It is now 18 months since I was elected and this is my third review of my time as a People’s Deputy. But, instead of looking at what I’ve done in the light of my manifesto, I thought I’d review what the Six Principal Committees had brought to the Assembly.
I started by listing all the Policy Letters each had introduced and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and work that we have debated. For example the Committee for Home Affairs has covered trading standards, liquor licensing, data protection and most importantly those relating to the Population Management Law.
The Committee for Economic Development has brought subjects effecting the finance industry such as Image Rights, electronic cheque imaging, insolvency review and a joint Policy Letter with P&R on the introduction of the Beneficial Ownership Register for legal entities and an excellent Digital Strategy which was presented to the Assembly but not debated. We are informed they will shortly be submitting the eagerly awaited “Green Paper” setting out their Economic Vision for Guernsey – let’s hope it is, indeed, worth the wait.
The Committee for Employment and Social Security has been fairly quiet if you consider that the usual annual Policy Letters for increasing Benefit and Contribution rates and the Minimum Wage is business as usual. However Same-Sex Marriage legislation would be a major achievement for any Committee and one to be proud of.
The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has had the most number of contentious items albeit not all brought by themselves to the Chamber. Having resurrected the 11+ debate and discussed the Grant Aided Colleges, they fought off a Motion of No Confidence. The next stage will, however, be the most fraught for them with the debate between the “3 school, post-16 and training colleges” policy versus “the two schools and tertiary college” proposal. Over spending aside and despite the fact I supported the Motion of No Confidence, I find it a shame the uncertainty continues not because of the proposals they are supporting but because I don’t believe they are concentrating on the main aim of improving educational outcomes.
However, the least active in the Assembly have been the Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure and Committee for Health and Social Care albeit they are focusing on major pieces of work namely the energy policy including hydrocarbons and the H&SC target operating model respectively.
I have had the privilege of being an observer on four of the Principal Committees so far and this has proven most helpful to understand each of their mandates and the work being undertaken: something which is not apparent from my analysis of just the Policy Letters. I hope to follow up next year by attending meetings of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture and the Committee for Economic Development and so gain a greater understanding of the obstacles they face.
However, I have to return to the two Committees I started with – Home Affairs and Economic Development. Despite the importance of the legislation and the strategy we have seen from EconDev, it is still most disappointing that there has been nothing yet on the transport links which was the number one priority for most during the election. Also, what is going on between these two Committees regarding their Policy Letters on Population Management?
As this is not a subject strictly speaking within EconDev’s mandate and considering the review Home Affairs are undertaking with Policy & Resources, it is a most strange turn of events. Some may say EconDev’s Policy Letter is necessary because there is only a review and there is a need for urgent action. But shortly afterwards Home Affairs issue their own Policy Letter which clearly has been in the making way before the issuance of EconDev’s version.
And today we have another small but important change in policy by Home Affairs. I think, after reading both Policy Letters, it is appears to me that this is an illustration of two Committees working in “silos” and an indication of poor communication within government. It will, therefore, be interesting to hear what the Committees say about how this has been handled.
With the uncertainty of Brexit and the slow pace of growth in our economy, we need to all be optimistic whilst working collaboratively over the next six months and more. So I hope that the silo mentality can finally be put aside and positivity abound as otherwise Guernsey will not be the place we all hope it will be if we don’t.