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.
Motion No 5 of 2014 by the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA
That this House approves that standing rule and order 47/7 should be amended to read: All Bills presented in the House shall be deemed Government Bills and as otherwise stated on the Order Paper. Government Bills may be presented in the House by an elected Member whose portfolio responsibilities include the Government Department responsible for the underlying policy relating to the Government bill.
MS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, this is a technical amendment to standing rules and orders to enable Honourable Members to present Bills to the House. I think this is a very welcome development. It gives increased visibility to members in terms of their portfolio responsibilities. It helps to make clear to members of the public the responsibility the individual Members have for legislation thats being passed in their name and also the responsibility that they have for the policies and strategies that undermine that legislation.
It has been the custom in the past for Officers to present Bills. There is nothing wrong with that and Officers have done a very competent job and having (inaudible sounds like ducked) the opportunity to present the Childrens Bill later on I am sure they will continue to do a competent job.
But I think this is an important development. Its just part of what my Honourable Colleague Mrs Rendell was talking about earlier on about the development of responsibility and Members and development of internal self-government and a slow and considerable move towards a Ministerial System.
Sir, I support the Motion.
The Chief Executive, Mr Keith Padgett, seconded the Motion.
KP: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members as the person handing over the reins I am pleased to second the Motion.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would just like to associate myself with the remarks that have already gone before. This is very much part of the evolution in our political system here in the Falklands. And in a way I can see all this flowing from the referendum. This referendum was a defining moment in our history and we must make the best of it and not waste it and keep striving to change systems here in the Falklands so we can take even greater and greater control as years go by.
Sir I Support the Motion.
KB: The Motion that this House approves that standing rule and order 47/7 should be amended to read: All Bills presented in the House shall be deemed Government Bills and as otherwise stated on the Order Paper. Government Bills may be presented in the House by an elected Member whose portfolio responsibilities include the Government Department responsible for the underlying policy relating to the Government bill.
The Motion is therefore passed.
The Portfolio Report of the Hon Mrs Jan Cheek, MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, trade and industry covers so many different areas I have decided to report on a couple of those each time I do a portfolio report.
Firstly I would like to feature the Development Corporation which has gone through a fairly unsettled time and I would like to express my appreciation for work being done by the Acting General Manager, Martin Slater and the financial work done for the organisation by Bob Granger.
In spite of the upheaval, there is good work going on by the other staff members and I would just like to highlight a few of the recent developments.
An oil and gas certification grant scheme was approved by the Falkland Islands Development Board on the 14th of February. The scheme aims to assist local businesses acquire oil and gas relevant certification by providing a grant of up to 50% or up to a maximum of £15,000.00 of the total cost. The objective of the scheme is to assist with preparedness of local businesses to secure contracts or work from the emerging oil and gas industry in the Islands.
Following on from research and consultation with local entrepreneurs in key stakeholders, proposals for the establishment of a business mentoring scheme, the creation of an enterprise publication and the updating of the FIDC website to assist the youth entrepreneurships scheme were approved by the Board. YES aims to educate young people and the public more generally about business economics and free enterprise. Through the assessment of the current business environment, the YES projects can assist current and future entrepreneurs in maximising the (inaudible) potential for the Islands.
You will be aware of the consultation on a credit union. And the results of that consultation held last November were presented to the Board on the 14th of February. Two reports have subsequently been produced based on the results of the consultation and they are available to the public.
The Board also agreed to approve phase 3 of the project which will consist of developing a detailed credit union business plan for the approval of community leaders for the project and to seek political support to continue the project. On that basis Members have asked the Honourable Michael Poole to represent them in that brief.
As project co-ordinator for the Waterfront Development FIDC has established a working group that involves FIG and key stakeholders and land owners of the designated waterfront area. The working group aims to work together in producing a development plan that details new developments or potential developments of the waterfront and will include a schedule of works and designation project managers. The objective is to work towards the Executive Council approval for the development plan in July of this year.
Finally, on FIDC, the 2014 edition of the business climate survey will be distributed to businesses in April. The results of the survey play an instrumental role in shaping the FIDC Business Plan. By providing direction and identifying issues in the Falklands economy that need resolving. I am keen that all business owners take the time to complete the survey and return it to FIDC as all feedback is critical in making us more relevant and effective in developing the economy and businesses of the Falkland Islands.
The second of my responsibilities I want to do a brief summary of today is the Department of Mineral Resources. That department with a very small but efficient staff continues to work with licensed operators to facilitate further exploration and planning for the Sea Lion field.
Exploration is expected to re-commence in 2015 with a multi-well, multi-operator exploratory drilling campaign, covering both North and South Falkland Basin licences. The Falklands have proven themselves able to cope with extended exploration drilling campaigns and it is anticipated that this will bring opportunities and benefits to the community similar to those arising from exploration carried out from 2010 to 2012.
The Department continues to progress the local content code of practice to ensure that local businesses are fully involved with the opportunities that will arise in upcoming offshore exploration and development. Less obvious but still representing a major investment in continuing exploration in the Islands the recent completion of another 3D seismic survey of the South Falklands Basin has added more high quality data within the licence areas operated by Noble Energy.
Offshore environmental survey work continues in gathering valuable baseline data. Significant effort is being expended by FIGs consultants British Geological Survey in interpreting the wealth of new data acquired in recent years so to provide FIG a more independent view of shore based activity.
Progress continues with development planning for the Sea Lion Oilfield Development. The department has a process of regular operation with the operator and meets with Premier Oil for a major project update approximately 3 times a year. The sea Lion Project has now passed the point of concept selection and a tension light platform Teal 3 has been chosen as the preferred development solution. Advanced front-end engineering and design work can now take place through 2014 ahead of the project sanction decision which the operator anticipates will form the second quarter of 2015. The operator has expressed the desire to bring in a further partner to join the project and this represents a very common industry approach to oil development.
As you all know this takes place in spite of the attempts of the Argentines to disrupt our economy and its threats to oil companies. I applaud the firm and no nonsense stance taken by oil companies in the face of such blatant and disgraceful conduct.
PR: Yes. Thank you very much my Honourable Colleague. I would like to first comment on the FIDC Report that you made. I really welcome the work on the credit union. I am glad to see it has gone to another stage and the Honourable Michael Poole will be heading that from a political standpoint. I know its going to be quite difficult and we might not get there in the end but I would commend those working on it to continue to see if it is something that is suitable for the Falkland Islands. I think it would particularly benefit my constituents in Camp if it were to be established so I welcome that piece of work.
Secondly I would just like to associate myself with your comments about the next drilling campaign offshore that the Mineral Resources Department are supporting that we hope will take place in early 2015. The work leading up to that isnt easy. Deep water drilling will add a massive benefit to our economy when it takes place.
Thank you very much for your information.
MS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I wonder if I could ask the Honourable Jan Cheek to advise the House what the current thinking is on the need for a Development corporation and in what form it should be? I have been a big supporter of this as an institution over many years and I think it plays a valuable role. But every time we have either personnel difficulties or operational difficulties there seems to be a tendency to go back to the beginning and start thinking all over again whether we need economic development in the Falklands. So I wonder if the Honourable Member could just reassure me that they are not going to try and start all over again all over again.
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I am happy to address the Honourable Members question. I am a firm supporter of the Development Corporation. I would be in a very difficult position chairing it if I wasnt.
Further to that there have been, as the Honourable member well knows, moves to separate the Corporation legally and that has been delayed because of some uncertainties we have experienced in the last year or so.
He also knows that we are meeting next week to discuss and I hope re-launch the Corporation in a similar form but taking into account any perceived weaknesses and perhaps areas where we can strengthen it.
I would not like to pre-empt the outcome of this in which all Members will be involved and I hope all the Members of the Corporation. But as I said at the beginning, I wholeheartedly support the concept of a Development Corporation. We are a developing country and that involves a Development Corporation.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I thank the Honourable Jan Cheek for her report. I would just like to pick up on a couple of points if I may, please? Having chaired FIDC for four years previously, its actually nice to see some of the projects coming through now credit union, youth enterprise scheme, of course are the brain child of the previous General manager of FIDC Mark Boucher so I certainly would like to thank him for introducing that and I certainly do hope that the credit union does come to fruition because we still have the waterfront development scheme going and that goes back even further to David Moores days at the Corporation. Some of these things do have a long gestation period. As I say, it is just nice to see them coming through. The former Corporation, of course, has not been a happy place for some time now and I do hope we can see calmer waters ahead for that.
And I do look forward to that legislation coming through because the present situation with the Corporation finds itself in, again, is not a happy one. There are certain tensions as the position the Corporation finds itself in is not quite independent and its not really quite independent. So I look forward to that legislation coming through and them being able to become finally more independent and get on with development matters.
I thank you.
The Portfolio Report of Dr the Hon Barry Elsby, MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, my portfolio responsibilities include Education also Leisure and youth development and Arts and Culture as well. I am not sure why they chose me for that but there you go.
Today I just want to touch on the early years in the Education System. We always used to think that education didnt start until a child entered Year 1 in the Infant/junior School. Slowly there was the introduction of Pre-school and now we have Foundation stages 1 and 2. Even then Education doesnt start it starts in the home so there is a whole progression from when the child is born until the child needs our Education system.
And what Id like to bring to peoples notice is the changes that are going on within the Nursery Scheme the Nursery situation at the moment. Nurseries in the Falkland Islands are all private and yet they do provide an education for the children as they learn there. At the moment there are no regulations that effect nurseries. Anyone can set up a nursery and there are no standards to work to. There are no checks on people who work there. I am sure that everybody who works in a nursery in the Islands does their absolute best but it is a part of education as it prepares the children as they grow for more formal education.
Over the last few months we had the opportunity of having a Nursing Liaison officer whose job has been to work with the nurseries to see what the situation is there and to work with them to try to develop what the nurseries offer to our children. And I am pleased to say thats been a very successful interaction. The nurseries have taken to this lady with open arms as the nurseries here are very keen to raise their standards and are very keen to develop and to train and so we realise they can do better.
We recently held some training in relation to Children Safeguarding and I am pleased to say the majority of the nurseries were represented because they want to progress and do better.
At the moment there is no intention to regulate the nurseries because they want to develop a form of self-regulation and they have been working with our Nursery Liaison officer to come up with a scheme which would be a Bronze, Silver, or Gold recognition. And they will work to the standards that apply to each of those categories. As they develop the nurseries will reach the Bronze stage. As more training is provided and more facilities are added they will move through that. Each nursery will have a display on their walls exactly which standard they are working to what they can offer to the children so parents will know that when they choose a nursery they know what they will be getting.
This is a voluntary code of practice that nurseries are keen to work for. They are also very keen to work with the Education System as we see in in the Junior School because what we are looking for is extension of the Infant/Junior School into nursery so there is a seamless transition from home to nurseries and to F-S1 and F-S2 and the Infant/Junior School.
I think that will happen and go on because there is so much enthusiasm and determination within the nurseries for it to happen.
In our last public meeting on Education we had a little presentation and I touched then on the problems we have in the Infant/Junior School. They are ones of success in a way because despite the number of extensions the Infant/Junior School is out-growing itself. We now have 253 students in IJS and 33 in Camp. All years are now split apart from Year 1 and Year 6 and what will become year 1 next year will have to be split as well. We are now recruiting for the latest splitting as Class 4 will be split and that takes up the last available room in the IJS. That was the Music Room which is sacrificed when the class reached 30, which is a policy we have.
The numbers are growing such that we now have to have staggered breaks within a school day because there isnt enough physical room for all the children to play safely outside at any one time.
There is a lot of work going on looking at options as to how we can provide more classroom space as the school will surely grow as oil development goes on. We had nine new students in the last few weeks and I think the numbers will grow and we need more space.
Yesterday the IJS held a very successful sports day. The weather was perfect and I know they had a good time. Today they are also taking a fund-raising afternoon raising funds for the local Watch Group and a childrens cancer charity in the UK called Quick Sergeant. All of the classes within IJS are involved in this but also they have taken a few students from year 10 to come and help organise the day. That has been successful because of the enthusiasm between IJS students and Year 10. Its on this afternoon between 1300 and 1500hrs. The weather is excellent so I hope as many people as possible will turn up with some cash so they can help the school in their fund-raising activities.
The other thing I would like to touch on in relation to IJS and Camp is the recent visit by a SAMA veteran, Andy Trish who has brought a lot of IT equipment for use in the Camp and in Stanley Hostel. Andy Trish runs his own Information Technology Company in Cornwall. He was here on the Hermes during the campaign and he came back as a veteran in 2012, visiting battle sites as well as calling into some of the Camp Settlement Schools. He realised the IT equipment, while adequate, could be better so he started raising cash in the United Kingdom and came back this year to present 26 laptops to the Camp Schools and also to the isolated families to try to improve their accessibility to the internet. The Hostel has also benefited from the introduction of new computers. They also got an interactive projector that somehow works by projecting on a wall instead of a proper screen. You touch the wall and the computer reacts. I dont understand how that works but I think thats a fantastic move. He will be returning in another year because I think this is a long-term commitment he sees here. And I am sure our facilities will develop with his expertise.
One thing he talked about which has been talked about in the Infant/Junior School for some time is the need to get a virtual classroom running where Camp Schools and those in isolated houses can actually be seen and can see classes going on either within the Camp Schools or within the IJS. We have been trying to get that up and running for some years now but there have been some technical difficulties. Sure is doing a lot of work to make this happen but we havent yet got there. I think this is important as once we have a virtual classroom students can be in a classroom in Camp or at IJS and that will be a tremendous asset. There is still more work to do but I am sure we can achieve that. It focuses around broadband and streaming so that can happen.
A virtual classroom isnt just for the Infant/Junior School or the Camp. It will also help adults as well. I see a big change coming as we have always had distant learning with people being able to access Open University Courses. Papers and bookwork were sent to FIGO and brought down here. Now many people do their courses online. But the next step is to link with a tutor, not by e-mail but by teleconferencing links so you can actually see the tutor you are working with. That will happen and enable us to do more learning here. We dont do A levels at the Moment but there is nothing to say we cant do them. Perhaps we could link with a tutor from peter Symonds or Chichester so that people who dont want to go off to the UK or older can still do their A levels or qualifications or indeed a degree whilst in the Islands and I think thats a big development.
Looking at staffing in the Junior School and Camp, we are recruiting at the moment for two teachers for settlement schools. We are also recruiting two teachers for the IJS and two travelling teachers. A lot of candidates have applied and interviews are taking place in March and I am sure we are going to get some good candidates to fill those gaps.
As you have heard the other thing that has been going on at the moment is the Childrens Ordinance. That is a big piece of work affecting our children. But also with more effect is the new Education ordinance that is being developed. Thats in its final stages of development and we hope that will be ready in April. And having heard from My Honourable Colleague, who has managed to duck out of presenting the Childrens ordinance, I am not sure I will be able to duck out of presenting the Education ordinance so we will see how it goes with members presenting Bills.
And finally I would like to commend all staff in our Education system for working so hard to try and improve standards. Despite what you might read in the Penguin News, trying to raise standards is not amusing, its hard but very rewarding and very necessary.
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I have a couple of comments about costing. Firstly on Nurseries more a comment than a question because I dont expect the Honourable Dr Elsby to answer this time but one of the problems with Nurseries which I have been involved in since their starting has been the cost. There are two clear sides to this. There is the cost the affordability for the parents but there is the affordability for the Nurseries to pay qualified staff. We have, in the past, trained a good number of people in Nursery Care. Last time I looked, none of those trained are working in the Nurseries and there is a sad fact that people putting two children into a nursery expect to pay less per hour than they would pay someone to clean their house food for thought.
The second point is that I just wanted to pick you up on the staggered breaks. As long as I can remember the first phase of that building which I attended in 1957/58 we had different breaks for different age groups. Its important to make sure that the boisterous and burly 11 year-olds dont trample the 4 and 5 year olds underfoot. And separation either by time or by space is always desirable.
Finally my question is when will consultation begin on the new Education ordinance, please?
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, my Honourable Colleague raised some interesting questions and some points worthy of discussing at length regarding costs for the nurseries. I visited most of them all of the nurseries here now. All the nurseries are keen to develop but cost is a huge issue to them. There are two concerns. Most are keen to improve standards and train people but dont want to pay people more. Most people working in the nurseries are not that well paid. Many of them are on £5.80 or £6.00 an hour. And one of the fears is that if they train their staff they might then want to develop themselves more and move to become an LSA (Learning Support Assistant) in one of the schools.
As for cost I agree. £2.00 an hour is nothing. And yet the nurseries are fearful that if one of them raises their costs to £2.50 or to £4.00 an hour if one of the nurseries is still charging only £2.00 all the parents will choose the £2.00 an hour nursery. Whether it would happen in practice or the parents would accept they have to pay a little bit more and choose to send their children to a nursery that offers better facilities, surroundings or education I dont know. Only time will tell but I think we are going to have to look at this as MLAs to see if we should provide support or not.
The consultation on the Education Ordinance will happen once the draft document is here. And we will certainly intend to involve parents and indeed the whole community in it.
GS: Thank you Mr Speaker, Honourable Members. I thank the Honourable Dr Barry Elsby for his report. I have just a couple comments. I tend to keep away from Education for fairly obvious reasons I have a youngster in the system.
I was rather amused with what I took to mean a link between our burgeoning young population which is our birth rate and the quality of our schools. I may have misunderstood you but I am being slightly facetious.
Theres two things I really would like to pick up on. Theres Mr Trish who is down here Myself and the Honourable Phylis Rendell bumped into him in schools and I were on a tour of the Camp around North Arm way and had seen some of the equipment that he had donated and it is really, really good so I would like to properly thank him for it.
Perhaps the other point I would just like to make is you touched on recruiting. Yesterday morning I logged on to the IJS site to see if sports were still on and had seen there a job advert for a teacher. So I had a look and found that they had also been tweeting the same thing. And I would just like to thank that department for being so pro-active for getting things out and getting it out there and giving people the chance to see what is happening in the Falklands rather than waiting for it to go in the trade journals. There are a few departments in FIG that can learn a lot from the Education Department.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I, too would like to formally send our thanks to Andy Trish. I dont think I actually said in words when I was speaking but yes of course we are touched by everything that was done and the continuing links he intends to develop.
Yes. I have been very impressed by the infant/Junior School and the Community School. Its a dynamic system at the moment. As you say, the recruitment policy, tweeting, the webpage its going forward and I have been very impressed by the output and the way they have been conducting themselves.
Portfolio Report of the Hon Mr Ian Hansen, MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, my portfolio responsibilities are with the Central Services. That covers a wide range including Human Resources, IT (Information Technology) Legislature, FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) Courts Administration, Communications and Fox Bay Village to name a few. Today I will only have time to address a few of these responsibilities and I have chosen those that have issues concerning the public at this time.
I will deal with the leisure Centre and the update on the Swimming Pool. With regards to the swimming pool I can confirm that the swimming pool has now been fibre-glassed. The pipework was flown to Montevideo from Heathrow via Miami and we have received confirmation that the materials arrived in Montevideo on Monday morning. With much appreciated help from the Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce and SAAS we have managed to source resin and fibre-glass material. All this will be shipped on the Sea Scout departing Montevideo tomorrow (28 February) probably to arrive in the Falklands on Thursday, 06 March.
Ideally we would like to start fitting the pipework on Monday, 10 March as soon as the materials arrive. Unfortunately we need a qualified engineer to help with it. We contacted the original engineer in Chile who previously fit the pipework and will be very happy to come to the Islands but he cannot come till the 22nd of March he says for practical issues. So therefore we have contacted the original contractor Dave Roberts in the UK and he is looking for an engineer to fly down to assist with the installation. He is optimistic that this can happen.
Staff: Providing we can get an engineer to start laying the pipework on the 10th of March, Dave Roberts, the contractor, will then fly to the Islands on the 16th of March to arrive on the 17th. He will then fibre-glass the pool on Tuesday, the 18th. He is suggesting that he will only begin fibre-glassing the pool on Tuesday, the 18th. He has suggested it will take roughly one week to repair the fibre-glass and three days for the glass to dry and it will then take roughly 4 days to fill the pool and 20 days to heat the water to the required temperature. He has agreed to stay on the Falklands until the pool is full and the filtration pumps have been turned on to make sure everything is going right.
So, provided we find an engineer and everything goes to plan the pool should be completed by the end of April. However, there are always howevers in the business. Engineers are committed to ensure the job is done thoroughly and in a proper manner. If they do find something they are not content with and it isnt quite right and according to fitting codes, there is a possibility there may be further slippage. But I would like to stress that if this does happen this is because the engineers are totally committed to doing the job properly.
I will then move on to Communications and the transmission of FM to the Falkland Islands, Islands wide. As you know there is a three phase issue of getting FM out to the Islands. The first phase has been completed and Byron Heights is transmitting on 97.4 as well as West Falkland and Mount Alice. And that pretty much covers everywhere. There are gaps to be filled but that comes later in the programme.
Port Howard and part of the East Falklands and Mt Moriah part of the old system. Unfortunately a few days ago that system on Mt Moriah went down therefore Port Howard certain parts of East Falkland have no FM radio. Fortunately we were out there straight away and PWD gave us the generous offer of a generator from Hill Cove to Port Howard in the settlement at Port Howard so we dont have to worry about the Mountain anymore. Pill Pole-Evans has agreed to wire it up. I was talking to him earlier today and hopefully Port Howard and parts of East Falkland will have FM. Obviously I would like to take this opportunity to thank PWD very much for the quick response in bringing the generator and Bill Pole-Evans for agreeing to connect it. I would like to thank (inaudible but sounds like Ruth Van) for all the work she did over the last few days. It took a lot of her time.
The work on Sussex in phase two has experiences slippage purely down to lack of manpower. I believe the work involves cementing the base of the transmitter. Once the manpower is available things will get back on track.
The third responsibility of my portfolio I will touch upon today is Human resources. We have a new Director of Human Resources, Graham Jackson, who has been here for just over a month and the sort of things he is looking at are as follows:
1. A review of medical recruitment and strategy developed to ensure arrangements are in place to refreshing the contracts of local staff. The first step for this new approach is to advertise for all vacancies by the (inaudible) in the next five months. A UK recruitment agency has been engaged to co-ordinate this work to do technical skills screening and screening for Organisational fit. 2. The Falkland Islands Government is now registered with the MOD resettlement service and vacancies can now be listed on resettlement website which is available to all those due to leave the Military service in the next 12 months and for those who have left in the last 12 months. I believe already there is some limited success in response has been achieved for this. 3. Following the request by MLAs for limited research into what attracts contract officers to the Falklands, a specification is being developed with the aim of conducting a review and producing a report for consideration in April. 4. And finally a pay review. Work is continuing with Hay Group in developing a specification for a pay review and a benchmark exercise. Hay Group are being used for the initial exercises as they are best placed to advise given we use the Hay Group for evaluation systems. And subject to an accepted fixed price quotation being received the first phase of the pay review will be undertaken in April with an initial report in early May. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Debate on the Hon Mr Ian Hansen, MLAs Portfolio Report
PR: I would like to thank the Honourable Ian Hansen for that report, particularly the report on the transmitters and the progress of the three phases to improve radio for the Camp... I think it is very helpful for people to hear that today as to whats been happening. Its very disappointing that the Mount Moriah transmitter has gone out and people will not be able to receive radio in their homes and I am glad to hear that there has been co-operation with Public Works to find a generator and thanks again to Bill Pole-Evans in getting it linked up. It is good we can get these things fixed quickly but we must get these phases rolled out as soon as we can so the Camp can enjoy good radio coverage particularly with winter coming on.
I would also just like to touch on your portfolio with responsibility for Human Resources. Of course we welcome the new Director and I think a lot of good work is now going on there to speed up much of the work that Human Resources have been buckled down with in the past. I would like to ask the Honourable Ian Hansen if he can assure me that when a Contract Officer is coming to the end of their contract and they would like to renew and stay in post that this is speedily addressed because I am aware of Contract Officers who do not get an answer as to whether they can have another contract. They often have a partner who is in another job in the Falklands and they are playing a very useful role and we all know that when continuity is the key to the Falklands. So I dont think it is surely that Human Resources are looking to advise people and encourage them to stay here and encouraging them and letting them know that they are welcome to have another contract. They sometimes see a job advert for another job overseas, apply for it and go because they have no security of employment.
IH: I thank the Honourable Phyl Rendell my Honourable Colleague for those comments and questions. I will deal with the last one first. As it happens I spoke to the Director of Human Resources just yesterday on that very issue of making sure that people can have assurances. In fact there was a case where that was happening and I can assure you it is very much the terms now that it will happen. Indeed this certain case, the certain individual has been told that they will be welcome to stay. Thats a very good point and something we have been amiss in the past.
And just on the issue of the FM, the fault with the radio transmission, the only actual phase that has slipped is stage 2 at Port Sussex and that is only because of the labour thing. It makes phase 3 slip as well we already know that. But there will be gaps to be filled. At the end of the day, once everything is up and running and those gaps filled people will be able to receive FM in their houses everywhere.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to thank the Honourable Ian Hansen for his update. I wonder if he could just explain a bit more on the Human Resources Department. You talked about locum agencies being engaged to fill posts. Is that across all aspects of FIG or is that for one department and if so could you give us some ideas of the likely costs of that service year on year?
IH: I thank you for that. I am very sorry I cant give you that answer at the moment but I will find that out and inform you of it for consideration.
JC: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I have just a very quick query on radio. Of course its very important that FM is improved and rolled out everywhere. But please could I put in a plea not to forget Medium Wave. The transmitter is obviously a bit shaky 531 was off again this morning. But it is reliable, even if it is a mountain or stone wall or a steel wall in the way, you can pick up Medium-Wave.
IH: I thank the Honourable Jan Cheek for her comment and I did not realise that Medium Wave was off this morning. I certainly be making sure that medium Wave as being a strong supporter of Sport there is no way I would let Medium-Wave go down.
MP: Thank you Mr Speaker, I would like to thank My Honourable Colleague for his update as well. I have just a quick question about the planning work on pay Review. Can My Honourable Colleague assure me that the pay review will be looking at a benchmark against the local private sector as well as looking at overseas contractors as well?
IH: Thank you Mr Speaker, I havent got the detail of how the actual pay review will work apart from what is stated here. I would imagine it would be the case but I can find out for sure. I am sorry I dont have the information for you.
KP: In response to the question thats just been asked, I can confirm that the review will look at local comparative as well as looking at a comparative of jobs throughout the civil service.
Portfolio Report of the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I have portfolio responsibility for Health and Medical Services, which includes the Social Services Sector and also for the Emergency Services which includes Police, Fire, Customs and Immigration and FIDF. I also have responsibility for Housing. Rather than pick out one or two bits in my portfolio range I will try and give you a little flavour of what is happening in each of those areas where it is important.
Health and Medical Services:
I dont think there is any doubt that the health and Medical Services section including Social Services have been under an unusual amount of stress for quite some years. And many of us have had experience of how that affects both the Staff internally and how it manifests itself to the General Public.
As I said at the Public Meeting the other day, the Health Service is a little bit fragile but actually it is coping very well. And we have seen some significant improvements in the last few weeks.
On a staffing basis, the new Hospital Manager arrives on the 20th of March. Thats a very welcome addition for the staff because it will relieve the Director of a huge amount of day to day internal responsibilities that keeps her away from some of the other strategic issues that I know shes keen to address. A new Laboratory Manager also arrives in March and we have a practice Nurse and a District Nurse in place and two healthcare Assistants have been appointed to support the Ward and Primary Care. So from a nursing prospective and from the prospective of the welfare of patients we are now relatively well covered. But it still is sometimes a bit thin.
We have a full complement of GPs but not necessarily in the way we would like to have. We do have a full team of Doctors. They are not all full time or permanent I should say. We still rely to an extent on Locums and I think the comments of the Honourable Hansen made earlier on about Locums and the work of the Human Resources Department is doing to ensure we have a continuity of Doctors will inevitably mean that for the next 12 months or so at least I think we are going to rely on Locums. The reason for that is that when we advertise for Doctors at the current rates of pay we get very, very few suitable applicants. So there is a key issue there to address. And I know that the Director of health Services and the Director of Human Resources are engaged in this issue and giving it some thought as to how to proceed.
Not only do we demand a wide range of capabilities of GPs but also not offering the sort of money they can receive elsewhere for doing something that is probably significantly less complex so we have to give that a good deal of thought.
Unfortunately the Chief medical Officer has recently resigned for personal reasons. That is unfortunate. We do now need to give serious thought as to how to fill that post and again I know that the Officers are responsible for this and are working their best to go about filling that gap.
Social Services Department:
In the Social Services Department we are now fully staffed and that includes two advanced Childcare Workers. We have a very good probation Officer here at the moment and a new Substantive Probation Officer will arrive in early April. Again, we know that that department has been under a good deal of stress given the amount of child safeguarding issues that it has had to deal with in the last several months. Some of it is not easy to deal with. All of it requires detailed work and detailed attention to make sure that correct information is presented to Court to bring those responsible for child abuse in our community to book. I am very happy to see that that has been happening in the last two or three months.
In the Health Services Department I am very happy to say that the Dental Department is working well. The Chief Dentist I am not sure what his title is seems to be very happy that everything is working very well and we have a very full list of visiting consultants to continue to provide specialist advice.
Care for the Elderly/ Vulnerable Persons Strategy:
I would just mention that the Directorate, as well as providing primary care, hospital care, dentistry, Social Services and supervising medical treatment overseas which is another burgeoning budget that we have to deal with is also working on a care for the elderly facility which is a requirement that I think all members strongly support and will certainly come up in the budget. There are some outline thoughts for that. The Director is responsible for writing the vulnerable persons strategy. They promised that in March and I know it will be delivered but it has taken a huge amount of time.
She is also responsible for the Childrens Bill along with the Attorney Generals Chambers. And that, too, has taken a large amount of time. But she has the safeguarding board which brings together various Directorates to make sure that children are properly looked after in the community to make some commitment.
Medical Treatment Overseas:
The one other development in Medical Services I would like to mention is that one of the Doctors has undertaken a study of Medical Treatment Overseas over the last several years. We look at how MTO is being called up, what the effect of it has been for the patient, what their experience has been and what the outcome has been as far as they can ascertain. And I think that would be a useful piece of work trying to inform of how we deal with Medical Treatment Overseas in the past which is, I think, a big piece of our budget going forward.
I will leave Medical Services for now and talk about the Emergency Services. Obviously they are largely led by the Police but the Policing Plan for the coming year was presented to Executive Council in January. Members are already familiar with that. But they are very, very busy with Child Protection issues and bringing some existing cases to Court and investigating other cases that might exist and are taking up a huge amount of their time. But they havent lost focus on the need for community policing and crime prevention and the normal sorts of things they have to do in daily life these issues aside. But they are fully staffed for the policing perspective.
As members will be aware, the Prison provides some cause for concern. It is full and according to the prisons Advisor who visited relatively recently, not well staffed. And we had the opportunity of a discussion this week with a visiting Forensic Psychologist Psychiatrist Dr Tim McInerney who spoke to members about rehabilitation for prisoners. So there is clearly some stuff we are going to have to do. And that involves capital works. I think it is inevitable we are going to have to extend the size of the prison. Where to do it how to do it and those sorts of things the Director of Emergency Services is now working on. That will be in front of us for the budget session.
A lot is going on with the Police. I think Members are aware that certainly some individuals in the Police have been under a huge amount of stress. Its not easy dealing with child abuse cases day in day out. I think they do need a bit of a break from time to time. But fortunately we are now fully staffed.
Fire & Rescue:
On the Fire section, we are well equipped in the Fire Station except that the buildings are falling down. So again there is another capital works issue that we will have to deal with and of course we know that the Fire Station occupies a valuable site in the centre of Stanley. So we will need to give some collective thought to whether and when we actually relocate the Fire Service because that, I think, is key to a lot of the other things that we want to do in terms of capital works.
Customs and Immigration:
The Customs and Immigration Department has kind of bungled along as it often does but there are immigration issues that we need to deal with and I think we are reasonably clear on what they are. I do remain concerned about the split of responsibility for Policy and Immigration between two Departments and I think we are going to have to manage that very carefully. Otherwise we will get into a position where we have one group of people saying thats what we are going to do and the other group of people saying it wasnt their idea and they dont like it. So we will just have to be very careful about that. We need to use the resources that weve got.
It has been a very busy cruise season so Customs have been very busy with that and its nice to see that the Department has been able to respond to all the requirements put upon it by the cruise industry and the fishing industry recently.
Falkland Islands Defence Force:
In terms of the Falkland Islands Defence Force, again, they are reasonably well catered for. They do need a new radio system. That will come up in the Capital Budget. I have raised recently an insurance issue of which I have some serious concerns. And the FIDF Command has raised with me other concerns about the training provision between the FIDF and HM Forces in the Falklands is not what it used to be. And I think we need to address that and see what the issues are to make sure we are making the very best use of all of our resources.
Finally, on Housing, there are two issues we have a severe problem in housing. I am not sure I collected all the severe problems with this portfolio responsibility but there we are. The allocation is between local and contract housing that is causing us some angst. We are severely short of houses in the local housing sector and inevitably in the budget we will have to address how we are going to build more houses for the local pool.
The coming online of the temporary home park behind Murray heights will be a significant advantage and relieve some pressure. But it is temporary and I dont think anybody should necessarily want to live there for extended periods of time.
There are lots of issues to deal with and in that vein, I have suggested to members and officers and I think the Chief Executive that the Housing Committee as is currently constituted is inadequate to deal with housing provision from a strategic and policy perspective and it needs to be reconstituted and reformed. And that work will begin to take place relatively soon.
There is a common theme that runs through my portfolio and it is a theme that appears in the Islands Plan and that needs to have a safe and well-housed society. I hope we will, in all the directorates strive to do that to the best of our ability not only for residents but also for visitors and not only for adults but also most particularly for children.
Debate on the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLAs Portfolio Report
MP: Thank you Mr Speaker; and I would like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his thorough update. I have a quick comment on the Immigration side of things. As My Honourable Colleague has mentioned, the Immigration Review is at a policy level sits with the policy unit, which is my portfolio. Immigration at an operational level sits with Mike Summers in his portfolio. I dont think this is a problem but clearly we need talk about things and make sure we are communicating at our level and at an Officer lever to make sure we end up with a system that suits our posts and I just want to note that I dont see this as a particular issue.
IH: I would also like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his update. I just had a quick question on a facility for the elderly. As you stated and are correct in saying Members are supportive but in the short term because I realise it creates a lot of work and an extra workload for the current staff at the Hospital they do a great job but there is a lot more work involved. Would there be any merit in considering employing extra staff who specialise in looking after the elderly as an interim solution? I realise there are accommodation issues and an obvious budget implication but has this been considered at all?
MS: Because I havent asked the question, I am not aware that it has been specifically considered. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Medical Services Department would be absolutely delighted if they could employ another 3 or 4 people to help in that area or various other areas.
I would just comment a bit further on the care for the elderly facility, a broad conceptual idea is that it should be a new building possibly across the road in that corner of the football field thats effectively not used. And the Directors in correspondence with the Planning Office and the Department of public works to try and flesh out some of those ideas so that we can bring them to members to consider on a broader strategy and policy base. But the concept has to try to be to have that facility as close to the Hospital as we can reasonably get it so that staff resources as they currently exist can be shared between the two facilities.
GS: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his report. I would like to ask a quick question on the Medical side of life.
You touched on nurses and doctors but I believe we are having a mini crisis in the drivers department. I believe we have one driver off ill at the moment causing a ripple to go through that department and I believe there was an incident where one chap had actually done a night shift. There was no driver so he carried on through the day, which was an 18 hour shift. From Health and Safety perspective this is not very good.
Also I believe we are short an engineer or two. I was wondering where we are with that because it is causing a strain in that department as well.
I totally agree with you about the Fire Service their sheds will surely fall on their heads, I am sure. With some of them there is nothing between them and the ground. I believe there was a plan for the Fire Service to go towards Lookout Rocks, which you rightly say will open up quite a nice bit of real-estate. It is central and no doubt use would be made of it.
Just one other question has thought been given to splitting immigration away from Customs and perhaps more in with the Police Department?
MS: Mr Speaker, I will take the Honourable members first question. There have been some issues with support staff in the Hospital as well as frontline staff. I am happy to report that a new Evening Security Ambulance driver has been appointed. I am not sure what the start date is. There is now a full complement of driver/ambulance/security men for the team. We were informed of that at a recent Health and medical Services Committee meeting but I very much hope that information supersedes the problem that had been brought to your attention. The driver/handyman post has also been appointed to support the estates team period of illness. But there is a requirement still to address the issue of whether the Estates Manager is to be replaced and in what form. And I think once the Hospital Manager is in place, thats one of the issues that will need to be addressed.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his summary. I will pick up a couple of points regarding sex offenders in our community especially with my Childrens Champion hat on. I would like to echo his thanks to the Police for all the hard work they have done in particular dealing with such an emotional, distressing crime and I think we see the success of their work by the number of people who have been found guilty lately.
But as we talked about before, locking people away is only one part of the solution. One day those people will be released again and it behoves us to make every effort to rehabilitate them such that when they are released they will no longer present a danger to the community. We need to work as hard as we can to achieve that. And as the Honourable Mike Summers said, we had a meeting recently with a visiting consultant Psychiatrist who gave us some insights from his experience of working with people in the UK and I am sure we will learn a lot from that.
The sort of rehabilitation we are talking about is working with the Probation Officer to try to address the underlying problem of the person as to why they engaged and why they feel it was necessary to engage in sexual activity with children. We need to push that very hard. We need to recognise that some people in the prison environment at the moment need access to education to get their educational levels up higher but also to develop skills which when they are released and they will be released, they will be able to take part in the community again to have a job in the community. What we wouldnt want are people to be released with nothing in their lives to occupy themselves and thoughts then return to other things.
I think as a community we need to accept that we have done very well by addressing the problem now but we have to accept that we have to rehabilitate these people. Part of that will be seeing offenders out in the Community under supervision to attend work, to attend education. And I think that might be distressing to some people but it is an essential part of rehabilitation such that when they are released into society again the chances of them reoffending are greatly reduced.
MS: Mr Speaker I am not sure that was a question but just to reflect on that. There a number of areas in which that issue needs to be addressed. In the Vulnerable Persons Strategy there is a whole series of areas that need to be looked after. We commonly think of vulnerable people as children, perhaps the disabled, the elderly, sometimes the not so well off single mothers and the like. But there are two other groups of people that the Vulnerable Persons Strategy will need to address. One is the victims of crime and there are those around the community now who have been victims of this abuse and there are the prisoners. It might seem to be an odd idea to any that they should be regarded as vulnerable people but they are in their own way. I agree with you wholeheartedly that they are particularly on release we have to make sure that they are as best as we can prevented from re-offending.
There are two or three ways in which we can approach that. One is through the provisions of the new Prisons Ordinance which is currently in preparation. Another is through the proper provision of appropriate facilities when we extend or build a new prison which we are probably going to have to do. We are almost resigned to that.
And the other is in the revisions to the criminal law currently taking place which can make provision for different types of sentencing and different ways of dealing with prisoners and prisoners on licence and under supervision and all of that comes together as one large subject as we go forward.