Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex V

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

from Mr Nigel Griffiths MP

I am writing to respond to the complaints you have received from Jacqui Lait MP and Pete Wishart MP. The allegations cover two headings:

1.  Misuse of House of Commons funds.

I have supplied you with a letter from the Head of the Fees Office which acknowledges that I own the property, confirms that a fair rent is being charged and is acceptable to the Fees Office, and that the Fees Office will continue to pay rent at that rate (unless of course the House changes its rules). I have supplied you with a copy of this letter as well as further information from me.

2.  Failure to register an interest in the ownership of my constituency office.

As the newspaper articles state, the ownership of the constituency office was lodged in the public register in Scotland in 1997, but I accept the Registrar of Members' Interests ruling that it should be registered in the Register, together with details of other incomes received relating to the office. I have now followed the Registrar's suggested wording. The entry was lodged in the Register of Members' Interests on 11 December in the following terms: "I own a property at 31 Minto Street, Edinburgh which I use as a constituency office in respect of which I have received a one-off payment from a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the use of office facilities during the period of four years. I also received small payments for occasional use by trade union committees." The Registrar has informed me that the payment from the House of Commons should not be registered.

I do not believe there are any matters arising from non-registration on which I could be accused of speaking in the House or outside, or lobbying or any other Parliament or extra-Parliamentary activities to influence the House or its policies in any way—improper or otherwise. I repeat my regret at the failure to register these matters with the House authorities at an earlier date and I have apologized for this.

I hope you are able to conclude this matter speedily, but if you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

14 December 2001

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