Examination of Witnesses (Questions 840
TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2000
840. On this point, could I ask you, Dr Sills.
You mentioned that you carried out spot-checks. Were these seven
revocations, did they occur as a result of a spot-check?
(Dr Sills) No, they occurred as a result of the normal
working of the system. We do the spot-checks in order to ensure
that the system is working properly. We do engage a compliance
contractor, who does a lot of the legwork for us with a check-list,
and when the compliance contractor brings up a particular problem
or a non-compliance, then our own staff and go in and do a more
in-depth view of the activities of the body.
841. What percentage of projects are spot-checked?
(Dr Sills) I do not know off-hand. Could I ask for
a view from my advisers. Perhaps 15 per cent.
842. Could I also on this point ask: when you
revoke someone's right, does that mean that someone gets any money
back or does it simply mean that they are not entitled to receive
any money in future?
(Lord Cranbrook) If an enrolled body is revoked, it
is removed from the list of enrolled bodies to which landfill
operators can contribute and thereby get a tax rebate. So the
answer is that revocation prevents landfill operators from contributing
further to that environmental body. It also takes that environmental
body outside our ambit of control altogether
843. So would it be Customs and Excise who ought
to pursue them for the money if they feel it is being misspent?
(Dr Sills) As I understand it, Chairman, Customs and
Excise have a recourse to the landfill operator who made the contribution
rather than the environmental body.
844. So of these seven, has anything happened
to them except that you have taken away their rights to future
(Dr Sills) From our perspective, no, Chairman.
845. Have you passed on any information to Customs
(Dr Sills) We have passed all of the appropriate files
of information to Customs and Excise. It is very much up to Customs
whom else they inform and whether they take matters further.
846. What progress have you made on the Committee's
recommendation that the Environmental Bodies Council should "reflect
the diversity of Environmental Bodies and be accountable to them"?
(Lord Cranbrook) Under our Terms of Approval, we are
required to set up a user group. We had a debate at the beginning
of our activities, on how we would set up this user group. I believe
Customs would have been satisfied if we had just fingered a representative
section of the environmental bodies and, thereby, formed our own
user group. We decided, in the interests of transparency and openness,
that this would not be the right step; so we selected some key
environmental bodies and we asked them to form their own user
group. They set up a process by which environmental bodies, representing
large and small, funded and unfunded, distributive and non-distributive,
were to be represented by an election system that was also regionally
based. When that group formed we debated with them. We agreed
a budget and we agreed a working terms of reference. The man who
is basically in charge of our liaison with the Environmental Bodies
Council is Mr Carrigan.
(Mr Carrigan) From October 1999 it has been part of
my job to carry out day-to-day liaison with EBCO. EBCO's structure
is based on an agreement which we made with them during last summer.
We have a copy here, which we can provide if you would like to
see it. Essentially, we have liaised with EBCO at various levels,
and my role involves attending their monthly Council meetings,
which I have done since January of this year. During that time
I have watched their process developing in terms of democratically
adding further representatives through a series of regional meetings.
One of the frustrations, I felt, in this process was that there
was not a great deal of interest in the regional meetings. In
fact, in the West Midlands meeting, one member was added unopposed.
There was only nomination. They subsequently had a meeting in
the north east of England where there were no nominations. So
EBCO, in discussion with us, have come to the conclusion that
a process of nomination and election is not going to get the representatives.
Representation will have to be managed through a process of appointment,
so they are now proceeding to advertise for applications of interest.
847. The Committee have been informed by EBCO:
"We have endeavoured to represent the broad spectrum of environmental
bodies' views and concerns to ENTRUST. This in turn has attracted
criticism from ENTRUST that we have strayed outside our terms
of reference." You tend to paint a very rosy picture but
is everything as cosy as you would have the Committee believe?
(Mr Carrigan) I do not think everything is rosy. I
mentioned one of the frustrations in the electoral process of
getting 12 representative members of the Council, that this has
not been successful. Another frustration that I felt is that during
the time I have been involved with them, EBCO has really tended
to be focused on long-term issues and discussing flaws or defects
in the legislation, when their primary purpose and what we need
them for is to give us practical feedback about the way our systems
work for the environmental bodies. The reason why we need that
feedback is so that we can improve those systems and effectively
make our operations with environmental bodies better. I felt some
frustration on that score too.
848. What resources have you made available
(Mr Carrigan) The agreement I referred to earlier,
to which you are welcome, Chairman, is co-authored by our Chief
Executive and Dr Malcolm Aickin, who was then Chairman of EBCO.
In its first paragraph it sets out its status as an agreement
by saying: "This document is co-authored to demonstrate this
agreement." This agreement provides an annual budget of £75,000
for EBCO and provides for an arrangement of 12 representative
members. In fact, the numbers have never got higher than eight
or nine, I think, because of this difficulty in electing further
members, but there has been no resistance from our point of view.
In fact, we have supported the meetings which have tried to elect
further members, and we have applied no budgetary constraints
to the extent, to my dismay, EBCO over-spent its budget this year
by about 20 per cent.
849. So, if I may check, there is friction between
the two bodies here. The Committee have been informed that: "ENTRUST
has restricted ... the financial resources available to us to
a greater extent that we would have liked."
(Lord Cranbrook) Could I ask whether this is EBCO's
submission or whether this is the leaked paper that you got from
Dr Malcolm Aickin.
850. It is Dr Aickin's document.
(Lord Cranbrook) It is Dr Aickin's document. I would
mention that this was not the final submission from EBCO which
was different. It was a first draft that was leaked, purloined
from Dr Aickin. It was not accepted by the EBCO when they finally
made their submission.
851. It is worrying that he is probably one
of the people within EBCO with the most experience, who felt that
it was a statement that he should put in, in that first draft.
(Mr Carrigan) Chairman, it worries me greatly, as
a prime point of contact with EBCO and Dr Aickin, having followed
the agreement which allowed 12 members and a budget of £75,000,
that we have not restricted the process of electing new members
in any way. In fact, we have supported it. We have also met EBCO's
costs in full to 20 per cent beyond the budget. Therefore, it
is plainly wrong to say we have restricted them in either of these
852. How often have meetings been held between
EBCO and ENTRUST?
(Mr Carrigan) We meet at various levels. As I mentioned,
I have attended almost all of EBCO's monthly meetings since the
beginning of this year. Dr Sills also has had a series of one-to-one
meetings with the Chairman of EBCO for liaison. And the agreement,
which I also mentioned, also sets out quarterly meetings between
the EBCO Council and representatives of ENTRUST's Board.
853. The evidence that the Committee have received,
indicates that the terms of reference of EBCO specify quarterly
meetings between EBCO and the ENTRUST Board, but from details
given on the website there have been just three such meetings
in three years.
(Mr Carrigan) It is certainly true that the terms
of reference specify quarterly meetings and, as I have said, you
are welcome to a copy of those. The terms of reference were agreed
in June of last year. There was a meeting in June last year. There
was a meeting in April this year. There was to have been a meeting
in August this year, which was cancelled at EBCO's request. There
is to be a further meeting on Thursday of this week.
854. Do you know the reason why there have been
three such meetings in three years, when the terms of reference
indicate quarterly meetings?
(Mr Carrigan) The terms of reference were agreed little
more than a year ago and there will have been three meetings and
one cancelled meeting since then.
855. Can you tell the Committee why there have
been no minutes produced for the meeting held between EBCO and
ENTRUST in April of this year? You have indicated to the Committee
that everything is up and above board and very open and appears
on your website.
(Mr Carrigan) Minutes of the meeting have been produced.
We provided a secretary for the meeting and we produced minutes.
As far as I know those minutes have not been agreed by EBCO's
Chairman on its behalf.
856. What reasons have been given for dispute?
(Mr Carrigan) My understanding, from the former Chairman,
is that he did not feel that the minutes of the meeting reflected
the discussion. That is something we need to pursue with the current
Chairman of EBCO, I think.
857. That was in April of this year. It is now
the end of the year. Does it not concern you that minutes cannot
be agreed upon after this period of time?
(Mr Carrigan) It does concern me.
858. What actions have been taken to try and
(Mr Carrigan) It reflects another of the frustrations
which I felt. As ENTRUST's main point of contact with EBCO, one
of the frustrations was that the organisations were not communicating
859. So there is severe friction between EBCO
(Mr Carrigan) No, I do not think there is. There has
been a difference of view about the appropriate agenda for EBCO.
I have consistently felt that under Dr Aickin's chairmanship EBCO
was focused on issues, which are no doubt valid for the scheme,
but which are long-term and relate to the shape of the legislation,
whereas what we needed EBCO for (and what we still need EBCO for)
is to provide us with detailed and practical advice about the
way the scheme works for environmental bodies. That is the purpose
of the Council.