Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 771 - 779)




  771. If I could make a start. Can I explain that this is a supplementary meeting, as far as the Select Committee is concerned, into our inquiry into Developing Sustainable Waste Management. The reason for it is a document came to us and we wanted to identify a little bit more information about that. Dr Aickin, can I welcome you to the Committee and could I ask you to identify yourself for the record?
  (Dr Aickin) Thank you very much.[1] My name is Malcolm Aickin. Could I say four interests which I think I should declare. The first is that I am the Chairman of the Environment Council. The Environment Council is an Environmental Charity. It is also an environmental body, which manages the RMC Environment Fund. I would like to say that both I am grateful and my colleagues, both from RMC and from the Environment Council, that you were indulgent in allowing me to come today rather than yesterday which meant that I did not have to miss a panel meeting in Norfolk. The second thing I think I should say is I have recently become a Director of a company called Green Cone who did submit evidence to your inquiry. The third is that I was, until recently, the Chairman of EBCO, the Environmental Bodies Council, and fourth, that I have been invited, and have accepted the invitation subsequently, to join Entrust's Improvement Panel.

  772. I understand that you drafted the document in question for EBCO but they decided they did not want to submit it, is that right?
  (Dr Aickin) It is true that I worked on some drafts of a submission of evidence and that EBCO decided to submit evidence, but not all of the evidence which I had drafted and in a different form.

  773. That evidence that was drafted by you, you still stand by that, is that right?
  (Dr Aickin) It depends what you mean by "stand by". The material that I drafted, I suppose as with all evidence, has two bits in it, it has some factual bits and it has some bits of inference. I am not sure what the document is that you have got.

  774. I thought you had seen a copy of it, as I understood it. I thought you had been shown the version that we had got?
  (Dr Aickin) No, I have not.

  775. I am sorry about that.
  (Dr Aickin) I knew you had a version but I did not know from precisely where it was that you got it. To some extent some of the inferences I do not necessarily stand by, depending on what they are. To some extent the reason that EBCO decided not to put the evidence in as it was, I also stand by.

  776. Can you explain that?
  (Dr Aickin) I think that some of the material which is in that document, once it was down on paper and we looked at it we came to the conclusion that it was tangential to your inquiry rather than being the main substance of your inquiry.

  777. So it was not wrong, it was just that you did not think it was particularly relevant to our inquiry?
  (Dr Aickin) I suppose in general terms that is correct.

  778. How far is EBCO dependent on Entrust for its finances?
  (Dr Aickin) Entrust provides all the finances for EBCO, so EBCO is entirely dependent upon Entrust for its finances.

Mr Olner

  779. So they could not give a very balanced, honest impression of Entrust, could they?
  (Dr Aickin) I do not think that is true. I am sure that both my colleagues on EBCO and I would say that it was our role to represent the views of environmental bodies to Entrust and, beyond that, to Customs & Excise and in doing that we could provide a balanced representation of environmental bodies' views to Entrust and to Customs & Excise.

1   Note by witness: I would like to take the opportunity to comment on the draft document which the Select Committee has obtained and used as a basis for questioning of me in oral evidence that you made available to me after I had completed my oral evidence. I explained in my oral evidence that following verbal discussions within EBCO I prepared a list of headings which was circulated and that after receiving comments I developed this list into a draft document for consideration of possible evidence that might be submitted to your inquiry. I started doing this on 8 September. The document you have obtained is a copy of the first paper draft, printed on 9 September, circulated within EBCO for discussion. This is therefore not just an early draft but the earliest draft. At the time the document was circulated I personally was doubtful whether evidence should be submitted in this form, but believed that a written draft was required in order to come to an informed decision. EBCO met to consider a possible submission and came to a consensus view that parts of the draft were unbalanced and over critical and that as a whole it gave an untrue impression of a generally successful and innovative scheme. Consequently we decided that evidence should be submitted in a different form. As with any consensus there was, of course, a spread of views, however, there was no expression of dissent from this course of action and no one argued that evidence should be submitted along the lines of the first draft that you have obtained. Back

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