Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex viii11

Letter to Mr Keith Bennett from the then Registrar of Members' Interests

Thank you for your letter of 20 April 2001 on Mr Vaz's behalf.

I note what you say about the fact that Mr Vaz's proposed visit during Easter did not in the event take place.

I can confirm that a donation of £500 to Mr Vaz's election expenses in 1992 would not have exceeded the 25% threshold and would therefore not have been registrable.

As regards the two donations "made some time in 1993 and 1994", you state that these were registered by Mr Vaz as "computer equipment donated by the Caparo Group" and indeed such an entry appears in the January 1995 Register. (I assume the Caparo Group is Lord Paul's company). As you also correctly state, there was no printed Register in the calendar year 1993, although a printed edition was published in January 1994. Whether these donations were correctly registered would depend on whether they formed part of a single contribution to Mr Vaz's office expenses (albeit made in the form of two separate payments). Whether they were registered within the 28 day period allowed for registering new interests would, of course, depend on the dates on which the donations were received by Mr Vaz.

So far as the two donations appearing in the two 1997 Registers are concerned, one was attributed to Caparo and the other to Lord Paul in Mr Vaz's Register entry. It could perhaps be argued that, in terms of indicating the source of any possible influence on Mr Vaz, it would have been better to have stuck to the previous description of Caparo for the second 1997 donation unless Mr Vaz was absolutely sure that the donation was made in a purely personal capacity by Lord Paul. But I cannot speculate as to what view the Commissioner or the Committee might take on that point if a complaint were received.

As to your last paragraph, I think this may have a bearing on registration issues in so far as Mr Vaz receives hospitality from Lord Paul at the annual social gathering at the Ambika Paul Children's Zoo. This would, however, only be registrable if its value to Mr Vaz and his immediate family exceeded £240 and it was provided to him in his capacity as a Member, rather rather than as a family friend.

I hope this is helpful. Please convey my good wishes to Mr Vaz for a speedy recovery.

1 May 2001

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