‘I will not get legal opinion on NI review,’ Chief Minister tells Tynwald

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

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The Chief Minister has ruled out seeking legal advice retrospectively for a controversial decision to spend National Insurance money on a review of social security.

In Tynwald, Liberal Vannin leader Kate Beecroft MHK (Douglas South) asked Allan Bell whether he would get an independent legal opinion on the legal vires of the appointment of Ci65 Limited as consultants for the second phase of the social security and National Insurance review.

She asked this be circulated to all Tynwald members prior to the debate on a damning report on the issue by the Public Accounts Committee.

But Mr Bell’s succinct response was: ‘I do not intend to obtain independent legal opinion.’

Mrs Beecroft, who had written to Mr Bell saying she is ‘extremely concerned’ that Ci65’s appointment may be ‘contrary to law’, asked why not.

The Chief Minister replied that he had full confidence in the advice given by the acting Attorney General.

He said an independent legal opinion had been sought in respect of the Sefton loans only because the acting Attorney General was conflicted in that matter. There was no such issue in respect of Ci65 and so no reason not to take advice from the acting Attorney.

Mrs Beecroft’s Lib Van colleague Peter Karran said Mr Bell’s stance ‘undermines the island’ which he said was supposed to be a ‘modern functioning democracy and not a banana republic’.

He suggested that if he was so confidence in the acting Attorney General’s advice he should have no qualms in circulating that advice to members. ‘If he doesn’t do this he’s got something to hide,’ he added.

Mr Bell replied that if Liberal Vannin had no confidence in the acting AG they should table a motion to that effect. ‘There is nothing unusual in this. I have full confidence in the acting Attorney General,’ he said.

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