Privileges committee sets terms of reference for Peters inquiry

Parliament's privileges committee has agreed to terms of reference for its inquiry into whether New Zealand First leader and Foreign Minister Winston Peters broke Parliament's rules on declaring interests.

Committee chairman Simon Power said members had this morning discussed complaints that Mr Peters failed to disclose a gift, a debt and the name of the person who discharged it.

It has to decide whether Mr Peters committed a contempt of Parliament by not disclosing the $100,000 donation from billionaire Owen Glenn, which was used to pay his legal bills.

The committee will consider the following matters in its inquiry:

* The meaning of "debt" and "debtor" in the context of the Register of Pecuniary Interests;

* The meaning of "gift" in the context of the register, including how to determine who is the beneficiary of a gift;

* Whether or not a debt existed in this case that should have been disclosed on a return of pecuniary interests;

* Whether, if a debt did not exist, a gift was received from a person whose name was known or would be reasonably discernable or a donation was made that covered expenses in an election campaign;

* Whether, if a debt or gift existed, Mr Peters knowingly provided a return that was inaccurate in a material way;

* Whether the rules for the disclosure of pecuniary interests require clarification or amendment; and
* Any other relevant matters.

Mr Power said the committee had resolved to initially hear evidence from Mr Peters and his lawyer Brian Henry.

For months Mr Peters denied receiving the money, but then said it has been received by his lawyer without his knowledge.

The committee intends to meet next on Monday August 18, at 7.00pm.

The complaint was laid by ACT leader Rodney Hide.

He said yesterday he hoped it would decide to hold a wider inquiry into other donations which are alleged to have been concealed in a secret fund called the Spencer Trust.

"The committee has the incredible power to demand all records, documents and indeed people to appear," Mr Hide said.


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