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Deputies leaned on in tax debate to save Policy & Resources Committee

Deputies leaned on in tax debate to save Policy & Resources Committee

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Deputies leaned on in tax debate to save Policy & Resources Committee

Tuesday 21 February 2023

States members were heavily leaned on to vote against the main alternative to Policy & Resources tax package, it has been claimed.

The Assembly failed to back any major changes to help fill a predicted £85m. blackhole last week, ruling out both P&R’s option which included a GST and mitigation measures, and then the other leading option, known as Option D.

Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller was one of the leading promoters of Option D, a two-phased approach of which the first element failed after a vote tied at 20-all.

“Option D only needed one more vote and we know that there was a lot of lobbying going on,” she said.

“Members openly told us that they were ‘leaned on heavily’ and that they were concerned about the repercussions for Policy & Resources’ position if Option D won. 

“When members called the Fairer Alternative a ‘prawn cocktail with scorpions’, you know that the arguments against have nothing to do with the substance of the proposals. Many deputies and members of the community felt that they simply have not been listened to in the past two years. 

“Policy & Resources missed an opportunity by declining to work with us when we put forward the proposals for a joint composite approach back in January. I sincerely believe we would have got there with a joined-up approach. 

“The ball is back with P&R. For our part, we remain committed to finding a solution that works and are as willing as ever to talk and work with others right across the Assembly. For us, politics is never personal, it’s always about trying to find the best policies for our community.”

Deputy Heidi Soulsby led the Option D amendment, which was based on a reworking of their original Fairer Alternative package.

“The work undertaken by the Fairer Alternative team was instrumental in moving the conversation forward beyond the black-and-white option of GST and showed that an alternative approach was not only desirable but entirely possible,” she said.

“All the final alternatives on the table took elements of the approach advocated by the Fairer Alternative proposals. 

“At the end of the day, the facts speak for themselves. All of the alternative Policy & Resources Committee’s proposals were defeated by the Assembly. All the resolutions that were approved came from amendments suggested by others and all the substantive resolutions came from the Fairer Alternative Stage 2 proposals. For the senior committee of the States to lose its flagship policy so comprehensively is, in my experience, without precedent.”

Deputy Gavin St Pier seconded the Option D proposal.

“While the Fairer Alternative won the argument, the Assembly has left the future of tax and social security reform dangerously unresolved despite six days of debate. We had the absurdity of the States, having rejected Stage 1 of Option D, then going on to vote for all the Stage 2 measures.

"Option D was clearly constructed and presented as an integrated two-stage package. This is the most spectacular can kicking by this Assembly, but we should all reflect on this outcome as it does not reflect well on the States as a whole.”

Four of the resolutions directing P&R to undertake work were opposed by a majority of the members of the committee.

“That is an uncomfortable position for both P&R and the Assembly in which it finds itself.”

P&R’s proposals only won the support of 15 of the 40 States members.

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