Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 120 - 139)



  120. You would have read the Report on the 9th as opposed to the 10th?
  (Mr Touhig) I did not read the whole Report. I did read parts of it on the 9th.

Mr Levitt

  121. Members of the Select Committee actually only had a copy of the Report in their possession for six days, from the 4th to the 10th. I want to take you through the events of the 9th. When you made the approach to the person to ask for a copy, did they have a photocopy available or did they go away and get that photocopy made and then presumably they got it back to you within a very short period of time after your request. How long between your request and your actually receiving it?
  (Mr Touhig) A relatively short period of time but I met the person a bit later and had a copy of the Report.

  122. Did you at that stage know that there had been 40 amendments tabled the day before?
  (Mr Touhig) No, I was not aware of that until I think some time on the 10th. I do not recall. I was not aware of any amendments.

  123. You did not discuss the nature of any amendments with anybody?
  (Mr Touhig) No.

  124. When you heard on the 10th presumably that the Report had been withdrawn, did you then believe the document in your possession was worthless?
  (Mr Touhig) I thought it had become academic. It had been overtaken by events. Relatively quickly after that the Treasury agreed to somebody from the Treasury giving evidence to the Committee.

Mr Williams

  125. Don, when you asked the person to provide the document, if you were told that the Chairman of the Committee wanted to use your good office, did you consider asking the Chairman if he was willing to provide it?
  (Mr Touhig) Not at that time, to be honest, but I should have done, in retrospect. That would have been the proper way to have gone. I knew the Chairman of the Committee, as I said, he had been at a meeting in Downing Street with his colleagues. I should have done that.

  126. At the time when you requested it or received it, did you warn the new Member that no-one must know that he or she had given it to you?
  (Mr Touhig) I did say that this was in confidence. I said I was asking for this information so I could understand what was going on and it was in confidence. I was taking it in confidence.

  127. Did you promise the individual that you would never disclose their name without their permission?
  (Mr Touhig) I do not think that came up at that time. It came up later when the Select Committee produced its own Report.

  128. Did the Member involved in any way question or protest that perhaps this was not the proper thing to do?
  (Mr Touhig) No.

  129. At the first request they agreed to do it?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  130. You see the Chancellor very frequently?
  (Mr Touhig) I do.

  131. Most days?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  132. Several times.
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  133. His room is very convenient, is it not?
  (Mr Touhig) It is.

  134. You read some of the Report. Did the contents of the Report give rise to concern? Did you think: "Just before the Budget this sort of Report is not going to help Gordon and I had better alert him to the fact there is trouble brewing"?
  (Mr Touhig) The bits I read concerned me that the Treasury seemed to be digging in hard I felt on this and not responding to what I thought, from the bits I read, was a reasonable request. I understood the difficulties, of course, pre-Budget but I did think the Committee had a case.

  135. The Chairman has told us that he was surprised at the speed then with which the Treasury turned around and said: "We are going to give evidence". Do you feel that you influenced that volte-face?
  (Mr Touhig) I did raise it.

  136. With whom?
  (Mr Touhig) I alerted colleagues in the Treasury private office—

  137. Tell us where?
  (Mr Touhig) In the broad sense, and also on the 10th I spoke to the Chancellor about it.

  138. Let us take the first part. The colleagues you spoke to, when you say colleagues you do not obviously mean political colleagues, political advisers?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

  139. Civil servants?
  (Mr Touhig) Yes.

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