The Isle of Man Government has failed to document the conflicts of interests of the participants of the Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change, according to new records obtained by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance. The Government has revealed that none of the Forum members have been asked to declare conflicts of interest, despite an admission by the Government that many of the stakeholders “have a vested interest in the area”.
According to the Government, the Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change is supposedly “representative of the Manx public and… [will] reach conclusions about what path the public believes is best for our Island.” The Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance believes the people of the Isle of Man have a right to know who is making “conclusions” about what “is best for our island”, and what conflicts of interest they might have.
“This is a fundamental failure of transparency in government life,” said Michael Josem, of the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance. “People who are making conclusions about what is best for our island should, at the absolute minimum, declare any potential conflicts of interest.”
“This failure to abide by basic principles of good governance fundamentally undermines the credibility of the Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change. Not only have many members’ identity been kept secret, but we have now learned that they are not even required to make basic declarations of potential conflicts of interest,” said Josem.
According to the Isle of Man Government website, of the 36 members of the forum, only 17 have been publicly identified.
Revelation by Government
On 9 June 2021, the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance submitted a Freedom of Information Act requesting “All records of declarations of interests by members of the Citizens’ Forum
on Climate Change.”
In a letter from the Isle of Man Cabinet Office (reproduced in full below), the Government confirmed, “The Isle of Man Government has set up the Citizens’ Forum on Climate Change. The Climate Change Team have not asked any of the Forum members to declare conflicts of interest…”
The Government goes on to admit “These stakeholders, by the very nature of their attendance, have a vested interest in the area in which they represent. The Forum is not a policy making entity, they act as a focus group for the Climate Change Transformation Team’s research and provide feedback and insights from a community perspective. To this extent the Climate Change Team does not feel that there would be any merit in asking members to declare conflicts of interest.”
Principles of Public Life
The Government Code of the Isle of Man Government demands adherence to Seven Principles of Public Life (reproduced in full below). Some of those principles are:
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
- Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
- Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
These Seven Principles of Public Life come from the United Kingdom’s Committee on Standards in Public Life, an advisory non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom Government. It was established in 1994 by then British Prime Minister John Major to advise the Prime Minister on ethical standards of public life. The principles are sometimes also called the Nolan principles, and have long been adopted by the Isle of Man.