Sunday Telegraph - Questions and Answers
20 Jun 2009
Below is the exchange of emails between the Sunday Telegraph, exchanged this morning


The Sunday Telegraph

20.06.2009

PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Sir George Young,

The Telegraph is investigating the expense claims made by Members of Parliament under the House of Commons allowances system.

We are considering publishing an article in this Sunday’s newspaper (June 21 2009) which will contain details of your expense claims.

We are aware of the provisions of the statutory instrument passed by Parliament last July and will therefore not be publishing MPs’ addresses or any other details which could compromise security.

However, as a matter of legitimate public interest and concern, we intend to publish the following details about your expense claims under the Additional Costs Allowance, Incidental Expenses Provision and Communications Allowance. We would invite you to respond to the following points.

1.Since 2004 you have claimed for £4,042 to pay for dozens of adverts in 15 different publications in your constituency. Although your IEP claims state that these are to promote your surgery, the adverts seem to simply give your contact details. Can you please tell me why you think this is an appropriate use of public funds?

2.On one occasion, you appear to overpay for adverts to appear in the ARC (Appleshaw, Redenham and Clanville News), sending a cheque for £10 more than was requested in the invoice. In a note to the fees office, he said this was to cover the cost of delivery of the magazine, yet this is not apparent from the invoice. Can you explain why you overpaid?

3.In one of their invoices, staff from the Smallnell Parish Oak magazine thank Sir George for a tour he had taken them on around the Houses of Parliament. Have you given tours to staff from the other publications?

4.In January 2006, you also used the IEP to buy three shredders. Do you think this was an appropriate purchase using public funds?

5. In January 2007, you bought a second hand video recorder on internet auction site eBay for £152. Can you please tell me what this camera is used for?

6.In August 2007, the fees office had occasion to ask you to remove parts of your website which they found unacceptable on a publicly funded website. Can you tell me why you thought they were appropriate?

7.The Daily Telegraph has previously reported how you have claimed the maximum ACA for the last two years, including interest repayments, which averaged more than £1,400 a month. You also claimed the full rate of council tax on the band G property, which amounted to £1,146 in 2008-09, even though you would be eligible for a discount because it is a second home. Other claims included a £699 washer-dryer (reduced to £500 by the fees office) and a £449 dishwasher (reduced to £375). Do you have anything further to add regarding these claims?

8. Given the level and content of your expenses claims, do you believe that you are a suitable candidate for speaker and have the credibility to restore public confidence in parliament?

9. As Speaker, how would you like to see the next annual round of MPs’ expenses details published? Should the receipts again be disclosed? If so, with what level of redaction – more, less or the same as this year? Or should the receipts be withheld from publication and some other form of information provided instead? – in which case, please elaborate.

I would be grateful if we could receive your comments by 1pm today (Saturday, June 20), so that they can be given due weight in our inquiries and properly reflected in any article we decide to publish. Please could you also inform us if you do not wish to comment.

Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly. I can be contacted on (deleted by GY)
Regards


Patrick Sawer
The Sunday Telegraph







Dear Patrick



Thank you for the email, sent at 8.57. I have an Advice Bureau this morning and am leaving for it shortly. I don't know when I will get back, but it may not be before the deadline you have given me of 1pm

In the time available - less than 20 minutes - these are my responses.

1. The advertisements in parish magazines in my constituency give details of how to contact me by post; by email; and by telephone. I think this is a legitimate means of conveying information.

2. In the time available - 20 minutes- I cannot give you a reply to the question about the £10 paid to the parish magazine

3. I arrange tours for any constituent or group of constituents or schools who want to visit the Palace of Westminster

4. Yes. I need to dispose of confidential documents in a secure way, not least as Chairman of a Select Committee.

5. This second hand video recorder was purchased so I could post clips of my work as an MP on Youtube. It has not been used for private purposes

6. On my website I posted the results of the last General Elections in my constituency, along with the swing between the parties. The Fees Office asked me to remove the details of the swing. (I thought this was absurd as this was factual information, but agreed)

7. Nothing to add to what I have already said. The machines were replacements

8. That is for my colleagues to judge

9. I recognise the anger at what happened yesterday. We need to be more open, but I am not going to be prescriptive at this stage as to exactly how we do this. My own expenses for the past 4 years are on my website, and have been for some time



Best wishes, George Young



 
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