Guernsey Press

ESC member kicked out of secondary schools discussion

EDUCATION member Andy Cameron has been kicked out of the committee’s discussions about its secondary and post-16 plans.

ESC member Deputy Andy Cameron has been kicked out of the committee’s discussions about its secondary and post-16 plans. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32372618)

The committee recently voted to remove him from its meetings because he disagrees with the education model it is trying to introduce and voted for an alternative scheme in the States.

It is believed to be unprecedented for a committee to throw out a member simply because he holds a different view from colleagues on an issue of policy.

Education, Sport & Culture justified its actions yesterday by referring to a States rule which requires committee members to leave discussions in which they have a ‘special interest’, which usually means a financial or family interest.

ESC president Andrea Dudley-Owen said the committee took advice from HM Comptroller Robert Titterington.

‘Rule 49 advises that members must not participate in discussions in which they hold a special interest,’ she said.

‘Legal advice from HM Comptroller has identified that where a committee member is publicly backing different proposals to those of their committee, in this case the States-approved plans for the reorganisation of secondary and post-16 education, they have a special interest, and should therefore not receive committee papers relating to the topic, and should recuse themselves from meetings when such matters are being discussed.’

Deputy Cameron took part in the committee’s discussions which led to his removal. Deputy Dudley-Owen said her member ‘acknowledged the application of rule 49 at this time’.

Earlier this week Deputy Cameron told the Guernsey Press that ‘the situation is ongoing’ and did not wish to comment further.

A political source close to the row inside the committee, who confirmed Deputy Cameron’s exclusion, was scathing about ESC’s decision.

‘It’s unprecedented and without any basis in the committee rules for a policy difference to be regarded as a conflict of interest,’ he said.

Deputy Dudley-Owen said the door was not closed on Deputy Cameron being readmitted to discussions about secondary and post-16 education.

‘The committee values the input of all of its members. However, advice states that rule 49 applies in the current situation and thus must be implemented,’ she said.

‘Constructive discussions are ongoing. In the future, should rule 49 no longer be applicable, committee members would of course welcome Deputy Cameron’s involvement on this topic once again, in the same way that we welcome and value his contribution to all other topics within ESC’s mandate.’

Members of committees are elected by their peers in the States and can be removed only by the Assembly.

Allowing a committee member publicly to voice and vote for alternative policies to those backed by the majority is a key feature of Guernsey’s committee system of government.

Deputy Cameron has frequently found himself in disagreement with his ESC colleagues.

In 2021, they made a successful complaint against him to the members’ code of conduct panel. In the same year, Deputy Sue Aldwell declined to comment on claims that she refused to be physically present at committee meetings attended by Deputy Cameron.

ESC’s £128m. education model, which includes three 11-16 schools, a further education college and a separate post-16 centre, and which was approved by the States in 2021, is likely to face a fresh debate in the States this autumn when deputies reconsider the funding of capital projects.

Deputy Cameron has backed an alternative, which would retain the existing sixth form centre at Les Varendes.