Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Appendix A

Questions to the Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

1.    Were you aware, during the period covered by the complaint, of the House of Commons rule forbidding the practice of allowing Parliamentary researchers to do Party work while being paid from public funds?

On Mr Kevin Reid

2.    You will be aware of the statement by Paul McKinney, the then Director of Communications in Scotland, that he heard you say to Party officials "My boy Kevin isn`t doing anything; he could come and help", or words to that effect. In your statement to me you give your account of what these words meant. I have now received from Mr Nelson a record of a conversation between him and Mr McKinney (the substance of which is confirmed in the transcript of the later taped conversation) in which Mr McKinney also attributes to you the words "I will pay for him" (ie your son). Could you please explain, in detail, the circumstances in which you made this remark and what you meant by the words "I will pay for him"?

3.    You state that when you said that your son could work for the Party as well as for you, you indicated that you would obtain funding from Party sources. How exactly did you do this—wasn`t the Party strapped for cash at the time?

4.    You accept that it was at your insistence that your son was switched to a full-time Party contract from October 1998. You say in your statement that it would have been `wrong in principle` not to have done this. In what sense would it have been wrong in principle?

5.    Mr Rowley says that you telephoned him several times to express concern about Kevin`s position, in the particular context of the press criticism of the Conservatives` alleged misuse of Parliamentary researchers and indeed, Mr Rowley adds that you even faxed him a copy of one such newspaper article. Is this true?

6.    Mr Rowley told Jonathan Upton that "these staff were funded partly from Westminster research funds"; he explained to Jonathan Upton "why Kevin Reid needed to be put onto a full-time salary" and he told him [Mr Upton] "what John Reid was concerned about". What do you understand Mr Rowley to mean when he describes your son`s position in these words?

7.    Mr Rowley says that you made it clear you wanted your son to be on the Party`s books full-time but that his researcher`s salary would be available to continue funding campaigning activities. Is this true?

8.    Did you also discuss the matter with Ms Margaret Macdonagh and did this lead to your instruction to Mr Rowley to transfer your son to a full-time Party contract?

9.    In the summer of 1999, shortly after the Scottish Parliament elections, a conference call took place, involving all the special advisers in the new Executive, in which I understand Mr Rafferty was told by Mr Winslow about his (Mr Winslow`s) concern about his employment arrangements during the election campaign. Mr Rafferty says he understood Mr Winslow to be implying that a breach of House of Commons rules had occurred, in that his work for the Party had overlapped with (and presumably displaced) his work for Mr Maxton. Were you aware of this conversation? If so, what did you do about it?

10.  Mr Rafferty says he reported the gist of his conversation with Mr Winslow to Mr Donald Dewar. Were you aware of this and did you discuss the matter with the First Minister?

11.  Mr Rafferty says his impression was that your son worked full-time for the Party for at least part of the campaign, that both he and Mr Winslow "worked very, very long hours", and that this coincided at least in part, with the period when he was being paid as a House of Commons researcher. What is your response to Mr Rafferty`s assertion?

12.  Mr Rowley says that your son worked for the Party from very early in the morning until 1.30-2.00pm, and that this was "certainly a full-time shift". Mr Sullivan bears out Mr Rafferty`s claim about the hours put in by your son for the Party. Mr Rowley adds that he believes that, prior to October 1998, "Kevin Reid worked full-time for the Party on a salary which was half funded by the Party and half funded by John Reid". What is your response to this?

13.  Mr Rowley says you knew perfectly well, indeed you suggested it, that your son would be available to the Party full-time but that he would continue to draw his Parliamentary researcher`s salary. Is this true?

14.  Given that your son was working extremely long hours for the Party, how could he possibly fulfil his obligations to you as well? How did he arrange his time in order to do this?

15.  How far did Party work and Parliamentary work overlap and how can you be sure that Party work was not being done under the guise of Parliamentary work?

16.  In his own statement, your son says that you did not have a special adviser, but that "if any political work needed to be done then he would ask me [ie your son] to do it". What kind of political work was your son referring to here? Did this not blur the distinction which is meant to be drawn between Parliamentary work and work of a party political nature?

On Ms Suzanne Hilliard

17.  Ms Hilliard says she would work at home for you on constituency issues in the mornings before going to Delta House for the afternoon media monitoring shift. How exactly did she operate from home?

18.  Ms Hilliard has stated that main method of communicating with you was by telephone. Presumably, therefore, she claimed reimbursement from you of the cost of the telephone calls. Did you authorise expenses claims from Ms Hilliard, either for telephone calls or other expenses? If so, would you provide documentary evidence of this if it is available.

19.  Mr Rowley says that, as was the case with your son, Ms Hilliard was working full-time for the Party and indeed, in her own words, was "under extreme pressure" (an impression confirmed by both Mr Rafferty and Mr Sullivan), whilst she was drawing a part-time salary from you. He adds that it was known at the time that your "research money was available for Party work". Mr Sullivan claims Ms Hilliard told him that her salary was being "made up from different sources". What is your response to these claims?

20.  Given the long hours she was working for the Party how could Ms Hilliard carry out her Parliamentary duties as well? Must there not inevitably have been a lot of overlap between the two?

Scottish Labour Party (SLP) Budget Projections

21.  Mr Rowley says that the SLP`s budget papers "took account of the researchers` money". He also says, that the SLP`s budgetary projections changed in October 1998, in that the projected monthly salary payments from the Party to Mr Reid and Mr Winslow fell by an amount broadly equal to the sum they were known to be receiving from the House of Commons. (For example, Mr Winslow`s initial projected monthly salary was reduced from £1,100 to £550 at a time when he was also receiving £550 from the Fees Office. Mr Reid`s initial projected monthly salary was reduced from £1,100 to £366 at a time when he was receiving £850 from the Fees Office). How do you account for these figures, unless an assumption was being built into the SLP`s budget that Mr Reid`s and Mr Winslow`s Party salary was going to be topped up by their Parliamentary researcher`s salary?

22.  How do you explain notes 7 and 8 in the document headed "Scottish Labour Party Briefing Note", which appears to indicate some connection between the salary paid by the Party to Mr Reid and Mr Winslow and the salary they were receiving from the Fees Office ("— income of £10,000 from J. Reid MP")?

23.  Did you ever have any discussions with any person at the SLP headquarters about the preparation of their budgetary projections and, in particular, about the change to the figures which occurred in October 1998? If so, please give details.

General questions

24.  Mr Rowley says that during the campaign none of the three researchers in question "had any spare time at all". Mr Sullivan states that everyone involved in the campaign was working a 12 or 14 hour day and that he personally could not have done another job on top of that. Mr Rafferty agrees. So that I can be clear about this, does it remain your position, despite what Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty and Mr Sullivan say, that both your son and Ms Hilliard fully met their obligations as your researchers during whatever hours were left after their Party work.

25.  Both your son and Ms Hilliard received a bonus of some £406 for extra work during the campaign period. This was calculated, in your son`s case, on the basis of at least 25 additional hours, over and above his contractual obligations to the Party. (Although Ms Hilliard was not under a contract with the Party, the award to her reflected a similar extra effort). How does this square with your previous answer in relation to Ms Hilliard (assuming that you are still of the view that she completely fulfilled her contractual obligations as a Parliamentary researcher at all times)?

26.  Are you prepared to say to the Standards and Privileges Committee, on oath if necessary, that you have never knowingly allowed public funds, in the form of Parliamentary researchers` salaries, to be misused for party political purposes?

27.  Mr Rowley claims you told him that if he gave me any evidence of wrong-doing he could face criminal prosecution and risk not being adopted by the Party as a candidate. This is a very serious allegation. Is this true? Did you have any conversation with Mr Rowley which in any way resembled his account of it? If so, please give the dates and the substance of the conversation(s).

28.  Have you discussed with any other witnesses to this inquiry, or approached them with a view to discussing, any aspect of the evidence given, or due to be given, to me? If so please give dates and details.

29.  Where you have offered a different version of events from other witnesses (such as Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty, Mr McKinney and Mr Sullivan) are you saying that your recollection of events is better than theirs or is there some other reason why their evidence conflicts with yours?

19 May 2000

Elizabeth Filkin





 
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