Guernsey Press

P&R goes behind closed doors as it fights for life

POLICY & RESOURCES has invited all deputies to meet behind closed doors on Monday ­– just 48 hours before it resumes fighting for its survival in the States.

P&R president Deputy Peter Ferbrache. (32783156)

The senior committee has become increasingly concerned that it lacks the numbers to defeat a motion of no confidence which the Assembly started debating two weeks ago and on which it expects to vote next Wednesday.

Two members of P&R – Deputies Mark Helyar and David Mahoney – tendered their resignations minutes before the start of the no confidence debate and speculation had been growing that the committee’s other members were also considering standing down.

But P&R president Peter Ferbrache scotched those rumours when he wrote to deputies on Tuesday afternoon.

‘We do not intend to resign,’ he said in an email seen by the Guernsey Press in which he also invited deputies to the private meeting.

‘We have listened carefully throughout the currently adjourned motion of no confidence to the comments being made within debate and reflected on the observations made.

‘While we may not agree with every comment being made, we very much hope in the next 18 months we, as an Assembly, can meet together in every sense of that phrase.

‘We would like to invite all States members to a meeting at 9am on Monday 11 December at Beau Sejour in order to have an open and constructive conversation.’

Deputy Ferbrache listed well-known challenges facing the States, including deteriorating public finances, shortage of housing and what he called an ‘intolerable position’ following deputies’ decision to de-fund a £130m. reorganisation of secondary and further education.

He also referred to ‘other confidential matters with which the current P&R is battling’, which he put down to Guernsey being a small, independent jurisdiction suffering the consequences of Brexit, Covid and war elsewhere in the world.

He presented Monday’s private meeting as an opportunity for discussion ‘on these strategic issues and our views regarding how these should be approached for the remainder of this term’.

‘We as a Bailiwick have issues to address which we have more chance of making progress on if we can do so as a cohesive group,’ said Deputy Ferbrache.

‘Irrespective of the future composition of P&R, as elected individuals we all share the same, singular challenge of how to stabilise government while at the same time dealing with some of the most significant issues that the island has faced for many years.’

The States’ term of office lasts until June 2025. Deputy Ferbrache warned that anyone sitting on P&R during that time would need ‘strength of character to act’ and reminded deputies that all committees had work under way which would need to continue.

‘It would be helpful for us to discuss this work and our collective views as an Assembly ahead of the States meeting re-convening,’ he said.

Immediately before debate on the motion of no confidence was adjourned on 24 November, about 10 States members indicated to the Bailiff that they still wished to speak.

Once they have, the lead signatory of the motion, Charles Parkinson, will be invited to reply to the debate.

The motion will be carried if supported by a majority of members present and voting – and all five existing members of P&R will then be deemed to have resigned.

If the motion is opposed by a majority of members present and voting, P&R will remain in office, but there will be an election to replace Deputies Helyar and Mahoney.