§ Mr. Stephen Twigg
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the appointment of Ms Perkins as a non-executive director of Littlewoods. 
§ Mr. Straw
My wife's unpaid appointment as a non-executive director of Littlewoods was made in July 1997, as part of a long-standing scheme for establishing better understanding between senior civil servants and the private sector. I am informed that 119 senior civil servants had appointments as non-executive directors in 1996–97. As a precaution against any appearance of conflict of interest, when my wife's appointment was made388W I arranged for any matters affecting the interests of Littlewoods to be considered by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Home Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth). This is in accordance with the Guidance for Ministers and precedent. No conflict of interest therefore arises.