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"Tongue in cheek" name dispute detracts from Tax debate

Tuesday 31 January 2023

"Tongue in cheek" name dispute detracts from Tax debate

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Disagreements over how to pronounce names is risking detracting from the seriousness of debates within the States chamber according to those involved.

Deep into the third day of debate on the island's Tax Review, Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller offered to give way to Deputy Simon Vermeulen.

She was commenting on the amendment proposed by Deputy Carl Meerveld and seconded by Deputy Vermeulen, which sought to remove the goods and services tax element from the original proposals. 

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller who has previously been referred to as Deputy Kassanova-Miller and Deputy Kazakhstan-Miller during debates was then reprimanded by Deputy Vermeulen for pronouncing his name incorrectly.

States members must abide by a code of conduct during debates which includes addressing all comments through the Presiding Officer and not by speaking directly to each other.

Deputies are not allowed to interview each other's speeches unless the Presiding Officer gives permission or the deputy speaking gives way.

The Bailiff often pulls States members up on breaking these rules. Richard McMahon has also previously corrected deputies for incorrectly pronouncing Deputy Kazantseva-Miller's name.

She speaks three languages fluently and has lived in in London, Singapore, Bangkok, Madrid, Moscow and Ulaan Bataar before settling in Guernsey in 2012.

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller told Express she does not want any disagreement over pronunciations to be prioritised over the Tax Review debate which will resume next month. 

"We are in the middle of the most important debate of this Assembly and should be focused on finding a solution to move forward," she said. "I would prefer not to comment on these types of matters that should have no place in the Assembly and focus on the job at hand to find a viable package of measures".

Deputy Vermeulen is a Guernseyman with a long background in the hospitality sector working with other family members sharing the same name. 

He also sought to keep discussion to the topic of the Tax Review and was perplexed to why Deputy Kazantseva-Miller had given way to him in the first place.

He alleged that personality politics was at play during the debate.

"I was most surprised that my colleague, who I have worked with for three years now on Economic Development, asked if the amendment I seconded was successful 'How Deputy Vermeulen would save 20% on his beloved Tourism budget?' and invited me to respond by giving way during her speech.

"Had the amendment succeeded then GST would have been off the table and savings and efficiencies could have been made.

"The reason the fairer alternative amendment failed in my opinion was that it was too prescriptive, doubling up two committees for instance, it was in no way a wrecking amendment and deserved to be debated not guillotined."

Deputy John Gollop is the longest serving States Member in Guernsey and says the incident between Deputies Kazantseva-Miller and Vermeulen was likely "tongue-in-cheek" and he also said it should not detract from more important matters.

"As Father of the House I want all members to get along with each other, be politely civil and pronounce each others names right," he said.

"Deputy Vermeulen and Kazantseva Miller both sit on Deputy Neil Inder's Economic Development board. I know Sasha has suffered from her name being mispronounced, issues from some members who should be more circumspect. The incident on Friday seemed a bit of a tongue in cheek response. I don't know.

"I agree with Sasha that we should move on constructively and focus even more on the bigger policies and issues especially financial policy and funding essential public services too."




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