Members present:
              Sir Michael Spicer, in the Chair
              Mr Nigel Beard
              Mr Jim Cousins
              Mr Michael Fallon
              Mr David Kidney
              Judy Mallaber
              Mr James Plaskitt
                       EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES
                 MISS MELANIE JOHNSON, a Member of the House, Economic Secretary, DR PAUL
           MILLS, Head of Debt and Reserves Management Team, MR PETER
           SCHOFIELD, Head of Public Enterprise Partnership Team, and MR
           MICHAEL SWAN, Head of Tax Administration/Chancellor's Departments
           Team, examined.
        93.      Good morning.
        (Miss Johnson)   Good morning.
        94.      Can I start by asking you how important you think it is that the
  government should have its own Actuary's Department as opposed to contracting
  out for actuarial work?
        (Miss Johnson)  The aim of GAD is to provide actuarial advice to
  government departments and to other clients, as you know, in respect of
  employer-sponsored pension arrangements, the social security and the
  demographic analyses that are done and their work underpins ministerial
  decision-making as well.   We need access as government to that professional,
  impartial and, indeed, rather cost-effective actuarial advice on a range of
  issues, including the demographic projections and pension matters.  I think
  it makes good sense that this is provided by a separate professional body and
  Government Actuary's Department also has a range of statutory responsibilities
  under existing legislation.
        95.      But, Minister, our understanding from the evidence we have taken
  is that the Actuarial Department does not give policy advice, for instance,
  on pensions which you have mentioned.
        (Miss Johnson)   Well, it gives actuarial advice which obviously, in
  effect, informs a policy advice which ministers are receiving.
        96.      But that could be done by anybody.   It is not intimately
  involved with the policy-making process in any way at all?
        (Miss Johnson)   You could say that of many specialists in government I
  believe.  Obviously there are many specialists who are, in effect, providing
  the underlying advice of a technical kind which informs the policy advice
  which is then coming on to ministers and the government.
        97.      But if it is specialist advice which is being given as it were
  independently, by actuaries, then surely the cost effective way to do it would
  be to tender out for it?
        (Miss Johnson)  That would be the case if private sector rates were not
  so high but Government Actuary's Department is a very cost effective supplier
  of actuarial advice and its rates are normally considerably under the costs
  that we would be charged in the private sector.
        98.      So if it is a cost factor --
        (Miss Johnson)  Well, it is an independence factor as well, as I have
  mentioned, but it is a series of  factors.
        99.      Yes.   You seem to feel that it is independent advice it is
  giving but, on the cost factor, are you sure that there are no hidden
  subsidies involved in the lower costs, if they exist?
        (Miss Johnson)   They fully charge out their time and they recoup their
  costs on all the work that they do outside, and all the work they do across
  government departments.
        100.     Do you encourage government departments to test the market to
  make sure they are getting the best value for service?
        (Miss Johnson)  Yes, and some of them do.   Occasionally they decide not
  to use the Government Actuary's Department.   We are relaxed about that and
  I am sure the Government Actuary's Department is too. It is good that there
  is competition and that things are looked at in that way.
        101.     And you are quite sure that the costings are done in a
  transparent way?  In other words, that overheads are properly accounted for?
        (Miss Johnson)   I am, yes.
                              Mr Plaskitt
        102.     The Government Actuary can -- and, indeed, does -- report to
  Parliament  on matters to do with social security and pensions but not in
  terms of life insurance industry which seems closely linked to those.   Is
  that satisfactory, do you think?
        (Miss Johnson)  Obviously the way in which the Government Actuary's role
  is set up is defined in a variety of statutory responsibilities which he has
  and which the Department exercises, and those are set out in legislation.  
  There is obviously no problem about the Government Actuary's Department being
  called to account in other ways by the House: obviously appearance in front
  of the Treasury Select Committee is a good example of ways in which their work
  can be further investigated, as you currently are doing.
        103.     There may be a legislative reason why it does not report on
  life insurance to Parliament, but is that logical?    Should we not be coming
  back to the legislation and considering a change?
        (Miss Johnson)  We have not contemplated that and it has not seemed
  obviously desirable to us in some way. I am not aware of anyone particularly
  suggesting it, either.
        104.     It is just that, as you know, we are investigating the
  Equitable Life matter and the  Government Actuary could not tell us anything
  about the advice he had given to the DTI, to the Treasury or the FSA, because
  his relationship with the regulator is a commercial one.   Is that a desirable
  arrangement, do you think?
        (Miss Johnson)   It is a matter of fact that his relationship is a
  contractual one and, under those contractual arrangements, he is bound to
  maintain the confidentiality of the information that he supplies to clients. 
   That has always been the case.
        105.     But have not we potentially got a whistleblower here who has
  had his pea removed? Could we have avoided Equitable Life if the Actuary had
  been able to speak out on these matters and not be restrained by commercial
        (Miss Johnson)   I am not privy to the actuarial advice that has been
  supplied on those occasions any more than the Committee is so I cannot comment
  on that, but I think it is unlikely that your speculation is so.
                               Mr Kidney
        106.     When you say you have not been privy, who does the Government
  Actuary give his advice to, if not to the Treasury?
        (Miss Johnson)   The advice has obviously  been supplied to the FSA as
  the regulator.   Where the advice was supplied to the Treasury then clearly
  we had advice.   We also are able to seek advice ourselves from the Government
  Actuary's Department.
        107.     So did he blow a whistle during the time the Treasury got his
        (Miss Johnson)   No.
                              Mr Plaskitt
        108.     At the end of October 2000 the FSA announced its intention to
  transfer actuarial advice to proceed from the Government Actuary's Department
  to an in-house actuary.   Are you at all concerned about the ending of the
  traditional separation between regulator and actuary which that implies?
        (Miss Johnson)  It is a matter for the FSA who they get their future
  actuarial advice from.   They have felt that it would be the best arrangement
  -- and the Government Actuary's Department clearly did not disagree with that
  -- that the staff should be transferred from the Government Actuary's
  Department and they are being transferred shortly to the FSA. They have been
  doing work for the FSA in recent times in any event and, as you know, a cohort
  of staff are going across to the FSA and the future actuarial advice
  arrangements for the FSA are  a matter for them.   As the regulator I am sure
  you would not be happy in other ways if we were telling them what we thought
  their advice arrangements should be.
        109.     Treasury does not have a view on this arrangement?
        (Miss Johnson)   No.
                              Mr Cousins
        110.     Minister, this morning we have received from the Government
  Actuary's Department their service level agreement with the Treasury.  I
  cannot truthfully say that in the time available to me I have done anything
  more than just whizz through it and, of course, I am not sure whether you will
  have it in front of you yourself.
        (Miss Johnson)   I am not sure I have but do not let that stop you asking
  me a question, at least.
        111.     It is clear from the service level agreement that the
  Government Actuary's Department is the key source of information about the
  liabilities of insurers and the ability of insurers to fulfil policyholders'
  reasonable expectations. That is crystal clear in the service level agreement. 
   The agreement also points out that, unless there are special circumstances,
  the  Government Actuary's Department will be with the DTI and then the
  Treasury regulators, now the FSA regulators, on all their visits to companies
  and the Government Actuary will be used as their key source for advice in the
  scrutiny of the annual returns of the appointed actuaries.  The service level
  agreement goes on to say that the key indicators the government actuaries will
  use in their advice to ministers will be, amongst other things, trends in free
  asset ratios, worrying exposures and impacts on bonus strategy.   Those are
  clearly identified as specific points on which the Government Actuary's
  Department will act as the key source of advice. It goes on to say in point
  A 17 that, if the Government Actuary's Department considers that the insurance
  directorate might need to exercise her Majesty's Treasury's powers of
  intervention, it will make appropriate recommendations.   In the light of
  that, could you reconsider the answer you gave to Mr Kidney in which you said
  that ministers had not been informed about the Equitable Life situation,
  because the service level agreement makes it crystal clear that the Government
  Actuary's Department was the central crucial source of advice to government
  on all the issues which have figured in the  evolution of the Equitable Life
  saga.   Would you disagree with that?
        (Miss Johnson)   Clearly the reading that the reference you have made is
  an interesting one; however, I do not in any way go back on what I said to Mr
  Kidney earlier.   The point is the advice is confidential on each specific
  case and so Government Actuary's Department has an individual relationship and
  the advice on each specific case is confidential advice.   I am not aware of
  what arrangements are made between the Government Actuary's Department and
  officials; as a minister I am not privy to any of that information.
        112.     I see.  Clearly what is of great importance in the evolution
  of the Equitable Life saga -- and in a way that is just an example in a wider
  body of problems -- and you will agree with me it is clear from the service
  level agreement is that the Government Actuary's Department had the dominant
  central role in providing the specific advice to ministers on all of the
  issues -- bonuses, with-profits policies, free asset ratios, lapse rates, it
  is all spelt out in detail -- and that the Government Actuary's Department is
  the key source of advice to officials on all those sorts of issues? 
        (Miss Johnson)   The point is we have to make a distinction between
  generic advice and specific advice.   On generic advice it is certainly the
  case that the Government Actuary's Department will supply advice both to
  officials and ministers of a generic kind, but on specific, individual, cases
  that advice is confidential between the Government Actuary's Department and
  whoever is their client.
        113.     Can I say that it is clear from the service level agreement
  that the advice that the Government Actuary's Department gives is not just
  generic advice, point A7(a): "Government Actuaries will report to Her
  Majesty's Treasury immediately if the initial scrutiny of any company raises
  serious concern;  (b) the Government Actuary's Department will send to Her
  Majesty's Treasury by the end of August a report covering all initial
  scrutinies which will consist of a priority rating for each company, an
  indication of solvency cover for each company...", et cetera.   This is not
  generic advice:  this is advice very specific to companies and their
        (Miss Johnson)  But that advice is being supplied to the regulator.   I
  believe that the FSA told the  economy, Sir Michael, about their 1998 concerns
  over Equitable's reserving on guaranteed annuity options and they clearly took
  the Government Actuary's Department's advice into account in pursuing these.
  That is a matter on which the FSA has, rightly, given you evidence and it is
  not for me to gainsay that or interfere in that in any way.
        114.     I do not want to pursue this point unduly this morning but it
  is a matter of record that the FSA regard their duties as beginning on 1
  January 1999 --
        (Miss Johnson)   Quite rightly.
        115.     Exactly so -- and everything before that is, so to speak, on
  that ground.   Can you advise the Committee, therefore, as to where Parliament
  goes if it wishes to examine what advice was given to the Treasury and what
  the Treasury did with that advice prior to 1 January 1999?
        (Miss Johnson)   The FSA, as you are aware, is producing a report and the
  report is going to set out the background and the events leading up to the
  point at which responsibility for prudential insurance regulation moved to the
  FSA.  I cannot pre-judge what will be in that report but the FSA has the brief
  to look into the background and the  events leading up to the time at which
  it obviously assumed, as you rightly say, on 1 January 1999 responsibility for
  prudential regulation.
        116.     The main Committee had in front of it Mr Roberts, who is now
  the insurance regulator at the FSA and had previously been the insurance
  regulator at the Treasury and before that had been the insurance regulator at
  the DTI.   When I sought to ask him questions about matters before 1 January
  1999, Sir Howard Davies intervened and said that that was covered by advice
  to ministers and I could not ask him questions about that.   That leads me to
  the conclusion, therefore, that it is to ministers we should come if we wish
  to pursue those issues about how the Government Actuary's advice was treated
  at the Treasury and what the quality of that advice was.  Given Sir Howard
  Davies' ruling -- which I accepted -- it does seem to me that logically I can
  only come to ministers to pursue those points?
        (Miss Johnson)   I think there are two separate issues here, possibly --
  one is advice to ministers on which obviously Sir Howard was commenting at
  that particular point -- as you tell me -- and there is clearly the question
  of the  advice more generally, as it were.   Much of the advice is clearly not
  going in all cases to ministers, but I cannot see any reason why the FSA, in
  doing its job and I expect it to do a thorough and complete job in preparing
  its report, as I am sure you do, cannot cover these matters in terms of the
  background to the report.
        117.     I understand that but, Minister, you do see the dilemma that
  Parliamentary scrutiny is now faced with -- and I do not want to labour this
  point this morning but it does seem right at least to draw this to your
  attention -- where Parliament is being told that it cannot ask the FSA
  questions about the advice that was given to the Treasury and to ministers
  prior to 1 January 1999 and, therefore, it is to ministers that Parliament
  must come to seek some explanation of the quality of the Government Actuary's
  advice to the Treasury before 1 January 1999 and, of course, what was done
  with that advice?
        (Miss Johnson)   Well, as I have said, the report is down to cover the
  background to the events prior to 1 January 1999 and, clearly, issues can be
  brought into consideration in that background.
        118.     I am grateful for that reply but can I just leave you with
  this thought:  that perhaps  this is something you might care to discuss with
  Sir Howard so that Parliament can be assured that, should it wish to, these
  matters about what happened between the Government Actuary's Department, the
  Treasury and actions that were taken before 1 January 1999 can be properly
  scrutinised because, as of now, I think there is a gap which seems to block
  effective Parliamentary scrutiny.   I am sure that is not being done wilfully
  but it is there nonetheless, and I think we need some clarification about how
  that gap is to be closed.
        (Miss Johnson)   I understand the point you are making but I think it is
  also important to recognise that there are elements of information which you
  may be interested in which are down to the confidential individual
  relationship between the Government Actuary's Department and any of its
  clients which -- in the case of Equitable -- are a matter for Equitable as a
  client to decide whether they make them available.
        119.     Is the Government Actuary's Department involved in the FSA
  inquiry into Equitable Life directly?
        (Miss Johnson)  I am not aware of them being involved.
        120.     Could you inform the Committee about  that?
        (Miss Johnson)  I will write to the Committee further on that point.
        121.     Do you think in the light of the discussion that we have just
  had -- and I accept, of course, that there are issues of confidentiality
  involved -- that there should be some kind of reporting relationship between
  the Government Actuary's Department and Parliament itself over the issues
  which the service level agreement covers -- not specifically identifying
  individual companies but at least in broad terms?
        (Miss Johnson)   Well, if you are talking about in general, obviously it
  is perfectly possible for, as I understand it, the Committee to take evidence
  from the Government Actuary in general about advice, as it were, in these
  sorts of areas. My understanding of it legally is that the Government
  Actuary's Department would be unable ever to divulge individual advice to the
  Committee or, indeed, to any other party.
        122.     But the situation is that the Committee has already
  established that the government actuaries regard themselves as having a client
  relationship with the Treasury and they will not  answer questions on any of
  the issues covered in the service level agreement which, as I hope I have
  indicated to you, seem to me to be extremely decisive and far-reaching?
        (Miss Johnson)   Well, I have explained the situation, I hope as clearly
  as I can.
        123.     Do you think some consideration should be given to the
  statutory position of the Government Actuary's Department and, indeed, the
  statutory position of appointed actuaries within insurance companies?    Is
  the government giving any attention to that?
        (Miss Johnson)   No, not at the present time.
        124.     Are you really saying that, after the Equitable Life saga,
  the government really does not have under consideration a review of the role
  of appointed actuaries within insurance companies and how they report to a
  wider public?
        (Miss Johnson)  It is obvious that there will be points that will need
  to be considered whenever the FSA report becomes available.  It seems to me
  that that is the time at which evidence will be presented to us all about the
  circumstances around the Equitable Life situation which will inform what sort
  of main  issues might need to be addressed and how they might need to be
  addressed, and we are awaiting that report.
        125.     Do you not accept, Minister, that it is rather odd that the
  reports that appointed actuaries and insurance companies make are all public
  documents available to Parliament, available to policyholders, should they be
  able to get hold of them and understand them if they did, but the analysis of
  what they mean that is done by the Government Actuary's Department is not
  publicly available?  Do you not accept that there is a contradiction there?
        (Miss Johnson)   You are saying that the information effectively is
  available but the judgments of the actuaries, possibly on the basis of it, are
  not available to you.
        126.     The information is being made available in appointed
  actuaries' returns in a form which is extremely opaque and difficult to
  understand.   Do you not think there is a role for somebody to take these
  appointed actuary's reports and, in the public interest, either advise the
  government or independently provide some analysis of what these reports
  contain and what they mean? 
        (Miss Johnson)   I think, given the reason that this is of such interest
  is primarily at the moment due to the situation surrounding Equitable Life,
  it makes sense, the FSA having undertaken to produce a report on the
  circumstances which have led to the present situation with Equitable Life, for
  us to wait to see what the recommendations of that report are and what issues
  arise as a result of the analysis that no doubt the FSA internal audit and
  other folk who are doing this are undertaking, and what is being identified
  there and respond to that report.   It is premature for us to decide at this
  stage which particular issues might need to be addressed because clearly that
  report will point the way ahead.
        127.     Minister, surely you accept, however, that at the moment
  there is a great deal of debate about the nature of with-profits products
  generally  -- the terminal bonus system, lapse rates, and so on -- and all the
  key information on those issues has been analysed throughout by the Government
  Actuary's Department and it is spelt out extremely clearly in the service
  level agreement that information on all of those matters has been going to the
  DTI when it was the insurance regulator, to  the Treasury when it was the
  insurance regulator and now to the FSA.  Do you not accept that there is now
  a public interest in opening this up and getting a better quality of
  information to inform those debates which are now going on?
        (Miss Johnson)   I am sure there is a public interest in better
  information and we do support better information for consumers and have done
  a lot to address that.  I will not go through any of what we are doing because
  it is, in a sense, tangential to the point you are making but what is
  appropriate in these circumstances is to see what is being identified as
  recommendations or issues arising out of the FSA report and to tackle those,
  because they should be the most important issues which we need to address out
  of the circumstances surrounding Equitable Life.   Clearly, just on the
  with-profits point, the FSA and Sir Howard himself said, I believe when he was
  here, that they would be looking further at with-profits.   He has certainly
  since made a speech in Wales on this subject indicating that the FSA will be
  looking further at with-profits policies.
        128.     Arising out of that, given that the role of the Actuary's
  Department has  changed with respect to insurance companies, do you think
  there really is a continuing role for the Actuary's Department in its present
        (Miss Johnson)  Yes, because they provide us with cost-effective and
  independent advice.  There are a number of key statutory roles that they carry
  out and they are a major supplier of actuarial advice across government.   It
  does not make very much sense to fragment that across government:  it makes
  sense to hold it in a central, specialised resource given the nature of their
  work.  It would cost government a lot more to have that work done by the
  private sector on an ad hoc arrangement than via the Government Actuary's
        129.     You mentioned in answer to an earlier question I asked about
  contracting out that this was not only allowed but it happened.   Can you give
  us an example of where a government department has contracted out actuarial
        (Miss Johnson)   I know in one or two cases, for example, the Inland
  Revenue have used non Government Actuary's Department actuarial advice for
  some work they have been doing on one or two occasions.   Obviously I am not
  aware across government - and I do not think you are really  expecting me to
  be - where this is happening more widely but I know of that because it
  interrelates with work that is being done for me.
        130.     Would any of your officials be able to help on that?
        (Miss Johnson)   I very much doubt it.
        131.     Finally, what about overseas work? Are they allowed to make
  profits on that?
        (Miss Johnson)   Well, they are allowed to fully recoup all their costs
  associated with it. As you are aware, they do a small but significant
  proportion of overseas and outside work.   I think that helps them to offer
  opportunities of an actuarial kind in terms of professional development which
  otherwise might not be available and strengthens the organisation in terms of
  its experience.  Generally speaking, we are very comfortable with the work
  they do on all of that.
        132.     What is the reason for not allowing them to make a profit?
        (Miss Johnson)   Basically because it is public sector and it is the
  rules under which the public sector operate.   There could be questions about
  the competition law and in Europe presumably on state aid as well,
  conceivably, if there was an  organisation that was basically public sector
  but which was going out on another basis and making a profit.
        133.     That does seem a little bit odd in view of the discussion we
  are going to have in a few moments' time about the Royal Mint, which does seem
  to be in a similar situation?
        (Miss Johnson)   Those are the rules that have operated for the
  Government Actuary's Department, certainly and Michael Swan, who is
  responsible for the Government Actuary's Department on the Treasury side, is
  saying that the difference is that there is a trading fund for the Mint and
  it is via the trading fund arrangements that the Mint is on a different
        134.     On the question of recruitment, apparently the Government
  Actuary's Department is having problems recruiting staff at the moment.   Is
  that correct?
        (Miss Johnson)   I think the evidence I have seen which has been sent to
  you indicates a declining problem on recruitment and retention, in fact.
        135.     Is there a way round this problem, that you can see? 
        (Miss Johnson)   It is always the case that, where people are trained and
  there is a high degree of training and there are high rates of pay to be had
  outside the organisation, there will be a certain attrition rate from within
  the organisation to outside, because people as they become trained and it is
  a lengthy period of training to become an actuary, become very valuable
  commodities and can be made offers that the public sector cannot compete with. 
   Having said that, the analysis that has been sent to you shows a growing
  convergence between the public and private sector in the Government Actuary's
  Department in this regard in terms of turnover of staffing.  I believe that
  we do not have a significant issue of any kind to address on this:  we always
  keep this in mind and I am sure the Government Actuary's Department are
  keeping in mind in the way they are recruiting and retaining people, but there
  is not a significant issue on this at the present time.   There was one a
  couple of years ago, as I think the figures show.
                             Judy Mallaber
        136.     I would like to return to this question of client
  confidentiality and whether that can mean that we do not have some of  the
  information that might be of assistance in looking at what is happening. 
  Relating to the minimum funding requirement introduced by the Pensioners Act
  in relation to the Maxwell pension scandal, it was rather puzzling to us that
  it was the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries that took the lead in reforming
  minimum funding requirement rather than the Government Actuary's Department
  giving advice to what would have been I think the DSS. When we questioned the
  Government Actuary's Department on that, he speculated that maybe they had not
  been asked to do it because they would not have had the same acceptance from
  the profession, in that they would have been seen to be giving advice behind
  closed doors because of client confidentiality between themselves and a
  government department, as it would have been.   Is there any reason, however,
  why, on a matter of developing public policy such as this, the Government
  Actuary's Department could not give advice in public in order to enable there
  to be a debate and then for the government department to reach its decisions
  with us knowing what Government Actuary's Department were doing?  It appeared
  they had not been asked to do the work but that it had been given to the 
  professional organisation and that might have been solely because of client
        (Miss Johnson)  It would be for me to speculate on the reasons why the
  DSS decided to go to the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries, except for the
  obvious reason: clearly they are the lead professional body in actuarial
  matters so it does not seem prima facie an unreasonable decision on the part
  of the DSS to decide that that is where they are going to get their advice on
  this particular issue.   Clearly, the Government Actuary's Department were
  involved via the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries' involvement in it and
  involved in other ways.   They clearly played a role and it is in their
  capacity as advisers to the DSS.
        137.     But, in principle, subject presumably to having to change
  that constitutional arrangement relating to client confidentiality, would
  there be any reason that would stop GAD from being asked to give advice on the
  development of a policy issue to a government department and for that advice
  to be made public?    Is there any constitutional reason why it could not
  operate in that way?
        (Miss Johnson)  I do not think there is any reason why Government
  Actuary's Department could not have been  asked to do the DSS work; the DSS
  simply decided to ask the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and that was the
  choice they made.   I do not think that this issue is a significant issue in
  this kind of context.
        138.     Would you have any difficulty in the Government Actuary's
  Department's advice to you being made public?    What would be the areas where
  you felt it could be made public and the areas where you felt it could not be?
        (Miss Johnson)   It is a question of giving their advice in terms of
  analysis rather than policy.   I think there is a difference there which we
  need to bear in mind.
        139.     Are there any areas where their analysis should be kept
  secret rather than being in the public domain?
        (Miss Johnson)   It depends on the contractual relationship.   If they
  have one, just as anybody else who is going out and getting a service, there
  can be reasons why that client or person does not want that advice or that
  analysis to be made public, and it is up to the client then whether the advice
  is made public.   Where the client is government and it is an analysis, I do
  not  think in many cases that that would cause a problem if it had been sought
  in a general way to inform policy.  We do not normally go through the process
  of revealing the details of policy formulation in a public arena:  probably
  select committees are the nearest place in which such issues get discussed
  but, as you are aware, it is perfectly normal in government for the finished
  policy to be submitted and it is only where there has been engagement through
  public consultation or processes like that where government decides to release
  the information about the way in which that work has been done and the results
  of the consultation, for example.
        140.     In this case, the Government Actuary's Department would be
  giving you technical advice on the issue and that would be why you were
  seeking their advice in that client relationship.   Can you give us any
  indication of the circumstances in which you think it would be unhelpful for
  that technical analysis to be made public?  I would have thought it would
  usually have helped inform our understanding of the decisions of the
        (Miss Johnson)   I am sure many matters might inform people's
  understanding of the decisions of government but it is typically the case that
  the  underlying information and advice that goes into the final policy
  decisions is not a matter of public property:  nor, indeed, is it envisaged
  to come under the Freedom of Information legislation.
        Chairman:   Thank you very much.