Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 80 - 99)



Mr Foster

  80. I wonder if you can go over the timetable again. You mentioned the 9th was when you first approached. We have heard some evidence it was on the 10th that the Committee formally discussed your possible involvement, the mention of you. When you were approached on 9th, what was the nature of that approach? What was said to you?
  (Mr Touhig) You are correct in saying the Committee formally on 10th, at the Chairman's request, decided to approach me but Members spoke to me on 9th along the lines that there was a problem with the Treasury, the Treasury was being unhelpful and unco-operative to the work of the Select Committee and this was going to cause them great difficulty and I should know about it.

  81. On 9th, that is all that was said?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  82. When did you receive a copy of the Report?
  (Mr Touhig) I received a copy of the Report later that day.

  83. On 9th?
  (Mr Touhig) On 9th.

  84. Now, our understanding is all the copy Reports were numbered, was the copy you received numbered?
  (Mr Touhig) I cannot answer that. I do not know, I am afraid, I did not take any notice.

  85. Was the document you subsequently returned when requested, was that a document you received or a copy of it?
  (Mr Touhig) No, it was the document I received.

  86. Was a further approach made to you after 10th when your name had been mentioned or after 9th was that the end of it?
  (Mr Touhig) No, colleagues also spoke to me after I believe the Committee met on the morning of 10th and referred to it again and asked if there was anything I could do to persuade the Treasury to give evidence. I think the Committee then decided the Chairman would write directly to the Chancellor and I was asked if I could intervene in any way to try to persuade the Treasury to change its mind.

  87. Were you aware from any information in the public domain that this was a problem that the Committee were having difficulty or was it only as a result of what you were told by a colleague?
  (Mr Touhig) I was only aware of what I was told initially by a colleague, yes. That was how I was alerted to it, colleagues told me there was a problem so far as the Treasury not co-operating in giving evidence to the Committee.

  88. I wonder if you can recall the circumstances under which you felt it was necessary to see the Report to enable you to deal with the issue?
  (Mr Touhig) I think it was a pretty heavy day, as I recall. Initially I did not take a lot in when my colleague spoke to me, and when I was spoken to again by another colleague then I saw there was a serious problem and I said, "I do not understand this. What is the difficulty?" "We are considering a report on this matter." "Let me see it so I can better understand it."

  89. So when she originally approached you, you did not actually have the Report in front of you at that point?
  (Mr Touhig) No.

Mr Campbell-Savours

  90. Can I say that what happened in the conversations on the 9th is very important because, of course, it is happening the day before the Committee was actually about to consider the Report. Can I take you back to those conversations? How many members do you remember came up to you?
  (Mr Touhig) I think three.

  91. Three members?
  (Mr Touhig) I think three members spoke to me at different times over the two days.

  92. Three over the two days?
  (Mr Touhig) Over the two days, on the 9th and the 10th. Three separate members.

  93. I am trying to look at what happened before they considered it, that is to say before you actually received a copy of the Report, how many members—
  (Mr Touhig) I think two members.

  94. Two members came to see you before you received a copy of the Report?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  95. When you asked for the Report did you consider that it might well be you were committing a sin?
  (Mr Touhig) I did not but I should have realised that it was not the right thing to do.

  96. Did the conversation with the person who gave you the Report include concerns about what that member might be doing?
  (Mr Touhig) No, it did not.

  97. Do you think that member even realised what they were doing was actually breaking a rule of the House of Commons?
  (Mr Touhig) I think not, in fairness. I think the member was responding to me saying I need to understand this, let me read it to see what it is about.

  98. Had anyone asked you to get a copy of that Report?
  (Mr Touhig) No.

  99. So it was very much on your own initiative?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

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