The failure of the Presbyterian Mutual Society - Treasury Contents

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Derek Lynn on behalf of members of the PMS Savers Lobby Group Northern Ireland

  I am writing to you on behalf of members of the PMS savers Lobby Group to thank you and your Committee once again for the Public Hearing at Stormont on 18 January 2010. PMS savers are most appreciative of your interest in the plight of the PMS and fervently hope that your report, following the Hearing, will provide much needed impetus in the efforts to find a satisfactory solution for savers.

  Like you, PMS savers believe that there has been a total lack of political will and urgency on the part of both the UK and NI administrations thus far in seeking to resolve the PMS crisis and that there has been an abject failure in the regulatory framework which has contributed significantly to the situation in which savers find themselves.

  We were encouraged however to hear Arlene Foster go on record both at the Public Hearing and in subsequent press interviews that she stood ready to do all she could to help and that she, along with Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson remain totally committed to seeking a successful outcome for PMS members. While I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of Ms Foster's statements I am not convinced—based on the position she has often articulated publically absolving DETI for any official oversight of the Society and on the evidence of my post—Hearing conversations with senior DETI officials that they still do not accept that there was any regulatory "gap"—that her Department has the propensity, ingenuity or expertise to negotiate a satisfactory solution for PMS members. It is also not clear specifically who is in the lead with potential banks and the Administrator in seeking to find a solution.While a cross-departmental approach is important, the present arrangements lack transparency, accountability and focus, as has been amply demonstrated by the ineffectiveness of the Ministerial Working Group whose report after nearly seven months of deliberations is—and still remains—long overdue with no final delivery date attaching to it.

  It is therefore imperative that PMS members clearly know which NI Department (be it DFP or DETI) is leading the negotiations in order to ensure momentum, confidence and accountability in driving the process forward and that achievable timetables are set against which progress can be monitored and that this "pass the parcel" process is brought to an immediate conclusion.

  PMS savers are also deeply concerned that given the enormous political pressures which the NI Assembly is currently facing, both in terms of dealing with the policing and justice debate and the tribulations in the First Minister's Office, the PMS issue will not be afforded the proper priority which it truly deserves.It is essential therefore that the NI Administration is adequately supported from Westminster in ensuring that the necessary expertise and drive needed to achieve a satisfactory outcome for PMS savers will be provided. I hope therefore that the Treasury Select Committee's report will recognize these important aspects and that this will be taken on board by both governments.

  PMS savers look forward to your report and hope that it will - at last - be the catalyst for an early and satisfactory solution for PMS members.

23 January 2010

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