Billet blog: 29 June 2016

Following today’s debate on the States’ Accounts for 2015, the States has an ordinary meeting tomorrow, Wednesday 29 June. We will consider the following items:

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I have a soft spot for smaller communities who want to withdraw from the jurisdiction of larger countries, although I deplore the violence that too often comes with such movements. Their longing for self-governance is no different to our own – and I am proud of, and committed to, our independence. So it is hard for me to condemn the feelings of many British people who voted to leave the EU because they wanted to be “free” of foreign governance.

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Guernsey in Statistics

Last week, States Members met to define a vision for Guernsey and Alderney: the heart of our plan for the next four years and beyond. I blogged beforehand about what this might involve; the Policy & Resources Committee released a short statement afterwards about what we had achieved so far.

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Policy and Resources Plan

Soon after the Policy & Resources Committee first met, it was announced that all States Members would be invited to two workshops to help shape the vision and direction of travel for government policy, for the next four years and beyond. The first of those workshops takes place tomorrow.

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Billet blog: 8 June 2016

Following a month of elections, next Wednesday (8 June) is the first ‘proper’ meeting of the States – a meeting where we will begin to discuss policy proposals and approve legislation.

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This week has been a whirlwind, as we have all been getting to know our new Committees. I have been on the hospital site every day, with Health & Social Care meetings held in the heart of the PEH, in the Vauquiedor Office, and in the award-winning new Oberlands Centre. I have not been able to resist borrowing half of the health policy stock in the Institute library and have even passed the bug on to my colleagues.

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Committee Roles

If you had told me what Committee responsibilities I would take on in the States, a month ago, I would not have believed you. I would have sat myself down and given myself a stern talking to.

Today, I was elected as an ordinary member of the Committee for Health and Social Care, the Committee for Employment and Social Security, and the Transport Licensing Authority. Last week, I had the honour of being elected President of the Overseas Aid and Development Commission.

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President of Policy & Resources

On matters of policy, our new President of Policy & Resources, Gavin St Pier, and I have relatively little in common. He pushed for the closure of one of our secondary schools; I would prefer to retain all four. I am deeply sceptical of the wisdom of issuing a government bond; he introduced it. I will forever be grateful for his superb speech on equal marriage (even in this day and age, coming out was, for me, a fairly traumatic and heartbreaking experience, and that speech felt like the community finally reaching out and saying “you’re home, you’re safe.”) and I believe his commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the Bailiwick is entirely authentic. But I suspect we’ll differ significantly on how that goal can be achieved; and I know that there will be many policy debates in which we find ourselves on opposite sides of the table – because the insights we bring, and the trade-offs we’re prepared to make to secure the wellbeing of our community, are bound to be very different.

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I’ve been involved in disability issues from the start of my career: during my second year as a civil servant, I became the officer responsible for developing the Disability and Inclusion Strategy, which was eventually approved by the States in November 2013. When I left the States and started working in the private sector, I joined the Committee of the Guernsey Disability Alliance as a volunteer, and saw things from the other side.

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The new States will have to hit the ground running on Secondary Education. In theory, the debate on selection is finished and the new Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has been sent away to evaluate possible three-school configurations for the new system.

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