STATES OF JERSEY
MONDAY, 5th DECEMBER 2005
The Roll was called and the Dean led the Assembly in Prayer
ELECTION OF CHIEF MINISTER DESIGNATE
1. The Bailiff:
“May I, first of all, on behalf of Members, issue our customary warm welcome to His Excellency. Secondly, may I acknowledge the presence in the public gallery of the Chief Minister of Guernsey and welcome him to the sitting this morning. Last, but by no means least, may I welcome to the Assembly those new members who are joining us for the first time. I remind members that the only business for the meeting is the selection of the Chief Minister designate, and I invite the Greffier to read the nominations which have been received.”
The Greffier of the States:
“Two nominations were received for the post of Chief Minister by the deadline set out in Standing Order 115(1)(d). They were Senator Stuart Syvret and Senator Frank Harrison Walker. The nomination for Senator Syvret is made by Senator Wendy Kinnard, Senator Ben Edward Shenton, the Connétable of St. Mary, Deputy Alan Breckon of St. Saviour, Deputy Gerard Clifford Lemmens Baudains of St. Clement, Deputy Judith Ann Martin of St. Helier and Deputy Paul Vincent Francis Le Claire of St. Helier. The nomination of Senator Walker is made by Senator Terence Augustine Le Sueur, Senator Paul Routier, the Connétable of St. Ouen, the Connétable of Grouville, Deputy Jacqueline Jeannette Huet of St. Helier and Deputy John Benjamin Fox of St. Helier. I can confirm that both candidates submitted a policy statement, as required by Standing Orders, and I can further confirm that I have circulated details of the nominations and the statements* to all members as required.” [* See Appendices 1 and 2]
“In accordance with Standing Orders, lots are to be drawn to determine the order in which the candidates will speak. Two names have been put in the Greffier’s toque and I shall draw one name out in a moment and that candidate will be the first to speak. (Pause) The first to speak is Senator Syvret. May I, therefore, ask the second candidate, Senator Walker, to withdraw from the Chamber and he will be called back in due course? (Pause) The first candidate will address the Assembly for 10 minutes. The Greffier will sound a bell, Senator, after 9 minutes and then a second bell after 10 minutes, at which the candidate must stop speaking. I will also at that time ask the television cameras to close down so that the period of questioning can take place. Senator Syvret?”
2. Senator S. Syvret:
“Thank you, Sir. Jersey is at the cusp of an historic change in its government. We are moving from a committee system, which we have had in place for many, many years indeed, into a ministerial system. So a new style of government is going to emerge. Hopefully, that style of government will bring about significant improvements on what has gone before. That is not to say that the government of Jersey has been poor or has failed in all respects. But, nevertheless, I think even the most charitable of us would say that in recent times the direction of the Island’s government has not been satisfactory and has not met the expectations of the people. But simply changing the machinery of our government will of itself not be sufficient. We also have to change the attitude, the approach and the philosophy by which we plan for the future of the community and by which we shoulder the onerous expectations and responsibilities. In order to do that we need to make a fresh start. We need to begin with a new approach to government, and I offer the Island that approach. It would be fair to say that there has been a significant degree of political consistency over the years. When we look at the make up and leadership of the major strategic Committees of the States - the Finance and Economics Committee and the Policy and Resources Committee when it first came into existence - over the last decade, certainly generally speaking, the political approach, ideas and philosophy of all of those Committees has been consistent and it has been the same. But that approach, whilst successful in some respects, has not delivered the benefits and the successful policies that the Island could have and should have. I have said publicly, and I say now to members, that there are 2 great failings in the system of government in Jersey: that is a lack of rigour, a lack of intellectual analysis and a lack of evidence-based government. Too many times Committees focus on generating that particular data and information which they need in order to back up their pre-determined ideological positions, rather than a completely comprehensive, transparent examination of all relevant information. I believe we have to move into a new era of evidence-based government. I also believe that the second great failing of the States of Jersey has been short-termism, particularly pronounced in Jersey but, frankly, not uncommon amongst democratic governments. It is difficult for politicians to look beyond the horizons of the next electoral cycle. I believe that when the States introduces strategic plans and major policies, it shouldn’t be just for the next 3 or 5 years. Every policy should have an attached requirement that we have projections and predictions for the kind of circumstances that might have a bearing on that area of policy for the next 10, 15 and 20 years. We have to bring into our system of government that kind of long term strategic planning. Even more so than in the past, we face difficult times. We have seen in the last couple of years how our economy can be threatened by external forces outside of our control and our taxation structures we are having to embark upon the most radical changes with since 1928 when income tax was introduced, to some extent, because of competition from other jurisdictions, but also significantly because of political pressure put on us by the European Union and the United Kingdom. We have no guarantee and nobody could promise this Assembly or the community that the measures we have even taken so far will satisfy and ultimately waylay such external criticisms and pressures. So our economy is at greater risk in the future than we have been used to in recent years. So we have to start planning for the long term on that basis. We are also a small community in the wider world and events are going to change significantly in the wider world in ways which are going to clearly have an effect on this community. We have, for example, past peak oil production in the world, whilst world demand is increasing dramatically. The next 5 to 10 years are going to see oil shocks, with the consequences of sizeable economic impacts that will be as of nothing compared to those oil shocks we saw in the 1970s. We need to start planning as to how we deal with these issues: what we do about the inflation; how we provide transport within the Island; and how we provide transport to the Island. We have to address these kinds of major strategic factors if we are to succeed in delivering the stability we enjoy in the Island, the quality of life, the standard of living and the very high quality range of public services we all enjoy. We do, in fact, have extremely good standards of education, of healthcare, a good solid social security system and, in the main, a good public housing provision. We have to ensure that we continue to strive to deliver those standards and indeed to improve them where possible. But, in order to do that, we of course need a successful economy. One of the measures I believe we will have to undertake is a completely transparent enquiry into all of the taxation options that we could possibly face. It has been claimed by the Finance and Economics Committee that they have done this work, but an examination of the facts shows that this is not the case. We have had no detailed reports that examined such possibilities as land value tax, development windfall taxes and a whole range of other options that could be introduced, such as capital gains taxes. A whole raft of taxation measures could be examined. We might find some of these taxation options preferable to, for example, putting tax on medicines, doctors’ bills, children’s clothing and basic foodstuffs and, whatever the outcome of the decisions we are going to make today, I will again attempt (because it was such a feature and of public interest in the elections) to get those basic exemptions to the Sales Tax. The fact is that we probably have little choice other than to change our taxation structures in order to meet those external pressures I have already referred to, but surely we have to do it on the basis of evidence. We have to have a comprehensive and complete analysis of all of the possible taxation options we could possibly choose so that we have that full menu of provision and we can then engage in an informed debate in our community as to which taxation options the community at large might favour. We haven’t had that degree of transparent enquiry at this stage. One of the other factors I also think we are going to have to take a detailed look at is the administration of justice in the Island. Some members may be familiar with the reforms to law overseen by Lord Woolf in the United Kingdom - the Woolf reforms and recommendations. We will have to introduce, I believe, a number of those recommendations - not all, because not all match the particular and peculiar legal arrangements we have in Jersey - but such fundamentals as, for example, giving the courts the clear power, responsibility and ability to manage case costs has to be introduced because we have to combat inflation, and one of the most expensive services in Jersey (and it works greatly to the detriment of our international competitive position) is the ludicrously high rate of legal charges that our offshore clients have to bear through the work they have done in Jersey. Again, this won’t be a popular measure in certain quarters, but it is the kind of thing we have to drive through. Many of the issues we have to face as a community are not going to be popular. So I don’t promise this Assembly or the community at large populist, simple measures. We face difficult times. We have, in fact, I think, had things perhaps too easy in the last 2 or 3 decades. An element of complacency has crept into our government; we have been too profligate with public money; and we haven’t planned properly for the modernisation of our taxation system and, indeed, the diversity of our economy. We have to diversify that economy. At the moment, we are massively dependent upon the finance industry. This is not a criticism of the industry, but simply a statement of fact. Indeed, I believe the official figures are wholly inaccurate. I would wager that we are probably at least 80 per cent economically dependent on the finance industry, when you take into consideration all of that portion of spend in the hospitality industry, travel, retail and the accommodation industry, which is of itself dependent upon and grows out of the finance industry. So it is crucial that we seek to diversify for strategic reasons and to lessen our vulnerability to external effects. These are the kind of long term measures I intend to pursue should I be elected as Chief Minister. I also believe that we have to work on a much more co-operative and consensual basis than we have in the past. There has in recent years been something of an ideological split within this Assembly, if you like, covert parties. I believe we have to overcome that now. I believe that the States has to set aside the internal structural navel-gazing that we have engaged in during the last few years and now instead focus on doing what we are here to do, that is plan properly for the long term, secure future of our community. Thank you.”
3. The Bailiff:
“There will now follow a period of up to 40 minutes for questioning the candidate. I ask the television cameras to close down, please, and may I remind members asking questions that they should be concise, questions must be addressed to the candidate through the Chair and I hope that the candidate himself will be relatively concise in his answers. The 40 minute period now begins.”
3.1 Senator M.E. Vibert:
“I was very interested, as I am sure we all are, to hear Senator Syvret’s portrayal of how he sees the post of Chief Minister and the way ahead for the States. I was particularly interested and totally agree that it should be on evidence-based government. I agree with this hard evidence and I would like Senator Syvret to outline the evidence he can give to the States that he will be a team leader and that he will accept the decisions of the Council of Ministers and the States and not continually challenge them, because I think this is a concern I have, that on a number of occasions Senator Syvret has come back time and time again to try to overturn a decision of the States, and I would worry if we had a Chief Minister who saw that as a priority rather than leading a team.”
Senator S. Syvret:
“I make no apologies for bringing matters to this Assembly for debate and discussion. One of my great concerns throughout the reform of the machinery of government process was that we would end up in a situation akin to that of the government in the United Kingdom, whereby the Executive, to all intents and purposes, is out of control of Parliament. The legislature has no real control over the Executive. I have always wanted to avoid that and, therefore, I have always believed ultimately that the real decision-making body was this Assembly, the Island’s Parliament, where all of the elected representatives of the people can debate the issues in public and public decisions can be made. That is as it should be. The argument that some people have - I think this is underlying Senator Vibert’s question - is that once a decision has been made by this Assembly that is it. That reconsidering it is out of bounds, is simply wholly irrational and bears no comparison internationally. It would be akin to the Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom putting a position before that Parliament, before the House of Commons, doing it only once and then, forever more, in the life of that Parliament, being told that he couldn’t raise the question again. It is ludicrous. No assembly operates on that basis. As to my concerns and my approach to leading teams, I say this. I have led Health and Social Services for 6 years with an extremely diverse and eclectic group of members, not all of whom were my first choices, some of whom were elected against my first choices onto my Committee. I have worked entirely and perfectly successfully with all of those members of my Committee. I have never had resignations, threats of resignations or any difficulty whatsoever. We have a diversity of views, and I have always worked with that Committee extremely successfully and, indeed, I would take this opportunity again to pay tribute to all of the people that I have worked with at Health and Social Services over the years.”
3.2 Deputy F.J. Hill of St. Martin:
“The States has carried out, via the Clothier Panel, the review of the machinery of government, which made a number of recommendations. The States, however, chose to do only half the job and failed to address the issue of constitutional reform. In fact, both candidates, Sir, voted against most of the recommendations that came forward. Given that most parliaments throughout the world function on a 3 or a 4 year cycle and have one General Election, will the Senator, Sir, if he becomes the Chief Minister, tell us what sort of ideas he has for revision for the future, including a 4 year cycle, one General Election and, indeed, will he think that it will be time maybe for the remit to come within the Council of Ministers and not that of the Privileges and Procedures Committee or any other special committee, Sir?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“It is entirely feasible that the Executive, the Council of Ministers, may wish to take a view on such important things, but I do believe that the official responsibility for these matters should reside with the Privileges and Procedures Committee. For my part, as I indicated in my opening speech, I think the States Assembly has done enough of this internal navel-gazing for the last few years, enough already. I think we have to focus upon working for the community and addressing real issues that are of real concern to the ordinary men, women and children out there in the community. I do not rule out further constitutional reform of the type referred to by the Deputy, but, frankly, given all of the other tasks we have upon us, I consider it to be a low priority. Before I would consider voting in favour of changing the make up of the Assembly, changing the category of member, scrapping our electoral relationship to the Parish system, I would like to see some other fundamental issues addressed first, the kind of basic democratic safeguards that we see in most established and respectable democracies, such as limits on election expenditure and legal requirements for transparency in campaign funding so that the public can know who candidates’ backers are. If we were to contemplate moving away from the Parish system, moving into a new electoral basis, then I would certainly want a detailed examination of different approaches to proportional representation, as indeed most respectable democracies have. I certainly could not countenance the idea of the Assembly moving into a situation where we might end up with parties or de facto parties, let’s face it, where one body might, for example, get 35 per cent of the total votes cast but end up with 100 per cent of the power, as akin to that which happens now in the United Kingdom. So I say that before we change the make up of the Assembly there are important, democratic, fundamental foundation stones we must get right first.”
3.3 Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier:
“Will the Senator outline what measures - what specific measures - he wishes to put in place to ensure that the rôle of Scrutiny in future governments is a sound one and that Scrutiny has sufficient powers to be able to control the Executive, in particular in relation to the Privileges and Procedures Committee?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“This is an area of concern to me, and I made it clear in my nomination statement that I regard the Scrutiny function as being absolutely essential to the long term and high quality effectiveness of the work of this Assembly. Indeed, the Scrutiny Panels themselves have recently published 2 reports, one an evaluation of the shadow Scrutiny process and another into the question of whether legal advice provided to the Executive ought to be available to the Scrutiny Panels. I support completely the recommendations of both of those reports. Unless we give these kinds of clear understanding and powers to the work of the Scrutiny Panels, they will not be able to scrutinise properly. The fact is that many decisions by the Executive are based on legal advice that is received, and the correctness or otherwise therefore of the decisions made by the Executive will not be open to real scrutiny by the Scrutiny Panels unless the Scrutiny Panels have access to that legal advice, if need be, on a confidential basis, that it not be made public, but the members of the Scrutiny Panels themselves must have access to that advice. I think it is crucial also that the Privileges and Procedures Committee remember that its principal rôle in this respect is to safeguard and protect the Scrutiny function from the possible influence of the Executive, because it is going to be the Executive ultimately which draws up and brings to the Assembly budgets, for example. We could see the possibility of an Executive starving the Privileges and Procedures Committee and the Scrutiny function of adequate funding unless we are very careful. Let us be absolutely certain. The Scrutiny function is of vital importance. I see it quite clearly as a key component in forming public policy and, indeed, were I to be elected as Chief Minister, one of the first tasks I would see the Council of Ministers doing would be to sit down with the Privileges and Procedures Committee, with the Chairmen of the Scrutiny Panels and ask them how the Council of Ministers could best co-operate with their requirements.”
3.4 Senator P.F. Routier:
“How would the Senator develop the Island economy to achieve the 2 per cent economic growth which we are aiming for, and does he have any views on whether the Waterfront could play a part in that?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“We certainly need to achieve economic growth, but I make it plain - I have said it before and I say it again - that one of the great issues we have to get to grips with, which the States have not succeeded in doing in the last 2 or 3 decades, is working out how we can do what most successful western democracies do, which is grow their economies without having to rely upon growing the population in order to do so. It remains clearly a strong wish of the community to see population growth limited. This was a clear feature of the recent senatorial election campaigns. Therefore, we must seek to grow the economy, but we must strive to do so by trying to keep population growth at a minimum. I think we have to seek economic diversity. I think we have to plan in the long term. One of the things I think Jersey must do is invest in an international arts and cultural festival so that in perhaps 10 or 15 years time it might be of the same stature as that which takes place in the City of Edinburgh. That city gets global publicity several weeks a year for its world renowned international arts festival. We are starting from a zero base, if you like, but I do think we need to think long term. Rather than looking at the difficulties in getting into such a position in the next 3 to 5 or 6 years, we must think where we could be in 10 or 15 years time. Event-led tourism has to be one of the key components of the economic future of the Island. I also think we could do more to develop our own internal arts and crafts and artisan activities. This kind of diversity is important also for the community, because not everybody is necessarily suited to or wants to in fact work in an office. We must absolutely preserve and protect our agricultural industry, what remains of it. I am deeply saddened at the kind of course that the agricultural industry has taken in the last couple of years and the so many small farmers leaving the business. As to the Waterfront, before I even get on to issues such as the aesthetic considerations of the developments that were proposed there, I say this. At the moment, we have no mechanism that can accurately and reliably tell us just how much of that supposed £350 million of private money is going to be of real economic effect within the Jersey economy. Most of the materials that go into the construction will be imported - most of the fixtures, fittings, capital items and construction work. Tremendous amounts of that money will in fact be lost to the Island’s economy. It won’t be real growth within our economy. Indeed, it is quite likely, under the 0-10 arrangements, that the companies doing it and owning the ultimate developments will be based outside of the Island and therefore pay no corporate tax here. So what we need here is real, detailed economic multipliers to assess things like the Waterfront development so we can know what the linkages are with the local economy and what the leakages are from the local economy. Only when we have got that kind of detailed evidence base could we tell for sure precisely what the real effect is going to be on the Waterfront, whether it is going to be of overall benefit or whether it is simply going to suck the heart out of the town and do further damage to existing local businesses.”
3.5 Deputy A. Breckon of St. Saviour:
“My question concerns inflation. It is now fairly low. The question of Senator Syvret is where would you see it going, what can you do and what policy issues do you see as relevant to having continued low inflation?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“Inflation would appear to be being brought under control in recent times, but there is no escaping the fact that inflation has been one of the banes of the Jersey economy for many, many years, indeed decades. I think the States have always been reluctant to face the fact that there is more than one driver of inflation. For many years we have heard it said that things like public sector pay awards, public sector expenditure and things of that nature were pretty much the cause of inflation locally. But clearly that isn’t the case. Whilst those factors will be part of the equation and have an effect, as well as the cost-push inflation of that kind, there is also demand-pull inflation. The demand-pull inflation has been fuelled in Jersey by the very, very high level of disposable income and money within the Island’s economy that we have had for many decades. Indeed, it is an economic phenomenon that ought to have been recognised and dealt with a couple of decades ago, frankly. It has a name. It is called the ‘Dutch disease’, whereby Holland had a massive amount of inflation and financial problems when the great bonanza of their offshore gas and oil wealth began to flow ashore. Economies that suddenly have a massive influx of hitherto non-existent wealth into them do have these problems with tremendous inflation. That is what we have had in Jersey. Our source of wealth, of course, has been the finance industry. What we should have been doing was taking money in a measured way out of the economy over those years to dampen demand, particularly so because in Jersey we don’t have control over interest rates. The governments of nation states - at least those that aren’t members of the Single European Currency - can raise interest rates to dampen demand in their economy. Being in monetary union with the United Kingdom, we have not had that ability. Therefore, we ought to have made much, much more use of fiscal mechanisms to take excess money out of the economy in order to dampen demand and dampen inflation. That money would need to not be spent, but in fact to have grown features such as the ‘Rainy Day Fund’ and the Strategic Reserve much, much more than the case has been. If we had done that, if we had been prepared to undertake those unpopular measures perhaps 25 years ago, had a little more care and focus in our taxation policies to take some money out of the economy and set it aside in the ‘Rainy Day Fund’, we would have much lower inflation than we have had over that period and we would have a much greater Strategic Reserve. But that would have meant adopting unpopular measures 20 years ago. Indeed, it is only in the last 2 or 3 years that the Finance and Economics Committee has accepted the economic orthodoxy that if you take money out of the economy you dampen inflation, as I have stood in this Assembly many times over the years making this point to previous Finance and Economics Committee Presidents who have always denied and rejected the idea. So we have to recognise that tackling inflation is absolutely crucial, but not all of the solutions to tackling inflation are necessarily going to be populist, such as just cutting public expenditure.”
3.6 Connétable K.P.Vibert of St. Ouen:
“If the measures proposed to be taken by the Island prove not to be sufficient for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU), what further measures does the Senator feel should be considered?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“We have to take very, very serious notice of these external pressures. I have thought long and hard about this issue over the last couple of years and I did wonder whether in fact the previous Policy and Resources Committee under the then Senator Horsfall made the right decision. Probably on balance they did, but there is certainly a case to be made, an argument to have been made, that we should not have caved-in to the pressure from the European Union and that continuing pressure through the United Kingdom. It could be seen to be a significant interference in our ability to determine our own economic future and, indeed, without legitimacy. The United Kingdom Government threatened us with the use of the Taxation Act. Had they implemented these threats, they would have, in effect, completely destroyed the Island’s economy. I do, therefore, wonder how realistic it was that that threat would ever be carried out, whether it would be realistic to see the United Kingdom take sanctions against a small community like Jersey that were far, far greater than anything even contemplated in respect of, say, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. But, nevertheless, I do think we have to work in the wider world. It is entirely feasible that the European Union and the OECD will come back to the table and say that they are not satisfied with the activities of finance centres such as Jersey and they want further and further concessions. So the danger of giving in each time is that you end up in a position where you have nowhere left to go and no further action can be taken. So I don’t think there is a glib answer to the Connétable’s question. I think we have to look at each circumstance as and when it arises, gauge it, judge it, discuss it carefully and decide upon what the best course of action is at that time. These are real risks to us. I think, given the likely movement of the world’s economy and the aging populations that we see across the western world, governments in the next 10 to 20 years are going to search more and more for streams of taxation revenue to fund their own public services. I think probably the tendency is going to be for less and less tolerance to be exhibited by governments and indeed larger blocks, such as the EU, towards what they see as harmful tax competition. The fact that the niceties that they engage in, these activities themselves throughout the City of London and New York, I think will cut little ice with them. The injustice of their position won’t matter. The fact is that we are a small community. We are vulnerable. So all I can say is that we have to absolutely keep our eye on these external threats and make decisions on the basis of the evidence at the time so that we can make the best decision.”
3.7 Deputy R.C. Duhamel of St. Saviour:
“The Senator has stated that his Cabinet or Council nominations will be ‘broad church.’ Can the Senator define this term and give examples to illustrate this definition?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“I don’t know if I can give examples. I think it means simply what it says, a ‘broad church’, meaning a fairly wide range of opinion being contained within the body. I think that is the accepted definition of a ‘broad church’. As I said in my opening speech, I think we have to try and get away from the de facto party positions that we have seen in recent years and be prepared to have a diversity of opinion within the Council of Ministers. This is going to mean, for example, people like me and Senator Walker working together. Both of us are prepared to work with the other. We each have somewhat different political views and different philosophies, but that is a diverse range of opinion and for the good of the community we have to get that kind of diversity of opinion working together. That is why I don’t think it is remotely realistic to expect some kind of party whip to be imposed upon members of the Cabinet. If you are going to succeed in having that broad range of opinions represented, that broad spectrum of views successfully represented in the Cabinet, then you have to accept the fact that from time to time individual members will differ. That is entirely as should be expected in our current political culture because we don’t elect, generally speaking, members on the basis of party political allegiances. The great majority of members in this Assembly are elected as independents. Therefore, it is entirely understandable that from time to time we won’t necessarily all agree. But we do, I think, need to have that diversity of views represented within the Council of Ministers, if the Council of Ministers is going to accurately reflect the diversity of views we find in the community.”
3.8 Deputy P.V.F. Le Claire of St. Helier:
“Would the Senator answer which areas other than La Collette would he consider possibly alternatives for the location of the new incinerator?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“I think, on a rational basis, the only case for siting the new incinerator is at La Collette. The great problem with the incinerator in Bellozanne, setting aside the emissions from the stack, which are unacceptable, is the fact that the area around Bellozanne, the First Tower area, is now very, very heavily and densely occupied. There are many kinds of housing estates and homes in that region. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of heavy vehicle movements, therefore, to and from the Bellozanne plant most days of the week. This is causing significant air pollution, some noise pollution and disturbance. It is simply, by any rational basis, not appropriate to have a major, messy and noisy industrial plant such as the incinerator in the middle of a densely populated area that has housing estates, schools around it and children crossing the roads. It simply isn’t appropriate. La Collette, on the other hand, is in essence the Island’s industrial area. It is the major land-filling zone. It is where the power station is. It is where the fuel farm is. It is where the docks are. There aren’t any housing estates close to the area. The traffic can go down the quays to the La Collette area without having to go through housing estates or without having to thunder past a school. It is the best area, the least bad area. I think, rather than playing on people’s fears, it is important to reassure people that any new incinerator would be vastly, vastly cleaner than the existing Bellozanne plant. It ought not to be a problem to anyone living in the area and it would be indeed also far cheaper to construct it at La Collette, because I understand we can utilise the existing chimney of the power station to carry the flue of the incinerator. So I think, notwithstanding the legitimate concerns that members may have and members of the public may have in the Havre de Pas area, the fact is far, far more people are presently affected by the traffic and the heavy pollution of having it sited at Bellozanne. So I think, frankly, the only realistic place for it to go is at La Collette.”
3.9 Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier of St. Saviour:
“One of the problems of modern government is the public’s continual rising expectations and wish for more and more services, but at the same time their observation and their belief, rightly and wrongly, that the public service is bloated and in parts inefficient. How, Sir, would the Senator deal with this situation and has he got specific examples of where he would like to reform the public service?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“My experience, certainly directly at Health and Social Services over the years, has been the difficulty in getting sufficiently into the detail of public administration of the areas certainly under my control to understand where efficiencies could be made, what areas need cutting, where there might be waste, or where there might be excess demand, in fact where we are not spending enough. So I come back to the point I made before about the need for evidence-based government. I don’t think it is appropriate to approach the issue of public sector spending on an ideological basis - either some kind of Old Labour basis that you tax and spend and if there is a problem just spend more money on it; nor from a Thatcherite basis that public expenditure of itself must by definition be a bad thing and, therefore, we have to seek to cut it everywhere. An evidence based approach is that which I would advocate. I think we have to consider the work that will be done by bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee and the new Auditor General. Personally I am tremendously optimistic that both of these 2 new authorities will be able to have a very, very significant effect on exposing precisely where public money is being spent, where there might be duplication, where there might be waste, or where indeed there might be services presently being carried out by the public sector which, in truth, could be carried out perfectly satisfactorily by the private sector. There will be some areas. I said at the public hustings on Friday that, although people tell me that it is more cost-effective than using the private sector, I still find it difficult to understand why the States, for example, should be employing a department full of architects. So that is an area which, I think, we would need to have examined in detail by bodies such as the Public Accounts Committee and by the Auditor General and, if indeed there is cost justification in terms of it being cheaper for the Island to have its own architectural service in the public sector, then fine, we would have the evidence and it wouldn’t be an issue. But if, on the other hand, it wasn’t justifiable, then we would have to look at some kind of exit strategy from that, of course being civilised and reasonable to the people who work there.”
3.10 Deputy P.N. Troy of St. Brelade:
“Does the candidate support the Migration Strategy as currently drafted, or would he wish to change any elements of it, and does he plan to implement this Strategy as an area of high priority?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“The Strategy has significant improvements in it, in that it gives a control mechanism to enable the Island to control migratory flows and population. I am not persuaded necessarily that it is totally right in detail. I am concerned that too much vulnerability is placed upon recently arrived migrants in terms of their employment situation, so I think those kinds of details would need re-examining. But the real question concerning population is not which mechanism we use to control it, but whether we have the right economic policies and the right economic approach. As I have already alluded to, I think the Island has to wean itself off population growth as being a key component of growing the economy. If we can succeed in growing the economy without relying upon significant inward migration, then that would be a huge step forward, in my view. There is always a degree of flux and exchange: people come into the Island, people leave the Island. So there is that flow and, indeed, many younger Jersey people I know - certainly many of my contemporaries - have left the Island because they simply can’t afford to live here any more or buy their own home. That deeply saddens me and I think we have to address those kinds of issues. The Island will always need some inward migration. We need the kind of skills that we can’t develop necessarily within a small Island community. We need, for example, nurses, teachers and doctors, but, in general terms, we have to make sure that our economic policies are geared to seeking to grow the economy without growing the population.”
3.11 Deputy A.D. Lewis of St. John:
“With States’ policy now established to grow the Island’s economy, additional labour will be required. To help mitigate the inevitable population growth, what would your approach be to making childcare provision affordable and accessible to everyone, thus enabling parents wishing to return to work to do so?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“In the first instance, we must do what we can to encourage and facilitate the private sector provision rather than relying on the growing or increasing of state provision. Some state provision will be necessary. The difficulty many families face when seeking childcare arrangements to enable them to continue to work is the tremendous cost of it. People often find it virtually not worth their while to go out to work because the cost of the resultant childcare can consume a very significant portion - indeed nearly all - of the earnings that they generate through going out to work. So we have to see what we can do to address that. There has to be great scope here for the States working much more closely and more effectively with the private sector. Addressing this issue of both the provision and the cost of childcare arrangements has to be a good example of where we need a public/private sector approach - a public/private partnership - but there is no question other than that we need to do more to make affordable childcare available for people in the community. We already have one of the very highest rates - perhaps even the highest rate - of women who work in Jersey and already our childcare arrangements are not sufficient, not extensive enough and not cost effective enough. So if we are going to succeed in encouraging more women into the workplace, then we have to do more to provide cost effective and affordable childcare.”
3.12 Deputy J.G. Reed of St. Ouen:
“As a supporter and indeed champion of full independence for individual ministers, how does the Senator reconcile this view with one of the requirements of the Chief Minister, to represent not only the whole Assembly but the Island? Also, could he explain, if he was found to be having a minority view within the Council of Ministers, how he believes the Chief Minister should act?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“There will from time to time be occasions when ministers in general terms, possibly even the Chief Minister, will wish to have a minority view. There will be occasions when ministers may wish to put minority reports to the Assembly because they are not satisfied that the Council of Ministers has hit upon the right policy. Obviously, consensual working is going to require that we try to reach agreement, but, where agreement cannot be reached, then we agree to differ. I do not think that it is appropriate for us to have a view of the Council of Ministers akin to that of the Cabinet in the United Kingdom, where the Cabinet always is expected to and required to show an absolutely unified front. They have to do that because they are dependent upon their party political governmental edifice. We in Jersey, as I said, are elected as independent members and I think, therefore, it is entirely understandable and reasonable that we will from time to time have differing views. As to how I believe the Chief Minister should represent the Island, of course it is a duty of grave responsibility and whoever fulfils the post has to bring a great deal of wisdom to bear on it. Of course representing the Island will require from time to time the Chief Minister setting aside perhaps their own personal preferences and adopting what may be the best approach, the most diplomatic approach or the most wise approach for the greater good of the Island and indeed, more generally, to represent the Council of Ministers in a way that reflects the majority view. But I do think the Chief Minister has to principally have regard to the overall well-being of the community rather than their personal views. I would say in that respect that I think I can say that I have public confidence. I am the only member in this Assembly who has gone to the public on the basis that I would be a candidate for the post of Chief Minister. I declared that before the election and during the election, so that the public knew precisely that I would be a candidate for the post and, indeed, I am the only States member who could claim to have a genuine, fresh, democratic mandate for that post.”
3.13 The Dean:
“I am very grateful to the Senator for all the economic indicators and expertise that he has given us. But, given that mankind is more than simply the product of his or her wealth, I wonder if he could give us some indication of the community and society values that would envision all of his policies and the sort of Island community he would wish to build?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“We have to move forward together as a community. At the moment we are divided in a number of respects. Jersey is an island of tremendous wealth, yet there is a yawning chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Other people struggle to barely manage to survive in Jersey. We have to find ways of bridging that gap to enable, as far as reasonable, all members of our community to share in the Island’s wealth. We also, regrettably, are still not in all sectors of our community-ready and willing to welcome fully into our community the migrant communities that have contributed so much to the Island in recent decades; the Portuguese community, in particular; the Madeiran community; and, more latterly, the Polish community and Kenyans, who have come here to work and do important jobs in our community. Sadly, it is a tiny minority, but there is an element of racism in our society which we must strive to overcome through education, through encouraging people to have more open and accepting attitudes. I think it is absolutely important that we do that so that we can be a united community. I think it is vitally important that we do all we can to discourage bigotry and prejudice wherever it may be. We must have community spirit. I think, indeed, that would be one of my major driving objectives. I think, sadly, in some respects, Jersey has lost its way in recent years. As a community and as a society, we have become utterly obsessed with materialism. We have become a society almost crazed with greed in some respects and I think that is sad and we have lost a great deal because of it. So I would like to try and reverse that kind of tendency. Also, ultimately for the protection of minorities within the community, I believe we should introduce hate crime legislation, so that anyone who is driven to make racist, bigoted or homophobic attacks on people will suffer the full consequences of the law and the full force of society’s disapproval.”
3.14 Senator P.F.C. Ozouf:
“If elected, who would Senator Syvret’s proposed nominations be for the Council of Ministers; who would he choose to appoint as Deputy Chief Minister and why; and could he explain particularly his choice for Treasury and Resources Minister?”
Senator S. Syvret:
“My choice for Treasury and Resources Minister is Senator Ben Shenton. My reason for wishing to propose him is that he is a man with a proven successful track record and a diversity of experience within the finance industry. He is fresh from the coalface of working successfully within the finance industry. He understands its concerns to date. He knows many people within the finance industry. He understands its importance. He knows the issues that the finance industry faces today - costs, competition and regulation. He is a man who is experienced, who brings something new to bear on the post. I have already publicly stated that Senator Cohen would be my candidate for the post of Planning and Environment. I think he has a good track record of interest in community affairs, is involved in these issues and I think he would work very securely. I think I would probably like Deputy Gerard Baudains for Transport and Technical Services. He is a man who indeed has a proven interest in these subjects. I think I would like Deputy Celia Scott Warren as Minister for Health. She has the experience necessary, having been a member of the Health Committee for the last 6 years. She knows the issues that we have had to struggle with over that time, including such issues as the unfortunate loss of 2 Chief Executives of the Department, the departure to the United Kingdom of a previous Medical Officer of Health and the fact that we have struggled to therefore have the continuity we need. Now we have a good team. We have the right team and we are, therefore, on the cusp of bringing to the Assembly and taking to the community very, very significant changes in respect of how social care and health care is delivered and structured in the Island. Deputy Scott Warren is well placed to do that. I would like to have Senator Frank Walker for Economic Development. Again, he is a man of proven ability and proven skills. Very much you could say that business activities and working with the business sector, understanding business, understanding the world of commerce are his great strengths and attributes and he would fulfil the task admirably. For Housing, Senator Terry Le Main would appear to have done a successful job and I see no reason why he shouldn’t continue in that post in order to fulfil the Island’s housing plans in the future. Education, a vitally important post, I think the present incumbent has done a good job. Senator Michael Vibert has presided over a period during which exam results throughout the Island have been consistently excellent and higher than the United Kingdom. So generally my approach to these kinds of issues of filling the ministerial posts is not to have entirely new members, nor to have entirely the old members. I think it needs to be an eclectic mix of people old and new, and I see no reason why people who may not necessarily agree with me politically but who nevertheless have a proven track record of success couldn’t participate equally in the Council of Ministers. Senator Routier has done a good job at Employment and Social Security. I see no reason why he couldn’t continue.”
4. The Bailiff:
“Thank you, Senator. Your 40 minutes have now expired, so I must call upon you to sit down.”
Senator S. Syvret:
“Can I thank everybody for their questions, Sir?”
“Would you invite Senator Walker to come back and escort Senator Syvret to the outside room? (Pause) May I call members, please, to order? May I repeat for the benefit of the candidate that the candidate may address the Assembly for 10 minutes. The Greffier will ring a bell after 9 minutes to warn of the close of the period and, after that, there will be a 40 minute period of questioning and, again, a 5 minute bell will be sounded towards the end of that period. Senator Walker?”
5. Senator F.H. Walker:
“Thank you, Sir. Today is a momentous day in this Assembly’s long and proud history. After years of discussion and debate, this week marks the introduction of ministerial government to Jersey. The people of Jersey will expect their first Chief Minister to care passionately about the Island, its ways and its people. They will expect him to be a capable and dynamic leader and they will want him to be a team player and a force for unity and to respect our unique identity and way of life. During each committee presidency I have held, I have worked hard and successfully to build dynamic and cohesive teams. For example, it was my Finance and Economics Committee that brought an end to the unacceptable overspends on the States capital project for which the States were so frequently and justifiably criticised. As President of Policy and Resources, I started a quiet revolution by putting long term plans in place for the Island’s future. The States have approved a whole series of policies designed to sustain the Island’s prosperity and way of life - a Strategic Plan; an entirely new Fiscal Policy, coupled with a new Low Income Support Scheme; an Economic Growth Plan and the Migration Strategy. We have also begun to tackle waste disposal and the rural economy and at the same time we have been managing a vast change programme to improve our internal efficiency and save the Island millions of pounds a year. All of these changes were achieved whilst at the same time vigorously defending Jersey’s international position and standing. This is an agenda of change and progress which the Jersey Evening Post recently hailed as a ‘remarkable programme of reform’. My intention, Sir, if I am elected Chief Minister, is to further develop these effective and sustainable policies because, without question, they are starting to bear fruit. We have a growing economy, with banks and fund managers selecting Jersey as their location of choice; almost full employment; a growing international reputation; real increases in pensions and benefits; the lowest inflation figures in decades; stable house prices; a new private sector investment in our tourism industry and our Waterfront. At last we are getting to grips with recycling and transport. We have nearly half a billion pounds in the bank and no debt. States’ expenditure is under more stringent control than ever before, and we are managing all of this with fewer public sector workers than we had at this time last year. Jersey is working and Jersey’s working well. I am proud of the success we have achieved over the last 3 years, but it could so easily be lost. Now is not the time to take risks. Now is not the time to change course. Now is the time for consistency and stability. Both politically and personally I want to continue to protect Jersey and its people, to preserve and enhance our special identity, sustain our precious environment - and that means our heritage and architecture, as well as our spectacular beaches, cliffs and countryside. For the majority, Jersey is a great place to live and work. Our disposable income is higher; our taxes are lower (and even when the new policies are introduced they will remain lower); our countryside is stunning; our health and education standards are amongst the best anywhere; unlike other countries, there is no looming pensions disaster; and, thankfully, it is still a very safe place to bring up children. Now some may think I have only been focused on building-up our economy, and perhaps I have been. But I am acutely aware that only a strong economy can provide the funds to look after those with social needs. Only a strong economy can provide social justice. Only a strong economy can provide the health, wealth and longevity that we all aspire to for the people of Jersey. If I were elected Chief Minister, I fully recognise that I will need to work on behalf of all in our community and I would want to use our reinvigorated economy to focus much more attention on the social needs of the Island. Jersey is a wealthy community. Yet there are far too many people who, for one reason or another, are not sharing in that wealth; and now is the time to concentrate on them. We rightly spend many millions of pounds on benefits, but we need to target and support those who genuinely struggle to sustain an acceptable standard of living in our high cost community. Focusing on the less well off would be one of my top priorities. I would want to appoint individual ministers or assistant ministers with direct responsibility for the elderly and the underprivileged. The elderly and vulnerable in our society need the peace of mind only confidence and security can give. I intend to spare no effort to give it to them. Another priority would be to create more opportunity for people to own their own homes. It just can’t be right that in a community like ours we have such a low proportion of home owners and, through initiatives such as shared equity, I want to improve this position. I would continue to fully support Senator Le Sueur’s policies of keeping a tight grip on expenditure, but I want to get our priorities right and invest as much as we can in our social services and our infrastructure, particularly our roads and housing stock, which do not reflect the wealth and success that is Jersey. Unsurprisingly, tax is at the forefront of most people’s minds at the moment. I support the principle of a Goods and Services Tax (GST), but I will only support its introduction if I am convinced that the new Income Support Scheme adequately protects the poorest in our society from any increase in prices. It is important that there is the closest possible relationship between the States and the Parishes. It would be my intention to seek approval from my Council of Ministers to allow the Senior Constable to attend our meetings. Off-Island, we have an international reputation and the health of our economy to protect, and I am pleased to have been able to play a lead rôle in that respect. In recent years, there have been numerous threats and challenges to Jersey’s finance industry. I am extremely proud of the way we have seen off those threats and, in so doing, maintained our prosperity and greatly enhanced the reputation and standing of Jersey around the world. We now sign international agreements in Jersey’s own name - symbolic of Jersey’s proud position as a self-governing island state. It is vital that we continue to generate respect and recognition for our willingness to co-operate with international initiatives, yet at the same time vigorously protecting our own interests. I recognise that international affairs aren’t exactly at the top of most people’s agenda in Jersey, but if we got it wrong they soon would be. It is of the greatest importance that ministerial government not only works but is seen to work. The Council and the Chief Minister in particular will need to work hard to establish trust within the Island and to reconnect the States with the people of Jersey. This will call for the highest standards and principles of transparency and an ability to communicate openly and effectively with the entire community. I have frequently said that well-structured and impartial scrutiny is vital to the success of ministerial government, and it is. Ministers will need to co-operate and work closely with the Scrutiny Panels. There is nothing to fear from constructive scrutiny and, provided the Panels work to the ethos of the critical friend, Scrutiny will play a vital rôle in developing a robust and effective system of government. Sir, no community can be a success without necessary and sometimes painful change. The changes we have seen over the last 3 years have required leadership, foresight and maturity - exactly the qualities the Island will look for and expect from its first Chief Minister. If members give me the honour of leading the Island’s first ministerial council, I make the following promises: I will relish and rise to the challenge set before me; I will respect the standing that the office holds; I will set our targets high to achieve success; but, more importantly and above all, I will never ever let the people of Jersey down.”
6. The Bailiff:
“I ask the television cameras to close down, please, and the 40 minute period of questioning will begin. May I again, for the benefit of the candidate, invite members to be concise in their questioning and, indeed, invite the candidate himself to be as concise as he can in his answers? I saw Deputy Le Hérissier.”
6.1 Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier:
“Thank you, Sir. I had intended to ask the other candidate this, but missed my chance. I wonder, Sir, if the Senator could outline what has been the biggest success; secondly, what has been the biggest failure of his political career; and what has he learnt in both instances?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“Yes, Sir. I think my biggest success has been that which I referred to in my speech, which has been to be the President of the Policy and Resources Committee, which has led that quiet revolution that I referred to, the revolution in getting this House to embrace and accept the biggest range of new policies, fundamental new long term policies, to protect our economy, our way of life and much more. I think that was my greatest success, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed and got a lot of pleasure and pride out of leading that team - leading my team at Policy and Resources - who were quite excellent in bringing forward those policies and getting them approved. The other thing I would refer to in terms of a success is Postal. I inherited the presidency of Postal when it was a shambles. Basically it was producing next to no profits, it was poorly operating and it had the worst industrial relations record probably of any organisation in Jersey - probably any organisation in Jersey has ever had. When I left, it was making very considerable profits for the taxpayer and it had an enviable industrial relations record. So those are the 2, I think, biggest achievements for me. My worst failure - easy. It was trying in the wrong way to reduce or do away with mortgage interest relief. The principle was right, and we have seen that, because Senator Le Sueur has done it much more cleverly than I did. The principle was right, but the way that we tried to introduce it was, frankly, wrong. I will never, ever forget, and I know my then members of Finance and Economics will never forget, standing in front of a crowd at the Town Hall that was so big the Town Hall wasn’t large enough to take them. What did I learn from that? Not to introduce anything which reduces mortgage interest relief, I guess. No, I think not to be so hasty in the way we tried to implement it. The principle was right, but we tried to push it through too far too fast and I think that is probably a lesson which I have learnt in many other respects as well.”
6.2 Senator M.E. Vibert:
“I would just like to ask Senator Walker what will be his style of team leadership as Chief Minister and also, if it is a consensual style, would he be prepared to accept decisions of the States and the Council of Ministers that he may not agree with wholeheartedly to start with or have argued against, or will he seek to overturn them?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“My style of leadership has, I think, been developed over the 4 Committee presidencies that I have held. I think the Policy and Resources Committee, apart from being the most recent example, is probably the best example, because the questioner himself, Senator Mike Vibert, is not exactly known for meekly accepting the views of other people. He very much has his own point of view and never ever fails to express it. Senator Kinnard and I are not known exactly for having the same political philosophies in many respects, and we have had some mega and deep discussions at Policy and Resources and of course haven’t reached easy agreement on a number of things. But at the end of the day, I hope they will both agree - I know they do both agree - that we have held together very effectively as a team. It is that team that has produced all the strategies and policies that I was talking about earlier. I am really proud of that achievement, to be able to mould 7 very diverse people into a team and, even where we disagree, to keep the team together and have an agreement on how we disagree. To me that is vital. It would be vital in the Council of Ministers as well, but when (and it is not a question of if, it is question of when) a minister or a minority of ministers disagree with their colleagues, with the majority of their colleagues, it is a question then of how they go about it. As far as I am concerned, I would want them to fully express their views, to register (if they want to) their dissent and, if they want to go further and make that dissent public or even bring a Report and Proposition to the States in their own name, then, providing all their colleagues are aware of what they are doing, I would have no problem with that at all. As far as States’ decisions are concerned, I have always believed that, when the States take a decision, the States have taken a decision. That is democracy, in my view, and I think those decisions should be accepted by all concerned - Chief Minister, Ministers and everybody else. That has always been my philosophy and will continue to be so.”
6.3 The Deputy of St. Martin:
“The States, via the Clothier Panel, carried out the review of the machinery of government, which made a number of recommendations. The States, however, have only chosen to do half the job and failed to address the issue of constitutional reform. What steps, if any, would the Senator take, if elected as Chief Minister, to ensure that Jersey works to a 4-year cycle, with one General Election? Also, if the Senator supports constitutional reform, does he agree that the lead for reform should come within the remit of the Council of Ministers and not Privileges and Procedures Committee or any other committee?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I agree with the Deputy of St. Martin. We have failed to get to grips with electoral reform; we have failed to get to grips with half of the Clothier recommendations and that is not a good track record for this House to have. I am delighted that we have got to the position where ministerial government is now being introduced, so chalk one up to the Clothier Panel, but not the other important one. I would be looking to the new Privileges and Procedures Committee, working with the Council of Ministers, but I think the main responsibility still has got to be with the Privileges and Procedures Committee. I would be looking to them and hoping that they would - more than hoping, I think - working with them to ensure that we got new proposals for electoral reform within a few months of them taking office. It is not good that we have ducked this issue for so long and we need to get to grips with it quickly. What the precise outcome will be - you mentioned, Deputy, 4-year terms and a General Election - that would be, of course, in the hands of members, but I have considerable sympathy with both those criteria. I think Guernsey (and I am conscious that my friend and colleague, the Chief Minister in Guernsey, is in the gallery) got electoral reform spectacularly right when they divided the Island up into, I think it is, 6 super-constituencies and had a General Election. Look what happened. They had - I think again I am right - 70-something per cent plus turnout in their General Election. Compare that with the turnout in most constituencies in Jersey. They got that right. I happen to think that we are doing a better job than Guernsey in introducing ministerial government - maybe I have got a vested interest, I don’t know - but in terms of electoral reform, they are streets ahead of us and I think we could look to them and other good models, but we need to look to them very quickly.”
6.4 Connétable M.K. Jackson of St. Brelade:
“The Senator alluded in his written presentation to collective responsibility. Could he confirm how that could work? I assume that no member will wish to take on financial responsibility, but could it be the case that responsibility in this instance will apply only to the job or could it be the Chamber’s last sanction, Sir, perhaps to say ‘Off with his head’?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I think to an extent at least I covered that not only in my written statement but in my speech. Members who were in the House previously will recall that there was a great deal of concern about the form of collective responsibility that was originally being proposed by the previous Policy and Resources Committee, because it looked pretty harsh and it was described, although I didn’t necessarily agree with the description, as effectively a ‘right to gag.’ My form of collective responsibility - which is only a recommendation to the Council of Ministers, because it will be up to the Council of Ministers themselves to decide what form of collective responsibility they would wish to embrace - would be to work as a team but when, as I said in my speech, there is disagreement for the member or members who disagree with the majority to inform us fully and clearly of their disagreement, their reasons for it, to have it logged, if they wish to, and, if they wish to come forward with a separate Report and Proposition - a private member’s Report and Proposition in effect to this House - be free to do so. Providing they follow all the procedures properly, I have no problem with that at all. It would certainly be no wish of mine and no policy of mine to come anywhere near gagging ministers and saying ‘Hey, you can’t do that because the majority of your colleagues have decided this.’ They have got to have the right to freedom of speech and the right to express that in whatever form they decide. The vital thing will be though to observe and respect the team ethic and their colleagues. What we don’t want and what I believe just wouldn’t work is any member of the Council of Ministers who disagrees with a decision rushing straight out of the door and phoning the Jersey Evening Post. That is not collective responsibility of any sort at all. But, providing they adhere to the principles I have explained, then I would have no problem with them proceeding as they feel appropriate as individuals.”
6.5 Deputy J.B. Fox of St. Helier:
“My question today is on the strategic and economic importance to the Island of our sea routes. An example is that after the Election I booked a weekend break from Jersey to St. Malo and it was costed out to me at £140. Subsequently, the boat that was going to take me was not yet available, so I went to the other company to have the same break and the charge was £235. That is an increase of £95. I think it is very important for the strategy of the Island. Could the candidate please advise the States of what action he would take in the circumstances, in the broadest of circumstances?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I am sure we all have great sympathy with the Deputy and his pocket in terms of this ticket, but I do entirely agree with the thrust behind the question. Strong, effective and competitive sea routes which adequately protect our strategic position and indeed our security in some respects are absolutely vital. As the Deputy knows, I have shared concerns (and I know he has) over the previous Economic Development Committee’s ‘open seas’ policy. Indeed, I persuaded the President of that Committee not to come to a decision on ‘open seas’ during the recent or the final weeks of that Committee’s existence and to leave it to the Economic Development Minister, working with the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers, to take what I hope very much will be the right decision; the right decision (a) to encourage more tourism on the St. Malo route - and that is particularly appropriate with the Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) shortly, if it has not already, to extend its service to St. Malo - and (b) for of course locals, many of whom have houses in Brittany or wherever and many of whom go on holiday through that route. It is vitally important that we have good frequency and good prices. I will be working with, or look to work with, the Economic Development Minister to come up with the right solution for that route. I think what we have got at the moment is almost certainly unsustainable. I would also be looking to the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) to ensure that the prices on the route support Jersey and our strategic needs and don’t work against us.”
6.6 Deputy C.H. Egré of St. Peter:
“To expand on comments already made by the Senator, I think we all agree that Jersey’s infrastructure is under increasing pressure and is not in particularly good order. Therefore, I ask the Senator what action does he intend to take to halt this demise, to bring our roads back into good order and, with reference to the person who used to sit behind me, expand our drainage system?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I did refer in my speech and my documentation to the need to improve our infrastructure. I think it is another high priority. Jersey is an incredibly wealthy Island, but you would be forgiven for not understanding that if you arrived at the Airport and drove down Beaumont Hill into St. Helier, because we don’t look it. I warmly welcome the initiative recently announced by Senator Ozouf and the Environment and Public Services Committee to spend more money on our roads and get to grips with it. What I would want and hope the Council of Ministers would do is to develop that and extend on that, because what we really need is pride in our roads. We need visitors to think ‘Wow, this place looks like a high quality destination’, because at the moment it probably doesn’t. So far as our housing stock is concerned, herein lies a major problem. We have not spent enough money on maintaining the quality of our housing stock, as Senator Le Main has frequently reminded us. I am very interested in, and at first glance very supportive of, the move brought forward originally by Senator Le Main’s Housing Committee to make housing into a trading organisation, basically, so it can generate funds in different ways to maintain the quality of the housing stock and not continue to see it deteriorate. I am supportive of that move. I think that will enable us to do what we have to do. It is not a question of what we want to do, it is a question of what we have to do, because otherwise it will become a serious and expensive scandal. I think that is the right way forward, without necessarily and hopefully not putting additional pressure on normal States’ revenue funding, which is under enough pressure because of the needs of Health and Social Services as it is.”
6.7 Deputy K.C. Lewis of St. Saviour:
“I am sure you would all agree that finance brings in between 70 and 80 per cent of our income, but, if elected Chief Minister, what additional industries would the Senator promote to diversify the economy?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I agree with the Deputy. Finance is essential to every man, woman and child in Jersey and we have got to protect it. I think we are doing a pretty good job in doing so and clearly the signs at the moment are that it is buoyant and growing and creating still more job opportunities for local people, which is exactly as we would want it. But we are over-reliant on finance already and nobody is 100 per cent comfortable with being so heavily reliant on any one industry, no matter how good, strong and viable it may be. I have said in the past, and I will say again this morning, that I would be looking to spend the income, or at least part of the income, of the Strategic Reserve or the newly formed Stabilisation Fund to invest in other industries, notably tourism. I am tremendously encouraged by the amount of private sector investment that has gone into the tourism industry and is going into the tourism industry in recent times. We have got new hotels, extended hotels, modernised hotels and attractions, the like of which we haven’t seen in decades. What we have got to do is get behind the industry better and support them more. That is the way I have said I would want to do it. I would also want to protect, so far as we can, because it provides very worthy and worthwhile and, in some cases, necessary employment to a whole range of people in Jersey - the fulfilment industry. Now, we have real challenges with fulfilment because it relies to a great extent on the VAT exemption which may or may not be staying in place in the future, and that is something that we have been working to, or have been working to, at the moment. I would also want to support the emergence of, for example, the film industry. Why is it that the Isle of Man, which is constantly clouded in fog and mist, is able to develop such an impressive and valuable film industry and we are really, after years of talking about it, just still scratching at the surface? So that is the sort of thing I would want to spend interest from the Strategic Reserve on - never the capital, but the interest or at least a part of it on those type of developing industries. I agree with the thrust of your question wholeheartedly. We will always, so far as I can see, be heavily reliant on finance, and what we need to do is reduce that reliance as much as is sensible and spread the economy much further to have, as far as we can, a genuinely diverse economy.”
6.8 Deputy C.F. Labey of Grouville:
“On the back of the last question, as the candidate has expressed an interest in wishing to enhance the Island’s identity, could he outline how much priority he would give to the proposals in the Cultural Strategy and the funding thereof or if he has other ideas?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“No, Sir, I don’t have other ideas. Our Cultural Strategy is another very important policy, a very important issue for us to address. I have absolutely said that my agenda is very, very ambitious, and the problem we are going to have is one of prioritisation and ensuring that we have the means, the funds, the resources, whatever it may be, to support all the policies that I believe are important to the future. But our culture is vital and our cultural identity is vital to a sense of pride, self-belief, I think, and the unique island identity that we all value so much in Jersey. So I would want to work very closely with my Education, Sport and Culture Department to develop and enhance the Cultural Strategy that the previous Committee brought forward. I think it is vital. I was talking to a shopkeeper on Saturday and I know it is only a small thing, but these little things can make such a difference. He was saying ‘Why don’t we have much more entertainment in the streets of St. Helier? Why don’t we have more shopping evenings, particularly in the summer, with really good entertainment and creating the sort of atmosphere you see in St. Malo and so on? Why don’t we do those things?’ Of course, I am all in favour of that and I think we should be more events-led than we have been in the recent past. But, of course, the arts, etc are a vitally important part of that as well and we are looking to, I hope, a reinvigorated Opera House to produce what the public and indeed visitors will want. So I am fully supportive. The question is going to be, as it is with all the other policies, just how quickly the funding and other resources can come through to enable us to do what we all want to do and what we need to do.”
“May I encourage the candidate, please, to be as concise as possible because I have a large number of questioners waiting to ask questions? The Deputy of Trinity.”
6.9 Deputy A.E. Pryke of Trinity:
“If Senator Walker were to be elected, what emphasis would he place on the needs of our young people?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“A great deal. It was through my Policy and Resources Committee’s initiative ‘Imagine Jersey’ that the Youth Council was formed. That was the idea of the young people themselves. I have been fortunate to go along to a couple of their meetings since and have seen them in action at, for example, Waterfront presentations and so on. As I think I said in my statement, the youth of Jersey are absolutely vital to our future. It is their future in many respects more than ours. We have got to involve them, consult with them and listen to them and allow them to play a lead rôle in formulating our policies for the future.”
6.10 Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier:
“Given that the candidate is expected to retain a majority of current committee presidents as ministers and there is no reshuffle of major portfolios in the air, how can he end the silo mentally that still exists between States departments and won’t his preferred Health or Education Ministers, for example, continue to fight their respective corners as they always have done previously?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“The silo mentally is being eroded and we are knocking it down, and quite rightly so. The Management of Change Programme, which my previous Committee led, is doing a very effective job in that in bringing people together to think corporately. The Corporate Management Board under the leadership of Bill Ogley, which has all the chief officers of all the major departments as part of that team, is approaching things from a totally different corporate perspective rather than the silo perspective. Yes, of course, I would expect the Education Minister and the Health Minister to fight their corner, but that is their job; and it doesn’t matter whether it is the previous incumbents who were in those positions or not, I would expect both ministers, whoever they may be, to continue to fight their corner. But what they are going to have to do is to convince their colleagues on the Council of Ministers that their corner should be supported, but then every other minister will be doing exactly the same. They are there to represent their departments, but they are also there fundamentally - and I think they are all very well aware of this - to work together in the best interests of the Island as a whole. That is certainly what I would be expecting from my Council of Ministers.”
6.11 Senator P.F. Routier:
“The Senator has already covered an initial part of my question with regard to economic growth, but I was wondering if he could tell us if he thinks that the Waterfront has any part in the economy of the Island?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I most certainly do and I have said so on many occasions. The Waterfront, with its prospects of £350 million of new private sector investment, which is an unparalleled sum of money in the history of Jersey from the private sector, will in itself play a very important part in growing the economy, but it has got to do more than that. It has got to be the people’s Waterfront. It has got to work for the people of Jersey in every possible way: growing the economy, certainly; providing additional social activities and opportunities, certainly; providing additional leisure facilities, certainly. It has got to do all of those things. If it is going to do that and if we are going to capitalise on this amazing opportunity, we have got to get the architecture right. We all know that what is there at the moment is not exactly setting the world on fire in terms of aesthetic beauty. What we have got to do is make absolutely certain that the architecture of whatever is yet to come reflects the flavour of Jersey. We want people - we need people - to look at it and say ‘Yes, this is moving Jersey forward, but in a way which reflects the flavour of Jersey.’ I would very much, if I am elected, look forward to working with the Planning Minister to make sure that it does work for Jersey and that all the benefits I have mentioned, plus the financial benefits which are very extensive, are delivered for local people.”
6.11 Deputy A. Breckon:
“Senator Walker mentioned in his speech about the low inflation which we have at the moment. The question is related to that and what would the policies be to ensure that that continues and link that to the domestic economy, the money that is coming out by income tax in instalments and is there a conflict with 2 per cent economic growth? Could he expand on that, please?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I think there are 2 questions there at least, but inflation is at the lowest level we have seen since records began and I am obviously very pleased indeed that the policies we have introduced have been so effective. What we have got to do is to stay right on top of it. It is no good having a few months of good figures and then suddenly to see it take off again. That is completely counterproductive. But I think the policies we have introduced to keep inflation down are successful and I would want to continue with them. I would want to see the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) and the Jersey Consumer Council playing an even more active rôle in ensuring competition in the market place. Look at what has happened with petrol. We now have a choice. We never had a choice before and now we can shop around and we know we can get more attractive prices at one pump or another. I want to see that extended to other essential commodities. There is an opportunity for sure to bring the price of milk down. Now, so far as the other part of the question is concerned, the introduction of the Income Tax Instalment System (ITIS), ITIS is going to be an issue for at least 6 months because people will be paying more of their tax upfront, but it will work its way straight through within a year because then people at the end of the year won’t have to worry about finding the lump sum to pay their tax bill. So it is not going to be a painless introduction, there is no doubt about that, but it will help at the end of the day. I don’t believe that ITIS itself, nor, incidentally do I believe the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will bring problems in terms of driving up the rate of inflation.”
6.12 Deputy G.P. Southern:
“Does the Senator’s freshly rediscovered commitment to social justice extend to actively promoting as Chief Minister the rights to representation and to recognition for employees and their representatives in the workplace?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“Responsibly done, yes, but there has got to be a responsible attitude on both sides. I have to say that I believe that the Employment Relations Law brought forward by the previous Social Security Committee did not and does not justify much of the criticism levelled at it. I think I will leave it there, Sir.”
6.13 Deputy P.V.F. Le Claire:
“Would the Senator outline how important for our future fiscal autonomy does he consider the development of our international personality and, in particular, how important it is that we work in harmony with Guernsey and our other Islands in developing and prioritising the Channel Islands as an internationally recognised body?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“Our own fiscal autonomy is absolutely rock bottom vital to the future of Jersey. If we didn’t have fiscal autonomy, we probably wouldn’t have the finance industry, so one goes hand in hand with the other. What a wonderful moment it was last Monday for those of us in Westminster to hear the Lord Chancellor in Westminster talking about Jersey’s independence - an absolutely fantastic moment, an historic moment, in my view. We have worked very, very hard over the last 7 or 8 years now to fight off one international challenge after another. It doesn’t matter whether it came from the United Kingdom Government, it doesn’t matter whether it came from the European Union (EU), it doesn’t matter whether it came from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we have met all those challenges, we have fought them off and Jersey now has a much higher status internationally than I think we have ever had before. That is the best possible way to protect our constitutional position and with it our fiscal autonomy.”
6.14 Deputy P.N. Troy:
“Does the candidate support the Migration Strategy in its present format; would he change any elements of it; does the candidate to have plans to implement the Strategy as a high priority issue; and what outcome does he expect from its implementation?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I do support the Migration Strategy. I brought it to the House. I think there are just a couple of points that I would emphasise, which are that the contentious part (I think I would say) of the Migration Strategy is all about increasing the working population by a maximum of 500. We need that if we are going to generate the economic growth we need to maintain our tax levels at the lowest possible level. But that is not 500 new immigrants into Jersey. There are a considerable number of young people, and indeed elderly people, in Jersey who are looking for jobs or who will shortly be looking for jobs. The Strategic Plan’s aims are to minimise inward migration and to maximise job opportunities for local people. I stand by that wholeheartedly and 100 per cent, and the latest figures endorse that position. The latest population figures show very clearly that there has been a small growth in the Island population entirely due to natural causes, but in fact there has been outward emigration. So there is no question, even though the economy is growing pretty well again, of sucking in huge numbers of new people. The other things that are worthy of note in the Migration Strategy are the equity that it introduces into the housing market, much greater equity and fairness than we have seen before and, of course, it gives us the ability for the first time ever to monitor and regulate all those coming into the Island. So I think it hits most nails on the head and, yes, I do certainly continue to fully support it.”
6.15 The Dean:
“There is plainly no doubt to the Senator’s expertise and experience in matters economic and fiscal, but, given that mankind is simply more than the abundance of wealth that he or she creates, I wonder if he could give us some guidelines on his ethical and philosophical background and the community strategy that he would have for the sort of society he wishes to build?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I am slightly nervous about being asked a question from such a high authority. I think I said in my speech that we now need to concentrate more, and certainly I as an individual if I got the job would need to concentrate more, on the social needs of Jersey generally. I focused particularly on the elderly and those who, for whatever reason, are underprivileged, but it goes further than that. It is the whole community. What I want to see is a connected community and a harmonious community, because there are divisions in our society which we could well do without. I would want my Council of Ministers to work extremely hard as a major, major priority to address that. I want to see an Island that is content with itself and that rediscovers its pride in Jersey, if you like, because we are a community that should engender - but sadly in too many ways doesn’t - huge pride. I want to develop that, a sense of belonging and a sense of caring. Nothing miraculous is going to happen here and we are not going to achieve everything overnight, but these are the sorts of objectives and this is the type of Jersey that I would want to build or, if you like, in many cases rebuild.”
6.16 The Deputy of St. John:
“Mindful of the presence of the First Minister of Guernsey, does the Senator believe that we can co-operate more with the Bailiwick of Guernsey to achieve greater economies of scale and, if so, how would he suggest that we went about it?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“Well, for a start, they would allow our fishing boats into their waters. I am sorry, I didn’t pick up that question, that part of the question, from Deputy Le Claire and I apologise. Yes, we do need to work more closely with Guernsey. I am deeply disappointed that, despite the best intentions and will of the Chief Minister of Guernsey and myself as President of Policy and Resources, we have not yet succeeded in working together very much more closely. Where we have succeeded, I have to say though, is in the most important issue of all, and that is representing ourselves intentionally, and we have done that together and we have done that very effectively and that, I know, will continue. But there are many, many other opportunities for us to work together to create a greater sense of identity and respect for the Channel Islands, not least also to save ourselves a considerable amount of money in the process. So I am very much in favour of more close-working with Guernsey and I very much hope that it will be possible. How possible it will be in the short term I have to say I have a question, but, if elected, I would work very hard to try and achieve that.”
6.17 Deputy C.J. Scott Warren of St. Saviour:
“If your Council of Ministers felt that Scrutiny Panels were at times acting more as an opposition than as a critical friend, would your Council still continue to give weight to their important rôle and to their findings?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“Let me be clear. Scrutiny was set up to be a critical friend, and that means working with the Council of Ministers to develop the best possible policies, laws and strategies for Jersey. To criticise, absolutely, but to criticise from an impartial and evidence-based perspective. If Scrutiny does turn into an opposition, Scrutiny has failed, and that would be a dark day for us all because successful ministerial government relies on robust, impartial, well informed scrutiny, working together, as I have said, to produce the best policies for Jersey. Would we continue to co-operate with Scrutiny if it was clearly an opposition? I think that would, frankly, depend on the circumstances, on how much of an overt opposition it turned out to be and for what reason, but I repeat my point: if Scrutiny does that, it has failed.”
6.18 Deputy P.J.D. Ryan of St. Helier:
“Senator Syvret identified one of the major threats to the future of all communities, but ours particularly perhaps as an island, as the requirement for pretty far reaching changes in energy provision, the sort of thing that is going to affect our community perhaps in 20 years time, well into the future. I would ask Senator Walker whether he believes that is a threat and something that we are going to have to start thinking about at this point in time for 20 years into the future and also if there are any other major global threats that potentially could affect our community and what would his approach be to that kind of risk management into the future?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“I do think they are some way into the future, but I think potentially there are threats to the Island’s energy. We have got to be fully plugged in to the developments that are going on around us. We know that the French are developing still further their nuclear capability. It looks as though the United Kingdom Government is changing its policy in this respect and reverting to nuclear energy. It is very unlikely, I think, that Jersey will be standing alone in terms of energy production in the foreseeable future. We will continue, as we are today, I think, to rely on outside sources for our energy. The cable link, of course, to France is what supplies our electricity. But, at the same time, we do need to look very closely at alternative forms of energy. I don’t think wind power is workable on Jersey. I just don’t think we have the size to put up the massive windmills and so on. It would ruin that part of the Island. Tidal energy is something that we have got to look at very closely. Tidal energy, largely speaking, hasn’t worked so far because it is horrendously expensive, but with the advances of technology that could well change. I think we are all aware of a potential project between Alderney and France and we need to keep a close watch on that and get ourselves involved in it to see if that can be developed to further meet our needs, but principally I think we continue to be reliant on outside sources for energy and we need to make sure that those sources are adequate, sustainable and not at risk.”
“We have 3 minutes or so left, but if there are no other questions?”
6.19 Deputy P.J.D. Ryan:
“Could I ask the Senator the second part of my question, which is whether he saw any other global long term threats?”
Senator F.H. Walker:
“There are the possible disasters of this island somewhere near the Canary Islands exploding or something, about which, of course, we can do nothing. Global warming is an issue and we are going to have to - and we are already - watch very closely the effect that continuing global warming may have, or will have probably, on sea levels and the effect that will have. I am very pleased that we have been able to greatly improve our sea defences in recent years. We spent a huge amount of money on improving our sea defences and quite rightly, but we are going to have to continue to watch that too.”
6.20 Deputy J.A. Martin of St. Helier:
“Thank you, Sir, as we have a few minutes. Yes, Sir, we have Senator Walker and we have Senator Syvret as our choices today. One has just ----” [final bell]
7. The Bailiff:
“Sad though that is for Deputy Martin, that brings a close to the questioning of the candidate and the Chief Usher will now ask Senator Syvret to return to the Chamber. (Pause) I will now ask the Chief Usher to distribute the ballot papers. May I remind members that they should vote for only one candidate. (Pause) I hope the television cameras are not recording the casting of the votes, please. (Pause) If all members have now had the opportunity to place their ballot papers in an urn, I will ask the Viscount and the Greffier of the States to withdraw and to count the votes. (Pause) While the votes are being counted, the Assembly will adjourn for 2 or 3 minutes.
The Assembly adjourned for a short time
8. The Bailiff:
“I can now announce the result of the ballot. 14 votes were cast for Senator Syvret, 38 votes for Senator Walker and there was one spoilt paper. I therefore declare that Senator Walker has been elected as Chief Minister designate. Senator Walker?”
9. Senator F.H. Walker:
“Yes, thank you, Sir. I can’t let that moment go unremarked upon. I have been incredibly lucky in my life and I have had many proud moments, but I can say none more so than today. I do love Jersey. It is the Island of my birth and to be its first Chief Minister is the greatest possible honour and privilege. It is a privilege, but it is not about my privilege, it is much more about the responsibility the position carries, a responsibility for and to all the people of Jersey. I am grateful and, I have to say, humble to have won the support of so many members of the House. What I and my Council of Ministers will need to do now is, through our words and actions, win the same level of trust and support from the whole Island. That is what we have got to work to achieve, and that work will start on Thursday. I have been moved by the emphasis on social issues which I myself have referred to and I will need to be a changed person. I will need not to come over just as supporting the economy, although I will continue to do that, but to come over as much more interested in all the issues relating to Jersey which have hitherto been the responsibility of others. Sir, can I thank members; thank them for the trust they have shown in me; thank them for the responsibility they have given me; can I thank not least those who signed my nomination form because I am very grateful to them; and finally, and most certainly not least, my family and friends for the fantastic support they have given me in recent weeks and months. I have real confidence in the future, and what I want to do is to instil a higher level of confidence throughout the Island. I believe working with the right Council of Ministers, given time - it won’t happen overnight - we can achieve that. I promise the House and promise the Island that I will spare no effort whatsoever in seeking to achieve that as quickly as possible. Thank you, Sir.”
10. Senator S. Syvret:
“Could I, too, thank those members who signed my nomination paper, thank those members who voted for me and, indeed, thank the whole Assembly for what I think has been a very good and civilised process, which has been a credit to the Assembly. I would also like to extend my congratulations to Senator Walker and thank him, too, for what has been a good natured, positive and constructive contest for this most important of posts. I hope to be able to work with him in the future, and I look forward to that opportunity.”
11. Senator F.H. Walker:
“If I may, I omitted to thank Senator Syvret, because it is reciprocal and it needs to be known that it is reciprocated. I omitted to thank Senator Syvret for the way he has approached the election. It has been uplifting to be head to head on so many policy issues, but obviously and completely not head to head on personal issues. There has been no single attack by either of us on the other as an individual, as a person, and I think that bodes well for the future and sets an example which I hope this House will follow more closely in the future than perhaps it has done in the past.”
12. The Bailiff:
“The States will now adjourn until Thursday, 8th December for the selection of Ministers, the Chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee and other Chairmen. May I remind members in advance of that meeting that any member making a nomination on 8th December will not be expected to or indeed allowed to make a speech. All that is required is for the nomination to be made and seconded in accordance with Standing Order 102. We now stand adjourned until 9.30 on 8th December.”
STATEMENT MADE BY SENATOR STUART SYVRET
As a candidate for the post of Chief Minister I have prepared this brief statement which describes my approach to how the Council of Minister should work, the Council’s immediate work programme, and an outline of the policy areas which the Council of Ministers must address. The policies described here are deliberately not exhaustive and are intended to give an indication of the policy direction I believe the Council should follow. I believe the Council of Minister must work on a collaborative basis with the individual Ministers each contributing significantly to the development of the island’s strategic policies. The Ministers will each bring there own ideas and significant contributions to the task of producing the island’s Strategic Plan. The Chief Minister must guide and co-ordinate this work rather than dictating it.
THE CHIEF MINISTER AND THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS:
A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO WORKING
The Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers have very significant responsibilities. In addition to formulating and driving forward the Strategic Policy which will shape the future of the community, the Ministers will be carrying both political and legal responsibility for all areas of public administration in the island. It is therefore essential that this new body has represented within it a diversity of views and has the confidence and approval of the community. In order to achieve these qualities I would seek the appointment of Ministers who were broadly representative of public opinion and of the membership of the States assembly.
If the Council of Ministers is to succeed in being broadly representative, it will be necessary to adopt a consensual way of working. Members of the States are, in the main, elected as independent candidates. In the absence of party politics, it is essential that that independence is respected. In a Council of Minister lead be me, the Ministers would enjoy free speech and the right to disagree with other Ministers. In order to maintain a good working relationship amongst the Ministers it would be necessary to agree a working protocol to the effect that individual Ministers first attempt to come to agreement with their colleagues, and if that is not achievable, inform their colleagues that they intend to disagree with a Council view or take an issue to the States assembly for a decision. Ultimately, individual Ministers must enjoy the independence necessary to hold their own views and represent their constituents according to the basis upon which they were elected, something that would become impossible if some form of “party whip” was imposed upon Ministers. For as long as Jersey continues to have a political preference for electing independent candidates, the Council of Minister must be a ‘broad church’.
My approach to formulating the new Strategic Policy would be to adopt a collaborative approach. The States will appoint Ministers for the policies they espouse and the qualities they bring to the job. The talents of these individuals must be used. I do not, therefore, consider it appropriate for the Chief Minister to lay down a pre-determined Strategic Policy, with an approach that the Ministers simply be required to fill in the details. Such an approach would not be in keeping with the consensual political traditions of the island, nor would it make best use of the contributions able to be made by each Minister. It is also important to recognise and make use of the contributions to policy formulation made by the scrutiny panels.
Although the development of the new Strategic Policy will be a collaborative task carried out by the Council of Minister, it is important that the Chief Minister has a clear idea of the issues we face and general policy direction that needs to be followed. I will outline below the policy issues which the Council of Ministers must address. Before doing so I will describe the programme of work which the Council of Ministers must carry out in its early days.
THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS: WORK PROGRAMME
Ministers appointed on the 8th December.
First meeting of Council of Ministers: 9th December –
- Assistant Ministers – to discuss the appointment of Assistant Ministers before the States meet to appoint members of the Scrutiny Panels on the 13th December.
- States Employment Board – to appoint chairman and members of the States Employment Board.
- Recording of decisions – to note the arrangements agreed for the recording of official decisions.
Second meeting of the Council of Ministers: 16th December (date subject to confirmation) –
- Code of Conduct for Ministers – to discuss the introduction of a Code of Conduct for Ministers, its content and form and to agree working protocols.
- Work programme – to consider the work programme of the Council of Ministers, with particular regard for the first four months and preparation of the new draft Strategic Plan 2006 – 2010.
- Policy contributions – to consider the way in which each Minister will be expected to contribute to the development of the new Strategic Plan in respect of his or her area of responsibility.
- Constructive engagement with scrutiny – to consider how the Council of Ministers can provide maximum co-operation with the scrutiny process.
Third meeting of the Council of Ministers – early January (date subject to confirmation.)
- Strategic Plan: two day meeting – to begin work on the new Strategic Plan with an intensive two day meeting.
This initial programme for the early days of the Council of Ministers will provide a platform for the Council to begin effective engagement with its central task – the development of the Strategic Plan which will shape the future of the community.
It is my intention that the development of the Strategic Plan will be a collaborative process, involving significant contributions from each Minister. I would also expect the scrutiny process to play an important role in contributing to the development of sound policy proposals.
EVIDENCE BASED GOVERNMENT
PLANNING FOR THE LONG-TERM
Policy formulation by the States of Jersey has suffered from two great failings; a failure to plan for the long-term and a propensity for making decisions based on assertion, insufficient facts, political prejudices and, frequently, a complete absence of hard evidence. One of my priorities will be to address these two cultural inadequacies of government in Jersey. In some respects, moving towards evidence based government will be the easier of the two changes. Addressing long-term issues is a difficult thing for governments to achieve. Even in the United Kingdom governments frequently fail to address long-term issues, the policy response to which will be unpopular. Governments find it difficult to seriously look beyond their electoral term. In Jersey, such short-termism is even more pronounced. Generally speaking, politicians just don’t want to address difficult and unpopular problems when to do so offers little political mileage for them. Occasionally, the island’s government has looked beyond the next five years and has planned for decades ahead. The introduction of the Social Security system being one such example. The establishment of the Strategic reserve being another. However, such examples of forward thinking are sadly rare in the post-war years.
Merely changing the apparatus of government will not, of itself, bring into being a new era government performance; philosophy and approach must change as well. Therefore, the Council of Ministers must address the following issues.
EVIDENCE BASED GOVERNMENT
- An independent statistics unit – the States statistics unit to be taken from the control of the executive and to be made independent. As is widely recognised statistics have the potential to be abused, to be selective, and to be meaningless. Yet good statistics are a vital part of the information needed to form sound policies. In order to achieve the necessary appearance of objectivity in the States statistics function, the department should be independent of the executive.
- The development of dedicated economic multipliers – economic multipliers are tools used to assess the real economic effect of activity in particular sectors. Presently we have no specifically calculated economic multipliers by which we could gauge the real economic effects upon the island of specific activities. We must have the information necessary to be able to understand clearly the linkages with, and leakages from, the local economy of activities such as the development of the Waterfront.
- The production of detailed cost of living comparisons – In order to gauge such factors as how competitive the island is, we need to understand the real value of a pound in Jersey, compared to a pound elsewhere. We should commission a detailed purchasing power parity study.
- Development of an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare – At present Jersey, in common with most jurisdictions, places great reliance upon such economic indicators as gross national income or gross domestic product. Such indicators represent the totality of economic activity within an economy, but not whether that activity is having an overall beneficial effect upon society. We need to explore new indicators, such as an ISEW, to give us a more evidenced basis for measuring the overall welfare of the community.
- Economic & social statistics – Informed policy making will need a far greater range of economic and social statistics than that available at present. In addition to the established headline indicators, we will need more focused and specialised studies to produce detailed data.
- Improving and strengthening the scrutiny function – The shadow scrutiny process has produced an evaluation of the first two years of experience (SR/2005). All of the recommendations in this evaluation must be taken on board by the States. The scrutiny process will be a positive tool with which public policy can be refined and improved.
- Full co-operation with the scrutiny function- The executive must have a positive and co-operative approach to the scrutiny panels. In order to do their job effectively, the panels will need all relevant information to be supplied to them. This must include legal advice given to the executive. I fully support the recommendations contained in the scrutiny report on the provision of legal advice to scrutiny panels (SR8/2005).
- A long-term approach to strategic planning – In some areas of policy the States does plan for the long-term, for example using actuarial revues to plan Social Security funding. However, when it come to economic planning, taxation polices, population management, environmental issues, the States has failed. Long-term planning must be built into all strategies.
- Five, ten, fifteen and twenty year projections and objectives to be a feature of all major States policies – Each strategic plan and its component parts must – as far as is possible – plan for future decades.
- Shaping our future – not re-acting to it – Far too much States policy development is re-active, not pro-active. With long-term planning, we will be far better equipped to shape our future.
RECONNECTING GOVERNMENT TO THE COMMUNITY
The States are held in low regard by many people in our community and the public feel powerless and un-involved in shaping the public policy. This state of affairs must be rectified. Politicians often speak about needing to engage with the public, but few do so in a meaningful way. The vague and platitudinous statements in Strategic Aim Eight of the present Strategic Plan are a pertinent example. Too often exercises in “consulting” the public are little more than opinion management exercises, designed to manufacture consent for pre-determined policies. The States must overcome its fear of the public, and get genuinely engaged with the community. The Council of Ministers should introduce:
- A strong Freedom of Information Law – The present Policy & Resources Committee exhibited its fear of meaningful FOI laws when it raised vague objections to the original proposals of the Privileges & Procedures Committee. Regrettably PPC caved in and watered down their proposals. We must stop this nonsense. There is no legitimate reason why a community such as Jersey should not have a good FOI Law; one which does not contain ‘catch-all’ blanket exemptions.
- Introducing Citizens Juries – Citizens Juries provide an opportunity for a sample of people from across the community to provide quality, informed and considered contributions to public policy.
- Community Task Forces – the States is too distant from the public and too fond of establishing un-accountable Quangos. To get real community involvement the States should for working partnerships with ordinary members of the community in order to achieve specific objectives.
- Referendums – it must be acknowledged that many important decisions will always require political leadership, especially those that may be unpopular but necessary. However, Jersey is ideally placed to begin to make use of referendums for some decisions.
JERSEY INTO THE MILLENNIUM: A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
Building on the policies above, I turn to the document ‘Jersey Into The New Millennium: A Sustainable Future’. This document, which was presented to the States in December 2001, represented the culmination of a tremendous amount of community input into public policy formulation. It is, by far and away, the most legitimate example of public policy consultation to have happened in recent years. Its development and the methodology used was overseen by academics from University College London. Its quality and legitimacy stands in marked contrast to opinion management exercises such as ‘ Imagine Jersey’. Jersey Into The Millennium was supposed to be the foundation upon which sustainable policies for the future of our community were built. However, the findings and recommended policy options did not find political favour with the then Policy & Resources Committee, possibly because to have acted upon the report would have involved moving to a more long-term policy planning approach which, for reasons elaborated above, rarely finds favour amongst the short time frames in which politicians operate.
Jersey Into the New Millennium matches much of my thinking and the approach I would bring to strategic policy development. For a more detailed understanding of my thinking, I refer people to this report.
Sustainability, as the report recognised, is about more than environmental protection. A sustainable society also needs a sound economy and it needs good public services, such as Education and Health. It is surely obvious that the great task we face – and let us not imagine that it is easy – is to find ways of securing a sound and sustainable economy whilst at the same time protecting our environment, quality of life, community spirit, quality of life and culture. If we are to succeed in these aims we must adopt evidence based government; policies based upon detailed, comprehensive and accurate data.
TAXATION: A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH
Taxation policy is central to the welfare of our community. Get it wrong and we face economic meltdown. This obvious fact makes it all the more surprising that we have not made a better examination of this crucial subject. Instead we have been faced with a particularly pronounced example of old fashioned establishment paternalism. “Trust us. We’ve considered everything and these are the policies, take it or leave it.” This is the approach to government we must leave behind. It is anti-intellectual, not evidenced based, patronising and alienating to most of the community. It is often stated that we must be conservative with taxation or we will ‘kill the golden goose’. Indeed. But what is often forgotten in this debate is that the success of our community also depends upon political stability which in turn requires a contented population. If more and more regressive approaches to taxation are adopted, in an environment which is already extremely expensive, public satisfaction with the political status quo may begin to diminish.
Meeting external demands, such as that which has required the move to zero corporate tax, are probably un-avoidable. However, the alternative tax measure we could adopt deserve a fare more comprehensive examination.
- Taxation polices: a transparent enquiry – The island is presently engaged in the most dramatic alterations to our tax structure since income tax was introduced in 1928. Yet many possible options remain un-explored or dismissed upon flimsy assertions.
PUBLIC SPENDING: TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
There is no doubt that we face difficult decisions in respect of public spending. It could be argued that we have grown too used to easy wealth in recent decades and have thus developed an unrealistic attitude to expenditure. Addressing issues of cost cutting is often highly controversial. It is therefore essential that we avoid such debates becoming mired in dogma and ideology. In order to avoid unnecessary and futile arguments, we must have new and transparent approach to assessing public spending and gauging its relative importance.
- Auditor General of the Public Accounts Committee – these two new authorities will bring about a significant improvement in the transparency and accountability of public spending. Their work must be fully supported and, if necessary, their powers enhanced.
- GAAP compliant accounting as the public norm – The States must adopt the highest standards of accounting practices. These same standards must be required of those bodies which receive tax payers’ money.
UNDERSTANDING AND DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY
If our economy is to be sustainable, we must seek to diversify. This is generally acknowledged, but the States have failed to make far-sighted investments. In partnership with the private sector we must apply our selves to this task with renewed application. It is a dismal state of affairs when the States cuts investment in areas such as event-led tourism.
- An international arts festival – the States must form a public-private partnership to develop an international arts festival. This will require investment and will need to be sustained for at least a decade. The city of Edinburgh receives significant revenue and weeks of global publicity each year as a result of its arts festival.
- The accommodation industry: a strategic appraisal – providing both residential and commercial accommodation, and all associated activities, is clearly a very major component of our economy, yet we have never engaged in a detailed assessment of the role it plays as an economic entity. We must examine every aspect of the accommodation industry if we are serious about understanding our economy.
MAINTAINING QUALITY SOCIAL PROVISION
It is important to recognise that the States has succeeded in many areas of activity. Today our standards of education and health care are high.
- Health & Social Services – change to meet 21st century standards of integration and governance. Develop sustainable funding mechanisms, integrate with independent health & social care providers.
- Education – We must maintain the present high standards of academic excellence whilst investing more in vocational training.
- Housing – the island’s public housing stack must be continuously improved. We must introduce greater affordability through such mechanism as shared equity.
- Social Security – We must modernise our Social Security system to enable more secure funding for secondary health care and long-term residential care for the elderly.
FACING THE FACTS ABOUT ENERGY
The world has passed peak oil production. The age of cheap fossil fuels will be over with 15 or 20 years – if not sooner. The implications of this for modern society are dramatic.
- Liberalise the electricity grid – This will enable people to invest in small scale home generating technology such as renewables like wind and solar and combined heat and power plants, People could then sell excess energy into the grid.
This is simply a brief and general outline of my approach to the work of the Council of Ministers. I have given an indication of my views and I emphasise again, I see the task of the Council of Ministers to be a collaborative one.
STATEMENT MADE BY SENATOR F.H. WALKER
Jersey is on the brink of significant and important changes in the way the Island is governed. I am privileged to put my name forward for the position of Jersey’s first ever Chief Minister.
The purpose of this statement, as laid out in Standing Orders and approved by the previous Assembly, is for each of the candidates to lay out their vision for the strategic policy of the Island and to inform Members on how they would intend to discharge their responsibilities if elected as Chief Minister.
The following is a comprehensive statement, which I hope members, particularly those new to the States, will find helpful. I will of course further outline my thinking in my speech to the Assembly on 5th December and in the subsequent question time.
By its nature this has to be my personal vision for the future of Jersey. However, it will be for my Council of Ministers to collectively agree policies and present them to the States.
1) MY VISION FOR A STRATEGIC POLICY
On 29th June 2004, the States, in support of a Proposition by my Policy and Resources Committee, approved by a significant majority of 35 to 10 a new Strategic Plan.
The Plan had 9 strategic aims. They were:-
Aim One: To create a strong and competitive economy
Aim Two: To maintain a sustainable population
Aim Three: To enhance quality of life
Aim Four: To protect the physical environment
Aim Five: To invest in Jersey’s youth
Aim Six: To promote Jersey pride and self-belief
Aim Seven: To develop Jersey’s international personality
Aim Eight: To reconnect the public and the States of Jersey
Aim Nine: To balance the States income and expenditure and improve the delivery of public services
I led the team that developed these policies and presented them to the States. I believe the aims are as relevant today, and as right for the Island, as they were when first approved. They represent a clear, co-ordinated, forward-thinking vision for Jersey. I believe there are clear signs that the policies approved are working and working well. It is for this reason and to ensure continuity, consistency and stability that I propose to base my vision around them.
To create a strong and competitive economy
At the time the Plan was written and approved the Island’s economy was enduring a period of slow decline. Unemployment, albeit only slightly, was rising and it was necessary to devote much time and effort to reverse that trend.
This has inevitably meant support for the finance industry upon which the entire Island relies for its standard of living and livelihood.
We have achieved considerable success. Business in all areas of the finance industry is again growing, banks have increasingly selected Jersey as their location of choice, and recently, a number of Hedge Funds have re-located to the Island. This confidence in Jersey and the future it promises, offers excellent opportunities for local people.
We need to continue to support the growth of the finance industry but, at the same time, allocate more time and resource to the other important industries that make up the Island’s economic fabric and create as much diversity as possible.
I will be looking to my Economic Development Minister to build upon the Economic Growth Plan approved by the States on 20th April, 2005 and develop the opportunities that clearly exist to re-structure and support both Tourism and Agriculture. At the same time I would encourage the Minister to be more pro-active than we have been to date in supporting other emerging industries. This will require investment and I will be looking to use at least some of the interest on the Strategic Reserve and/or the Stabilisation Fund to achieve this important aim.
If we are to remain competitive and have a long-term successful economy it was vital that Jersey’s rate of inflation came down from its previous unsustainable levels. Our policies, including the encouragement of competition, have helped to bring inflation down to the lowest rate since records began.
No economy can be a success without confidence in the future, and confidence in its leaders. I have worked hard to gain respect from the business community, and, in particular, the finance industry. I believe the recent policies presented to the States, along with the experience I have gained as President of P & R and F& E will continue to give the business community the confidence it needs to invest in Jersey’s growing economy.
To maintain a sustainable population
On 22nd June 2005 the States approved a new Migration Policy based upon supporting the essential growth we need in our economy, reducing inward migration to a minimum and creating full employment for local people. Another principal aim was to create more equity and openness in the housing market.
This will continue to be my aim and vision.
If we are to be successful we will need to do more to ensure that young local people are given every opportunity to develop their skills. We will need more job based training and a wider range of skills qualifications. I support the current initiatives at Highlands, in our schools and the creation of a Business School. However, we will need to improve further .and I will be looking to the Council of Ministers to achieve this.
We are steadily improving access and inclusiveness in the housing market,. My intention will be to develop this further so that we strike the right balance between the needs and rightful aspirations of locally qualified people and those who come to Jersey and contribute to the economy in other ways.
International Law prohibits us from establishing full border controls in order to keep criminals and other undesirables from entering the island. However more can and, following the recent seminar I called on this matter, must be done in this respect and I will be looking to the Council of Ministers, working within the Law, to go as far as possible to ensure the people of Jersey are properly protected.
To enhance quality of life
Jersey is one of the most successful and wealthy communities in the world. As a result, the majority of people in Jersey have a very high and enviable quality of life, and I am pledged to maintain that. However this merely serves to put into sharper focus the plight of those who do not, and those who, for whatever reason, feel excluded and disenchanted. In my opinion, this is the biggest challenge facing the Council of Ministers and my most important objective.
It cannot be right, in an Island as wealthy as Jersey, that there are families and individuals struggling to cope. We have to do more, much more, to help them. We already provide significant sums of money in benefits, we need to ensure that the benefits are adequate for their needs and are targeted correctly.
I want to pursue policies that create greater inclusiveness and opportunity for our underprivileged and vulnerable people. This would include ensuring the new Income Support policy meets the needs of those who need it most; long term pension provision; developing and enhancing the new housing policies that we need to create greater equity; offering better access to services and education; and not least, ensuring that people feel valued and as well cared for as they should in an Island such as ours.
We are faced with an ageing population and this creates both challenge and opportunity. I would want high priority given to providing care, and financial stability, with opportunities for leisure and continuing employment for those who seek it. In particular we need to find an alternative to taking the capital they have spent a lifetime saving for, from our elderly when they need care and support. I would suggest to the Council that we should appoint an Assistant Minister to take overall responsibility for policies for the elderly.
I am also acutely aware that there are many young families who find life a real struggle. I believe we need to look further into the provision and cost of Child Care and other areas where families need support. If it is possible working within the numbers of Assistant Ministers available, I would suggest the appointment of an Assistant Minister with special responsibility for family issues.
What the elderly and other vulnerable groups need is the peace of mind that only confidence and security can give. That would be one of my goals.
One of the most effective ways of encouraging community spirit and ensuring people feel included is to enable them to own their own homes. I would want to create more opportunity for those who currently can’t afford to do so. Jersey has a lower home ownership level than Guernsey, the Isle of Man or the U.K., I believe we need to address this deficiency. I would want to see the introduction of a shared equity scheme and other measures aimed at bringing home ownership into the reach of many more and I would look to the Housing Minister to come forward with proposals within three months of taking office.
Jersey is a safe place in which to live and to raise a family. This enviable position must never change. I would want to work with my Home Affairs Minister to produce policies which through a balance of adequate and, where necessary, tough penalties, and compassion for those who need our help, ensure that Jersey remains a community which feels safe and well-ordered. A community which provides wide-reaching and quality support to the victim, but also to those who have fallen foul of the law and need rehabilitation. However, we must not be afraid to deal harshly with persistent offenders and those who repeatedly threaten our values and security.
Achieving all these objectives will not be easy and will not be achieved overnight. I believe we should place them at the very top of our agenda, giving them the priority necessary to gain the necessary funds.
To protect the physical environment
By any standards Jersey is a beautiful Island and we need to ensure that it remains so.
I fully support the Rural Economy Strategy agreed by the States on 19th July, 2005 and I would want to press for its objectives to be achieved as quickly as possible.
We have to recognise that there have been fundamental changes in our agricultural industry, which, will result, indeed have already resulted, in less land being farmed. We must ensure this land is used in a manner that adds to the attractiveness of the countryside and to the enjoyment of local people and visitors alike.
I have a vision of an Island which can provide added amenities without in any way detracting from our inherent and vitally important beauty and which adds to my vision for a growing and increasingly diverse economy.
Although our planning policies have done well in protecting our countryside, they have not done so well in creating a unique and special “Jersey” built environment. I am one of the originators of the Task Force charged with creating a new and co-ordinated face to St. Helier. I believe there is a great opportunity to make our town, Jersey’s capital, a place of which we can all be proud and which stands out as uniquely Jersey. I would want to play a lead role in pursuing the Task Force’s objectives. The same applies to St. Aubin’s and other built up areas, where we need similar action.
I would want to see new standards and guidelines applied to architecture throughout the Island so that there is a recognisable Jersey identity-just as you see in our nearest neighbours in Brittany and Normandy. I would want to agree, at a very early stage, with the Planning Minister how that can be achieved.
It is far from satisfactory that we have taken so long to provide the Town Park that the States agreed to in October 2000. If elected, within one year I will pledge to have a comprehensive plan that clearly lays out what will be included in it, and how it is to be funded and delivered.
I do not believe that the roads and other elements of our infrastructure are up to the standard we should expect from an Island such as ours...This needs to be given a higher priority in our capital programme, and in addition, we should seek alternative ways of making this important investment.
I am a supporter of a vibrant and attractive waterfront, but here too we must do much better than we have done so far in standards of architecture. I would look to the Planning Minister to ensure that all new plans, while needing to be bold and exciting, are appropriate for Jersey. I would also only support the development of the waterfront if WEB’s projections for the benefits to the people of Jersey are seen to be fulfilled. This is the people’s waterfront and its development must reflect that. It must work to the benefit of the people in terms of look, feel, design, leisure opportunities and economic gain.
To invest in Jersey’s youth
Engaging and investing in our young people is crucial for the future.
I am pleased that this objective emerged from the first Imagine Jersey and that it came from the young people who took such an active part in this event. I am delighted that they have continued their involvement through the Youth Council and in other ways, and I want to give them every support.
We must ensure that our young people are fully included in our planning for the future and that they feel listened to and valued.
I have referred above to the need to provide more, and more diverse and relevant, training opportunities so that our young people can take full advantage of the opportunities that Jersey’s growing economy has to offer. They should be able to look forward to fulfilling and financially rewarding careers. I would like to make this another priority for my Council of Ministers,
Another investment I believe we should make in our youth is to provide citizenship classes so that they have a better understanding of, and feel more involved in, community, social and political life from the earliest possible age. This could reap many benefits for the future, including, establishing a closer bond between the States and people of Jersey.
Finally, if elected, I pledge myself, within one year, to producing a firm plan for the provision of the much needed youth facilities in St. Helier.
To promote pride in Jersey
I am intensely proud of Jersey but I am fully aware that there are many who are not and who are dissatisfied with the Island and what it has to offer them. It is right to criticise and seek to improve what is wrong in our society but we should also not be afraid to celebrate the many things that are right and we need to do much more to encourage the people of Jersey to value what we have. What we need is a combination of old values and new vision.
I would want, through the policies of inclusion and equity I outlined above in the Quality of Life section, and through communicating better and more frequently, to reach out to those who don’t feel good about their Island and seek to develop with them a new sense of pride and belonging in what is a quite remarkable and unique place.
I am a keen supporter of the recently announced branding initiative and delighted that Islanders have reacted so positively to it. I would want to see this followed through to a successful conclusion by the Economic Development Minister.
To develop Jersey’s international personality
Since 1997, shortly after the then new Labour Government took office, Jersey has been faced with many threats and challenges starting with the Home Office inspired Edwards Report.
I am relieved, delighted and proud with the way we have met and beaten off all those challenges so that Jersey’s international position and status are higher now than ever before.
The initiatives of both the OECD and the EU could, if we had not reacted in the right way, have decimated Jersey’s economy. Not only has this been prevented, we have laid the base for sound and sustainable economic growth and through our determination not to be bullied yet to co-operate with genuine and well-founded initiatives we have earned the respect and understanding of the international community as a whole.
Who would have imagined, just a few years ago when we were faced with overt and serious threats from the UK Government and the OECD, when we were considered wrongly by some to be pariahs in the international community, that we would now have been able to reach and sign agreements in Jersey’s own name, and which contain obligations for us and us alone-rather than has historically been the case for the UK - firstly with the USA, and then with France and all the other EU member States?
Jersey’s relationship with the UK has been established for centuries but has inevitably changed since the UK entered the EU. There is a need now to develop a clear position for the Island. We must consider all options, including closer working with the UK to greater or even, in the long-term, full independence. There are numerous options in between and I chair, and would want to continue to chair, a group [currently a sub-committee of P&R] investigating in depth the best way forward for Jersey.
By its very nature the work of this group has at this stage to remain confidential but I would hope to be able to include all States Members in a full discussion on its findings at the earliest opportunity. In any event any proposed changes could only be introduced after full and detailed discussion within the Island, in the States Chamber and, of course, with the UK Government.
Our international position and our relationship with the UK Government is essential for every man woman and child in Jersey. I believe, through the way I have led negotiations and represented Jersey at the highest levels, that I have won the respect of UK Ministers and other international politicians. I would obviously want to continue this essential, vital work if elected.
To reconnect the public and the States of Jersey
The States has for many years failed to connect successfully with many members of the community. We have failed to convince many members of our community that their vote does count and that we have a successful and democratic government. This was evident by the low turn-out in the recent elections.
Against this background it is vital that Ministerial Government not only works but is seen to work. That it is seen to be leading the Island in a co-ordinated, inclusive and just way. I believe I have the policies, experience and qualities needed to blend a successful team of Ministers which will be essential if this goal is to be achieved.
We will need to demonstrate that we are efficient and providing high quality services in a cost-effective way. The initiatives have already begun and I wish to continue to have personal responsibility for, what I believe go a long way towards convincing the public that, after years of overspends, uncertainty, inconsistency and a lack of accountability, we are making real and, in some cases, dramatic progress towards achieving our targets.
However no amount of good work internally will help to win the support and appreciation of the public without clear, transparent leadership and excellent communications. I am an absolute believer in good communications and I am the first to acknowledge that we have a long way to go in this area. I nevertheless believe the new system of Consultation and policy papers recently announced by my Committee will be of real help in this respect.
This will be an important test for the Chief Minister and I would want to be measured on the results through public opinion polls, meetings and through the media.
Improve the delivery of public services and balance the States income and expenditure
The Finance & Economics Committee, led by Senator Le Sueur, have excelled in getting to grips with States expenditure. I would not pull back from their achievement. The challenge will be finding the necessary resources to deliver on the policies I have set out. This will be a question of priorities, and identifying new sources of funding as well as investment in the economy and our infrastructure.
I would be determined, while seeking to improve those services and support mechanisms that clearly need it, to maintain balanced budgets and keep the tax burden to a minimum. This will call for much greater efficiency and I would wish to continue with the Change programme that my P&R Committee started last year. This will lead to savings of £20m p.a. without cutting back on the quality of our essential services. The public demand efficiency and we are at last beginning to show that we are capable of delivering it. The moves to centralise and rationalise property, IT, Human Resources and the financial processes are clear evidence of a new and long overdue approach.
Change is always uncomfortable for our staff. We need to recognise that and work with staff and their representatives to minimise the stress and pressures that inevitably arise. We must show our staff that they are valued and respected. We must clearly demonstrate, as we have already done, that their jobs are not at risk. At the same time we will need them to be prepared to accept the need for change and not cling to outdated and sometimes inefficient past practices. This can only be achieved by patient and comprehensive communication and consultation, and, good will on both sides.
Achieving change is essential and here too, I would like to be measured by comparisons with the past and with other comparable Governments.
I am of course acutely conscious of the fact that taxation is the most difficult issue currently facing the island.
I am fully supportive of the fiscal strategy. I will only continue to support it providing I remain convinced it can be implemented in a fair and equitable way.
This means that although I fully support the principle of GST, I will only, as I have always said, support its introduction if I am convinced that the new Income Support scheme, also approved by the States, adequately protects the poorest in our society from increase in prices. I would want this to be a major and unalterable policy for my Council of Ministers.
I am not generally in favour of exemptions as they would require a considerable increase in staff and administration and the rate of tax would need to be increased above the approved rate of 3%. I am however delighted that the Social Security Committee has allowed for increases in medical charges through a new level of benefit. I am also pleased that Senator Le Sueur has stated that, if he became Treasury Minister, he would wish to thoroughly review this entire question.
I have remaining concerns about 20 means 20 and I am pleased that F&E have delayed its introduction. I am fully supportive of progressive taxation and of taxing the wealthier members of our community at a full and appropriate rate. However I would want to look carefully at the burden on middle income groups with the Treasury Minister, before finalising the proposals to come back to the States.
I support the Finance and Economic Committee’s view that we need to thoroughly analyse the pros and cons of land and development taxes. I also agree that we need to look at how environmental taxes might contribute towards strategic and environmental objectives.
Overall my vision is for a taxation and benefits structure that supports and encourages economic growth and our competitive position but which is, at the same time, fair and equitable and fully protects the less well-off.
The dismal turn-outs in many electoral districts are a startling and continuing reminder that the people are not as involved in their government affairs as they should be in a healthy democracy.
I further believe that the States has let them down in our failure to get to grips with Electoral reform. I would hope that the new Privileges and Procedures Committee will take a positive and pro-active lead in bringing forward proposals for reform within the next year with the hope that change can be introduced by 2008.
I am a strong believer in the Connétables remaining in the States and accept that I was wrong, when a member of the previous P&R Committee, to support their removal. The Connétables exert a strong, balanced and steadying influence in the States and I now have no doubt that democracy would be the loser if they were to be removed.
My overall vision
I believe Members are entitled to a comprehensive and thorough outline of each candidate’s vision and I hope that mine is clearly outlined in the above.
My vision can however be summed up in a few words drawn from the Aspiration for Jersey statement which introduces the Strategic Plan.
My vision is to ensure that Jersey:
is an Island where people enjoy a good quality of life because we have a strong, prosperous economy which means we can afford a pleasant environment and an inclusive society.
is a community where people:
-enjoy equality in access and opportunity.
-are free from discrimination.
-are supported to become self-sufficient wherever possible.
has an effective light touch government, accountable for its decisions and delivery of its services.
This is an ambitious agenda and it will not all be achievable in the short term, nor will funding be available to meet all my objectives as quickly as I would like. I am however a great believer in setting tough targets and then finding ways of achieving them.
I, in any case, fully accept that my Council of Ministers will have their own views on most if not all of the policies I have outlined above and I would want to work with them to agree final policies for the next Strategic Plan to which they would have fully contributed, signed up and be held accountable for.
2 HOW I WOULD FULFIL MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS CHIEF MINISTER
I am acutely aware of the responsibility of being Chief Minister of Jersey and I have given much thought to how, if elected I would carry out my duties.
The people of Jersey are rightly looking to Ministerial Government with a mixture of anticipation and concern. It is imperative that it not only works but is seen to work on their behalf. If it is to do so it is essential that we have a strong and free-thinking Council of Ministers.
The first task is to nominate and, hopefully succeed in persuading the States to elect, a Council of Ministers who, while holding diverse and strongly held views, can work successfully together as a team. I believe that my experience at P&R and on other Committees - where we have not always agreed on policies - yet have remained a strong team, suggests that, given the Ministers I would want, I can succeed in this vitally important goal.
I would want to appoint Senator Terry le Sueur as Deputy Chief Minister. I believe his quiet, assured approach to the issues facing the Island is a good foil for me and that his reputation for being “a safe pair of hands” will be of real value and assistance to me and the Ministerial team.
Good strong teamwork is essential if Ministerial Government is to succeed.
Having formed a Council of Ministers I would wish to proceed along the following lines:-
1) Call a meeting of the Council on the morning of December 9th to select Assistant Ministers and to agree the arrangements for recording Ministerial decisions
2) Call a second meeting -date to be agreed by the Council -to discuss the introduction of a Code of Conduct for Ministers; to agree whether there should be any form of collective responsibility; to consider a communications strategy for the Council of Ministers and to consider the work programme for the Council.
3) Arrange a two-day meeting to be held early in January devoted exclusively to discussion on the draft Strategic Plan.
Thereafter I would expect the Council to meet fortnightly and to discharge all the duties assigned to it by the States in a cohesive, transparent and responsible manner.
Unlike Committee Presidents, Ministers will be held accountable both publicly and legally for their actions and decisions. This is a fundamental change and I will want to work closely with my Ministers to ensure they understand and comply with all necessary requirements and standards expected of them.
I fully support the Code of Conduct for States Members, but in addition we will need to consider extending the scope it for Ministers and be absolutely certain, without any doubts or qualifications that no Minister has any conflicting interests or any other matter which may prevent them fully and freely discharging their duties.
I have already prepared my Statement of Interests, which is fuller than I am obliged to provide under Standing Orders, and I will circulate this to members separately. I would hope that my team of Ministers would each agree to issue a similar statement.
The recording of Ministerial decisions is vital to the work of the Council and its reputation. I would ensure that all decisions are recorded correctly and in an open and easily accessible manner.
There has been much debate about Collective Responsibility and I am a great believer that any successful team needs to agree how they will operate together. I would propose to the Council that we will work towards consensus but when that is not possible, we should agree how to handle disagreements. My proposal will be that any Minister can register their dissent and then, providing the Council is fully aware of and properly informed of their intentions, feel free to express their views in public and, if they wish bring a Proposition of their own to the States.
Good communications will be vital to Ministerial Government and I would wish to propose to the Council that we adopt a pro-active and open strategy towards communicating with, and involving the public with our decisions.
There has, in my view to be a good mix between consultation and the ability and willingness of the Council to take decisions. The new system of Consultation and Policy Papers will go a long way towards achieving this and towards convincing the public that they are being listened to and that they can and will have an influence on Ministerial decisions.
I have frequently said that good and well-structured scrutiny is vital to the success of Ministerial Government. While acknowledging that there will be healthy disagreement - and that is a strength of the system we have introduced - I would want Ministers to co-operate and work closely with the Scrutiny Panels. There is nothing to fear from considered well thought-out Scrutiny and, provided the panels work to the ethos of the “critical friend” and do not become a pseudo opposition, they will play an integral and essential role in developing a system of Government in which we can all take pride.
Similarly, I would hope to establish mutual respect and a close working relationship between the Council, the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor-General.
I have always supported the Honorary system and I would want to see an enhanced role for the Comité des Connétables. Towards this end I would want to propose to my Council that the Chairman should sit in and participate in Ministerial discussions, although without a vote. I would also want to reach early agreement between the Council and the Comité on their role which would include regular meetings between us.
The introduction of Ministerial Government will change the relationship between the political body and the Crown Officers.
It is of the greatest importance to Jersey that there is a close understanding and good working relationship between the Chief Minister and the Bailiff. It would do the Island immeasurable harm if there were clear divisions between the two. I would work to ensure this would not happen.
There is a similar need for trust and a close understanding between the Chief Minister and the Attorney-General and his Officers. As with all jurisdictions which have strong and successful democracies, the Chief Minister and the Council will need to rely upon the Attorney-General, and the Law Officers for clear, impartial and sound legal advice. Equally the Attorney-General should be entitled to expect Ministers to respect and take fully into account, though not necessarily always adopt their advice.
I hope Members accept that this is a comprehensive outline of my policies and how I would approach the task of being Jersey’s first Chief Minister. Some members may feel that it is too ambitious. I accept that it would stretch our resources and ability to the full. Having said that, much of these policies are those of the current Strategic Plan, which we are already making good progress in implementing, and I repeat my view that our targets should be challenging.
The position of Chief Minister carries much wider responsibilities than that of a Committee President and I recognise that if elected, I will have to adopt a new approach. In the various presidencies I have held in the past, I have had to concentrate on particular areas of responsibility that have been largely financial, economic and international, while others have worked on Island social issues.
If elected as Chief Minister I will, working with and relying heavily upon my team, focus on all the major issues and in particular work to create greater social justice, inclusion, opportunity and pride within our community.
One of the most successful aspects of my time at the Guiton Group was the time I spent talking to employees and “walking the floor”. If elected, I would want to develop that ethos and spend time with island residents from all walks of life. I want to be a Chief Minister who meets the people and who listens to their problems and ideas. At the same time I would be a Chief Minister who is not afraid to take tough, and at times, unpopular decisions if they are clearly in the best long-term interests of the community.
I have always worked hard for Jersey, its people and its ways, and I look forward in continuing that work if given the opportunity serve as the Island’s first Chief Minister.
I will of course be only too happy to answer Members’ questions either on 5th December or before should they wish to contact me.
My telephone numbers are:-
Mobile : 07797 715 779
Home : [answer-phone if I’m out] 832400
ELECTION OF CHIEF MINISTER DESIGNATE
1. Welcome and nominations - Senator S. Syvret and Senator F.H. Walker
2. Senator S. Syvret
3.1 Senator M.E. Vibert
3.2 Deputy F.J. Hill of St. Martin
3.3 Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier
3.4 Senator P.F. Routier
3.5 Deputy A. Breckon of St. Saviour
3.6 The Connétable of St. Ouen
3.7 Deputy R.C. Duhamel of St. Saviour
3.8 Deputy P.V.F. Le Claire of St. Helier
3.9 Deputy R.G. Le Herissier of St. Saviour
3.10 Deputy P.N. Troy of St. Brelade
3.11 Deputy A.D. Lewis of St. John
3.12 Deputy J.G. Reed of St. Ouen
3.13 The Dean
3.14 Senator P.F.C. Ozouf
4. Invitation to Senator F.H. Walker
5. Senator F.H. Walker
6.1 Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier of St. Saviour
6.2 Senator M.E. Vibert
6.3 The Deputy of St. Martin
6.4 Connétable M.K. Jackson of St. Brelade
6.5 Deputy J.B. Fox of St. Helier
6.6 Deputy C.H. Egre of St. Peter
6.7 Deputy K.C. Lewis of St. Saviour
6.8 Deputy C.F. Labey of Grouville
6.9 Deputy A.E. Pryke of Trinity
6.10 Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier
6.11 Senator P.F. Routier
6.12 Deputy A. Breckon
6.13 Deputy G.P. Southern
6.14 Deputy P.V.F. Le Claire
6.15 Deputy P.N. Troy
6.16 The Dean
6.17 The Deputy of St. John
6.18 Deputy C.J. Scott Warren of St. Saviour
6.19 Deputy P.J.D. Ryan of St. Helier
6.20 Deputy P.J.D. Ryan
6.21 Deputy J.A. Martin of St. Helier
8. Result of ballot
9. Senator F.H. Walker - appreciation to members
10. Senator S. Syvret - appreciation to members
11. Senator F.H. Walker - appreciation to Senator S. Syvret
12. Adjournment (next meeting 8th December 2005)
Appendix 1 Senator S. Syvret
Appendix 2 Senator F.H. Walker]