So my first election as a President for a Committee over with and, although I was unsuccessful, it was an excellent experience. This, of course, was only possible because my proposer, President for Education, Sport and Culture, Deputy Paul Le Pelley and Deputy Carl Meerveld believed in me – many thanks to them.
For those of you who missed my speech, here it is – just in case you are interested!
“Mr Bailiff, Members, as is right I start with thanking Deputy Le Pelley for proposing me and Deputy Meerveld for seconding me.
I believe the States have a challenge with the introduction of a new government structure. I’ve heard the phrase “we need to hit the ground running” many times. The other phrase I hear is that “we need to be seen to be effective and efficient”. With the introduction of this new system, we have I believe, Sir, a great opportunity to do both, but this opportunity may not arise again.
To play my part, I wish to lead the team that advises the States on these changes and so I am standing as a candidate for the role of President of the States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee.
SACC is an essential cog in the machinery of government and never more so than when there have been changes in the make-up of government, never more so when further changes such as Island Wide Voting are contemplated.
SACC will also and develop and implement policies relating to, amongst other things, the processes of the States and its Committees. I am standing because I believe in process, I believe in rules and procedures – I go so far as to say I live for them. Before anyone sighs, I should add I also believe in a sensible, pragmatic approach to their interpretation and a belief in the importance of clarity and flexibility.
As many know, Sir, I am a lawyer and a compliance specialist, which I believe gives me the credentials for this role. I have drafted, implemented and explained many types of procedures over many years.
As well as my professional background, I thought I’d list some of my experience of committees and boards, both in the public and the private arena. I am a director of a charity in Guernsey and, until last month, I was a non-States member of the Legislation Select Committee which I joined in 2012. I should add that, whilst I am a newly elected Deputy, my membership of the Legislation Select Committee has given me the experience I feel sufficient to be a suitable candidate to be the President of SACC.
I was on the committee of the Guernsey International Legal Association (or GILA) for several years, finishing my stint there as Treasurer. When in the UK, I was an honorary member of the board of Carers National Association of Wales and on the STEP committee in Cardiff.
Professionally, my board experience includes running my own legal practice, that of director, money laundering reporting officer (or MLRO) and, when I was the Head of Compliance in Guernsey for a large international bank, I represented the compliance team at the board meetings of its Guernsey licensed entities.
I have chaired many meetings at work and as a volunteer.
In all those roles, there are two areas of commonality – process and good governance. Procedures, which are clear and understandable provide the tools for good governance. However, without consistent application and clarification, different outcomes can arise leading to confusion and disunity. I would like to lead the team that helps the States to develop and implement policies to avoid this.
I studied with interest, the States Review Committee’s progress creating the new structure through the three Policy Letters. I entered into several discussions with the Committee which, hopefully, were as enjoyable for the members as they were for me. I also contributed to their work through the submission of papers in respect of the future role of the equivalent of the Legislation Select Committee.
One might say the bulk of the work has been done, I would disagree. Deputy Fallaize once said that improving governance is a continuous process. There is no point in having a shiny new structure of government without proper installation and maintenance. I see the role as not just facilitating this implementation but also, as the mandate says, the continuing development of policies, in particular, in relation to the practical functioning of the States of both Deliberation and Election. Also, SACC is responsible for ongoing support to Deputies which I believe is essential because we all need that support to do our work. Whilst we all thrive under pressure, I know that stress can be avoided by having the right tools.
I was also pleased to note all Deputies have been asked to provide their views on the elections last month which will be very helpful.
One of the main constitutional issues the Committee will be involved in is the possible introduction of Island Wide Voting. I have made no bones about supporting the introduction of Island Wide Voting stating it as one of my key policies in my Manifesto. I did so because I believe anything that encourages participation in the governance of Guernsey can only be a good thing. I want to discourage apathy and promote involvement and if that be Island Wide Voting then so be it.
I am also aware that this method of voting has been visited many times without success. As a student of constitutional politics to university level, having read the many missives on the subject and spoken to civil servants about possible general improvements to the electoral process, I feel there are areas that have yet to be fully explored on this subject. If elected, I would apply my skills and knowledge leading a team to work with other Committees to seek to fulfil the resolution of the States. I assure you, Sir, I would do my utmost to help find a workable, cost-effective methodology for an election Island Wide.
However, assuming the resolution of the 19th February 2016 is not rescinded or amended, a referendum must be held first. As we know, the legislation, both primary and secondary, is yet to be drafted to enable this to happen despite the States resolving for such to be drafted as long ago as 2002.
So to conclude, I am able, willing and more than capable to lead a team to fulfil the wishes of this Assembly. Although, in comparison to the most recent Chairman of SACC, I am a mere beginner in the study of the governance of Guernsey, I feel that I can offer a fresh pair of eyes and ears. I ask Members to please vote for me.”