from Mr Derek Conway to the Chairman of the Committee, 16 January
Thank you for your letter of 15th January.
I do not seek to specifically come before the Committee, as I
hope I have sufficiently covered the issues in my responses to
Sir Philip's inquiry and my submission on his memorandum to the
Committee. As you will have observed there is a considerable amount
of evidence in this matter and I do not think that my attendance
would assist the Committee. I understand from your letter that
the Committee does not require oral evidence from me.
I have accepted personal error and offered apologies
for my shortcoming in maintaining records and in the confusion
between forms SA2 and SA3.
On the mathematics, I accept that the figure of £4620.90
is correct, if one treats it as a bonus only. I equated it in
my mind as partly bonus and partly salary increase. The Committee
I hope will bear in mind that, ironically, had I paid the maximum
permitted salary, when in fact I paid him no increase in those
years, he would have received a salary increase larger than the
excess of the bonus payment.
I simply make this point to underline that the payments
were within the permitted maximum limits overall and that the
figures, including the excess bonus payment, could have been paid
in a fashion that would not have given rise to this problem. I
accept, however, my fault in how I handled this.
I realise I should have studied the Green Book and
I hope the Committee will bear in mind that the payment of bonuses
is widespread, as indicated by the latest circular letter from
DFA (14 Jan 08 attached) which makes no mention of the 15% cap
The question of the level of payment will rest with
the Committee deciding whether the House should assess every salary
paid to a Member's staff for "appropriateness" or whether
the presently published grades scale is adequate. In this regard
I am being judged retrospectively upon assumed information not
available to DFA until a month ago and not made known to any Member.
The retrospective aspect is, I believe, important. The contract
which detailed matters such as Freddie's age and his responsibilities
would not, I believe, have been accepted by the DFA if it was
out of line with comparable contracts.
As I stated in my letter to Dr Ward of 14th
January 2008, this part of the investigation is somewhat different
to what was originally alleged. I hope the Committee will bear
in mind that it is difficult to deal with in view of the limited
material available to any Member about comparable salaries.
My contention that Freddie was paid 6% above the
mid-point and well below the upper quartile of the lowest grade
causes me to hope that the Committee resolves that no infringement
of this provision applied.
Circular letter from the Director of Operations, Department of
Resources, 14 January 2008
End of Year bonuses for Members ' staff
This letter is to let you know that following the
practice of previous years, bonus nominations to Members' staff
received after 14 February 2008 in respect of work done in the
2007-08 allowance year will be processed and paid in May 2008.
This is in order for the Department of Resources to provide better
certainty to Members on their spending and financial commitments
and to manage effectively the large increase in payment requests
at this time of year. Only in exceptional circumstances will bonuses
be paid in March or April, for example, where a formal contractual
Bonuses held back and paid in May will be recharged
to the 2007-08 allowance year. However, as in previous years,
employers' national insurance contributions (ERNIC) for payments
made after 5 April 2008 will be charged to the 2008-09 allowances
unless you indicate to the contrary. If you would prefer other
ERNIC arrangements to be made and you have the necessary funds,
please confirm this in writing to the Validation Team at the address
below and we will make the necessary arrangements.
If you have any queries or concerns please do not
hesitate to call the Enquiry Team on extension 1340 or alternatively
e-mail via email@example.com.