CHIEF Minister Allan Bell says he has no plans to make any changes to his cabinet line-up in the near future – amid claims that one minister had used ‘inappropriate language’ in an educational establishment.
He told House of Keys that while he was satisfied the Council of Ministers was ‘working well’, he had always stated that he would make changes as and when he felt it necessary.
Mr Bell was questioned over whether he would undertake a ministerial reshuffle by Brenda Cannell (Douglas East) who asked whether he was aware of serious complaints being made about one of his ministers who she said was tarnishing the name of his department.
The Chief Minister said: ‘I should like to put on record that I am satisfied that the Council of Ministers is working very well through what will continue to be very challenging times. That said, I have stated from the outset that I would make changes to the Council of Ministers as and when I feel it necessary. However, I have no plans to make any changes in the immediate future.’
Mrs Cannell said: ‘Whilst I have to express disappointment in the fact that he does not plan to make any changes in the immediate future, I have to ask him, is he not aware that there are very serious complaints being made regarding one of his ministers, that is not only tarnishing that particular department, but the whole of the Council of Ministers and this assembly and what is he going to do about it?’
Mr Bell remarked that if Mrs Cannell would like to put her application in, he would be ‘very happy to consider it’. She retorted that this was a ‘very serious matter’ and suggested that the complaints were coming from ‘professional people within a department about their minister’s behaviour?’
‘So the Chief Minister would prefer peace and harmony within the Council of Ministers’ chamber, rather than release one minister and have him become an active backbencher again?’ said Mrs Cannell. ‘Is the Chief Minister saying to the House this morning then, that he is quite satisfied for a minister to go around educational establishments using inappropriate language?’
Mr Bell replied that if she had specific complaints she should raise them with him. He added: ‘I am very happy with the performance of my ministers at the moment. We are in very difficult times. We are having to make very difficult and very painful decisions. For the moment, I believe my ministers are working well as a team. The membership will not be changed in the immediate future, but, as I have said, I have given a commitment that, at some point, there will be changes in the line-up, but that change will not take place now.’
Education Minister Peter Karran refused to comment on the allegation that a minister had used inappropriate language at one of his department’s institutions.