53. Letter to the Commissioner from
Mr Iain Duncan Smith, 4 February 2004|
Thank you for your letter.
Your letter incorporating Mr Walker's new comments
confirms every key issue in my letter of 6 January, including:
1. Mr Walker's letter confirms, for the second
time, that he is satisfied with the claims on my house in Chingford.
He also confirms that there is no guidance on what 'regular usage'
entails. However, Mr Walker has chosen to introduce in this letter,
surprisingly, a new term, that of 'reasonable use'. I cannot see
how it is appropriate in the context of this enquiry to suggest
that it would have been helpful if I had provided information
about frequencysuch information is neither required nor
As you will recall, I said at our meeting that there
is not and never was any basis for Dr Gearson to question my ACA
claims let alone to suggest that the Fees Office had investigated
them. This has now been confirmed twice by the Fees Office.
It is clear from the Fees Office notes and records
that there is no mention of the words "Short Money"
in connection with any inquiries/visits by Christine Watson. Accordingly
there is no document contradicting anything that Christine has
said in her testimony (and of course Mr Walker was not party to
any of the relevant conversations between Christine Watson and
the Fees Office).
The specific file note (Caroline Stockton, 20 October
confirms Christine's testimony that she went to the Fees Office
to discuss the "staffing allowance" and she was informing
the Office that only part of her salary would in future be paid
from the staffing allowance, which in fact happened.
2. I also note that Mr Walker has changed his
position; he now seeks to suggest that this is "not so much
whether Short Money was used appropriately, but whether the Parliamentary
Staffing Allowance was used on party political work." That
is surely incorrect, whether it was Short Money or staffing allowance
the member of staff paid from either fund must be employed on
parliamentary business (as distinct from party political work).
My position continues to be that there was no misuse of my staffing
allowancemy staff were engaged on parliamentary business.
In his original letter of 10 December 2003 Mr Walker's suggestion
was that my "staff' were advised about Short Money, which
now proves groundless and that statement is now dropped. As he
now recognises, his records demonstrate only (a) conversations
with Christine and (b) there is no mention of Short Money in any
3. Furthermore, although Mr Walker does not expressly
deal with the matter, he must be taken to accept what I said in
my letter about there being no definition of "parliamentary
business" nor any guidance on the parliamentary duties of
the "Leader of the Opposition". That places a considerable
limitation on the quality of any advice which the Fees Office
is capable of providing on these issues.
4. I see nothing in anything Mr Walker has said
(or document he quotes) which contradicts the testimony of either
myself or Christine Watson, I believe it now confirms our testimony
in every material aspect.
4 February 2004
132 Not appended by the Commissioner-see Volume I,
Appendix 1, para 169. Back