Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex R

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


12 DECEMBER 2001


Mr Griffiths telephoned me to say that he was going to see Archie Cameron in the Fees Office to give him information to sort the matter out in relation to his office rent. He asked whether he could then come and see me. Mr Griffiths came to see me.

Mr Griffiths said that he had talked to one of the members of staff in the Fees Office. Mr Griffiths had provided him with all the information about the rental arrangements and the independent valuation. The member of staff had told him that he was entitled to charge rent and that the rent levels in relation to the valuation were fine. Mr Griffiths asked me how long it would take me to deal with this complaint.

I explained the process to Mr Griffiths. I said that it would depend on a number of things

1.  that the letter that he wrote me in response to these complaints was in sufficient detail to satisfy all the questions that I might have

2.  that the Finance Office provided me with a letter which confirmed that they were satisfied with the arrangements and that they have been dealt with satisfactorily. In the majority of cases, if those were provided by the Member, I would be able to write to the complainant to say that this was the information that had been provided and that, unless they had any other information to give to me, I would not take it any further. But I stressed it would depend on the facts and I could not decide in advance of my review.

Mr Griffiths made it clear that he wasn't sure that the Finance Office would be able to say that it had all been dealt with satisfactorily.

I advised Mr Griffiths that he should write his letter to me, putting himself into the shoes of someone who knew nothing about the affair so that all the matters that had been raised by the complainants and, if necessary, matters that had been raised in the press were dealt with. I said this would prevent me having to ask him further questions and if the matter needed to go to the Committee, then it would prevent the Committee members needing to ask me follow-up questions.

I said that if I did not feel that the matter had been dealt with satisfactorily at any point, or indeed if I thought that there were other reasons why I should make a report on the matter to the Committee, I would be doing that, but I would inform him if that was my view.

To answer his question about timetable, I said that if I was able to dismiss the matter having completed the preliminary inquiries, then I would be able to do that quickly and because of the situation he faced, I would try to do that before Christmas. However, I said that if I had to make a report to the Committee, I knew that that would not be done before the New Year and I knew the Committee would not be able to give it early consideration because they have a heavy workload. Mr Griffiths referred to the information I had given him previously, that I was carrying out 17 preliminary inquiries currently and I confirmed that this was the current situation.

Mr Griffiths thanked me for my help and said he would let me have his response letter as soon as possible.

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