Letter to the former Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Archy Kirkwood MP
Thank you very much for your letter of 23 January
about complaints which have been raised by Mr Adrian Flook MP
and the former MP Mr Ian Bruce.
Since the two complaints against me relate to my
role in the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, it may be helpful
if I provide an explanation of all sums of money shown against
my name in the Trust accounts since I was appointed a director
and trustee in December 1984. I enclose a copy extract of accounts
detailing these amounts provided by the company auditors Messrs
Garbutt Elliott [see Annex Eii]. For ease of reference I have
colour-coded entries that relate to the same project.
The set of entries shown coloured orange [marked
*] covering the years 1989 to 1992 relate to an assistant, Paul
Jacobs, who worked for me helping with organisation in my constituency.
Mr Jacobs was engaged by and paid by the Trust from their office
in York. He started work in December 1989 and his employment ended
in April 1992 (I earlier thought that it was May 1992 but I have
since been advised that his employment ended in April). I enclose
copies of correspondence between myself and the Registrar of Member's
Interests which confirms that my 1990 entry in the Register was
not made within the 28 day period. I very much regret the delay
but I understand that I need take no further action as I remedied
the omission at my own hand in November 1990. For the avoidance
of doubt I confirm that the Trust made Mr Jacobs a severance payment
in 1992 while he looked for other work but his service with me
had ended with the general election and I had no declarable interest
The entries coloured green [marked ] and covering
the years 1995 to 1997 relate to a project which I was asked by
the Trust to oversee producing a booklet on alternative financial
systems for paying for long term care of the elderly. A researcher,
Julian Astle, was engaged by the Trust and paid by them from their
office in York. He was paid a salary of around £14,000 per
annum with expenses to research and write up his work and the
Trust paid for the printing of the subsequent booklet. He began
work in October 1995 and stopped in or just before April 1997.
The 1997 figure includes the publication costs of the booklet.
The entries shaded in yellow [marked ] relate
to a smaller Trust project of a similar kind undertaken by myself
and my fellow Director, Professor Trevor Smith, to research and
write a pamphlet on proposals for the regulation of remuneration
packages awarded to top executives of publicly quoted companies
in the United Kingdom. The research was undertaken by Paul Hodgson
during a period of around nine months starting in 1998. He was
employed by the Trust and paid directly from their office in York
at the rate of around £17,500 per annum.
The entries shaded in pink [marked **] relate to
the reimbursement of expenses incurred by me as Chairman of the
Select Committee on Work and Pensions (formerly the Social Security
Select Committee) not otherwise eligible for reimbursement under
the current arrangements for committee entertaining. The Trustees
agreed that I could reclaim up to a total of £2000 per Parliament.
Before I accepted the Trust's offer I discussed it with the then
Clerk of the Select Committee.
For purposes of illustration, the most recent claims
I made for repayment from this source were for two sums in the
region of £50 to cover the costs of two lunches in the Adjournment
restaurant in Portcullis House (copy receipts attached). The first,
on 16 January, was with the committee specialist adviser to meet
Sir Thomas Boyd Carpenter, the current chairman of the Social
Security Advisory Committee, and his assistant. The second, on
17 January, was for the committee clerk and the specialist adviser
to meet Mr Leigh Lewis, the newly appointed Chief Executive of
Jobcentre Plus, to discuss issues of mutual interest. Neither
of these lunches was reclaimable under Select Committee arrangements
but both were extremely useful in promoting the work of the Committee
on Work and Pensions. The assistance given to me to cover these
expenses enables me to do more of this kind of entertaining than
I could afford from my own pocket.
With regard to my constituency association, for the
sake of completeness I asked the auditors to show all assistance
paid to my constituency association over the past 17 years and
these figures are shown in the right-hand column.
All of these items came from decisions taken by the
Trust directors at properly constituted meetings.
As you may know, the Trust already automatically
sends copies of the annual reports with all the details explicitly
shown both to your own office and to the Office of the Committee
on Standards in Public Life. The Directors of the Trust have always
pursued a policy of disclosure of information that goes far beyond
anything required of us under the Companies Acts.
The Trust makes grants in response to applications
and the directors decide on the merit of each application, whether
the application falls within the aims and objects of the Company,
and whether it would provide value for money.
I confess I have always been under the impression
that financial interests which need to be registered are those
which Members receive or from which they otherwise derive benefit.
I have not understood the rules to apply to awards made to others
by organisations with which Members are associated.
I turn now to the two complaints from Mr Flook and
I deny the allegations in the second paragraph of
Mr Flook's letter of 19 January. I refer to my earlier explanation
of the way that Paul Jacobs worked as an assistant and was paid
by the Trust. Subject to the delayed registration date in 1990,
I believe my correspondence with the Registrar provides an adequate
response to the claims made against me. With reference to the
allegation that I did not declare my Trust directorship in every
register, the guidance which used to be given about directorships
was that they should be declared if they were 'remunerated directorships
of companies, public or private'. The quotation comes from the
introduction to the 1992 edition of the Register. However, at
the end of December 1994, as I had learned that Members by then
seemed to be including non-renumerated interests in the Register,
I wrote to the Registrar asking to include three directorshipsnone
of which were renumeratedand those were put into the miscellaneous
section of the Register.
With regard to my registration details for 1997,
I have given a full account above of the work done by Julian Astle
on the long-term care projected funded by the Trust, which was
at an end by April 1997. My constituency association received
support totalling £2000 in 1997. I deny any ambiguity surrounding
In so far as they have any bearing of any kind on
my declaration of Member's interests, I deny that my election
expenses in 1992 or 1997 were inaccurate.
I believe that all other complaints contained in
Mr Flook's letter have been dealt with above, and that his complaint
should be dismissed.
Turning to the two letters of complaint from Mr Bruce,
I deny that the Trust is engaged in political lobbying. The Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust makes awards to organisations from all sides
of the political spectrum whose applications for funding for projects
accord with the company's articles of association, and between
the general elections of 1997 and 2001 the Trust made awards totalling
£285,000 to Conservative party related bodies.
I have explained the kind of use to which the £2000
fund which I am able to use for expenses relating to my Select
Committee chairmanship is put, and I deny that this creates conflict
of any kind in the work I do as the Committee's chairman.
I also reject the assertion that I am under any duty
as a director or chairman of the Trust to declare or record individual
awards properly made by the Trust, unless I receive from them.
When I become chairman of the Joseph Rowntree Reform
Trust Limited I had no wish to become chairman of JRRT (Properties)
Limited or JRRT (Investments) Limited, and I am not chairman of
either despite what Mr Bruce alleges as you will see from the
enclosed examples of copies of their reports and financial statements.
I am chairman of the Trustees of the JRSST Charitable
Trust, which is endowed by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. This
position is not a directorship (and is not renumerated) and I
do not see that this is something which needs to be registered
The illustration which Mr Bruce gives of a speech
I made in which I should have declared an interest (or very many
interests) is beyond me. After Peter Mandelson stopped being Secretary
of State for Northern Ireland he put a proposal to the Trust for
a two year project to promote regional government in England.
Because of the Trust's long standing interest in this area the
Trust awarded him a grant. I cannot see why I should have declared
that when acknowledging Mr Mandelson's record of working for peace
in Northern Ireland. The grants which the Trust awarded to people
or groups in Norther Ireland which Mr Bruce then lists demonstrates
the wide areas supported by the Trust with its Quaker background
of concern about civic society matters and the promotion of peace.
As I said earlier, I do not see why I should declare any interest
in these circumstances because I have not benefited from these
The one point on which I would accept what Mr Bruce
says is that I did not put 'Ltd' on the end of the Trust's name
when I registered my directorship. That was simply a matter of
custom and practice when I am talking or writing about the Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust Limited, and if it was an error I apologise.
However I deny absolutely that there was any hidden agenda behind
this. It is risible to suggest as Mr Bruce has done that I intended
to pretend to be part of one of the sister Rowntree Trusts which
have huge charitable budgets and do excellent work. The Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust pays tax on its income and uses that income
to fund non-charitable causes and political causes and is proud
of the unique work it does.
The complaints relating to registration and declaration
raised by Mr Bruce are in my submission irrelevant and should
be dismissed. The complaints relating to a potential conflict
of interest are equally unfounded and I believe that they should
also be dismissed.
If I can be of any further assistance please let
me know. I am sorry that this letter is so long.
27 January 2002