Billet Blog: 21 September 2016


Billet Blog: 21 September 2016

The first States meeting of the autumn was over in a morning. All the items were passed, with very little debate. The second meeting, on 21 September, is likely to have more substance – and this blog is longer as a consequence. Key items include updating our Extradition Legislation, bringing in Equal Marriage laws, and constituting an Employment Advisory Panel for the new Population Management regime. I have covered all the items below – please skim through and dip into those that interest you!

Billet d’Etat XXIII – 21 September 2016 (read it online here)

Part One: Elections and Appointments

Item 1:1 – States Trading Supervisory Board – President (link). Responsible Committee: Policy and Resources.

The first President of the States Trading Supervisory Board was Deputy Dave Jones, who passed away earlier this year. This item seeks to appoint a successor.

The States Trading Supervisory Board acts as shareholder, on behalf of the States, for the States-owned companies (including Guernsey Electricity, Guernsey Post, and the companies which own Aurigny and the island’s fuel carriers); and is responsible for the efficient running of the States’ trading bodies and commercial interests, ranging from the harbour and airport to the States’ property services and the Channel Islands lottery.

The President of the Supervisory Board is nominated by the Policy and Resources Committee – the Assembly votes to accept or reject the nomination. There is no option for alternative nominations from the floor. In a separate policy letter, the Policy and Resources Committee give their rationale for nominating Deputy Charles Parkinson, noting his relevant skills and experience. It is also noted that he will resign from his role as a Director of Bailiwick Investments Limited if elected, to avoid a possible conflict of interest in connection with the island’s waste strategy.

Currently, the only member of the States Trading Supervisory Board is Deputy Jeremy Smithies. Along with the President, the States will be appointing two non-States Members to take the Board up to full complement. Their appointment is covered under Item 1:2, below.

Item 1:2 – States Trading Supervisory Board – Non-States Members (link). Responsible Committee: Policy and Resources.

When the States Trading Supervisory Board was designed by the States Review Committee (see p180-5), it was intended to “allow for the recruitment of appropriate skills and experience and proper democratic oversight” of the States’ commercial interests: in other words, the Board should be made up of a mix of States’ and non-States’ members. Initially, the Committee proposed a minimum of two States’ and two non-States’ members. Unusually, the non-States’ members are to have full voting rights on the Board.

All the roles are directly nominated by the Policy and Resources Committee. We have been advised that the nominees for the two non-States roles are John Hollis and Stuart Falla: both of whom have extensive commercial experience, as well as a good knowledge of States’ business (Mr Falla as a former States Member, and Mr Hollis as a non-voting member of T&R in the last term). P&R’s policy letter on the constitution of the Supervisory Board includes both men’s CVs. Their appointment follows an open recruitment process, which is also described in the policy letter.

Part Two: Propositions

Item 2:1 – Extradition Legislation (link). Responsible Committee: Home Affairs.

Extradition is the process of removing a person from one country, at the request of another country, to stand trial for crimes in that second country. It is not the same as deportation, which is intended to remove people who have no right to be in a given country. A country can extradite its own citizens if they have committed crimes in, or against the citizens of, another country.

Having an effective and fair extradition process is clearly in the interests of justice and of our international reputation, but it is also not without risk. We seek to hold ourselves to the highest standards in our own justice system. When preparing to hand our citizens over to the justice system of another country, we need assurance that there, too, they will not be unjustly deprived of their liberty nor subjected to human rights abuses. According to last year’s House of Lords review (see p108), having sufficient assurance in this respect continues to be one of the weaker aspects of the UK regime.

For such a serious matter, the policy letter itself is very slim – so I’m grateful to all the members of the Committee for Home Affairs who have engaged with my concerns and helped to explain it further.

The basic argument is simple. Extradition in the Bailiwick of Guernsey is governed by the UK’s Extradition Act 1989. This law has been repealed in the UK and replaced by the Extradition Act 2003, but was retained in the Channel Islands until we developed our own modern extradition regimes. Jersey implemented new laws in 2004; Guernsey still has not done so. We clearly need to update our legislation as a matter of priority, and I welcome Home Affairs’ commitment to doing this.

It is recommended that we base our legislation on the UK’s, as Jersey has done. Broadly speaking, under UK law, the person must be accused of a crime which would be punished by a sentence of at least 12 months in the UK and in the accusing country (defined as an “extradition offence”). If a person is accused of an “extradition offence”, they will be extradited, unless one of the small number of bars to extradition applies. The person who is extradited does not have to be a citizen of the country to which they are extradited – what matters is that their crime took place, or had effect, in that country. Based on our status as an international finance centre, it is perhaps most likely that extradition would be needed for financial crimes (as happened in Jersey in 2010) – having up-to-date and effective legislation is therefore another important aspect of being a high-quality, well-regulated jurisdiction for international business.

The policy letter asks us to direct the Committee for Home Affairs to return to the States with modern draft extradition legislation. There are just three areas where I would have welcomed more information ahead of this. They are not discussed in depth in the policy letter, but may well be covered in the Committee’s formal response to questions I sent them last week, or in the President’s speeches in the States. With apologies for the length of this item, I’ve covered each of them briefly below. They are: the concerns about standards; the responsibility for determining extradition requests; and the question of “addressing extradition within the British Isles”.

Concerns about standards – Since the introduction of the 2003 Extradition Act, there have been various reviews of it, including, in 2011, a Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Human Rights Implications of UK Extradition Policy and an independent Review of the United Kingdom’s Extradition Arrangements chaired by Sir Scott Baker (with the government’s response here). These reviews resulted in further updates to the UK’s extradition legislation. In 2015 there was a House of Lords Select Committee report on Extradition: UK Law and Practice. The government’s response is here, but I don’t think that this has yet resulted in any further changes to policy.

In the most recent House of Lords report, it notes that: “Assurances [promises, given by countries with a poor human rights record, that a person extradited to that country will not suffer human rights abuse] are only used where serious fears of human rights breaches have been demonstrated. … We believe the arrangements in place for monitoring assurances are flawed. It is clear that there can be no confidence that assurances are not being breached … It is questionable, in our view, whether the UK can be as certain as it should be that it is meeting its human rights obligations.”

For the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting that we can do better than the UK. On the contrary, I am afraid that, if even the UK does not have a wholly satisfactory framework for monitoring assurances, then Guernsey, which has only a tiny infrastructure for international relations, is unlikely to be able to come anywhere close. I assume that, in effect, we will rely directly on the UK to advise us whether there should be any changes to the extradition relationships we have with other countries – although they are not perfect either, I think this is the only workable way forward. Having discussed it with the Committee for Home Affairs and with Deputy Le Tocq as External Affairs lead, I get the impression this is how it is likely to work in practice. It is not, however, directly addressed in the report, and is an area where I would welcome greater clarity.

Responsibility for determining extradition requests – In the UK, extradition requests are determined by the Home Secretary in her capacity as Secretary of State. In Jersey, they are determined by the Attorney General. It is recommended that, in Guernsey, the equivalent role (HM Procureur) should have responsibility.

I understand that other possible role-holders were considered: including, in particular, the Lieutenant-Governor, who currently has a similar responsibility in respect of deportation cases. The Committee’s conclusion was that HM Procureur was the appropriate choice; noting, in the words of one Committee member, that “the role of the Jersey Attorney General in extradition is already up and running and has proved to be constitutionally safe and acceptable.”

I wholeheartedly agree with the Committee that the role should not be a political appointment – indeed, to quote the same Committee member, that it should “be outside the political establishment and yet enjoy public confidence in his/her competence and integrity.” While the Committee’s reasoning is not included in the policy letter, I think it is important to have a clear record of how they, and consequently the States, decided how to allocate this significant responsibility.

Addressing extradition within the British Isles – The policy letter recommends that “the opportunity be taken to address extradition within the British Isles, which is an issue currently governed … by various other enactments, and greater consistency and clarity would be beneficial.” There is no further information about the current legislation or what it covers, and how it is envisaged that this will change. If I understand correctly, this is an additional section of legislation which would not be covered by copying across the UK Extradition Act, and therefore one where we need at least an outline of what is intended to be involved.

The only other area where I would wish to know more is the potential legal aid implications, if any, of the new regime – simply because one of my Committees, Employment and Social Security, is now responsible for the Legal Aid service. As with the other points outlined above, I trust this will be addressed in the debate, if not before.

Item 2:2 – Date of States’ Meetings 2017-2018 (link). Responsible Committee: States Assembly and Constitution.

In keeping with the Rules of Procedure, a schedule of States Meeting dates for the following year are agreed each September, twelve months in advance.

As part of the changes to the structure of government, the States has moved from monthly meetings (with reserve dates for excess business) to three-weekly meetings (without reserve dates). While most Committees and States’ bodies meet year-round, there are no full States Meetings during school holidays. For 2017-18, however, the proposed meeting dates will tie in with the States’ school holidays rather than the Colleges’, meaning that the summer “recess” will be six weeks long, compared to the eight or nine weeks it has been for the past few years. This ought to have the effect of spacing States’ business more evenly throughout the year.

The list of dates for 2016-17 can be accessed here and the proposed dates for 2017-18 are available here.

Item 2:3 – Population Management Regime – Membership of the Population Advisory Panel (link). Responsible Committee: Home Affairs.

In early 2012, the States resolved to introduce a Population Management regime to replace our current system of housing control. The new regime “would be based on a system of Permits for Residence and Employment.” This was the result of debate on a comprehensive report setting out the likely shape of the new regime, following several years of research and consultation.

The details of the new regime continued to be revised over the course of the last States term. In 2013 there was a further debate on the principles. In 2014, the rules governing when children born or living in Guernsey can become permanent residents were revised. In 2015, the States agreed to set up a statutory office, the Administrator of Population Management, to implement the regime; established clear rules for the open market housing register; and made provisions for the transition from one regime to the next. At the end of the year, the States’ population objective was amended, with the aim of ensuring enough flexibility to respond to emerging social and economic needs. Finally, just before the 2016 Election, the States approved the new Population Management law, which will come into effect in April 2017.

There is a compendium of useful information available online at, including guides for local residents and for employers. The States has also offered a number of Masterclasses for employers, running throughout 2016 and 2017.

As part of the development of the new regime, the States agreed to set up an independent Population Advisory Panel. The Panel would advise the States on skills shortages, and shortages of labour, within the on-island workforce, which will inform the development of population management policies, especially relating to employment, by the Committee for Home Affairs. The Panel will be made up of people representing different sectors of the island’s economy.

This policy letter amends the Panel’s name to “Population Employment Advisory Panel”, making it clearer that its role is to advise on employment-related matters. As there are only six seats on the Panel (apart from the Chair), and a wide range of local employment sectors, industries have been grouped together to try and make it as representative as possible. The six seats are: Construction, Infrastructure & Utilities; E-Industry & Potential New Sectors; Finance & Professional Services; Public Sector, Health & Education; Service Industries; and Tourism & Hospitality.

These groupings generally reflect the major employment sectors in Guernsey (p13). Construction, gas-, electricity- and water-related jobs, and transport and storage account for about 14% of the workforce; hostelry, recreation and other service activities for about 9%; public administration, health and education for 23%; and finance and professional services for 27%. The anomaly is “e-industry and potential new sectors”, which is currently a very small sector (3% of the workforce are in information and communication) – but, if we want to prepare for the future, it makes sense to have a voice for emerging trends. On the other hand, some of Guernsey’s smaller but more traditional industries, including farming and growing, are not represented; there is not an obvious voice for retail (about 12% of the workforce), which is not necessarily a perfect fit with service industries; nor is there anyone on the Panel who understands patterns of unemployment in the island.

The proposed Panel members are: Larry Granger, Chair of the Confederation of Guernsey Industry (Construction, Infrastructure & Utilities); Tony Brassell, General Manager of Start-Up Guernsey and IoD branch officer (E-industry & Potential New Sectors); Elaine Gray, Partner at Carey Olsen (Finance & Professional Services); Tim Langlois, States of Guernsey HR Director (Public Sector, Health & Education); Mark Edgar, Managing Director of AFM and IoD member (Service Industries); and Kenrick Brooks, Operations Director of the Liberation Group and Chamber Tourism Sub-Group member (Tourism & Hospitality). The proposed Chair is a former States Member, Peter Gillson, who also has public sector and business experience.

Nominations for these positions were put forward by the Chamber of Commerce, the CGi, the Building Trades Employers Association, GIBA, the IoD, Start-Up Guernsey and the States’ Human Resources function. For the avoidance of doubt, however, Panel members are chosen for their own expertise – they are not elected representatives of the businesses or workforce in their sector, although it will of course be helpful if they do consult with others and bring to the table a wider range of perspectives than just their own. We note that the creation of an Advisory Panel was widely welcomed by local employers – as with every aspect of the new Population Management regime, however, it is likely there will be some early hiccups and scope for gradual improvement in the first few years of the new regime, as new processes and ways of working are put into place.

In a Letter of Comment – the first of its kind we’ve seen under the new structure of the States – the Policy and Resources Committee has signalled its full support for the proposals in this policy letter.

Item 2:4 – Gambling (Betting and Crown & Anchor) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 (link). Responsible Committee: Home Affairs.

The Gambling (Crown & Anchor) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1983, allows crown and anchor to be played at various events, so long as these are held “principally out of doors”. In July 2015, the States agreed that this wording, limiting crown and anchor to outdoors events, should be removed, in response to a growing number of requests from charities to hold crown and anchor tables at indoor fundraising events. This ordinance puts that decision into effect.

In addition, this ordinance updates various fees. Under the Gambling (Betting) Ordinance, 1973, the cost of a bookmaker’s licence will rise from £800 to £1,000 per year; a betting office licence will increase from £1,600 to £2,000 per year; and a credit betting office licence from £400 to £500 per year. Fees for authorisation of bookmakers’ agents will increase from £40 to £100. The cost of an occasional bookmaker’s licence will increase from £40 to £50, with the deposit increasing from £100 to £300.

Under the Crown and Anchor Ordinance, the fee for an operator’s licence will increase from £50 to £150, and the fee for a table permit will rise from £50 to £100 per day.

In the absence of another explanation, it must be assumed that these increases – about 25% in the majority of cases, but 150% in the case of bookmaker’s agent authorisations and 200% in respect of crown and anchor operators’ licences, compared to an inflation rate of 0.6% – must be, at least in part, in preparation for the Committee for Home Affairs’ need to find 3% budget savings in 2017. I cannot criticise them for this: I fully support the principle of requiring those who can afford to pay more to do so, in order that essential services can continue to be provided to those who cannot afford them. However, this is surely a trailer for the challenges that lie ahead. If one Committee’s response to a 3% budget reduction is to hike income, finding 5% savings in 2018 and 2019 is likely to involve some pretty tough choices, across the States.

Item 2:5 – Same-Sex Marriage (Guernsey) Law, 2016 (link). Responsible Committee: Employment and Social Security.

This legislation implements the States’ decision made in December 2015, to extend marriage legislation to same-sex couples.

That was a rare debate, touching on what it means to be human, to love and to live well together: philosophical questions which underpin the business of politics, but which rarely emerge so openly into daylight. It unified most of the Assembly around values we almost all share – the importance of choosing and committing to another person; of creating a stable, loving environment for a family – the profound heart of our everyday lives. I remember sitting in the office by myself, last December, listening to the States debate, unexpectedly floored by it: by Deputy Soulsby’s compassionate speech and Deputy St Pier’s compelling one; by generous personal testimony from Peter Harwood and Andy Le Lievre; by gracious recognition, on the part of Alderney Representative Louis Jean, of how his family had changed his mind in the months leading up to that Meeting. For those who missed the meeting, the Hansard is well worth a read (and even a nerd like me doesn’t say that often!).

As someone who stands to benefit from this legislation, it is a rare privilege to be on the Committee tasked with bringing it forward. It also requires me to be honest about its limitations, where they exist.

As a Committee, we agreed that our priority was to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible. After all, even if the States approves it next week, it still has to go through the same approval process as all new laws – which includes being signed off by the Privy Council in the UK – so it will be several months yet before same-sex couples can get married in Guernsey.

In order to do so, we’ve modelled our legislation pretty closely on the UK’s – including the rather silly failure to define adultery between people of the same sex. This was an issue flagged in the 2015 debate, and a number of States Members indicated the importance of moving to a “no-fault” system of divorce (for couples of any gender). Further developments of Guernsey’s marriage law, including the introduction of such a system, would, we believe, be the responsibility of the Policy and Resources Committee.

It will also not be possible for couples who are already in a civil partnership to convert their civil partnership into a Guernsey marriage. This is because Guernsey never had civil partnerships, so couples will necessarily have entered into them under the law of another country. We were concerned that this could become problematic if a couple decided to divorce – they could dissolve their marriage under Guernsey law, but there would be no guarantee that the jurisdiction in which they entered a civil partnership would recognise that as putting an end to their original civil partnership. This could have all manner of consequences, adding additional stress and complication to the already-difficult process of divorce; and we could not find a straightforward and effective work-around.

Lastly, I happen to think it is absurd that the law contains specific provisions reflecting the fact that the Church of England will not marry same-sex couples. The general position is that religious organisations can opt in to solemnising same-sex marriages (no organisation will be forced to marry a couple against its beliefs), but there is an additional lock-out for the Church of England, which means the law itself will need to be changed if the church adopts a more inclusive position in future. I understand this lock-out is a consequence of the Church of England being the established church, and my dislike of it is equally a result of my strong belief that church and state should be entirely separate. But it would not have been worth picking a fight with the Church of England about this – I imagine we’d have been unlikely to win, and the draft law would have been significantly delayed in the process.

I was, however, delighted to find that our draft law does not contain the “spousal veto” which has caused much heartache for trans people in the UK. This is an unexpected positive consequence of the fact that Guernsey does not have Gender Recognition laws – a fact which is problematic in itself, but which goes much wider than just the question of equal marriage. It is an issue the Committee for Employment and Social Security is likely to need to revisit in future, given our broader mandate for equality and social inclusion.

Notwithstanding the issues I outlined above, the law itself is a great development which I hope the States will embrace. It has been too long awaited by couples in loving relationships who want to celebrate their love and recognise their commitment to each other in marriage. It’s been too long awaited by the many islanders who want to live in a society which treats all people equally, regardless of who they love and choose to make a life with. Having celebrated Pride joyfully this weekend, Guernsey is surely ready now to bring in equal marriage legislation.

Item 2:6 – Data Protection: Pan-Islands Commissioner and EU General Data Protection Regulation (link). Responsible Committee: Home Affairs.

The EU announced its reformed data protection framework towards the end of 2015. This is made up of two parts: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which covers individual rights in respect of data protection; and a directive which addresses data protection in the context of preventing and responding to crime.

The General Data Protection Regulation and the directive will apply to the personal data of all EU citizens, no matter where it is processed. In other words, if Guernsey companies are doing business with or for EU citizens, they will be handling data which is protected by the rules of this new framework. According to this policy letter, we will need to demonstrate “adequacy” as a jurisdiction – that is, our own data protection legislation will have to convey the same level of protection, in respect of data processed locally, as the EU framework does – in order to continue doing business of any kind with EU citizens from the start of 2018 (when the new framework is in place).

The Committee for Home Affairs has already started work to prepare a comprehensive update to Guernsey’s data protection law, and intends to report back to the States in early 2017. There will be a one-off cost to this, to buy in resources and expertise, which is intended to be funded from the Budget Reserve. In the meanwhile, it is proposed to reappoint the Data Protection Commissioner until the end of 2018, in order to ensure that vital role is still covered while the new legislation is developed.

Data protection has often acquired a bad name unfairly, as an easy excuse for bureaucratic inertia. Fundamentally, however, the principles of data protection are about respecting the privacy of citizens, and preventing undue interference from governments or businesses. In any society which respects civil liberties, data protection has an important role to play. It seems likely that the proposals we’ll receive from Home Affairs will present some challenges in terms of implementation – as a member of the Committee for Health & Social Care, which deals with some of the most sensitive, personal matters there are, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the impact on our services is likely to be. However, from an economic perspective, losing the ability to do business with EU citizens would be unthinkable. And, pending the detail of the proposals which the States will see next year, maintaining decent, up-to-date data protection legislation, which responds to the evolving way in which digital data is shaping our world, is definitely a step in the right direction.

Item 2:7 – Constitution and Membership of the States Trading Supervisory Board (link). Responsible Committee: Policy and Resources.

This policy letter accompanies the first two items, above, relating to the election of a President and non-States Members of the States Trading Supervisory Board. The report explains the process which the Policy and Resources Committee went through to recruit to the roles, and explains why it is nominating these particular candidates (Deputy Charles Parkinson for Chair, and John Hollis and Stuart Falla as non-States Members).

It also recommends that the membership of the Supervisory Board should be fixed at two States Members and two non-States Members for the time being, with a review of how the current structure is working in six months’ time. This is a slight change to the original constitution, which specified a minimum of two States and two non-States Members. The benefit of fixing the numbers more firmly is that it prevents the Board becoming too politician-heavy, which is what the new structure was designed to avoid. However, it seems a shame to lose the flexibility in the original constitution to bring new skills on board; and the same problem could perhaps have been solved by tweaking the constitution to say that the composition will always be 50% States and 50% non-States members, with a quorum being a simple majority of members. It is not the biggest of fish to fry, but it will be interesting to hear the Policy and Resources Committee’s rationale in debate.

Part Three: Legislation Laid Before the States

The items in this section are statutory instruments (orders and regulations) which are agreed and put into action by individual Committees of the States, in line with their powers and duties. The States do not have to approve these (they are in force from the moment the relevant Committee decides) but we do have the power to annul a statutory instrument if we don’t agree with it. This would be quite an unusual move. There won’t be any debate about these items unless there is a motion to annul one of them.

The regulations include updated fees for salle publique licence renewals (now £20) and immunity certificate applications (now £70). For those, like me, who didn’t know, immunity certificates are intended to protect the purchasers of land from action in relation to planning breaches which took place before their purchase.

Following the lifting of UN restrictions on Cote d’Ivoire, there is also an ordinance to repeal earlier legislation which applied the same restrictions locally; and an ordinance which reinforces the provisions of Part XXVII of the Companies Law which protect the assets of each cell in a protected cell company, even when that company goes into administration.

Part Four: Appendix Reports

Item 4:1 – The Ladies’ College Annual Report 2014-15 (link).

The Ladies’ College Annual Report is submitted to the States for information, presumably as a condition of their grant funding or related arrangements.

I am a former student of the Ladies’ College, so I follow their progress with interest. School life looks as lively as I remember it, and it is good to see a clear focus in this annual report on students’ wellbeing (including the introduction of “The Decider” – an award-winning mental wellbeing toolkit developed by two fantastic HSC staff).

Reading the report through political eyes, however, the one little section which I think is the most important is the discussion of the College’s “Value Added” (p3). Value-added measures in education are one way of showing the impact that a school has on improving students’ performance, over and above what they’d be expected to achieve as a result of aptitude or previous attainment. Conceptually, they are a better way of understanding whether a school is doing its job well than just looking at exam grades, which can’t tell you anything about how much progress students have made – but they are quite arcane, and I’m grateful to Education staff for taking the time to talk me through how they work. (This lay explanation from Hymers College may be a useful quick introduction. Unlike Hymers, however, I think the Ladies’ College value-added figures are expressed as a raw score, rather than in terms of the number of GCSE grades added.)

Positive value-added results mean that students are achieving higher grades at GCSE or A-level than would have been predicted earlier on in their education. All of the Ladies’ College results are positive, which is good news (and Appendix 3 appears to show a fairly consistent record of good performance from year to year). As the debate on the future of secondary education continues, it is important that we put more effort into understanding the value which each of our schools adds to their children’s education – I don’t believe these are among the statistics currently published by the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture, but hope that measures of progress will be among the information they publish in future, to help promote a more informed debate.

Item 4:2 – Committee for Health and Social Care – Election of Non-Voting Member (link).

This item notes the appointment of Roger Allsopp as a non-States Member of the Committee for Health and Social Care. Roger served as a non-States Member for the last 18 months of the previous political term, so he brings continuity, as well as extensive knowledge of the island’s health and social care system; a great track record of support for health research, as well as support for many community causes and charities; and his own lifetime of professional experience. We are delighted to have him on board.

Item 4:3 – Committee for Employment and Social Security – Election of Non-Voting Members (link).

This item notes the appointment of Mike Brown and Andy Le Lievre as non-States Members of the Committee for Employment and Social Security. Mike was a non-States Member of the Committee throughout the last term, and again brings continuity, a perspective which balances the Committee well, and financial knowledge which we benefit from on our Investment Sub-Committee. Not having known Mike before he joined us on the Committee, so far I’ve greatly enjoyed working with him. Andy, as a former States Member and civil servant, knows most areas of our mandate inside out, and brings his customary fire and heart to the role. Andy was on the Social Security Department in the 2008-12 States’ term, and last term led the Social Welfare Benefits Investigation Committee, which redesigned the island’s welfare system (see p1924). As the Committee implements those proposals this term, his expertise and insight will be hugely valuable.

Item 4:4 – Committee for Home Affairs – Independent Monitoring Panel – Resignation of Ordinary Members (link).

This item notifies the States that three members of the Prison’s Independent Monitoring Panel resigned from the Panel towards the end of 2015. We are advised that the resignations were for unrelated reasons, and the new Committee for Home Affairs is not currently planning to recruit replacements, as there are still eight people on the Panel. (A little ironically, this follows a decision in January 2015 to remove the cap on the number of members, which was originally set at eight, with the aim of ensuring resilience and not placing ‘unsustainable demands’ on the members).

Item 4:5 – Planning Panel 2015 Annual Report (link)

The Planning Panel provides the membership of the Planning Tribunal, which is responsible for hearing and determining appeals against planning decisions made by the former Environment Department or the current Development and Planning Authority, under the Land Planning and Development (Guernsey) Law, 2005. It currently has eight members, three of whom are members by virtue of their professional experience in planning matters.

This is their annual report, covering Planning appeals determined in 2015. It suggests a slight increase in appeals from year to year, with appeals relating to a refusal of planning permission being consistently the largest category. Of these, about half were determined in favour of the States and half in favour of the appellant.

The report discusses themes that have emerged in the course of determining Planning appeals. Appeals against “protected building” listings were a growing issue this year, and the report explores a number of lessons learned from these appeals. Most interesting for me, from a disability perspective, was the tension between preserving historic features and adapting buildings to be more accessible for people with long-term care needs. With an ageing population, this is an issue which is only likely to become more common in future.

In light of the ongoing debate about the Island Development Plan, to be considered by the States next month, it is also interesting to note that this report points towards a potential review of the Land Planning and Development law (under which that plan is made) – which presumably will be taken forward by the Committee for Environment and Infrastructure in due course.

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