Letter to Mr John Maxton MP from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards
May I thank you again for your e-mail of 14 June
and confirm that I have received the hard copy. I am grateful
to you for the answers you have provided to the written questions
in my letter of 19 May. I will, of course, give careful consideration
both to your specific responses and to the accompanying observations.
You also raise several questions for me. For the most part I will
also treat these as observations on, or challenges to, the evidence
of other witnesses, which I will also take into account in reaching
There is, however, one specific factual question
in your letter and which we discussed on the telephone to which
I am happy to supply the answer. The other document, in addition
to the Code of Conduct, which is relevant to the complaint is
the so-called Green Book (Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and
Pensions) which I understand is drawn to the attention of all
Members by the Fees Office. This states, at page 15
"To qualify for the
Office Costs Allowance (OCA), any expenditure must be incurred
wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of parliamentary
duties. This is a strict and long-established rule approved
by successive Speakers. You cannot therefore claim for expenditure
that is personal or party-political."
It goes on
"These are the normal
direct costs of a Member`s Parliamentary office and acquiring
research services associated with Parliamentary duties. They exclude
personal expenses associated with party political activities and
So far as Annmarie Whyte is concerned, I am still
awaiting a reply from her to further questions from me and it
is therefore premature to conclude whether her evidence is at
variance with yours or not. Should this prove to be the case,
I will, of course, let you see a copy.
I have two further questions to put to you arising
from your responses.
1. You say in answer
to Questions 11-13 that you had no knowledge of the Scottish Labour
Party budget papers. My original questions 11 and 12 to you, however,
were designed to give you the opportunity to comment on, first,
Mr Rowley`s interpretation of the figures as providing evidence
for a cross-subsidy between the Office Costs Allowance and the
Labour Party and, second, the appearance in the budget documents
of the notes referring to you and Dr Reid. May I give you a further
opportunity to answer these very important questions?
2. You claim that three of the four people
mentioned in question 19 were dismissed by the Labour Party. Could
you please tell me to which of the four you are referring and
whether you wish to provide information on the reasons for dismissal?
If you have any further information on any of these questions
do let me have it to consider.
May I have a reply by the 22 June please? I will
then let you know whether I need to talk to you in person before
drawing up my report, though, as I have explained before, I would
be happy to meet you at any time.
I drafted the above yesterday and will let it stand
in answer to your previous letter and as it deals with some of
the matters raised in your letter of 15 June which I have now
received. I will add answers to your further questions where possible.
I have provided you with evidence, which has been
confirmed by witnesses, which may be at variance with your account
so that you may have the opportunity of addressing it in your
During the course of an enquiry I often have several
conversations with a witness (as I have with you) but I regard
as evidence their considered confirmed replies. It is true that
some witnesses speak more vividly informally and that it is only
as an enquiry progresses that I become clear about the detail
of allegations. For example, I was not clear as to how the research
money was allocated to each individual and who were the employers
at different times until I had interviewed all the researchers.
However I can reconfirm that I am not keeping from you any other
evidence which is at variance with yours.
I have set out for you the questions raised by the
evidence and have provided you with the documents which include
the confirmed statements from relevant witnesses. I do not have
further information to give you on these matters and I am grateful
to you for confirming that you will not contact, or attempt to
intimidate, any others involved in this enquiry.
I provide information about the powers of the Committee
when asked questions about the powers, when I believe someone
may have conflicted loyalties, or when I am concerned that a witness
may not be clear about the serious nature of a parliamentary procedure
and the necessity of providing the truth and the whole truth to
Parliament through such proceedings.
May I stress again that all that is needed from you
is a full account of matters about which you have knowledge.
16 June 2000