Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Annex Fviii

Letter to Mr Archy Kirkwood MP from the former Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Thank you for your letter of 12 February 2002 and for informing me of your progress in responding to the complaints.

The response needed is one which covers all the points raised by the complaints. You may, if you wish, decide that your letter of 27 January is your response. However, as I explained, there were questions raised in my mind by the complaints which I felt needed answers. We went through those questions when we met and I sent you the list as an aide-mémoire. I had understood you to say you would treat your letter as a draft and add to it to cover my list of questions as you felt appropriate.

Concerning registration of grants, I am afraid you misunderstood me. There is no requirement to register payments made to third parties by grant giving bodies where the Member plays a part in the grant giving. Members are required to register any financial interests which they have or benefits which they receive. However, when a Member is involved in grant giving to bodies who then, for example, give evidence to a Select Committee, the Member should consider whether he should refer to that transaction, by way of a declaration, so that there can be no perception of conflict of interest. As you will be aware, Members are required by the Code of Conduct to resolve any conflicts of interest in favour of the public interest.

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has courteously provided this office with the information you mention. It is not for me to comment on grants made by charitable bodies.

Turning to your final query. As I explained, the Standards and Privileges Committee decided that it would not normally expect the Commissioner to investigate a complaint about an allegation concerning a matter more than 7 years old, unless it is a potentially serious matter or possibly connected to a serious matter. In every case, the Commissioner can only make a decision as to whether any investigation is necessary after the Member has been given the opportunity to provide a response to the complaint. In any event, some of the matters raised in these complaints are alleged to have occurred within the last 7 years.

I hope this allows you to complete your response.

With every good wish.

13 February 2002

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