Response to questions raised by the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards in her aide memoire dated 29 January
1. The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd
(previously the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltdname change
5 April 1990) was formed in 1904. It is one of the three Trusts
established by Joseph Rowntree, the Quaker, who was a chocolate
The thinking behind its establishment is best set
out by referring to the "1904 Memorandum" of 29 December
1904 (copy enclosed). The company is a limited company (by guarantee)
and the present company was formed in 1939 to follow the original
company which was established for only a 35 year period.
A more descriptive account of the current work of
the Trust, "Trusting in Change" is also enclosed.
As a Director I have been involved since 1984, on
a quarterly basis, in considering grant applications and from
time to time involved in Trust discussions that have resulted
in project work in areas of interest to my fellow Directors/Trustees
Joseph Rowntree was a Quaker but from the earliest
days non-Quakers have been appointed Directors; we have in recent
years tended to have a 50:50 Quaker/nonQuaker balance on
All our decisions are recorded in minutes as "resolved",
but our decision making is by Quaker business method of consensus
rather than by formal vote.
2. 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 nonremunerated interests
in the Register, I wrote to the Registrar on 28 December 1994
asking to include three directorshipsnone of which were
remuneratedand those were put into the miscellaneous section
of the Register. One of these directorships was of the Joseph
Rowntree Reform Trust.
3. I became Chairman of the Trust on 24
September 1999. My only additional role as Chairman is to moderate
the quarterly meetings of the Trust, and I therefore saw no need
to register any change.
4. The JRSST Charitable Trust (this is the
full name) is a charity which was formed by the then Directors
of the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust Ltd on 1 December
The Directors at that time found that they were using
some of their noncharitable income on charitable giving
and therefore decided it was appropriate to settle a small proportion
of their assets into a Charitable Trust, to be under the same
control as the Limited Company. The Limited Company operates under
the jurisdiction of the Companies Act, whereas the JRSST Charitable
Trust operates under Charity Commission jurisdiction. If an application
comes before Directors for which an award can be made using charitable
funds then the award, if it is made, is paid from the Charitable
5. All the sums of money for projects with
which I have been involved since I became a Director are properly
recorded in the extract from the accounts which I have already
Directors have been supplied with an e~mail system
in order to assist us to communicate with each other and receive
documents from the York Trust Office between quarterly meetings.
6. The now retired company secretary and
the former auditor clearly did not properly allocate the expenditure
correctly when they were finalising the accounts after the 31
December 1992 yearend. They made a straightforward error.
7. I confirm that the 1989-1992 payments,
with the exception of the £2000 referred to, do relate to
the employment plus the severance pay of Mr Paul Jacobs.
8. Mr Julian Astle completed his work on
the Care in the Community/Long Term Care booklet (copy enclosed)
and organised the publication and subsequent promotion of the
recommendations contained in the booklet in December 1996 and
early 1997. He had stopped working on the project by the time
the 1997 election took place and he therefore provided no assistance
of any kind for me in the new Parliament elected in 1997.
The entry of £2000 to Roxburgh and Berwickshire
Liberal Democrats listed in the accounts to 31 December 1997 is
the amount referred to as a contribution of more than 25 per cent
of my election expenses.
9. I was his employer; he was paid by the
Trust. I enclose a copy of the letter dated 20 November 1989 offering
him the appointment. He began work in December 1 989 and worked
on organisation and membership. He kindly volunteered to be my
driver during part of the 1992 election campaign.
10. I employed Julian Astle. I enclose a file
copy of his contract which I have found. The copy is not signed
but there was a note attached to it to say that I was giving the
original to Julian to sign.
11. Neither Professor Smith nor I were paid for
work on the regulation of remuneration of top executives for which
the Trust paid Paul Hodgson.
I enclose a copy of a letter from Professor Smith
to Paul Hodgson dated 24 November 1998 about the project.
I drew heavily on the published document to assist
me in proposing a motion on "Fat Cats' Pay" at my party
conference. Unfortunately the motion based on the recommendations
in the publication was heavily defeated by the conference when
it voted on the motion.
12. I received advice from the Clerk when I was
elected Chairman of the Select Committee about when the Committee
office was able to fund the entertainment of guests. For example
I was advised that the Committee office could not pay for a lunch
for guests in circumstances where there were more members of the
Committee present than there were guests. It was not possible
for the Committee office to pay the expenses when one or two members
of the committee wished to have lunch with an individual whose
expertise could assist the committee's work.
All the members of my Committee were always told
of the events that were held and knew the source of the funding
of the hospitality. This can be verified by checking with the
current Clerk to the Committee on Work and Pensions.
13. The Trust makes grants to individuals or
organisations based on applications. The merits of the applications
are judged in accordance with the objects of the company/Trust.
If they are found to be compatible with the Memorandum of Association
(copy enclosed) and have the Directors' support the applicant
receives a grant and has to account for the expenditure at the
end of the project. As an organisation we do not engage in political
14. The Memorandum of Association is enclosed.
The Trust provided the information sought about bodies receiving
grants in extracts from our accounts sent in a letter to Sir Gordon
Downey dated 9/6/98 for year-end 31/12/97; in letters to Mrs Filkin
dated 18/5/99 for year-end 31/12/98; dated 24/5/00 for yearend
31/12/99 and finally dated 25/4/01 for year-end 31/12/00. Copies
of these notes can be provided again if the originals are no longer
readily to hand.
Conflict of interest
15. It never occurred to me that my award making
work with the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust would involve a conflict
of interest of any kind. I have always understood that the Register
of Interests was designed to record monies or benefits being made
available to me, and not the other way round.
It has never been the practice of the Directors to
exclude colleagues from meetings. I have always contributed to
discussions about all grants made including those projects in
which I had an active personal interest. Following the Quaker
principle of the importance of "strengthening the hand"
it has always been an important part of the culture of the Trust
than individual Trustees should be personally involved in the
work of the Trust and "should themselves direct and guide
the appropriation of the funds".
16. An appropriate sum has always been given
to the constituency associations of Directors who have sought
election to Parliament. In that respect I was treated in the same
way as my other colleagues on the Trust who were parliamentary
17. I have never felt any conflict in my role
as a Trust Director and my role as Select Committee Chairman or
House of Commons Commissioner.
I cannot recall ever having declared an interest
by virtue of my involvement with the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust
in any parliamentary proceedings.
As far as I can recall the Committee has never taken
evidence from bodies supported by the Trust. In the last Parliament
I did declare an interest as a non-practising member of the Law
Society of Scotland before the Committee took evidence from representatives
of that Society. I also declared the fact that I was a Trustee
of the Low Pay Unit when the Committee took evidence from them
in the last Parliament.
There are no occasions on which I think it would
have been wise to declare an interest because of my involvement
with the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, and my grant making work
with the Trust has never affected my judgement in any aspect of
my parliamentary work.
18. I think these two complaints are frivolous
and that they should be dismissed.
9 March 2002