Examination of Witness (Questions 800
WEDNESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2000
800. Can I stop you there just for a minute.
Did you sit down and draft this?
(Dr Aickin) Yes, I did.
801. No-one else in EBCO did it, you did it?
(Dr Aickin) The way the thing happened was we talked
about the possibility of submitting evidence, as a result of which
I drew up a series of bullet point headings which people had raised
and that was circulated and following that I then put the flesh
on the bones of those bullet points.
802. And you agreed that at the time? Our Chairman
asked at the very beginning do you still hold the same views.
(Dr Aickin) That is a very difficult question to answer
803. You do or you do not.
(Dr Aickin) It is a difficult question.
804. I will tell you why I am asking it. We
think it is an important piece of evidence and we want to know
whether you hold the same views or if you are retracting them
and, if you are, why, because we have to conduct an inquiry.
(Dr Aickin) That is quite a long document, whichever
particular draft it is, and it expresses views on a number of
things. To ask me whether across the whole eight pages I still
would endorse all of them, the answer is very difficult to give.
805. Do you still believe that EBCO and other
environmental bodies are not doing as well as they might do under
the present arrangements?
(Dr Aickin) I think that there is always room for
806. There is always room for improvement.
(Dr Aickin) Of course.
807. But you are quite critical of the present
arrangements and you are suggesting that they ought to perhaps
change and you are flagging up some issues. For instance, you
are saying that Entrust currently has assets approaching £2
million and elsewhere in the document you are suggesting that
perhaps more of that should be invested in the work it does with
(Dr Aickin) I am not sure that is what I say actually.
If it is what I say then I retract it because it was not what
808. What did you mean?
(Dr Aickin) My belief is that Entrust has assets approaching
£2 million and I think that document says, or if it does
not a revision of it says, that most of that is prudently held
against the future costs of regulation of money that has already
gone into the scheme. I believe that is prudent. Whether £2
million is the right sum of money I cannot tell you, but I think
it is prudent that it should be there and it should be there against
the future regulation of money that has gone into the scheme.
The problem that I have, if you like, not that it is something
that I would like to see, is supposing Entrust was removed from
its regulatory role, where would that money go?
809. You mean if it no longer existed?
(Dr Aickin) Yes. Would we be sure that money was
810. They changed the Articles in July to take
(Dr Aickin) I am not sure of the date but they did
811. To take out the word "charitable".
(Dr Aickin) Yes.
812. And that concerns you?
(Dr Aickin) The concern that I had when I wrote it
was that Entrust seemed to be able to change its constitution
without too much difficulty, which I suppose is the case for a
company limited by guarantee.
813. Could it mean, for instance, that anyone
on the Board of Directors might possibly then benefit or an organisation
attached to them might benefit rather than the whole £2 million
or thereabouts going to a similar charitable body?
(Dr Aickin) The concern that I had was was there any
guarantee that if Entrust was removed from its regulatory role
that that money which had been earmarked or accrued or reserved,
whatever accounting term you want to use for it, against the future
regulatory business that Entrust had, if that regulatory activity
was transferred to someone else, was there any absolute guarantee
that the money would go with it? I think the likelihood is that
even people short of the saintly status that I talked about before
would find it difficult to pass the red face test and put that
money in their pockets and walk away, but I was concerned that
temptation was there. If it was not there then I think things
would be much safer, that is the point.
814. It goes further than that, does it not,
because you were the Chairman of EBCO?
(Dr Aickin) Yes.
815. And really what you were annoyed about
was that the directors collectively were getting more money than
they provided you with to carry out EBCO's functions, to arrange
meetings, produce a newsletter, run a website and reimburse your
members for their time and expense. That was really what your
gripe was, was it not, that they collectively were taking more
money out than they were giving you as EBCO?
(Dr Aickin) I am not sure that I would describe it
as a gripe but, other than that, yes, I think you are broadly
816. Can you tell us how you became Chairman
(Dr Aickin) I was asked to become Chairman of EBCO.
817. By whom?
(Dr Aickin) By the other members. The way that it
worked, and to some extent I think you went into this before in
your previous inquiry, was Entrust identified four people who
they thought would be interested in representing environmental
bodies' views. Those four people came to me and asked me if I
would become their Chairman, and I agreed to do so.
818. So actually the original members were picked
by Entrust, is that right?
(Dr Aickin) Yes, that is correct.
819. Was Willie McKelvey one of those original
(Dr Aickin) He was not one of those original members,
820. But he did subsequently become a member?
(Dr Aickin) Yes, he did. One of the things that we
were concerned about was being representative of environmental
bodies generally. Having been initially picked by Entrust, and
then me being picked as a Chairman by the four who had been picked,
we decided that it was important to spread that net wider. We
advertised to all the then environmental bodies and that was done
in August 1998, when there were fewer than there are now. I cannot
now remember how many people we had who said they would be interested.
The five of us established criteria and I cannot now remember
exactly what those were. Two of the original four sifted all of
the applicants against those criteria and we then held a meeting
where we had perhaps 18, I cannot remember the details, from whom
we selected additional members and Willie McKelvey was one of
821. Can I thank you very much for your evidence.
I think we have had some difficulties as a Committee because we
have heard various people who have made allegations which they
have then not been prepared to substantiate. I think you coming
before the Committee today may have caused you some difficulties
but, certainly as far as the Committee is concerned, it has helped
to clarify a lot of issues. Can I thank you very much for coming.
(Dr Aickin) Thank you very much.