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

64.  Letter to Ms Julie Kirkbride from the Commissioner, 17 February 2010

Thank you for your letter of 11 February responding to mine of 26 January in respect of this complaint about the claims you made against the Additional Costs Allowance for your constituency home.

I was most grateful to receive this. The issues I am to resolve include whether your brother lived rent free in your Bromsgrove home as in effect his main residence and whether the claims you made for mortgage interest for the additional mortgage you raised on your constituency home to build a third bedroom used by your brother were necessary for the purpose of enabling you to perform your parliamentary duties. These were specific allegations raised by the complainant and, as explained in previous correspondence I consider that it would be right for me to resolve them. In doing so, of course, I would be happy to take account of any considerations which you believe to be relevant in the auditing and appeal processes undertaken by Sir Thomas Legg and Sir Paul Kennedy.

I note that you do not have any information about the amount of time your brother spent in your constituency property in order to provide childcare for your son or how often someone else performed that role. I note too that your brother spent occasional time, including nights, in your constituency residence when you and your son were not there.

In view of the information you have provided, I think it would be helpful for me now to seek evidence from your brother and I am accordingly writing to him. I will let you know when I have received his response and show it to you.

In the meantime, it would be helpful if you could clarify the following points for me:

1. You have told me that your brother covered childcare in your Bromsgrove home on Friday and Saturday. It would be helpful to know, as requested at point 6 of my letter of 26 January, who covered childcare on the other nights of the week during the recesses.

2. Did you pay your brother or any of your other child carers for their childcare work? If so, I am unclear why you have no record of the childcare work undertaken for you. (I see you are reported by the BBC on 24 May 2009[201] as saying that you do not pay your brother—but I am not clear whether other child carers are paid.)

3. What childcare arrangements you have for when your son is in London, where, as I understand it, he goes to school? I see from the BBC report of 24 May that you are quoted as saying that your brother stays in your London home from time to time to help look after your son. As far as I can see, you have not so far referred to his staying in London in your evidence to me.

4. Could you also let me know the normal pattern of your overnight stays in your London home, during term time and in the school holidays and parliamentary recesses?

5. Could you let me know whether your brother made any payments, in money or in kind, for the time he spent in your constituency property?

It would be helpful if you could let me have a response to this letter within the next two weeks. I will be back in touch anyway when I hear from your brother.

Subject to those responses, I hope I will then have enough information and understanding of the position to seek the advice of the Department of Resources. Like you, I would like to bring this inquiry to a conclusion as soon as I fairly can.

17 February 2010

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