18 Months and Counting ….. the Work Done by Principal Committees

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.

 

 

 

End of Term Report

At the end of a busy week in the Assembly, Deputies head for a two month break from attending States meetings – not, I hasten to add, a break from their homework.   As I am sure you all know, we continue to have Committee meetings and presentations, we deal with parishioners’ queries and there is always a lot to read.

As the holidays begin, I thought I’d just do a summing up of what I see as the important decisions and discussions since January.

We started the year with a bang and the Motion of No Confidence in the Committee for Education Sport & Culture which they survived.  We will find out this week if the confidence they were shown by the majority of my colleagues was well-founded when we see their plans for the three school model.

February saw a debate on whether or not to allow people to burn their dry garden waste at any time.  The debate masked the introduction of some excellent new measures to prohibit emissions of dark smoke, to set standards for local air quality and prohibit uncontrolled burning of non-garden waste.

The culmination of the long running Waste Strategy also came to a head when confirmation was given for the tender process to be completed just in time before Mont Cuet fills up.  Since then, the Douzaines have got together to see if they can agree on streamlining the collection of the different types of rubbish and how parishioners will receive their bills.

The Finance and Business Support sectors have been much in our thoughts with the introduction of various bits of legislation to keep us at the forefront of international regulation.  One such piece was the introduction of the  Beneficial Ownership Register for legal entities from the 1st July this year.  This is a mighty piece of work, completed quickly, and setting the standard for all offshore finance centres.  It creates a secure database containing information which will greatly help law enforcement in their work to prevent financial crime.

Two commencement Ordinances were passed with different reactions.  The Same Sex Marriages legislation was heralded with great joy whilst the clamour against the Population Management Law was audible amongst businesses across the Island.  As with most changes, the PML has taken a lot more time and resources than initially forecast but the cries continue for more lax treatment for foreign workers.  BREXIT will clearly dictate what we need to do but at least the PML is a better foundation to deal with these unknowns than the previous housing licence regime ever was.

The work to enable the introduction of the new data protection regulation from the EU and Document Duty ant-avoidance legislation were also agreed upon.  New rules for the statements by Presidents of all committees was also introduced.  Two of the projects given to us on the Development & Planning Authority by the Island Development Plan debate last November came to fruition.  One more step was taken in the Fontaine Vinery saga and also towards having that cup of tea at Stan Brouard.

Lastly, this month, we had debates on the States Accounts and the P&R Plan Phase Two.  Whilst the discussion on the facts and figures of what happened in 2016 was illuminating, my frustration in respect of the Plan was profound.  Having spent weeks trying to find out what aspects of the many projects, plans and resource requests we were being asked to approve – high level or full detail – I was told in the dying moments that there will be a 6 page summary document produced.  Once seen, I will find out what of the 200 page document remains and, hopefully, I can endorse the refined document without fear of unforeseen consequences.

So to the summer and the continuation of the heated argument over what to do about the anti-tank wall at L’Ancresse.  I hope that we can find a sensible compromise taking into account both the views of local people and the cost to the taxpayers of Guernsey.

Wishing you all happy holidays.

Motion of No Confidence

Web photo 1Being a signatory to a Motion of No Confidence is a decision that should not be taken lightly.   I decided to do so after considering the pros and cons in the same way I did when considering how to vote on the question of selection on the 2nd December.
A Committee which is mandated to bring in a major change in policy needs strong leadership and unity of purpose.  Having heard the speeches of the Committee, including the comments made by the President Deputy Le Pelley during and after the debate, I am afraid I do not have full confidence that this Committee can bring in such an important policy in the manner required.
When asked by Deputy Yerby if I would consider supporting the Motion of No Confidence, I agreed with little hesitation.  I felt that we cannot wait until June 2017 to see if the Committee for Education Sport & Culture can put aside their differences – both with each other and others – and come forward with a strong message of how the changes will be brought in.  It is just too important a policy to wait to see if the errors of the past months will be repeated.
Like others I have tried to avoid the need to have a Motion of No Confidence and I do hope that the Committee will heed all the calls to resign.  Deputy Leadbeater has done so and I congratulate him on such a brave decision which must have been so much more difficult as he was the first.
In the same way the Committee felt that it was necessary to bring the question of selection back to the Assembly so they could get a fresh mandate, I call on them to do so again. I do hope that they will resign, re-stand if they so wish and the vote will happen as soon as possible.
The link to the wording of the Motion is here:  http://emilieyerby.com/motion-of-no-confidence-esc/.

Working Towards a Better Education System

Web photo 1It was surely a great day for our future – for the future of the unborn children – who will see an education system which is not based on tutoring or dependent on the wage packet of the family into which they are born.  Well that is my aim at least.  However, it is now that the hard work really starts and we need to keep focused on this aim, to keep on track, to find the best way to introduce this system and, importantly, to bring along those who are either totally against this system or, at the very least, sceptical.

I spoke of a possible option in my speech yesterday – that of the introduction of the International Baccalaureate from primary school – something I hope will be given due consideration as indicated by Deputy St Pier in his speech.

However, one thing I have learnt during all this is that, whilst I am against selection, I know that the education system here in the Bailiwick is complex. I just hope that the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture will continue to work very hard to bring together all the concerns and problems highlighted.  I hope they will produce, by June 2017, a coherent, well-researched approach which produces a consensus of opinion amongst themselves.  An approach which they can then present in a unified manner to the Assembly which we can rely on, that the majority can support and which will not produce another battle of wills that I have just witnessed.

Please let us all work together for the good of the Bailiwick’s children as, in the end, that’s what is best for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Education for All

Web photo 1I just wanted to thank everyone for contacting me regarding the Education Debate – I may not have replied to all your e-mails but I have been reading them and taking note of your views.

As you will see from my Page “The Future of Education”, I cannot see how we can justify the continuation of the 11+ and my views haven’t changed.  Also, I have not been persuaded there is a good alternative and so I will be voting against re-introducing selection.

I believe in inclusion and equality but the 11+ excludes many who are perfectly capable of academic achievement. However, I do want to ensure the 25% aren’t disadvantaged by ensuring excellent education for all by enshrining the quality of the Grammar School’s achievements across our schools – something I do think parents and teachers alike want and I do believe is possible.

I do not think following the UK’s example is the way forward but I believe in a new system which emanates from the Grammar School – the International Baccalaureate  – a system which starts from primary school, which has excellent results, up-skills teachers, is liked by parents and teachers alike and could lead to international respect for our education system. It combines academic and vocational training and compliments our new curriculum.  It is not too expensive and is designed to fit in with other jurisdictions’ education systems.  It is a change but not a big change and it could end the polarising debate going on at the moment.
I mention this only to show what our education system could look like as, naturally, this is not going to be a matter for a vote.  Whilst ending selection may seem like a huge leap of faith for some, I do not think the alternative has to be based on the UK comprehensive system.  By removing selection, I don’t think it will, in any way, be the end of the line for great education here on Guernsey.