Letter to Mr Roy Beggs MP from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards
Further to my letter of 13 July 2001 I have now heard
from the Valuation and Lands Agency and attach a copy of their
letter which I have also copied to the Director of Finance and
When you have considered this information I would
be grateful if you would let me have your comments on the rental
values assessed in relation to the clams for rent allowance you
made from 1988 to date. Please include an explanation for the
amounts claimed in each year.
To make sure that I have a full and accurate picture
for my report to the Standards and Privileges Committee, I would
be grateful if you would also provide me with answers to the following
1. What price did you pay for 41, Station
Road, Larne in 1988? What do you estimate to be its current value?
2. Did you at any stage mention the property
to the Registrar of Members' Interests or to my predecessor?
3. You bought the house in 1988. When did
you start to use it as your constituency office? Did you claim
rent from the Office Costs Allowance as soon as you began to use
it as an office? If you did not claim immediately, please explain
why you made your first claim in 1990-1991?
4. You said in your letter of 20th June
that you approached the District Valuer for a rent assessment
that they suggested that 'a local valuer would advise'. When did
you make this approach to the District Valuer? Which local valuation
agent did you use and what valuation did they provide? How often
has the valuation been repeated? Please provide me with any documentation
which refers to these valuations.
5. You say in your letter of 20th June that
'the rent level is set by...taking account of the levels approved
by the District Valuer determining the level of Housing Benefit
contributed towards rent by the Housing Executive'. Does this
mean that you estimated the rent on the basis of the levels which
the District Valuer considered would be used for calculating Housing
Benefit by the Housing Executive for properties of a similar type
in the area? Why did you use this formula?
6. When you began to claim rent from the
OCA were you aware of the rules covering such claims? Had you
read the guidance? Did you at any stage consult the Finance Office?
If so, what advice did you receive on what date?
7. You told me in your letter of 3rd May
that you claimed rent from the OCA from 1990-91. The Finance Office
are unable to provide me with figures for rent claimed from the
Office Costs Allowance before 1993-94. Please let me know how
much you claimed in 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93?
8. Why did you decide to make the house
over to your daughters in 1997/1998?
9. On what terms was the house made over
to your daughters? Did they pay you for it, and if so how much?
On what basis was any payment made? For example, was there an
independent valuation at that date?
10. When I asked you on what date you transferred
the house to your daughters, you replied (20th June) that "the
assignment date of the Memorial to the Register of Deeds was 23rd
January 1998", yet you also say "office rent claimed
for the years 1997-8 to date has been paid to" your daughters.
When exactly did you start paying rent to your daughters?
11. You say that you and Mrs Beggs paid tax up
to 31st March 1997 and that since then, to the best of your knowledge
your daughters have been paying tax on the rent. If the transfer
did not take place until January 1998, what was the position between
31st March 1997 and January 1998?
12. When I wrote to you on 25th June I noted
that you had written to me to say that you had not, since the
transfer, had tax assessed on the benefit of the rent allowance
you had received. I therefore advised you to contact your tax
office to check that your tax affairs were in order and to confirm
to me that you had done so. Please would you let me have that
13. I note you have now moved your office. Please
would you confirm that you have no further involvement in 41 Station
Road and if this is correct let me know the date your tenancy
ceased. Am I right in assuming that you do not own 9 Carnduff
14. Please would you confirm that there are no
other interests which on reflection you should have registered
at any time since you were first elected.
When I have received your reply to this letter I
hope to be in a position to draft my report. I will then contact
you to arrange for you to have sight of the draft so that you
may offer further comments and corrections. Perhaps you would
let my office know how we should contact you if you will be away
for any period during September.
I look forward to receiving your reply as soon as
23 July 2001