‘Power’ issue poses bigger question

AT ABOUT the time a requete was published seeking to remove the authority the States chief executive has over his chief officers, a note was delivered to this office warning that there is a power battle going on between the executive leadership team and the Assembly.

AT ABOUT the time a requete was published seeking to remove the authority the States chief executive has over his chief officers, a note was delivered to this office warning that there is a power battle going on between the executive leadership team and the Assembly.

Before the motion is debated and the CEO’s power curtailed, ‘chief officers’ positions are in grave danger’, it said.

The note certainly reflects the view of many on both sides of the argument. And whether the decision by the chief officer at Health and Social Services to move on is linked in any way, it will add to the concerns of those supporting the requete.

Yet it could also be regarded as evidence against backing it.

The Assembly has by a huge majority endorsed the financial transformation programme and a key element of that is ensuring that Health, the biggest-spending department, plays its part.

Since then, however, it has announced unexpected overspends of £2.5m and done the unthinkable – cutting beds and axing operations – without discussing it with the Policy Council and is this year shaping up to overspend by even more while continuing to reschedule surgery for islanders.

It does not smack of competent leadership but the States has already dumped the last Health minister. To sack the replacement before he’s even warmed the seat cushion would be premature. But is there to be no sanction for departments that fail to deliver what the States has told them to?

Take the requete at face value and there can be no corporate policy or agreed government direction of travel because implementing it would be down to the whim of each department’s politicians and chief officer.

Read between the lines and the requete is really highlighting the tension that exists between corporate and departmental interests.

To that extent, the note we received is wrong to say the struggle is between the Assembly and the executive leadership team because it is the States members who have instructed their own executive.

So in reality, some members disagree with what they have been told to do by the Assembly and are looking for an out.

It again highlights the issue of who or what is really in charge of government.