Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Thank you very much for your letter of 22 June responding to mine of 2 June about your claims for your Virgin Media package.

It was most helpful to have this. I am now considering whether this is a matter which I should submit to the Committee on Standards and Privileges with a memorandum. I will also be considering whether this should be combined with a memorandum about the separate complaint on the identification of your London residence for the purposes of your claims against the Additional Costs Allowance.

In this context, it would be helpful to have a common understanding of the facts of this case. As I understand it:

  • During 2008 you made eight monthly claims for your Virgin Media package. In each of these months you claimed for a package of advance charges plus additional charges for what are described as 'event items', namely films.
  • Your first claim was submitted in May 2008 and included advance charges for April-May 2008. There was no comparable package or claim before that.
  • Each of your claims was supported by a summary bill, except for the claim of 4 June 2008, which was accompanied also by a detailed list of charges.
  • The summary bill submitted with your claim of 4 June 2008 was resubmitted with your next two claims, and the supporting documents subsequently requested by the Department of Finance and Administration in November 2008 were not supplied since you took this to be a request about future claims;
  • You claimed a total of £553.20 for this package over the eight months, of which you repaid £400 on 28 March 2009.
  • Assuming that the advance charges were £46 a month, as in the invoice which accompanied your claim of 4 June 2008, it would seem that over the course of 8 months the total cost of the event items was £185.20.
  • The view of the Department of Resources (set out in their letter of 27 May) is that on-demand films (which comprise the event items claimed) are not eligible expenditure against the Additional Costs Allowance.

It would be helpful to know:

  1. whether you agree with this summary of the facts;
  2. how the mistaken inclusion of the event items in the 8 months' claims occurred, including whether you checked each month's claim before signing it and how far you checked the supporting documents;
  3. whether you accept that, had you claimed only for the package of advance charges, there would have been no variation in your claims over the period and so there would not be the uncertainty about whether you over- or under-claimed, as suggested in your letter;
  4. whether you accept that your claims for event charges which totalled £185.20 were in breach of the rules of the House.

Any other points you would like to me to consider at this stage would, of course, be very welcome. If you could let me have a response to this within the next two weeks, I would be very grateful. If you would like a word about any of this, do let me know.

Thank you again for your help.

25 June 2009

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