Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex M

Letter to Mr Roy Beggs MP rom the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Thank you for your letters of 21st and 22nd August in reply to mine of 23rd July and for the documents enclosed.

I am now clear on most of the points I raised but there remain one or two on which I am still uncertain and would be grateful for your help.

The paragraph numbers I use refer to those in your letter, which, in turn, relate to those in mine.

1.    Thank you.

2.     I note that you did not deem the property to be of substantial value at £10,000.

3.     I note that you did not begin to use the property as your constituency office until December 1989 and that you claimed sixteen weeks rent in 1989-90 for 41 Station Road. How much did that amount to?

4.   You say you discussed rent with Robert Stirling & Co, whose receipt you enclosed. Please would you send me a copy of the valuation provided by Robert Stirling & Co. as a receipt for their services is insufficient. It would appear that in 1990-91 all the rent claimed was paid to your wife. Was this the case? Other than in 1990-91 please let me know how you divided the rent with your wife or any other person.

I note that the valuation provided by DTZ on the 21st August 2001 to Mrs * * * and Mrs * * * relates only to the period from 2000 onwards. I also see that from 1st April 2000 you rent the property on a five year lease. On what basis did you occupy it from 1997 onwards, and why did you change that basis?

5.   You say 'the rent level was set in keeping with rents charged for similar properties most of which were rented out but at higher rents than assessed by the District Valuer whose valuation determined the maximum level of Housing Benefit paid by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to claimants in privately-owned property. This was deemed to be a fair approach and appears to produce figures until recently which are close to your District Valuer's figures'.

    —   Did you take independent advice as to what the Housing Benefit figure should be, and if not how did you establish it?

    —   If you mean that you took what you assumed or knew would be the Housing Benefit figure and added a proportion to it, how did you decide on the proportion to be added?

    —   When you say this system 'was deemed to be a fair approach' was this your own view or did you have independent advice? If the latter, what was it and who provided the advice?

    —   Can you shed any light on why the District Valuer's assessment should suddenly diverge so markedly from your own (and that provided by DTZ)?

6.   Noted.

7.   Thank you.

8.   I asked why you decided to make the property over to your daughters when you did and you replied 'I was advised ... to make a will'. Please would you explain this. I do not need information about your will but I do need to know why you made the property over to your daughters at that time.

9.   Thank you. Was the 'independent valuation for tax which was supplied to the auditor' the valuation supplied by DTZ? If it was otherwise please provide me with a copy.

10.   Thank you.

11.   I asked you who paid tax on the rent allowance and the rent between 31st March 1997 and January 1998. You replied 'Transfer was intended to be effective from 1.4.97.' Did your daughters then pay tax from the 1997 date? I assume they paid tax on the rent you paid them. Did you pay any tax on the allowance? Please would you confirm with the Inland Revenue that you have no tax outstanding, for any years, on the rent allowance or rent and let me have sight of the confirmation.

12.   Thank you.

13.   Thank you.

14.  One final point. Thank you for providing me with information about 6 and 8 Glynn Road, Larne. Please would you let me know which years you rented these properties from your wife/daughter as a constituency office, the rent paid each year and claimed from the OCA and the basis on which the rental valuation was provided.

With many thanks.

3 September 2001

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