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

71.  Letter to the Director of Operations, Department of Resources, from the Commissioner, 15 March 2010

I would welcome your advice and comments on a complaint I have received against Ms Julie Kirkbride MP in respect of the use by her brother of her constituency property in Bromsgrove against which she made claims from the Additional Costs Allowances.

In essence, the complaint is that Ms Kirkbride made claims against her Additional Costs Allowance for costs which were not wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred for the purpose of performing her parliamentary duties. I have taken the period of the complaint to cover the financial years from 2004-05 to 2008-09 inclusive.

I attach a copy of the relevant extracts from the complainant's letters of 23[202] and 30 October, together with a copy of the relevant press reports he appended. I enclose also a copy of the Registrar's letter of 28 October[203] to which the complainant referred; a copy of the response from Ms Kirkbride of 21 January (which was delayed after Ms Kirkbride raised with me concerns about double jeopardy with Sir Thomas Legg's audit); my letter to her of 26 January; her response of 11 February; my letter to her of 17 February; her response of 4 March; and my letter to her of 9 March. In addition, I enclose a copy of my letter to her brother of 17 February, his response of 11 March, and my letter to him of 15 March. (I will send you his response to this when I receive it.)

I would welcome your comments and advice on the this complaint, taking account, as necessary, of the findings of Sir Thomas Legg's audit and the appeal made to Sir Paul Kennedy, the results of which have, of course, been published. In particular, it would be helpful to know whether the Department considers that the use of the accommodation by Ms Kirkbride's brother to provide childcare support (and some IT support) was within the Green Book rules, taking account of the rule that claims may not be made for the living costs of anyone other than the Member. How would the Department normally expect to apply this provision in the case of people supporting a Member with childcare?

Secondly, it would be helpful to know, in the circumstances described by Ms Kirkbride and her brother, whether it was within the rules of the House for Ms Kirkbride to claim for the interest on a mortgage increased to enable her to build a third bedroom in the constituency property, taking account of the relevant Green Book rules at the time this initial mortgage was claimed for.

Thirdly, it would be helpful if you could give me some factual information about Ms Kirkbride's claims, including her ACA claims from 2004-05 to 2008-09 inclusive by category, and if you could identify when Ms Kirkbride began to claim for the interest on the additional mortgage for the work on the additional bedroom.

Finally, it would be helpful if you could let me know of the details of any discussions which the Department has had with Ms Kirkbride, or someone on her behalf, about her childcare arrangements or her plans for extending her constituency property.

Any other points you may wish to make would, of course, be very welcome.

If you could let me have a response to this letter within the next three weeks, I would be most grateful. Thank you for your help.

15 March 2010

202   Not included in the written evidence - see WE 1 Back

203   Not included in the written evidence - see WE 1 Back

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