Compiled and Transcribed by J. Brock (FINN)
Papers Laid on the Table and Questions for Oral Answer
A meeting of Legislative Assembly took place at 0900hrs on Thursday, 27 February 2014 at 0900hrs in the FI Chamber of Commerce Function Room. Present were MLAs Cheek, Elsby, Hansen, Poole, Rendell, Short and Summers. The Hon Mr Roger Edwards, MLA Edwards was away for medical reasons. Also present was the Speaker of the House the Hon Mr Keith Biles, the Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett, the Financial Secretary, the Hon Mrs Nicola Granger, the Attorney General the Hon Mr Mark Lewis and the Clerk of Council the Hon Mrs Claudette Anderson-Prior, MBE.
Prayers were said by Dr the Rev Richard Hines of Christ Church Cathedral and the Hon Mr Keith Biles reminded those present about turning off or rendering silent mobile phones.
The Hon Mrs Claudette Anderson-Prior, MBE announced the confirmation of the record of Legislative Assembly held on 31 January 2014. The Speaker of the House the Hon Mr Keith Biles signed the document as a true record.
Papers Lain on the Table
The following papers were laid on the table by the Hon the Chief Executive Mr Keith Padgett:
IAW the Public Accounts ordinance 2009 Section 11 C; a letter too requires the Public Accounts Committee of examining the Fisheries Audit Report July 2013 and have full comment.
Questions for Oral Answer
Question No 1 of 2014 by Dr the Hon Barry Elsby:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, would the Honourable Mike Summers please advise how many work permits have been granted to individual adults over the last 5 years who subsequently applied to bring family members into the Islands. How many adults and children and their age ranges were admitted in this way? Were these family members submitted to health screening and Police checks?
Answer by the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I am grateful to the members of the Department of Immigration for some notes on this issue.
The total number of persons over the last 5 calendar years and up to the 20th of February 2014 coming to the Falklands on work permits and subsequently applying to have family members join them is 40. The total number of persons admitted in this way is 62 of which 31 are adults, the majority of whom subsequently took up full-time employment and correspondingly required work permits in their own right. There were therefore 31 children. The age ranges of the 31 children that were admitted in this way are as follows:
1. 0 to 3 Years, 12, 6 of whom were born here.
2. 4 to 10 Years, 12
3. and from 11 to 16 (Senior School age) 7.
All family applicants of dependents referred to were fully screened IAW immigration entry requirements, which include health checks and for those aged 16 or older character checks. I am happy to provide some supplementary information if required.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, thank you very much for that information.
Question No 2 of 2014 by the Hon Gavin Short:
Is Falkland Islands History taught as part of the History Syllabus and if so could the Honourable Barry Elsby please give the House some detail?
Answer by Dr the Hon Barry Elsby, MLA:
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for the question. I would also like to thank the Education Department for some notes on the subject.
My Colleague will be pleased to know that the History of the Falkland Islands is taught throughout all the schools in the Falkland Islands starting from the very youngest up until the time people leave the Community School.
In Foundation years 1 and 2 and Year 1 of the Infant/Junior School the sort of things they learn about are what life was like years ago compared to what it is like now what toys did they play with then that they dont play with now? (The use of horses, for instance, on our streets and farms that we dont see any more)
As they progress through Year 2, they start again to talk about how the shops were years ago what sort of foods could you attain that you cant see now how much better is it now despite how we think there are problems with fuel supply. And in Year 2 they go on to talk about the Peat Slip as well.
Year 3 they start talking about the role of John Davis on Important battles in the History of the Falkland Islands and who he was in the History of the Falkland Islands.
Year 4 we move on to looking at changes in the Falkland Islands since 1982 and in Year 5 they look at life in Lafonia. I am not sure what they mean by life in Lafonia but it is to look at how things went on there. And of course, when we get to year 6 we are talking about Victorian Times in the Falkland Islands and moving on to the Alistair Cameron History Project. A fair amount is covered in the Infant/ Junior School.
When we move on to the Community School History continues to be taught and certainly in Years 7 and 8 it is part of the History lessons that talk about the Falklands Conflict. But also talked about is the role of the Falkland Islands and Islanders in WWI and in WWII. And there are more courses on the History of the Falkland Islands within the Citizenship Course. In year 7 during that course they look at the Falkland Islands from discovery until the move to Stanley. In Year 8 they look more at a Social History of the Falkland Islands how farming has developed and the change we have seen in the lifestyles out in Camp. In Year 10, for instance, there is an in-depth study of the Political History of the region. the claims by Argentina what does Self-Determination mean? And How have the Falkland Islands presented themselves at the United Nations.
Of course 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Coronel and that of the Falkland Islands. And both schools will be looking at the implications of those battles on the Falkland Islands and indeed on the world.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
GS: Honourable members, I would like to thank the Hon Barry Elsby for that very thorough answer and I am actually very happy with that answer as well. It is only through knowing the history of your country can you form a national identity. Knowing where you came from gives you the feeling of where you are. I do thank him and, of course, all the school for teaching our history.
Question No 3 of 2014 by the Hon Gavin Short:
Mr Speaker can the Honourable Mike Summers please advise of the present situation with the legislation that is required to implement spot fines and when it may be before this House please?
Answer by the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA (for The Hon Mr Roger Edwards, MLA):
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, as you will recall policy approval was given by Executive Council in December 2012 for the drafting of legislation to implement a fixed penalty scheme in connection with some road traffic ordinances -this in itself being conditional on changes to the Constitution some time earlier.
And various people were consulted, particularly the Police and the Courts, who will play significant roles in the administration of the scheme. As part of that consultation a number of practical issues were identified which needed to be resolved. Revised legislation was subsequently produced in July of 2013. There has been a substantial delay in moving to consult the Police and Courts on the reliance of the legislation because of staff shortages in the Attorney Generals Chambers over a lengthy period. I think we are all aware that they were both short of staff in some areas and had a heavy workload in terms of priorities and indeed some important court work.
However, the Attorney Generals Chambers are now back to full strength with effect from the end of February. The draft legislation is being progressed again.
So subject to satisfactory consultation in due course, after issues have been resolved in revised drafts, the legislation should be submitted for approval quite soon, with the potential for the scheme to be implemented by the beginning of the new financial year so by the end of June early July.
GS: I would just like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his reply and look forward to seeing it before this House.
Motion Number 3 of 2014 by the Honourable Phyl Rendell
That this House approves and adopts the attached Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure for the Prerogative of Mercy Committee
Proposed by the Honourable Mrs Phyl Rendell, MLA
In rising to support this Motion, I would like to say a few words about the Prerogative of Mercy, particularly for the public as well as for the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy is to advise the Governor in relation to his powers of pardon, which are set out in Section 71 of the Constitution. This section allows, among other things, for the Governor to pardon someone convicted of an offence or grant someone respite. This might entail, for example, letting someone serving a prison sentence attending a funeral of a close relative.
Under Section 90 of the Criminal Justice ordinance the Committee is also under the duty to advise the Governor on licencing or licences. Offenders can be released on licence under the current ordinance and the Governor can vary or cancel conditions of a licence. There are currently no terms of reference for a committee to advise the Governor as the Committee meets infrequently.
However, the Attorney General considers that it would be prudent to have some more advice and he subsequently prepared some very straight forward terms of reference for our consideration today.
The Committee comprises of from the Officers side, the Attorney General, the Chief medical officer, and the Chief Executive; and there are two MLAs appointed to the committee. That is myself currently and also the Honourable Jan Cheek.
The terms of reference the Attorney General has set out for us to consider today really look at procedure and how we would proceed to hear a case. A case would be referred to the Governor and all the information would be gathered and sent to the Attorney General and he would then call a meeting of the Committee. The Committee may require further information and have to meet several times. In addition the offender may be called to answer questions or be interviewed by the panel. When the Committee is satisfied that it has all the information it needs the Members will carefully consider what advice to give to the Governor. And it must give the reasons for that advice. And then the Governor has no obligation to follow that advice.
Mr Speaker, I propose the Motion.
Seconded by the Honourable the Chief Executive Mr Keith Padgett
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, as the Honourable Mrs Phyl Rendell said the Committee meets only infrequently but it is essential that proper procedure is in place so that we can make decisions that are consistently made and that are based on proper facts and proper processes. So I therefore second the Motion.
There were no further speakers.
The Hon Speaker, Mr Keith Biles:
The Motion That this House approves and adopts the attached Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure for the Prerogative of Mercy Committee is therefore passed
Motion Number 4 of 2014 by the Honourable Mike Summers OBE
That this House adopts the attached Protocol on Roles of Members of the Legislative Assembly and Officers of the Falkland Islands Government as approved in Executive Council on 29 January 2014.
Proposed by the Honourable Mr Mike Summers, MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, this is an important document. It is always tempting to think that pieces of work like this are just pieces of bureaucracy but this is not. This is an important document because as we moved from being part time Members to full time members the way that we do our business is bound to change. And what is expected of us by the public is bound to change.
This work started out quite some time ago because even before the advent of our full time members it was identified by the virtual review of the Government and the subsequent review of the Government by Irene Lucas that there ought to be a protocol set out where the interface was between Elected Members and the Public Service. Elected Members are responsible for policy and strategy and the Public Service are responsible for delivery. That is in essence what the protocol says. Of course there is much more detail than that.
And also as we move towards more and fuller self-government members will want to be taking a more proactive role a more formal role, if you like, in the management of the departments for which they have responsibility. Thats quite right but that is not and should not be a mandate to medal in the affairs and the responsibility of the Public Service to deliver on our behalf.
So the protocol works in two different directions. It makes directives clear about their responsibilities to keep members informed as to what is going on in their departments and the policy decisions and strategies need to be considered; It gives members guidance on how far they can go in trying to influence management issues that are the responsibility of portfolio area.
So it attempts to set some boundaries. It will be for Members and Directors to work together to make sure about what those boundaries are and to create a relationship so that they have a department thats working for the very best interests of the people of the Falkland Islands and the need for all to understand and operate the boundaries on both sides. That really is the purpose of this protocol.
Mr Speaker, I support I propose the Motion.
Seconded by: The Honourable the Chief Executive
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, as you will be aware, after a recent Adjournment speech on the Motion that is put before this House, other than to move relevant business, simply because I feel it is for Elected Members to express political views, not officials.
However, on this occasion, I intend to break with that tradition since I think this is such an important document. This is because last November we took an important step in improving the self-government of our Islands that lead to our first full-time Assembly. Some might mistakenly think that we can simply carry on as before with even more meetings they are required to attend. Some might even think thats whats happened.
However, if that was all we intended, we would be missing a great opportunity. To my mind we must fully embrace this change and the implications and obligations following from it.
In the past the distinction between roles and responsibilities of part-time elected members and full time officials has often been blurred and sometimes even non-existent. Although generally this collaborative approach is good as well it had its disadvantages.
In the future we still need to maintain the pro-active approach. We need to be much clearer about who does what. Otherwise we might have several different threads running with no one assuming over-all control, or worse still, several people trying to wrestle control from each other.
Going forward, we need to manage the process of government and political leadership more efficiently and more effectively. And thats why this protocol is so important. It sets out clearly and succinctly what our respective roles are and how we should all work together to set and achieve the objectives of Government.
All managers within FIG will shortly be receiving copies of the protocol for circulation on the directives, if they havent already. In addition an abbreviated and less formal summary has been prepared as a quick reference guide. I would urge all to read the protocol and quick guide not just Elected Members and Public Servants. Its important that everyone knows who is responsible for what.
Mr Speaker, although this is a fairly short document, it is the result of a considerable amount of discussion and effort and I would like to thank, in particular, the Attorney General for his work on that. I am not saying that the document is perfect or even that it is cast in stone. It will no doubt develop as our government develops. This is only the starting point. I am therefore pleased to second the Motion.
IH: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would just like to say I concur with the Honourable Mile Summers and the Honourable Chief Executive on the importance of this document. It is very clear in its purpose and I am very pleased to see this Motion come before this House.
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, its a very welcome move. We worked for some time on this document with officers.
Its all too easy particularly for a Member with great enthusiasm to over-step their constitutional role. It is also a pretty serious issue in my view of a simple courtesy which this spells out quite strongly. Out of not my fault exactly in the past we unfortunately had occasion to write to another Member regarding their conduct towards Civil Servants. Its a very difficult thing to do and a very sad thing to have to do. We can disagree with the advice given to us by Civil Servants but it should always be done in a calm, courteous manner. And I am sure the reverse applies to Civil Servants who might disagree with what members were proposing.
I support the Motion.
PR: I would like to rise to support this Motion. I really welcome it. I think it reflects a change in the Government and we are now full time Members. I have some concerns that I will address later today about the changes I think we need but I am very pleased to see this change to Standing Orders. I welcome the opportunity to present Bills. I see my Colleagues are presenting all of them. They will be highly technical and I am sure we prefer the talented Officers to present those but we do welcome that move. I am really pleased that the Chief Executive says that the protocol will be distributed to all the Members of the Civil Service and the possibility in a shortened version so that they are aware of the change and how we thought about the interface as MLAs with Officers. So I would think it was fairly straight forward and I support the piece of work. The Attorney General is preparing it. I support it. Thank you.
The Hon Speaker, Mr Keith Biles:
The Motion That this House adopts the attached Protocol on Roles of Members of the Legislative Assembly and Officers of the Falkland Islands Government as approved in Executive Council on 29 January 2014 is therefore passed.