Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex GG

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr Nigel Griffiths MP

Thank you for sending me a copy of your report in draft. I am grateful for your appreciation that I am responding briefly because of the unusual tight timescale.

I wish to make clear that my key aim has always been to provide my constituents with a first rate service, delivered from the main street in my constituency and to this end, as the Fees Office have confirmed, I have contributed £31,000 from my own funds to top-up the OCA. The bulk of the rent paid under the OCA went on this, together with other non-claimed items involved in the refurbishment of the office. I made no claim for the £68,000 which I paid for the office.

You question whether the £31,000 sum was sufficient to cover the cost of use for political reasons. This seems to be a reversal of your previous ruling in 2001 on this when you considered this in detail and were satisfied with this explanation and recommended no action.

In respect of the provision I make for my sister, your understanding of the arrangement set out in para 110 is the correct one and accurately reflects the arrangements I made following my father's disappearance and death. It reflects the position set out in para 42. The journalist's apparent interest and concern about my mentally handicapped sister was obviously false. As soon as he knew of the legacy, he was determined to make the most of the connection between the office rent and any help I give her. He even rang me before going to print to say he and his editor were particularly sympathetic to her interests.

You make clear in para 97 that the Green Book did not make special reference to the charging of rent by Members in respect of a property owned by the member him/herself, nor was the advice you received from the Fees Office in a previous case set out and circulated to members in the Green Book until last month. In respect of my constituency office the Fees Office acknowledges that £12,000 is a fair rent, and the charge they met was £2,000 less, representing a saving to the taxpayer of £8,000 in the past four years.

The contribution from the Member of the Scottish Parliament specifically included the construction of separate secure storage areas and window display areas. Such costs meant the rent should not have been re-imbursed to the Fees Office. In any case, the 'fair rent' is £12,000 so any costs related to the MSP were accounted for from part of the £2,000 pa over the £10,000 paid from the OCA.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make these comments.

10 February 2002

previous page contents next page

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

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 13 February 2002