Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex Q

Letter to Mr Archie Cameron, Head of the Fees Office,

from Mr Nigel Griffiths MP

I am grateful to your staff for sending me the summary of payments made by the Fees Office and additional financial contributions from me covering 1997 to 2001. These confirm that from 1996/7 to 2000-01 I funded from my own income, the Office Costs Allowance by £31,392.14p.

Further to our discussion earlier today, I am faxing separately the valuation undertaken by Shepherds for me of the rental value of 31 Minto Street. Shepherds is one of the largest chartered surveyors in Scotland. This gives an estimated rental value of £12,000 pa from 1997 on a five year lease. Can I remind you that I bought the office from my own personal funds at no charge on the Fees Office. The purchase price was funded entirely by myself—from a legacy left by my late father.

The charge to the House of Commons was £2,000 below this, so the saving to the taxpayer for this arrangement over a standard five year lease period is approximately £10,000.

I hope this makes clear the level of rent was not excessive.

I am also faxing the details of the payment of £5,500 in March 2000 and the agreement with my Member of The Scottish Parliament to cover the Scottish Parliamentary term. This was what he submitted to his authorities at the time. Part of this sum has already been spent on the area being used by the MSP and the remainder is to contribute towards a major refurbishment of the property planned for the new year.

Taken in full, my contribution of £31,000, the sums for interim repairs and up to £15,000 for major repairs, gives a contribution of more than £45,000 from 1996/7.

To sum up, I have received the sum of £40,000 from the fees office in rental for my constituency office, approximately £8,000 less than what would have been the commercial rental charge for a similar property in the area.

I also received the one-off payment of £5,500 from the Member of the Scottish Parliament. During the same period, I have contributed from my own income £31,392.14p towards my office costs and I am about to embark upon a major refurbishment estimated two months ago at £12,000-£15,000. I have no plans to increase the rent of this property following refurbishment.

I hope this outlines the position and that I bought the office accommodation from my own personal funds with no charge to the Fees Office, that the rental claimed is below normal market rent and that I have already personally contributed £31,392.14p to my office costs and I therefore hope you can conclude that the arrangements I have outlined are satisfactory, but would like this opportunity to apologise for not outlining them in detail earlier.

I hope that it is possible to give me your responses by 2 pm on Wednesday.

I am grateful to you and your staff for your assistance.

11 December 2001

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