James Forsyth

For the sake of Parliament’s authority, McFall must call McKillop and Myners to testify before the Treasury Select Committee

For the sake of Parliament’s authority, McFall must call McKillop and Myners to testify before the Treasury Select Committee
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A Minister misleading the House is one of the most serious offences they can commit. If any Minister does so anything other than completely unintentionally, they should--and must--resign. So, when an accusation emerges that a Minister has done so it must be cleared up one way or the other.

 

On Saturday, The Times reported that Sir Tom McKillop, the former chairman of RBS, had written to the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, John McFall, alleging that Lord Myners had been ‘told exactly how much’ Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension was worth. This, if true, contradict Miners’ statements (as recorded in the uncorrected transcript) to the Committee:

Q2703 Mr Tyrie: In this meeting with Slaughter & May at your elbow did you ask roughly the size of the pension?

Lord Myners:
No, I did not. I was told by Mr Scott the pension will of course be enormous.

Q2705 Mr Tyrie: But since you had not asked you did not know whether it was a large sum or not, did you?

Lord Myners:
I was told it was a large sum.

Q2706 Mr Tyrie: I see and when you were told that you did not say, "Roughly how much?"

Lord Myners:
I did not ask roughly how much, and Mr Scott offered no further information at that time, and indeed when he spoke to me on the Sunday evening he was quite confused in the way that he explained the pension, and even raised the possibility that it would not be disclosed immediately but could be spread over a couple of years in order to deflect adverse comment.

Now, I have no idea whether McKillop or Myners' recollection is more accurate here. But the implication that a Minister has misled the House is now in the public domain. Both for the authority of Parliament and, very possibly out of fairness to Miners, a verdict must be reached.

The only way that can happen is if the Select Committee calls both men back to give evidence on this point. As of today, tthe Committee  had no plans to do so. If McFall does fail to ask them both to appear to clarify this point, it will further encourage cynicism about the independence--or otherwise--of select committees.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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