Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Annex Fvii

Letter to the former Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Archy Kirkwood MP

Thank you very much for your letter of 30 January. I have been abroad with the Work and Pensions Select Committee for some days and have been unable to reply earlier.

I am intending to make a response to your points as a matter of urgency, although you accepted that it would take some time to do so. I am also intending to convene a meeting of fellow directors of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust in order to deal with the matters which are relevant to the company and to obtain any available relevant documents.

I wonder if you can help me on a number of matters which arise from your letter.

In your letter of 30 January you seem to indicate that my letter to you of 27th January was not a comprehensive reply to the complaints which were made. I thought it was. Could you let me know what matters require further elucidation. It may be that you have done so in your list of written questions and if that is so perhaps you could let me know and I will confine my attention to them.

At our meeting we discussed the proposition that an MP who was on the board of a company or charity would have a duty to register every payment made to a third party because he or she may derive some interest from it. If that is so, then a large proportion of the membership of the House must be remiss. Can you let me know if you have ever made a ruling on this issue so that I may check the terms in which it was stated. I should add that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has provided you with a schedule of the grants which have been made shortly after the directors approved the audited accounts each year. We first sent them to your predecessor Sir Gordon Downey in 1998 for the year 1997 and have continued to send them to you each year. As far as I know you have never queried any of the items, but perhaps you could confirm.

Finally, can I raise with you the discussion we had about the fact that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards does not investigate matters more than seven years old. You told me that this was so, subject to certain exceptions such as intimidation of witnesses. Can you confirm that there are no suggestions that any of these exceptions apply in my case and, if that is so, I am not clear why I am being asked to deal with matters which are 13 years old? Perhaps you could explain?

I look forward to hearing from you.

12 February 2002

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