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Deputy Ferbrache: "I don't trust Employment & Social Security"

Deputy Ferbrache:

Thursday 29 September 2022

Deputy Ferbrache: "I don't trust Employment & Social Security"

Thursday 29 September 2022

The island's most senior politician, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, says he does not trust the Committee for Employment & Social Security over anti-discrimination legislation.

Deputy Ferbrache was speaking in favour of an amendment to take future changes to details of the law out of the hands of the Committee and put them to a vote of all States' members instead.

"Equality Guernsey has posted this today: 'It's time the white privileged man's bubble is burst'," said Deputy Ferbrache, pictured (top left). "What on earth does that mean? How intolerant and discriminatory and abusive is that?

"And yet I've not heard Deputy [Peter] Roffey [Committee President] in any of his speeches or any of the other members of the Committee get up and say 'we abhor that, we are against that, we don't like that kind of communication'. Therefore, in this instance, I'm very sorry to say that I don't trust the Committee and I'll be voting for the amendment." 

The amendment was proposed by Deputy Bob Murray and seconded by Deputy Sam Haskins. The States' Assembly backed the amendment by 18 votes to 17. If the draft anti-discrimination law is approved later this week, there will now be unusual but not unprecedented constraints placed on the Committee's powers to make detailed adjustments to it. 

It was later pointed out by Jayne Ozanne, a campaigner for gay rights, that she, not Equality Guernsey, had made the comment about "white privileged men" which offended Deputy Ferbrache.

Employment & Social Security Committee

Pictured: The Committee for Employment & Social Security cannot not be trusted to make future adjustments to anti-discrimination legislation, according to the President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache.

Deputy Roffey, pictured (top right), said he was taken aback by Deputy Ferbrache's lack of trust in the Committee.  

"It really comes as a bit of a shock when Guernsey's senior politician gets up and says he does not trust my Committee," said Deputy Roffey.

"I hope that later in this ongoing debate...he will explain why he is so distrustful of the Committee for Employment & Social Security. I think we picked up a really difficult ball with lots of stakeholders...we managed to find consensus, we compromised, we've done a responsible job.

"I don't hurt. I've got a very thick skin. But I find it stunning that our senior politician should get up and say, having done that task and I think having done it well, that he just doesn't trust us. I would like to understand more later in the debate."

Pictured: After the States adjourned, Deputy Peter Roffey contributed to exchanges on social media reflecting on the day's events in the States.

Opening debate on his amendment, Deputy Murray explained why he felt it was necessary for anti-discrimination regulations - the lowest tier of legislation - to require the approval of the States' Assembly when regulations in other areas are almost always put in place by States' committees.

"The Guernsey Disability Alliance, who remain partnered with the Committee today as far as I am aware, on the continuing evolution of the discrimination project appear to have considerable ambitious intent in this whole arena. To what extent that may manifest itself in future Committee regulations is impossible to say," said Deputy Murray.

He was concerned about the potential burden on stakeholders, such as businesses, if the Committee's powers to make adjustments to the law were not constrained by the States in the way he proposed.

"I do not think it at all unreasonable for this Assembly to have the opportunity to be able to debate the content of regulations which we currently have no sight of," he said.


Pictured: Deputy Bob Murray said he was concerned about the influence of anti-discrimination campaigners, such as the Guernsey Disability Alliance, on the Committee for Employment & Social Security. 

Deputy Roffey, opposing the amendment, said that States' members had previously delegated authority to the Policy & Resources Committee "to sign off spending of hundreds of millions of pounds on capital projects without them ever having to come back to this Assembly". He compared this with Deputy Murray's amendment, which he said was "talking about really is feeble".

"Deputy Murray almost said in his opening speech that he didn't trust the Committee to make regulations...because he didn't trust the Guernsey Disability Alliance not to have a pernicious influence," said Deputy Roffey.

"I have to say the Guernsey Disability Alliance has no particular role or favoured status with the Committee. They are simply one of a range of consultees. They have no more influence than the Chamber of Commerce. Nor do Equality Guernsey have any more influence than the Institute of Directors. In fact, in the lead up to this legislation, I would say those employers' organisations...had far more influence and we bent over backwards far more to accommodate their requirements."

Deputy Roffey said that approving Deputy Murray's amendment would require the Committee to obtain the approval of the Assembly for such minor matters as recognising a new organisation as a provider of supported employment.

Debate continues on other amendments to the draft law, after which the draft law, as amended, will be put to the vote.

How they voted...

For the amendment (18): Deputies Aldwell, Blin, De Lisle, Dudley-Owen, Dyke, Ferbrache, Haskins, Inder, Le Tissier, Mahoney, Matthews, Meerveld, Moakes, Murray, Prow, Queripel, Trott and Vermeulen.

Against the amendment (17): Deputies Brouard, Burford, Cameron, de Sausmarez, Fairclough, Falla, Gabriel, Gollop, Kazantseva-Miller, Le Tocq, Leadbeater, McKenna, Parkinson, Roffey, Soulsby, St. Pier and Taylor. 

Did not vote (3): Deputy Bury and Alderney Representatives Roberts and Snowdon.

Absent (2): Deputies Helyar and Oliver.


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