Will John Houghton’s question in tomorrow’s Keys sitting result in the revelations we seek with regard to unminuted meetings? 

The Hon. Member for Douglas North (Mr Houghton) to ask the Chief Minister –

What his Government’s policy is in respect of note taking at official meetings between departmental officers and third parties from outside Government?

Now Mr Houghton may be seeking details relating to a specific commercial case, however, the answer must surely also apply to the “Burning Question” of the blog:

Why do we hold unminuted meetings with the UK Ministry of Justice?

Don’t you find this question of utmost importance and relevance to our entire political system, too?



  1. Chief Minister’s Answer:

    Mr Speaker, there can be great diversity in the nature of official meetings, so much so that it would not be appropriate for this Government to have one
    general policy in respect of notetaking at official meetings. It very much depends on the nature of the meeting.
    All officials should actively consider record keeping in line with the guidance issued by the Chief Secretary’s Office in relation to minute taking and recording Departmental decisions. This guidance was recently updated to encompass related Tynwald decisions.
    In more general discussions with a third party, which are not covered by such procedures, I would expect a discussion and agreement at the start of the meeting about the nature of the records to be kept. As a general rule, and as a good starting point for anyone contacting another organisation, it is appropriate to follow the recommendations of the Select Committee on KSF that all significant exchanges with third parties by officials of public sector organisations should be noted or recorded. This should obviously be done in a manner appropriate to the circumstances of each particular case.

    Mr Houghton:
    I would generally support what the Chief Minister is saying, but is he aware that there is a growing policy around Government where, as he has just said, the general discussion at the start of the meeting is where a very strong hint is given for notes not to be taken, and that, of course, then negates those third parties, at some later date, from accusing those Government Departments of prevarication?
    Can I ask the Chief Minister if he would kindly put a circular out to the effect that anybody meeting up with business on official business should be able to take notes?

    The Chief Minister:
    I am very happy to look into that, Mr Speaker. If the Hon. Member could
    perhaps give me greater detail on what he is talking about, I would be very happy to follow that through and perhaps even meet the Chief Officer to pass on that message.

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