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'Misinformation' key to single member debate


May I add to your report of the debate on the single member proposals (NCE last week);

indeed, may I emphasise what was the single most important issue to be raised in the debate?

This is the fact that members voting in the ballot on corporate membership for associate members were seriously misled as to the consequences flowing from their vote. The misinformation lay in the Secretary's letter of 22 May explaining the effects and limitations of the proposed Bylaw changes.

That letter told voting members that the By-law changes for corporate membership and the then current proposals for single membership were not connected.

As was explained by David Orr during the debate, and has been acknowledged by the Secretary, the two issues were and are connected. If the corporate membership vote (which narrowly achieved its required two thirds majority) had not been passed, it would have been necessary to have a ballot for the subsequent proposal concerning single membership.

Thus the unballotted single membership implementation is riding on the back of the corporate member ballot, within which voters were categorically told that the two subjects were unconnected.

That is why those voting in favour of a ballot believed a ballot should be held even though the Secretary was advising that this was not necessary.

In face of such serious misrepresentations (even if it were an innocent mistake at the time) the validity of the corporate membership ballot must be in doubt. It is almost certain that there would have been a bigger response if voters had been told what was at stake and quite possible that the result would have been different.

Beyond that, I believe that how the Institution takes its major decisions is even more important than what decisions it takes. In relationship to the members, decisions should be taken with transparency and integrity. No doubt through a failure of understanding, Council has now given to the membership the impression of seriously falling short on both of these.

Roger Sainsbury (F), 88 Dukes Avenue, London N10 2QA

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