Guernsey Press

Deputies critical of committee president’s 'lack of staff' excuse

States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee president Carl Meerveld was accused of ‘hiding’ behind excuses after blaming a lack of staff for not being able to carry out as much work as the States would like.

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States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee president Deputy Carl Meerveld found himself under attack from fellow deputies after giving an update on his committee’s work. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32990489)

In a routine update statement, Deputy Meerveld told the Assembly that his committee had ‘achieved a great deal in the past 12 months, particularly as it operates with very limited resources and budget’.

In reply to questions from several members who wanted to know why more was not being done to deal with various problems facing the States which fall under Sacc’s mandate, Deputy Meerveld said the committee had only one full-time permanent official who was currently on sick leave.

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Neil Inder and David Mahoney were among deputies dissatisfied with Sacc’s performance.

‘I hope Deputy Meerveld understands that we have concerns about his delivery of democracy. He is hiding again behind lack of resources and the senior leadership team,’ said Deputy Inder.

He asked Deputy Meerveld to publish his committee’s work programme so States members could consider the resources Sacc might need ‘which he seems incapable of identifying himself’ and also asked him to write to Policy & Resources about the need for staff support. Deputy Meerveld said he would.

Deputy Mahoney claimed that another official had been redeployed to assist Sacc and said ‘the litany of excuses we have had so far simply does not wash,’ he said. ‘Sacc needs to get on with stuff... get on and do it.’

Deputy Meerveld said that his help was not working full-time for the committee.

‘Applications have been made in the civil service to beg, borrow or steal from elsewhere. Certainly the part-time stand-in is doing what they can but is not capable of taking on the workload of a full-time member of staff.

‘I have had conversations with people about where we can get resources. Once we have them, we can obviously start scheduling delivery. We are in a bit of a bind at the moment.’

Deputy Meerveld said the committee’s year had been dominated by the appointment of Guernsey’s first parliamentary commissioner for standards, Dr Melissa McCullough, and a new process for appeals against the commissioner’s decisions.

He told the States that the rest of the political term was likely to be focused on a review of deputies’ immunity from prosecution for words spoken in the Assembly and preparations for next year’s general election.

‘There is far more to do in preparation for an election than amending the legislative framework, crucial though that is,’ said Deputy Meerveld.

An Election 2025 website should launch next month followed by informal events to encourage candidates.