Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex I

Letter to Mr Roy Beggs MP from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Further to my letter of 13 July 2001 I have now heard from the Valuation and Lands Agency and attach a copy of their letter which I have also copied to the Director of Finance and Administration.

When you have considered this information I would be grateful if you would let me have your comments on the rental values assessed in relation to the clams for rent allowance you made from 1988 to date. Please include an explanation for the amounts claimed in each year.

To make sure that I have a full and accurate picture for my report to the Standards and Privileges Committee, I would be grateful if you would also provide me with answers to the following questions:

1.    What price did you pay for 41, Station Road, Larne in 1988? What do you estimate to be its current value?

2.    Did you at any stage mention the property to the Registrar of Members' Interests or to my predecessor?

3.    You bought the house in 1988. When did you start to use it as your constituency office? Did you claim rent from the Office Costs Allowance as soon as you began to use it as an office? If you did not claim immediately, please explain why you made your first claim in 1990-1991?

4.    You said in your letter of 20th June that you approached the District Valuer for a rent assessment that they suggested that 'a local valuer would advise'. When did you make this approach to the District Valuer? Which local valuation agent did you use and what valuation did they provide? How often has the valuation been repeated? Please provide me with any documentation which refers to these valuations.

5.    You say in your letter of 20th June that 'the rent level is set by...taking account of the levels approved by the District Valuer determining the level of Housing Benefit contributed towards rent by the Housing Executive'. Does this mean that you estimated the rent on the basis of the levels which the District Valuer considered would be used for calculating Housing Benefit by the Housing Executive for properties of a similar type in the area? Why did you use this formula?

6.    When you began to claim rent from the OCA were you aware of the rules covering such claims? Had you read the guidance? Did you at any stage consult the Finance Office? If so, what advice did you receive on what date?

7.    You told me in your letter of 3rd May that you claimed rent from the OCA from 1990-91. The Finance Office are unable to provide me with figures for rent claimed from the Office Costs Allowance before 1993-94. Please let me know how much you claimed in 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93?

8.    Why did you decide to make the house over to your daughters in 1997/1998?

9.    On what terms was the house made over to your daughters? Did they pay you for it, and if so how much? On what basis was any payment made? For example, was there an independent valuation at that date?

10.  When I asked you on what date you transferred the house to your daughters, you replied (20th June) that "the assignment date of the Memorial to the Register of Deeds was 23rd January 1998", yet you also say "office rent claimed for the years 1997-8 to date has been paid to" your daughters. When exactly did you start paying rent to your daughters?

11.  You say that you and Mrs Beggs paid tax up to 31st March 1997 and that since then, to the best of your knowledge your daughters have been paying tax on the rent. If the transfer did not take place until January 1998, what was the position between 31st March 1997 and January 1998?

12.  When I wrote to you on 25th June I noted that you had written to me to say that you had not, since the transfer, had tax assessed on the benefit of the rent allowance you had received. I therefore advised you to contact your tax office to check that your tax affairs were in order and to confirm to me that you had done so. Please would you let me have that confirmation.

13.  I note you have now moved your office. Please would you confirm that you have no further involvement in 41 Station Road and if this is correct let me know the date your tenancy ceased. Am I right in assuming that you do not own 9 Carnduff Road?

14.  Please would you confirm that there are no other interests which on reflection you should have registered at any time since you were first elected.

When I have received your reply to this letter I hope to be in a position to draft my report. I will then contact you to arrange for you to have sight of the draft so that you may offer further comments and corrections. Perhaps you would let my office know how we should contact you if you will be away for any period during September.

I look forward to receiving your reply as soon as possible.

23 July 2001

previous page contents next page

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

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 31 October 2001