Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Annex B

Letter to the former Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Adrian Flook MP

I wondered if you would investigate whether Mr Archy Kirkwood MP, a Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, breached the rules of the House in a way that can only be regarded as a serious matter.

It appears that he did not rigorously declare payments made to him by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd between 1989 and 1992, nor in 1997, and make an unambiguous statement about what the monies he received were used for. Mr Kirkwood also appears not to have declared in the Register of Members Interests that he was a director of the same company in every Register since 1985 when he took on this position.

Specifically there is some ambiguity concerning the money declared in the Register of Members Interests of October 1997 as it does not tally with the description in the accounts of Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, which relate to the same period.

The Register has 'contribution to election expenses' while the Accounts refer to it as 'research assistance and publication costs.' I believe that this discrepancy needs some clarification.

This discrepancy may also call into question whether Mr Kirkwood's election expenses accurately reflect the contribution of the 'research assistant' to electoral campaigning in the run up to the 1992 and 1997 elections.

Also somewhat ambiguous are earlier entries in the Register between 1989 and 1992 as it is not entirely clear what the role of Mr Paul Jacobs, who worked in Mr Kirkwood's constituency office, actually was.

I am concerned that Mr Kirkwood, a Parliamentary Commissioner and is someone who should be more aware of the rules of the House, failed to register a payment within the four weeks required as seems to have been the omission in the January 1990 Register of Members Interests.

Equally, I am also concerned that payments of £12,716, which appear in the accounts of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd for 1992, were not declared within the stipulated four weeks.

I also understand that Mr Jacobs, whose work benefited Mr Kirkwood directly, was also given severance pay of 3 months salary following the 1992 election; yet this does not appear in any of the Registers for December 1992 or throughout 1993.

I regard these omissions by a senior MP as a serious breach, which undermines the respect and probity of the House of Commons.

Finally, I would like to seek assurance from the office of the Commissioner that Mr Kirkwood has fully and accurately registered every aspect of relevance with the Registrar.

19 January 2002

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