Mr Andrew Mackay and Ms Julie Kirkbride - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

56.  Letter to the Commissioner from Rt Hon Andrew Mackay, 12 September 2010

Thank you for your response of 8th September with enclosures. I am not quite clear if the transcript dated 29th of August is [the then Head of the Fees Office's] full response. If not and you believe it to be relevant I would appreciate seeing the remainder.

I am heartened that [the Director of Strategic Projects] has again confirmed it was reasonable for us to infer that his Department had no difficulty with our arrangements. I accept his advice that it only became a requirement to put the second home address on claim forms from 2003. However, like him, I do not believe this fundamentally changes the position. I assume I had in my mind this went back to 1997 because we had at that time designated in writing our main and second homes which was then repeated periodically at the Fees Office's request. I also recall us both submitting both mortgage interest details and council tax demands prior to 2003 even though this was not then a Green Book requirement.

I am pleased you believe your inquiry is near conclusion and can shortly be submitted to the Standards and Privileges Committee as we would appreciate this matter being resolved. In conclusion I would rest my case on the following points:-

  • Notwithstanding [the then Head of the Fees Office's] responses, I am very clear that he did advise me that my wife and I should declare different second homes. I believe my immediate reaction in May 2009 to contact him for confirmation adds considerable weight to the sincerity of my belief.
  • As [the Director of Strategic Projects] has twice testified, I assumed that as the Fees Office were fully informed of our main and second home arrangements—but never queried or challenged them—they must have been acceptable.
  • In addition I did, of course, satisfy myself that these arrangements met with the criteria for claiming second homes set out in the Green Book.
  • Finally you have on a number of occasions asked whether I felt my arrangements met with the "spirit" of the rules as they were meant to be applied. I did consider this matter and believed that as two Prime Ministers, the then Speaker of the House and a number of other MPs, claimed ACA on the only property they owned and maintained at their own expense—whilst having access to another property elsewhere—it was therefore an acceptable arrangement for the House Authorities.

Please let me know if I can be of further help.

12 September 2010

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