Guernsey Press

P&R considers its position after failing on tax policies

The Policy & Resources Committee is considering its position after losing every one of its flagship tax policies in the States.

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P&R member Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq and its president Peter Ferbrache. (31819124)

Immediately after the vote on Friday evening, two P&R members – Deputies Peter Ferbrache and Jonathan Le Tocq – expressed uncertainty about their and the committee’s future.

Asked if P&R would resign, Deputy Le Tocq said: ‘I can’t speak for the others, but I’ll certainly reflect on it.’

‘I don’t think so,’ said Deputy Ferbrache, although sources close to the P&R president said he was undecided about whether he should remain in the office he has held since October 2020.

  • Podcast: Listen to interviews with Deputies Ferbrache and Soulsby in our Shorthand States round-up recorded after the tax vote on Friday evening

The States’ senior committee saw its preferred option A tax plan defeated by 15 votes to 25. Its back-up options B and C were even more heavily defeated, securing only three and nine votes respectively.

In an unguarded email exchange, which was revealed to the States by Deputy Gavin St Pier, another P&R member, Deputy David Mahoney, implied he would resign if the Assembly backed the self-styled ‘fairer alternative’ option D tax plan.

Deputy St Pier said that Deputy Mahoney had written: ‘If the Assembly wants other people to look at it all then they can vote [option D] and they will get what they want. If [option D] wins, then I suspect P&R will sit the following Tuesday and decide a course of action individually and collectively.’

Option D proposed a two-stage approach – more limited tax rises initially while reviewing future opportunities to make cost savings and increase revenue from companies and other sources. The first stage of option D was defeated after a tied vote, but the second stage was approved.

‘We had six days of debate, two-and-a-bit years’ work and we’ve come out with a few resolutions at the end which don’t really mean very much,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

‘Look at the crucial vote on D – 20-20 – a divided States. It didn’t win and it didn’t lose. Nobody can gain anything from that.’

Deputy Charles Parkinson said P&R should resign.

‘In any normal parliamentary democracy, when a government loses its flagship fiscal policy it would resign,’ he said.

‘A motion of no confidence is possible, but the opponents of GST within the governing coalition would not support it. Unless P&R resign, they will be walking dead for the next two and a bit years.’

  • Watch: Deputy Peter Roffey speaking at the conclusion of the tax review debate

Deputy Peter Roffey, who supported P&R’s option A, said he would not call on the committee to resign.

‘I’m not going to put the boot into P&R. I think they’ll have to take stock and it’s not for me to second guess what they are going to do,’ said Deputy Roffey.

‘I’ve been on committees that have lost their flagship policies and had to sit down and lick their wounds.’

Deputy Heidi Soulsby, the proposer of option D and a member of P&R until she resigned late last year, would not be drawn on the committee’s future.

‘I’m not going to speculate on that,’ she said. ‘Yes, it’s a flagship debate this term, but it’s up to them. For me, it was all about trying to get an alternative to GST.’

Deputy Ferbrache admitted he was ‘thoroughly fed up’.

‘We’re not going to run out of money, but in a few years’ time we’re not going to have enough money to do anything of any consequence. We’re going to be seen to be a backward economy when we should be moving forward,’ he said.