The island’s current President of Policy & Resources thinks Guernsey would benefit from more executive government and a reduction in the amount of deputies.
In an extensive interview with Express, Deputy Peter Ferbrache spoke about the possibility of staying in the States beyond this term and what kind of changes he would like to see enacted.
You can read several excerpts from the interview below:
Question: [Would you be able to comment on the emergence of tribalism and a ‘split-assembly?]
“I think Matthew, to be fair, it existed in the last States... I voted on every issue on what I thought was right... But equally if I thought they were wrong, I voted against them [P&R]. I didn't vote against them, because... deputy ‘so and so’ voted against the issue, or for the issue, but because of the merits of the issue. That's the way it should be.”
Q: Do you feel like this assembly has the potential to pull in the same direction eventually?
"We've only got two years to go to the... end of June 2025. So just over two years to go. We're going to see that we've really got to make some difficult decisions... We didn't cover ourselves in glory in the tax debate in January and February.”
Q: I remember last time we spoke you said this is this will be your last term, then you won't come back. Is that still your intention?
"When President Truman was President, you could only do two terms. Currently, we don't have that - you could do ten terms if you were elected. I think one term is enough.”
Q: You have now plenty of experience with Guernsey’s government and how it operates. Do you think our structure of government in Guernsey facilitates the decisions that you would like to make?
“I was in the States from 1994 to 2000. And I left voluntarily... I left for a long time... and the world has changed over that 16 years. You've got to move more quickly. We're more scrutinised... from afar. I think. And I've been saying it for a long time, we need an executive form of government.”
Q: Do you think that's possible?
“Everything's possible. Is it likely in the foreseeable future? No.
“When we had COVID... We had the civil contingency authority (CCA). I'm not suggesting you have that kind of mandate forever. But, you know, when Deputy Gavin St Pier [administered] that for the first eight months, it was it was done well. AndI think I then took over and we had the second wave of COVID... [and] we had to impose more severe restrictions and another lockdown.
“I think the States generally, and the CCA members, acted very well during that time... we went from that to the extreme, where every decision is challenged to the nth degree, and I don't think that's helpful or practical in the 21st century.”
Q: Is there anything that you would change?
"I think we've got too many deputies. We have 38 deputies for 63,000 people. That's what one for about every 1700 people or something. And we don't have parishes anymore, or electoral districts, we’re all island-wide deputies. I think that was a good change. I was one of the advocates for it. But I think we could reduce it to - I'm making this figure up just for the purpose of this without any detailed analysis - 25 deputies. We can have executive government.
"At the end of that four years, if the people of Guernsey think that Mr. Blogs or Mrs Smith has been president of P&R... [and] made a mess, they kick [them] out and they get somebody else in. That's democracy.
“You should have the confidence to give those people who you elect the mandate to run the government for that period of time.”
Q: Would you like to stay as a State's member but not necessarily a president?
"That's a really good question...I'll make a decision at the time. It may well be that I'll say no... but if I did, it would be as an active, constructive, and hopefully informed backbencher.”
Q: Do you think Guernsey will be in a better or worse position at the end of this specific term?
“I don’t know, because it’s two years off and it has been a very difficult two and a half years... nobody foresaw Ukraine. We've had the consequences of COVID. We've also got the after effects of Brexit, which has caused lots of difficulty, and we're having to address those.
“We've had really high inflation that we haven't seen the likes of... for many years, and... probably the biggest thing for Guernsey is our housing crisis.”
You can listen to the full interview below:
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