Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Thank you for your letter of 28 April 2009 in relation to the complaint from Mr Robert Waterhouse.

You ask whether, in paying back the costs for all television services from Virgin Media (except for their most basic broadband package), I believe that all the extra services were in breach of the rules.

The Green Book explicitly examples electrical goods, TV licences and telecommunication services as allowable claimable costs. I don't believe that basic cable or satellite television packages are unreasonable related costs in that context. The Fees Office didn't question the nature or extent of the Virgin Media package that was claimed for at any time over several months.

However, in considering the scale of my repayment of claims I was guided by advice within the Green Book that:

"You must ensure that arrangements for your ACA claims are above reproach and that there can be no grounds for a suggestion of misuse of public money." (3.3.1. Principles)

I wanted to be perfectly clear about the settlement I was making—in conjunction with my immediate apology for my mistake. I decided to pay back all that I had claimed for in relation to Virgin Media's package except for the most basic broadband and telephone package available.

Secondly, you wished to know about claims made for film and television services in each financial year from 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2008. Apart from annual claims for a television licence I made no claim for any such items. The only claims made for television packages and films were those identified in my earlier letter to you.

I hope you find this information helpful.

30 April 2009

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