Tuesday 9 December 2008

Right then, see this tribunal

Having had a wee swatch at the reporting of the HBoS tribunal, I find myself noting a point or two. Being incredibly generous, I thought I might share my musings:

Musing 1.
Nicholas Green, the QC representing HBoS, is reported to have said that Peter Mandelson acted alone in making the decision. How does the QC for one of the parties to the deal which was being examined know how the Minister making the decision acted?

Musing 2:
Paul Lasok, QC for the Government, is reported in the same piece to be saying that Mandelson was not swayed by the positions of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Government being his client he is in a position to have been told - unlike Mr Green - and his contention that "We are not in the field of collective Cabinet responsibility" carries merit; Brown and Darling should be excluded from this decision, except that the news release that announced Mandelson's decision said he took note of the Chancellor's opinion:
In making this decision, Lord Mandelson has considered the report provided by the OFT, as well as the representations on the public interest issues made by the Tripartite Authorities - the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority and HM Treasury - as well as submissions from third parties.

HM Treasury is Darling's department. Interestingly, the same release points to a
non-confidential version of the Office of Fair Trading's report on the merger

Does this mean that there is a fuller report available somewhere and should MAG ask for it to come before the tribunal?

Musing 3:
Other people have posited, and I agree with them, that the legislation does not allow Mandelson to disregard the OFT's concerns on a 'benefits outweigh the risks basis' but should have considered it on whether it was absolutely necessary.

Mind how you go!


Holyrood Patter said...

what infuriates me is that while his decision is being rightly questioned, what isnt being questioned enough in the press is why he can make that decision. He is not elected!

Stuart Winton said...

Perhaps the Government counsel's comments about cabinet collective responsibility mean that this is not a matter regarding which Mandelson was BOUND by the doctrine.

On the other hand, he presumably could take into consideration the comments of cabinet colleagues, although this shouldn't be the end of the matter and he should have considered all the evidence. Indeed, Mr Lasok is also reported as saying, in addition to his comment about collective responsibility:

"He explained Lord Mandelson followed strict Government procedure and examined all the evidence in the case before making a decision."

As for the OFT report, perhaps the confidential version contains commercially sensitive information deemed unsuitable for the public domain?