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Press Release

27 May 2014 Who is Telling the Truth?

One of the questions is - who made the decision to award the second phase of the Social Security and National Insurance review to Ci65 Limited? It would seem to be a fairly straight forward question and one which any audit trial could easily provide the answer. However, it turns out that there is no paper trail that anyone is allowed to see, and this simple question is answered in different ways by different Government Ministers and Chief Executive Officers.

In evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee on 7 th May, Dr Couch (Government’s Chief Financial Officer) admitted that Financial Regulations had not been adhered to but one would still expect that Ministers and Chief Executives would agree about who had actually made the decision. But it would appear not to be the case. Dr Couch said, “…………….the Treasury Minister had been at the Council of Ministers, the Social Care Minister had been at the Council of Ministers where the decision was taken to proceed with phase two, and in fact the costings of phase two were presented to Council on that day also.” And “…………..the Council of Ministers, which is the Government, had made a decision and the Treasury was simply ensuring that the ducks were in a row thereafter.” Minister Teare stated, “… as Dr Couch has said, we were both there at the meeting and we concurred with the decision made by the Council of Ministers.” And “It was a CoMin decision, but with the concurrence of Treasury because we were there.”

Mrs Mellor, the Chief Executive Officer of the then Department of Social Care, told the committee, “When the Council of Ministers’ decision was made as to the second phase of the project……….” And “……..the decision that was made by Council of Ministers…….”

Mrs Cannell asked Minister Robertshaw if he recalled if all Ministers were present at the Council of Ministers meeting on 12th September when this was discussed. He told her, ”Well, no. I would not remember something like that, but the Council was certainly quorate and in normal circumstances it is very, very rare to have Council sit with more than one Member missing. So I would say the vast majority of us were there.”

Given that Minister Robertshaw has repeatedly stated that this review is “profoundly important” one would have expected him to be able to remember who was actually present at the Council of Ministers meeting. It would be hoped that, at the very least, he would be able to remember whether or not the Chief Minister was present. Indeed, it is surprising that this was discussed at a meeting without the presence of the Chief Minister given the “profound importance” of the subject. But that appears to be the case as the Chief Minister told Tynwald Court on 20th May that he had not been present at the meeting on 12th September last year. The Chief Minister also told Tynwald “……the Council of Ministers did not appoint Ci65 Ltd as consultants for the second phase of the Social Security and National Insurance review.” And “I understand that the proposal was brought to the Council by the Minister for Social Care, the Treasury was in attendance and the background to the paper was explained to Council at that time.” And “It was a decision taken within the Department of Social Care and it was ultimately endorsed by Treasury and by the Council of Ministers.”

So it would appear that the Chief Minister disagrees with Ministers Teare and Robertshaw, the previous Chief Executive of Social Care and Government’s own Chief Financial Officer. The Minutes of the meetings of the Council of Ministers are strictly confidential but a summary of proceedings is published where decisions that they have made are made public. There is no mention of the decision to appoint Ci65 Limited in the summary of proceedings.

If the Chief Minister is right then: 

Ministers Teare and Robertshaw and their Chief Executive Officers have misled the Public Accounts Committee

The decision was taken within the Department of Social Care and they needed an FD8 waiver, according to financial regulations, and they did not

The discussion within the Council of Ministers took place without the Chief Minister being present

If Ministers Teare and Robertshaw and their Chief Executive Officers are right then: 

The Chief Minister has misinformed Tynwald

There is doubt that the Council of Ministers had the legal right to make the decision to appoint Ci65 Limited

What a tangled web they are weaving but the question remains………………. Who is telling the truth?

“ENDS” Kate Beecroft MHK for Douglas South Leader Liberal Vannin Party

Word Count: 654

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