Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Mr Michael Trend MP
Thank you for your letter of 22 January. I shall
deal with the numbered points that you raise, in the same order.
1. ACA was initially explained to me at a briefing
on financial matters, of a sort given at that time to all new
members shortly after their election. This took place at the Fees
Office, which was then in Dean's Yard, but I have no record of
the date, nor do I know the name of the person who spoke to me.
My understanding of ACA following that briefing was in substance
what I set out in my earlier letternamely that, since I
was an out-of-London MP with two places of work, I could claim
ACA in respect of accommodation either in London or in my constituency;
that I needed to nominate one of my addresses as 'home' for the
purposes of the allowance, and that I could then claim ACA in
respect of expenses incurred in the other. I did not understand
that I was supposed to assess whether London or Windsor was my
"main residence", and that only my "main
residence" could be designated as 'home' for ACA.
Until my conversation with Mr Archie Cameron in December
2002, my later discussions about ACA with the Fees Office were
all on the telephone, and I have no details either of dates or
of the names of the people I spoke to. I can say that when I had
the conversation about my buying my house in Windsor (the conversation
in which I was given advice as to which type of mortgage was better
from the point of view of claiming ACA) there could have been
absolutely no doubt that the Windsor house was going to be my
2. The description given in my earlier letter
of the pattern of my overnight stays in Londonin the 1992
parliament frequently, in the next parliament less often, and
since 2001 rarelyis my own honest recollection. I have
no diary of the period which would enable me to give more details.
3. You ask how could I understand that my main
home could continue to be in London for the purposes of ACA, even
after I had bought my house in Windsor. This was not my understanding.
Had I asked myself, after I bought the house in Windsor, whether
London or Windsor was my "main residence", I would certainly
have said that it was Windsor. I did not ask myself that question,
because (as I have explained above) I did not understand that
ACA could only properly be claimed in respect of a property that
was not my "main residence". I believed that
I could properly continue to designate London as 'home' for the
purposes of ACA, even though, in domestic terms, Windsor had become
my "main residence".
4. I never discussed the "definition"
of my main home with the Fees Office at any time, nor was this
the purpose of my meeting with Mr Cameron following publication
of the Mail on Sunday story. When I first became aware of the
Mail on Sunday allegations, my reaction was just to say that they
had got it wrong. They were accusing me of claiming allowances
for a London propertybut I was not doing so, and never
had. I went to see Mr Cameron to confirm that this was right.
This, of course, he did, but he also explained to me the significance
of identifying my "main residence" for the purposes
of ACA, which I had not previously understood.
27 January 2003