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