Assisted Dying – My Speech

After an emotional debate on whether Guernsey should set up a working party to look at the introduction of assisted dying, I thought I would publish the speech I made yesterday in the Assembly.  I do so mainly because we have had so many people e-mail and write to us to whom I haven’t responded, that I thought it only right to set out my position on this most difficult subject.  So for the benefit of those who weren’t able to listen yesterday or for those who did but want to read every word here it is:

“Sir, I have found it difficult to put into words why I did not support this Requete nor do I support Propositions 1 to 4.

I have found it difficult because the more I considered my position the more I believed my reasons for doing so differed from many although yesterday I realised I am certainly not alone.  It was also difficult to be satisfied that I had reached the right decision, at least for me, as we have read and listened to the heart wrenching stories of suffering: none of us would wish anyone to suffer.

For helping me with this decision, I also want to add my thanks to the very many people who have taken the time to e-mail or write to let me know of their views.

Sir, I cannot support the first four propositions for two reasons: firstly because I feel that we should not just have capacity legislation in force; we need to also ensure that it is effective.  A working party set up to consider the test for what is effective does not give me the comfort that the legislation would not be properly tested before bringing in assisted dying.

And secondly, the idea that I and obviously others have found difficult to reconcile.  If those essential safeguards are indeed in place and effective, why are the Requerants arguing that only a few people will be eligible to benefit?

Why delude ourselves that it is fair or reasonable that with the appropriate safeguards that assisted dying should not be available to those who truly want to have autonomy?

But that leads me to why I absolutely cannot agree to go down this path without those safeguards in place.  Why I cannot, yet, grant the people of Guernsey what has been described as this crucial aspect of personal autonomy.  However simple this concept appears, having been involved in ascertaining whether someone has the capacity to make a decision, has this autonomy, I was concerned that the complexities were being dismissed as one those clever draftspeople can overcome.  Whilst, we do have excellent professionals and an approach to legal drafting which provides for simpler Laws than the UK, we still need to understand that the Law will need to be interpreted.

This is a complex area and one I wanted to illustrate in my speech so think how pleased I was to note that late yesterday afternoon, I was sent the May edition of the Mental Capacity Report.  This report is sent to members of the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners, produced by the barristers practising in England and Wales known as 39 Essex Chambers.  In it was a very interesting article entitled “The relationship between autonomy and adult mental capacity in the law of England and Wales”  How timely.

In it the author considers the underlying relationship between autonomy and mental capacity as discussed in various judgments dealing with this issue.  I have decided to go into the arguments raised to illustrate the complexities of what we are discussing.

The author, Paul Skowron, who is a Research Associate on the Wellcome Trust funded Mental Health and Justice project, working at the York Law School, divides the relationship between mental capacity and autonomy into three types identified by judges.  The first is the gatekeeper type where having mental capacity is treated an overriding reason not to interfere with their wishes, not to interfere with a person’s autonomy.  Another type is the insufficiency type where capacity is not enough to be autonomous. Freedom from coercion and undue influence is also needed.  For example in one case, ‘Mrs L’ had capacity and did not wish to bring proceedings for a non-molestation order against her son. Nevertheless, she was found to be “a vulnerable adult whose autonomy has been compromised by a reason other than mental incapacity” so a wide range of injunctions were made restraining him so Mrs L was found both to have capacity and to lack autonomy.

Lastly, the relationship between mental capacity and autonomy can be described as one of “survival”.  Mr Justice Baker said this was when “personal autonomy survives the onset of incapacity.”  But that is not the end of it and the author goes on in his article to say “it does not mean that everyone, regardless of capacity, is so autonomous that the state should not act against their wishes. It merely holds that some people without the relevant capacity might be so autonomous, and that the issue is decided as part of the best interests decision.”

For example, one factor is ‘the strength and consistency of the views being expressed’.  The author says “Fairly often, people without capacity know what they want, want it for intelligible reasons, or would be utterly distraught if what they wanted was disregarded. By softening the link between autonomy and capacity, the survival type allows these things to be taken into account.”

But Mr Skowron concludes “One of the original aims of the Mental Capacity Act introduced in 2005 in the UK was to simplify the law, but it does not appear to have done so.”  There are a wide range of factors that judges take into account when assessing a person’s autonomy and whilst capacity is relevant so, for example, is coercion.

For those who are interested the full article is available albeit for a fee – not to me I hasten to add.

Sir, I mention this as the debate has focused on freedom of choice, “my life my choice”, – if the decision before us were that straightforward I would find this debate a lot less challenging.  But it is not that simple because it is about competing demands – not just the legalities but practicalities too.

Giving due regard to those demands is the most important aspect of government as we must not allow them to be overshadowed by the emotions of the argument.  My feelings of empathy may pull me one way but my conscience says another.

As can be seen from the various Propositions before us, we are on a very long journey.  We have already agreed upon most of the stages of that journey as it will involve the introduction of an effective Capacity Law, non-discrimination and equality legislation for disabled islanders or preferably an Equality Law, the extension of international conventions and an even better palliative care service than we have now.

But what I find is unacceptable from a purely practical point of view is that we are being asked to combine these aims with that of enabling one person to assist another to die.  As I have said it is not the outcome that I have issue with but that these other most essential steps could be in anyway thwarted by association.

I believe there is a real risk of that happening because of the nature of the safeguards required because of the limited number of people to whom the right of assisted dying is being proposed to be given and so inevitably the greater number who will need protection from those safeguards.

It is also not about the person seeking to exercise the right that needs protecting.  It is not just about giving the right to an individual to die but it is also about protecting the ‘third person’ – the one who has the difficult task, even with well-written legislation, of assessing capacity, the one who has to write the prescription, the one who administers it and the family and friends who are left behind.

We are told by supporters that it is “a given” that we should have the very necessary protections for the vulnerable in place before we can move forward but do these four propositions really provide for that?  Do they adequately cover all of those people affected by such a decision?

The letter of comment from the Committee of Health and Social Care, a Committee on which I sit, sets out many such concerns.  As Deputy Soulsby, as President of HSC, will be commenting further I will say no more.

The question I need to answer is do I feel sufficiently reassured by those Propositions to believe these people will be protected by laws, processes and support networks BEFORE anyone is assisted to die.

As a glass full person, some may be surprised Sir by my scepticism – that I feel the need to ensure the safeguards are in place first.  But what has happened is that I have repeatedly, throughout my preparation for this debate, drawn on my own personal experiences both of my family and as a lawyer.  I too do not apologise for this as I believe these experiences are most relevant to this debate.

For 25 years, my primary task, as a solicitor who practised law in England and Wales, used to be discussing death – whether it was with an individual before their demise or afterwards with their family and friends.  For that reason, I am extremely pleased that the most difficult subject of death is being discussed openly with so many people.

During Dying Matters week, or as we call here it here on Guernsey “Going Out with the Tide”, we have an opportunity to break the taboo and stress the importance to talk about what needs to be done in the event of illness, incapacity and death so that our loved ones are aware of our wishes and have the tools to ensure those wishes are carried out.  It is also an opportunity to hear from professionals about what happens when people die, how the body functions in the last days.  Details difficult to hear but important to understand.

Getting people to talk about their ultimate and unavoidable demise, has always been difficult but usually occurs after someone has suffered a loss or an experience which they felt they did not want to go through themselves.  Whether that be someone dying without having made a Will or because, as we have heard over and over recently, their loved one had a painful death.  I have made Wills for people and then attended their funeral only the following week.  I have also helped people who had thought they were going to die a painful death, often because of an HIV diagnosis, only to receive joyful messages from them some 20 years later.

My role was to enable a discussion to, as we use to call it, put “ones affairs in order”.  In the UK, this would include a Will, plans for the funeral and an Enduring Power of Attorney which gave the power to someone to make decisions in respect of financial matters in the event of someone becoming mentally incapable. There was also the advance directive or Living Will which dealt with medical matters.

Together, this suite of documents could enable families to get on with their lives feeling confident they could deal with the eventualities of life.

However, life, or rather death, is not like that.

There have been occasions when I have been in despair over the way in which the law has operated.  I have watched as families fight over assets and debating whether someone had the legal capacity to take a certain action.  I have seen the despair when documents thought to be valid be declared invalid due to a technicality and I have seen well-constructed Wills be overturned because a family member who was excluded had managed to persuade a Court they needed the money.  Despite what the Deputy St Pier said in his speech, I have had to make it clear to clients that they do not have autonomy over their assets either before or after death – they can only give an indication of what they want as nothing can be set in stone.

In particular I have watched the issues around the introduction in the UK of the Lasting Power of Attorney which combines the financial powers of an Enduring Power of Attorney and a health and welfare section which is akin to the Living Will or advance directive.  That legislation has brought untold problems due to the way it has been administered.  One such example was a case where the person ticked two boxes on the form instead of one giving a contradictory instruction of what to do if the donor was in a vegetative state.  This resulted in the provision in the Lasting Power of Attorney being struck out and, if the donor had not been able to make another directive, their wishes would have been ignored.

This leads me on to my second concern.  To explain this I find it easier to refer to a conversation I had last week.  A parishioner asked me to vote for assisted dying advising me that if I did he would not need to go to Switzerland when he could no longer take care of himself.

Even if these propositions are successful, my parishioner would not live to see the legislation nor do I believe he would be eligible as he is a fit octogenarian!  I am concerned about this false expectation as people seem unaware of those who the Requerants intend should benefit from assisted dying.

During this time I have reflected on the life of my cousin who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 21.  He was given 6 months to live and so could perhaps be someone who, under the proposed regime, could have been assisted to die.  Instead, knowing his life-expectancy, he successfully completed the 9 months left of his degree course and, whilst not being able to even feed himself, he continued to be the most inspiring person I have ever met for another 21 years of his life.  My Aunt, who cared for him every day, never once advocated assisted dying although later, when she found out how cannabis could have helped him, her anger was immense.

So, as the majority of people will not be able to take advantage of an assisted death, once this is acknowledged will there be the clamour for an extension before even the safeguards are in place?  Will the coming years in this Chamber be ones of twoing and froing from this stated position, raising expectation only to dash them later – and all this whilst essential work which benefits the whole Bailiwick is sidelined.

Or simply should we wait until we have the necessary safeguards – sorely needed – in place and effective – have the continued dialogue over what happens shortly before death, what we need to plan for, how palliative care can help and improve – and then agree and only then agree what if any assisted dying legislation we should have?  Some may say this is kicking the can down the road – something I would never wish to do unless it was right to do so – but this to me is the right time.

So, without safeguards that work, that are thorough and effective, I cannot agree to start a process that has so many uncertainties, with so many people who could be effected without their protection at the forefront.  Considering there are just so many things we need to do to benefit Islanders, I cannot agree to spend money on a fundamentally flawed and expensive process to give help to a few.

There are lessons that I hope we can all learn from this debate and which costs nothing and that is to do our utmost to ensure people do not feel a burden.  To help people to realise how much they are valued.

We also need to reiterate how all these aspects of life and death intertwine and that the horror stories we have heard are not what we or are families and friends are going to face – that we as a government are providing the care to make this very unlikely.  Let’s us explain in greater detail what is available and to remove that fear at least.

Saying that Sir I cannot sit down until I have complimented our Palliative Care on this Island.  All our healthcare staff have had the training to provide such care and we have an excellent Specialist Palliative Care team for the last weeks and days of life such care which can, of course, be improved.

And for me, personally, I put my faith in their care and that they will be there for me when I need it rather than having faith that there will be truly effective safeguards in place.

Before I conclude, I should add that, whilst I voted for this Amendment, it was because I wished a clear and straightforward debate not because I can vote for its effect. I should also add that Amendment 7, if it had been successful, made no difference and nor will any amendment which tries to water down the contents any further if it still associates any workstreams with assisted dying.

I cannot agree to a path which can in any way deter us from the so important aims we seek to achieve – they have been and continue to be hard enough to achieve without assisted dying be added in the mix of the goals we seek.”

 

 

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.

A Week is a Long Time in Politics

brexit_puzzle_slIn 1964, Harold Wilson said the now famous and well-used phrase – “a week is a long time in politics”.  This week has been so long it has broken all records with the number of political events of magnitude – obviously it started with BREXIT, then David Cameron’s resignation, followed by Scotland’s claim that they could stop the Exit, then the petition for a new referendum, the call for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation and finally (for now) Boris’ shock announcement he will not enter the race to be the next UK’s prime minister.

So that was the UK’s week what about Guernsey you say?  Well obviously BREXIT was the talk of us politicians as was our 2015 Budget and the latest Education survey.  Personally, my highlight was my maiden speech.

As I tweeted later, I was so surprised that, having been involved in politics for 44 years, BREXIT would be the topic of such a speech.  To set the scene, the debate we had was on the Policy Letter presented by the Policy & Resources Committee headed “Managing the Implications for Guernsey because of the UK’s Changing Relationship with the EU” and can be found here :-  https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=102958&p=0

For those of you who may be interested, my speech is below.

“Sir, I am a glass half full person and, as such, I decided to take up the challenge laid down by my neighbour, Deputy Kuttlewascher, yesterday when he asked us to come up with the opportunities which BREXIT posed.  I also respond to Deputy Roffey’s pessimism.

Having read the Policy Letter, read blogs and articles and spoken to many people since Friday morning, I thought I would list these opportunities in this debate as I believe a positive attitude in the negotiations would benefit the Bailiwick.

The Policy Letter quite rightly repeats the IMF’s recommendation to support stability, limit uncertainty and maintain confidence – but should this Assembly take such a restrained approach?  Can’t we be more optimistic?  Whilst trawling the internet, I saw that a commentator had said he thought this was much more of a political crisis than an economic one and I agree especially when looking at the reaction of the markets overall.  So I say let’s take advantage of this political crisis by being at the table talking about our Islands and what we have to offer.

So what are the opportunities?  The policy letter talks about how we can push to join the World Trade Organisation.  I would have liked to have given more detail for Deputy Richard Graham on this topic but, unfortunately, I am not as good a researcher as Deputy Yerby.   This membership is, however, something for which the Commercial Group, representing the finance and business services industry, has been campaigning for years.  It would bring many benefits in relation to intellectual property products and any opportunity we get to promote our intellectual property office, our image rights register, our aircraft registry and e-gambling in Alderney we should take with open arms.  I also hear Captive Insurers are doing well in China.

We have also gone through the process to confirm our equivalence under the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers’ Directive or AIFMD.  That was a very well run exercise taken on by the Investment Division of our regulator at the GFSC and set the bar for how to negotiate for our businesses to trade in the EU.

The GDPR (sorry more acronyms) or the EU General Data Protection Regulation is coming soon and, whilst it is more regulation, it offers a great opportunity, if businesses here are up for it, and, as Deputy St Pier said earlier, we can promote ourselves as a safe haven for data.  BREXIT can focus the attention on what we can offer because we will be there at the table talking about our relationship with the EU as well as the UK.

Earlier this year the Single European Payments Area Ordinance came into force which implements those provisions of EU/EEA legislation necessary to enable Guernsey to meet the requirements for third country participation in the Single Euro Payments Area.

These are examples of how as a third country we can work with the EU and they with us.  Our Channel Islands Brussels Office have been invaluable in enhancing that relationship and puts us in a great place to continue the work already begun.

You will also have heard that a leading venture capitalist believes that Guernsey could benefit from BREXIT provided we have a flexible regulatory approach which allows our businesses to benefit from the opening up of markets elsewhere.  The Director General of Guernsey’s regulator also confirmed it has been hard for us to sell retail financial services in the UK but there was a good possibility for trade barriers between the UK and Guernsey to come down which would be positive for Guernsey.

I am also receiving upbeat messages about the UK outlook especially because of the strong shape of its domestic economy and comparing to what occurred in 1992 when the UK made its exit from the EU’s Exchange Rate Mechanism (or ERM).

And despite the comments in the Policy Letter about the potential worry for fishermen, I am reliably informed they are generally optimistic.  Deputy Paint advises me that one possible benefit is for them not to have to conform to European fishing policy one example of which is the catching or not of undulate Rays.

Personally I think one opportunity shouts out louder than others from the melée.  It is quite clear we will be working with other nations affected by this seismic change.  Working together over BREXIT will enhance those relationships.  Having spent an enjoyable day last Friday playing cricket and getting to know the members of Jersey’s Parliament, it became abundantly clear to me that we could benefit greatly from working together more often and not just in these negotiations.  I was pleased to hear Deputy Soulsby’s speech mentioning this joined up approach this morning.  Working together with others more often may, dare I say it Sir, even turn out to be the lasting legacy from BREXIT.

Having provided some examples of the opportunities out there to our doubting Deputies, I would also like to suggest an addition by including a positive element to the propositions set out in paragraph 11.1 of the Policy letter.  As well as setting out the aims which P&R should have in leading the negotiations, I would like to add a further aim and that is, during those negotiations, please be alive to the opportunities for these Islands.”

 

Presidential Elections and all that

Web photo 2

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.”

 

A week is a long time in politics ……

tindalldawn-1-e1454075780950                         …… and what a week!

As I have been concentrating on other things this week (canvassing, hustings, 50th birthday),  I thought I’d look back at what else had been going on around us.

I think the civil service headlines were the most eye opening – not just the resignation of Dr Carol Tozer but also Paul Whitfield’s views that the civil service will be more accountable under the new Committee system of government.  As a non-States member of the Legislation Select Committee, I played some small part in the consultation process on the proposed system and had many discussions on the subject.  I think it is a great opportunity not just to ensure accountability of the civil service but also of the deputies.  It will also give an opportunity for greater participation by the islanders of the Bailiwick with the earlier publication of the Billets and, hopefully, better communication of the outcomes.

Then there was the announcement of a Deposit Scheme only to be followed by what seemed a hasty (in my view) statement by the Housing Minister that it would not help.  The Harbour raised its head as an issue again but for reasons which seem to me all so familiar – the under use of our assets.  We have seen the Herm boat, unfortunately, having difficulties but this time a simple solution arrived – a back-up vessel!

The cruise passengers have started visiting our shores saying they prefer Guernsey to our larger neighbour.  This is always good to hear especially as it is the warm, traditional welcome that they appreciate.  Their trip could be better if we knew the true value of these visits so we can assess what we should spend to improve their visit, know that it is proportionate and see that it is also beneficial for us islanders.

There are more planning and parking concerns reported – concerns which I have heard echoed regularly on the doorsteps.  Why can’t we get to grips with the problem of parking whether it is the number of parking places for new builds or treating our residents fairly by preventing vehicles outstaying their welcome?  Some have been there for days, months even years!

We have had a discussion on banning bonfires and what to do about our waste. Some say stop the bonfires, others say burn the lot (the waste that is!)  The Guernsey Press have been telling us about their Pride of Guernsey Awards to rightly celebrate some amazing achievements.   We have also honoured two of our brave Guernseymen who died as a result of the first world war.

In the UK, the EU debate heats up with the US getting involved.  It has been 400 years since Shakespeare’s death and 90 years since our wonderful Queen was born. This is tempered by the sad passing of another two greats, Victoria Wood and Prince.

Today is the London Marathon and I want to wish good luck to those runners from Guernsey – working hard for worthy causes.  Whilst I am not a runner, I understand a little more about the extensive preparation needed having walked my own Marathon around St Peter Port South these past few weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will complete my Marathon as the mind is willing but the body isn’t.  Apologies to those I have not had a chance to meet but a great big thank you to those who have given up their time to tell me their views.

And, finally, to next week.  Some of you have already voted through the postal vote system but most are reading the manifestos for the last time.  If you have questions, now is the time to ask the candidates as you may not get another chance.

For me it has been a wonderful journey.  I have met so many fascinating, informed people and have become firm friends with many.  I have campaigned using all sorts of social media, responding to e-mails, videos and, of course, the hustings.  But, after all that, I have realised that meeting people is the best for me and I hope for you the voter, whether on the doorstep, in the pubs and wine bars or in Market Square holding tightly onto my balloons.

So having made my observations and said my thanks, I repeat my belief that the future of Guernsey is in the hands of the voters.  Please vote wisely, please vote on the 27th April.