Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320-339)|
MOTTRAM KCB AND
MONDAY 4 MARCH 2002
320. If that is the best you can do that is
the best you can do and the Committee will draw its own conclusions?
In response to Mr Osbourne when he asked you about the Department's
roleand Mr Osbourne suggested that, perhaps, you should
have become more hands-on in your intervention in the handling
of the Corporationyou said, again I paraphrase, I am trying
to quote as accurately as I canbecause you will recall
that was Mr Osbourne's question to you: Why did you not fire the
Chief Executive? You said: Do it or you are fired was a question
that the Department did not wish to take because they thought
the Corporation was doing a good job of redeveloping Teesside.
Would you corroborate that that is roughly what you said?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I would, yes.
321. What staggered me about that response at
the time was that it implies that the Department is perfectly
willing to ignore its own rules as long as it believes that the
Corporation in question is actually delivering the goods.
(Sir Richard Mottram) The question
322. Answer the question, please?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I am going to answer the question.
As I recall what we were talking about was, did we reach a view
that the right way forward was either to fire the Chief Executive
or equally not to reappoint the Chairman.
323. The justification you gave was that they
were delivering the goods.
(Sir Richard Mottram) Within conditional text, as
I made it clear either then, or subsequently, that Department
was at the same time involved in ever greater activity to make
them operate within the rules. I was not, I would never condone
operating without the rules
324. The Department did.
(Sir Richard Mottram) It did in
325. It did not take any defensive or punitive
action against that Corporation whatsoever?
(Sir Richard Mottram) We took effective action to
326. This Report? You call the catalogue of
errors and meandering failings in this Report: "effective
action in stopping the rot in that Corporation"?
(Sir Richard Mottram) What I was about to say was
we sought to take effective action, for example, to ensure that
the way in which the Corporation was wound up met the requirements
of this Committee and of the Department.
327. It did not.
(Sir Richard Mottram) We did not succeed in that case.
328. No, you did not.
(Sir Richard Mottram) No.
329. The justification you have given to this
Committee for not taking effective action, for not doing the things
that Mr Osbourne suggested and Mr Trickett suggested we might
have done is because they were delivering the goods. Answer the
real question, the underlying question I am trying to force you
to answer, that is, do you believe that in any circumstances whatsoever
the Department can be justified in tearing up its own rule book
because somebody is delivering the goods?
(Sir Richard Mottram) No.
330. Thank you. Tell me, was there a policy
decision not to press rules to the point where they curbed entrepreneurial
(Sir Richard Mottram) No.
331. Sir Richard, is the real reason that the
Department did nothing in the face of this catalogue of failings
by the Corporation not sitting behind you and to your right? Was
it not that Sir Ron Norman as Chairman of the Corporation was
an extremely well-connected person to the Prime Minister at the
time and it would have been politically hugely embarrassing for
the Department to have taken any action which either exposed him
as incompetent, because he did not know what his Chief Executive
was doing, or worse, incompetent because he did?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I think the basis on which this
question is being asked is the Department took no action. That
is not the case, as the Report brings out. The Department sought
to take action to improve the performance of the Corporation in
relation to the stewardship of public assets. The Department,
I quite agree, was not ultimately successful in some respects.
Mr Gardiner: Thank you.
332. Arising out of Mr Gardener's questioning,
Mr Hall, with regard to your present business interests do any
of your present business interests have any links with any businesses
mentioned in this Report?
(Mr Hall) It has a link to what now Carillion Plc.
333. Would you like to be amplify that link?
(Mr Hall) They were the contractors who built Tees
334. What is the nature of present business
(Mr Hall) It is selling vacant land or land that is
in need of regeneration for the company.
335. It is selling land for the company?
(Mr Hall) We are assisting the company in the disposal
of the land.
336. Where is that now?
(Mr Hall) In Scotland.
Mr Gardiner: Can I express my apologies to the
Committee I do have to leave now.
Chairman: Thank you, Mr Gardiner.
337. As you appreciate, Mr Hall, by this time
in the proceedings most of the questions have been asked. I will
try and pull one or two things together. I get the feeling you
have been on the defensive a while here, I may be wrong, and have
you not had the chance to express some of your views or feelings
insofar as I know you and Sir Richard believe this was a very
successful enterprise. When a government brings in people like
ourselves we bring them in for a reason, because we lack the ability
or skill in the Civil Service or in the public sector and we look
to people from outside with entrepreneurial flare, that is commercial
expertise, and we give them a remit. You were given a remit, were
you not, at the start to regenerate this area?
(Mr Hall) Yes.
338. To use your skill, as you see it, to do
(Mr Hall) Yes.
339. I should say in that, and I know because
I have been in the business world a little while, certain things
get in the way, sometimes you have to act fast, deals come up
and very often you get an opportunity and you seize the opportunity.
Sometimes detail can be left until later. Would you see that as
being the truest picture of what happened to you?
(Mr Hall) It is certainly possible that that situation
can arise. If you wish to paraphrase that as being, were we property-led
in the sense of looking at opportunities to build up the picture
of development that is absolutely correct.
11 Note by witness: Duncan Hall Associates'
(DHA) only link with any organisation previously involved with
the Teesside Development Corporation is Carillion Plc where it
is presently undertaking the negotiation, redevelopment and sale
of a redundant office building and former depot site in Scotland
together with the identification of alternative office accommodation.
Method Marketing Limited, a marketing and design company, is not
providing any service to any organisation, so far as I am aware,
associated with the Teesside Development Corporation. Back