Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


I would welcome your help with a complaint I have received against your sister, Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, in respect of the identification of the house she shares with you as her main home for the purposes of her claims against the House of Commons Additional Costs Allowance.

I would be very grateful if you could describe for me the arrangements you have with Ms Smith for her accommodation in London. In a letter to me, Ms Smith has written as follows:

"I… wanted my London home to be more than simply a bolt hole, I wanted it to be a real family home and I have a close relationship with my sister."

"I can state that over the 2008 Summer recess and the 2008 Christmas holiday period I spent a significant proportion of my time at my London home."

"In April 2008, I moved in London to [… Road] where I currently live with my sister and her partner. This is a three bedroom house which was bought for £450,000. My sister has a mortgage on the house. I am a guarantor of the mortgage. There have been various newspaper descriptions of my living arrangements in this house - most of which are wholly inaccurate. I do not 'rent a room', I share the house. I pay rent of £700 a month on which my sister pays tax. In addition, I contribute to other bills such as utilities and cleaning. I buy the TV licence. We eat together and I contribute about £150 a month towards food. I have bought fixtures, fittings and furniture throughout the house. I recently paid £1000 as a share of having a new boiler. I have entertained friends and other family members there. In particular, we chose to have a third bedroom partly so that my children can have a room to sleep in when they come up in school holidays and for weekends. We provide emotional support to each other when photographers are camped outside!"

I would be very grateful if you could confirm for me your sister's description of the way she shared the accommodation.

The evidence your sister has given me from her diaries suggests that in most weeks, including in the parliamentary recess, she has overnighted at your shared address from Monday to Wednesday inclusive, with some Thursday nights and a few part weekends. I would be grateful if you could confirm this with any evidence you may have to support this.

It would be helpful too if you could confirm that Ms Smith and her family spent the nights of 24-26 December inclusive, and 31 December 2008, at your shared address again with any evidence you may have to support this.

Any other points you would wish to add explaining how the arrangements work and the use your sister has of the accommodation would be most helpful.

I enclose a note which sets out the procedure I follow in inviting evidence from witnesses. You will see that this letter is marked private and confidential and remains subject to Parliamentary privilege, as does your reply, which should not be disclosed more widely. If I decide to prepare a memorandum for the Committee on Standards and Privileges on this matter it would be likely to form part of the evidence I attach to that memorandum and it is likely to be published by the Committee alongside its report. I am also likely to show your response to Ms Smith during the course of this inquiry.

If you were able to let me have a response within the next three weeks, I would be particularly grateful. Thank you for your help.

22 April 2009

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