Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Annex Fxi

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

Thank you for your letter and enclosures of 9 March 2002 in which you respond to the questions raised by my predecessor about these complaints. I have read these papers and all the others on the file relating to these complaints, and find that there is just one matter raised in Mr Bruce's letter of 21 January 2002 to my predecessor about which I need to come back to you.

This concerns the fifth of Mr Bruce's complaints, which he describes in the second paragraph on page 3 of his letter. I am enclosing a further copy of this letter for ease of reference.

You'll see that Mr Bruce alleges that donations were made by JRRT Ltd. to your constituency association of £400 in 1995, £2,000 in 1997 and £850 in 1999, none of which were entered in the Register. The Rules relating to registration state that the following should be registered:

"Any other form of sponsorship or financial or material support as a Member of Parliament which involves any personal payment, benefit, or advantage. If any of these arrangements involve payment to the Member or any material benefit or advantage which the Member personally receives this should be indicated."

The Guide to the Rules amplifies this statement in the following terms:

    "Members are also required to register (and declare where relevant) any substantial donations which are made by an organisation or company on a regular basis to their constituency party when such donations are linked directly to their own candidacy or membership of the House. For this purpose "substantial" means any payment (or benefit in kind of an equivalent value) of £500 or more per annum. However, donations made directly to a constituency party as an expression of general political support, not linked to the Member's candidacy or membership of the House, should not be registered. Similarly it is not necessary to register a trade union donation to a constituency party which is not linked to the promotion of a particular parliamentary candidate."

I have not managed to identify a response to this particular complaint in the material which you have provided. Forgive me if I have overlooked it, given the volume of all the material in the file. Looking at your personal registration file, however, I note that you registered an election contribution of £2,000 from JRRT in October 1997 and that on 4 January 2000 you sought advice from the then Registrar about a contribution from the same source in December 1999 of £850 to your constituency association. Does this correspondence relate to the payments which are the subject of the complaint? I should in any event be grateful if you will give me your comments on this point or direct me towards where the matter has been covered in your earlier letters.

As you know, I shall be abroad from 14-25 March inclusive. Dependent on your response on this point, I should hope to be able to conclude my consideration of these complaints very shortly after my return to this country. If you want to have a word with anyone about the matter in the meantime, the Registrar of Members' Interests would be happy to discuss the matter with you and could then report to me.

15 March 2002

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