have a letter here from someone who has looked at the accounts, I have not gone and looked at every single cheque.


  893. Who was the treasurer in 1996?
  (Mr Vaz) John Robinson.

  894. Thank you very much for coming along. I will need to have a look at that document.
  (Mr Vaz) Mr Chairman, can I make one point, if I may, about the Sunday Telegraph yet again?

  895. Please.
  (Mr Vaz) I am sorry to bore the Committee with this. Yet again witnesses to an inquiry have been publishing their accounts in the newspapers. I have written to the Attorney General and asked him whether he would do something on this contempt process. I understand if things are leaked out from the Committee—well, I do not understand it but if it happens, it happens—I do not know where it is coming from but it is clear that the Sunday Telegraph articles are coming from the two Sunday Telegraph reporters. They are clearly benefiting from the publication of confidential information that is held by this Committee and therefore the Telegraph is benefiting, because no other newspaper is getting its accounts in such detail as they are. The Sunday Times are, Mr Bindman tells me, but not with this detail. A number of people have already seen this report. If it goes on much longer, you know, one wonders what is going to happen here. It has been a year now and the issue of cost is important. It is costing me personally an enormous amount of money. This is not a reflection on Mr Bindman, I could not have got through this without Mr Bindman because I have to do my other work. Mr Campbell-Savours asks why, the reason is, we want to get it right. We do not want to do things which are wrong. If we had a different process, it could work but we do not have that process now. This (indicating document) is to be shown to you, Chairman. I will wait outside.

  896. And to the clerk?
  (Mr Vaz) Is he a member of the Labour Party?

  897. No, he is not.
  (Mr Vaz) All right, we will show it to him. But nobody else. I am not being deselected at the last moment. Do you want to see this outside because I would like to take them away with me, I do not want to be in a position where they are copied.

  898. If you give it to me now, I will look at it and return it to you.
  (Mr Vaz) May I consult Mr Bindman outside?

  Mr Campbell-Savours: Why don't we adjourn for two minutes.


  899. I think it can be handled straight away. Can you handle it straight away without adjourning?
  (Mr Vaz) No, I would just like to read through this.

  Chairman: Two minutes then.

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