‘We need to go through costs and benefits carefully’ – Gpeg

GPEG – the independent think tank at loggerheads with States departments bringing forward anti-discrimination legislation – has said it wants to get around the table with the politicians leading the project.

Left to right: Gpeg members Connie Helyar-Wilkinson, Lord Digby Jones, Jon Moulton, Susie Crowder at their press conference. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29781913)
Left to right: Gpeg members Connie Helyar-Wilkinson, Lord Digby Jones, Jon Moulton, Susie Crowder at their press conference. (Picture by Cassidy Jones, 29781913)

The Guernsey Policy and Economic Group, led by Lord Digby Jones and businessman Jon Moulton, has been embroiled in a disagreement with the Employment & Social Security committee and campaigners over the past few months.

This week it invited deputies to hear its concerns about proportionality and cost of the proposals, which were approved by the States a year ago.

ESS president Deputy Peter Roffey was said to be unable to attend, but Gpeg said they would be keen to meet to discuss concerns face-to-face. ‘We’d like to sit down with him and go through the benefits and costs slowly and carefully,’ they said.

In defiance of its reputation on this issue, the think tank’s founders said at a press conference yesterday that it was not anti anti-discrimination.

‘We need to respect all members of society but make sure we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,’ said Lord Jones.

It published a report earlier this month which expressed serious concerns that the States had underestimated the potential costs of the legislation being drawn up and said the proposed definition of disability was ‘woefully drafted and far too wide’.

Among its recommendations were that the States puts a pause on the law and trials a best practice guide instead.

While its figures have been criticised, it also said that the States had no real evidence to back up its own calculations on cost.

‘There is no real evidence of the scale of the problem and we cannot measure the potential benefits at all. We have real problems with proportionality here.’

Gpeg presented its findings to an audience of deputies this week – nine of the 37 turned up.

‘Some were clearly in favour, some were a little more circumspect, some were clearly not, and that’s absolutely fine, that’s what democracy should be about,’ said Lord Jones.

‘No-one was cancelled, no-one got nasty, it was democracy working.’

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