Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400-419)|
MOTTRAM KCB AND
MONDAY 4 MARCH 2002
400. Fine. So everybody on the Board was committed
to the regeneration of Teesside, but so far as I can understand
it from what you have said and what the Board said, really it
was you and the Chairman who ran the show. Is that correct?
(Mr Hall) Obviously the Chairman and I were, if you
like, important figures in the Corporation, but nevertheless all
matters had to go to the Board of the Corporation and I do not
think that diminishes their importance.
401. I note you are deliberately not answering
and responding to the point, and I think we will draw conclusions
from that. You indicate surprise. Could you clarify for me then
whether or not the Chairman was first amongst equals or whether
he had a more dominant role than that?
(Mr Hall) He was certainly a very positive chairman,
as you would expect a chairman to be. I was leading the staff
of the Corporation, and plainly he was the Chairman and leader
of the Corporation in effect.
402. Can I clarify, Sir Richard, whether or
not the Chairman is on any other public boards at the moment?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know, I will have to
let you know.
403. Maybe we could make a recommendation, as
we have done on a previous occasion, that this is not a suitable
individual to be in a supervisory position such as that. I think
in the case of the Colleges of Education we made a recommendation
like that. Is there a procedure by which we can show our displeasure
by removing a knighthood or any honour or decoration which has
(Sir Richard Mottram) There is such a procedure but
only in relation to certain activities which are essentially about
breaking the law.
404. You do not think that the misbehaviour
here goes quite as far as breaking the law on the evidence we
have at the moment?
(Sir Richard Mottram) No.
405. But presumably if police investigationsI
am not sure if "fruitful" is the right wordcome
to a conclusion, that is no doubt something which could be considered
at a future date?
(Sir Richard Mottram) As far as I am aware there are
no continuing police investigations.
406. On the basis there was insufficient evidence?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Correct.
407. On the basis that would have nothing to
do with the files having been shredded?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I cannot answer for the police
408. Can I clarify a point which my colleagues
have not picked up yet and that is the issue of the Bank of Scotland
or the British Linen Bank in this. They were willing to lend money
on the basis of quite a peculiar arrangement, on the basis that
money was committed two years in advance. Was that the norm?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Not that I am aware of.
409. Are you aware of them doing it anywhere
(Sir Richard Mottram) I am not but this was not an
activity of the Department.
410. It does seem to me to be a very peculiar
arrangement. Maybe, Mr Hall, you can tell me whether or not you
are aware of the Bank lending money in this exceptionally generous
(Mr Hall) Anywhere else?
(Mr Hall) I have no idea.
412. Would there be any truth in the suggestion
that the Bank had been politically lent on in order to lend money
in this unusual and peculiar way?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I do not know, I am afraid.
413. Mr Hall?
(Mr Hall) I cannot consider that as a reasonable suggestion
for one moment.
414. Really? You seem to have developed an extraordinarily
close relationship with the Bank of Scotland, would that be fair?
(Mr Hall) We certainly were involved with the Bank
of Scotland, yes.
415. Were they your prime bankers?
(Mr Hall) No, for the Corporation they were not, Barclays
416. Barclays Bank were your prime bankers?
(Mr Hall) Yes.
417. Am I right in thinking that the Bank of
Scotland were very keen to expand their business in the North
East and saw yourselves as a flagship?
(Mr Hall) That may well be the case but I am not certain.
Mr Davidson: Thank you very much, Chairman.
418. I just have a few questions. Sir John,
I detect a feeling of frustration on behalf of members of this
Committee that they cannot ask these questions of Sir Terence
and Sir Richard Wilson and Andrew Turnbull, and through no fault
of his own Sir Richard has sometimes been struggling with accurate
answers because it relates to matters a long time ago. Is this
frustration of the Committee understandable in your view? What
is the procedure which operates in these circumstances? Are we
getting to the bottom of this as effectively as we might otherwise
do if we had the accounting officers who were actually there at
the time here in front of us?
(Sir John Bourn) Chairman, the basis of the system
of the responsibilities of the accounting officer set out in the
memorandum that is issued to him or her on taking up appointment
is that he or she is responsible and is accountable for the actions
of his predecessors in reporting to this Committee. So it is his
responsibility to be able to answer all your questions, he cannot
say, "I was not there therefore I do not know", he has
available to him all the books, records and accounts of the Department
and it is open to him of course in preparing for any hearing to
talk to former accounting officers if that is what he wants to
do. I think the logic of that approach has been that it is better
to have one person in the hot seat, if I can put it that way,
than to distribute that responsibility over a range of people.
It is of course the case that there have been some occasions in
the past year or two when the Committee have asked previous accounting
officers to come before them. They have usually been people who
have been there very recently, whereas of course Sir Richard has
been there for some years now.
419. Thank you. We can always discuss this further
after the public session. There are a couple of questions which
colleagues have asked me to ask you, Mr Hall. Are your business
interests owed money by the residuary bodies which took over the
assets and liabilities of the Corporation or owed money by any
other body connected with the Corporation?
(Mr Hall) No.
14 Note by witness: So far as the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister is aware, Sir Ronald Norman does not
presently hold any other public appointments. Back