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Robert (Rob) George Harnish

Contacts
07911 718339
  • Parish St Peter Port
  • Experience New Candidate
What do you think?
Yes No Maybe

Personal Statement

All my life, I have been passionate about private study and public service; for me, the two go hand in hand. Whether as an academic in Oxford or a teacher in Guernsey, whether as Social Policy lead for the Disability Alliance or as manager of the Ron Short Centre, my goal has always been to seek the best for all by engaging honestly and carefully with everyone.

  • Maintaining a building erected on weak or unstable foundations is a waste of time and effort.
  • A sound political platform is built on strong and stable democratic principles; for example, responsibility, transparency and accountability.
  • MY EARS, YOUR VOICE sums up my understanding of what it means to be responsible to everyone who lives in Guernsey.
  • My allegiance to the academic tradition of “peer-review” is just another way of saying that I believe in public scrutiny: “Open, honest and transparent” is not just the hallmark of good research, it is the hallmark of good governance.
  • My passion for “truth with courage and justice with integrity” is the guarantee of my willingness to be accountable.

Manifesto

MY EAR, YOUR VOICE

I adopted this slogan in 2016. I see no reason to change it now. Indeed, the last four years of work with the officers of the Guernsey Disability Alliance and the members of the Ron Short Centre has reinforced my sense that every voice matters. Where one person is not heard, one person is not included. Where one person is not included, corporate life is corrupted.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

All those years ago, I suggested that “Virtue is not a common topic and sound government is not an everyday occurrence.” I stand by that claim. If anything, even a casual glance at the correlation between open, honest, evidence-based political leadership and the effective management of the CoViD-19 Crisis brings the point home.

Good governance follows from full accountability. While mistakes are inevitable, cover-ups are not. They are costly and damaging. Many of the voices ringing in my ears announce that there have been too many of them. It may not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but I believe that Guernsey should bring in a “Freedom of Information Law” as a matter of priority. Good politicians do not need places to hide. It is only where political action is transparent that the public can be confident.

It should not surprise you, then, that I advocate speaking the truth and acting with integrity – values I have lived by and taught all my life.

While some people seem more concerned about whether you lean to the left or lean to the right, I think this concern is misplaced. Finding the perfect balance between individual freedoms and national security is a worthy goal (though one that we singularly failed to achieve throughout the twentieth century). That fact is, however, that the twenty-first century is faced with more urgent issues. Such issues should reorient our politics. There is a pressing need to balance economic freedoms against environmental health, to balance national interests against global security. And it is not clear that we have until the end of the twenty-first century to get it right!

Whether dealing with international issues like global warming and global pandemics, or dealing with local issues like pay equity, educational models or sustainable health care, we seem to come up again and again against the same problem. There is a tension between maximising short-term benefits and taking care of the long-term future. Given that political terms are short when compared to the lifespans of communities (to say nothing of the lifespan of the planet), there is a tendency for politicians to play down the long term costs of our short term pleasures.

I have to say, I like my little luxuries; but I’m not willing to sacrifice my future for them. What I bring to politics is a dismissive approach to short term gains when measured against long term costs. Above, I made the point that maintaining a building on feeble foundations if a waste of time and effort. Our goal must be to establish a strong and stable platform for “building back better”.

So, what is the backbone of this manifesto? It is the backbone of my life: a commitment to long-term vision over short-term expedience, to public service over private gain, to principled thoughts over convenient actions.

I have been not only an ivory tower academic but also a man of action all my life. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr once again,

“Rarely do we find men [sic] who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

It is true enough; but clear and courageous thinking is not enough. As Dr King’s own life exemplifies, hard solid thinking often demands that we engage in hard, solid work. It is to such solid thinking and hard work that I am committing myself. It is to the vision of an Island that pursues excellence in every aspect of its life. And it is to plans and polices that can withstand the tests of time.

I know that some readers will be frustrated that I have not set out in detail my views on the issues that most matter to them. The fact is, the list extends at least as many pages as this manifesto. It is my goal to address one a day on social media. My ears are open. If you want my views on a particular topic, then use your voice; get in touch.

For me, saying one thing to one person and something else to another smacks of hypocrisy. My answers to all questions will be public. They will reflect my best understanding. That does not mean they will be set in concrete. If I haven’t got it right, tell me!

Because social justice is paramount, social policy is my focus. I will make only one promise. It is the same promise I made four years ago. Whether elected or not, I will continue to serve this Island – my community, my home – with courage and integrity.

MY EARS, YOUR VOICE.

Answers to questions proposed by the public:

Most of the detailed work of the States is done in committees, like the Committee for Environment and Infrastructure. What experience do you have of being on a committee and how did you contribute?

For the last three years, I have been part of the governing committee of the Guernsey Society for Physically Disabled People, where I have had the primary responsibility for steering through reforms at the Ron Short Centre. At the same time, I have been the Vice Chair of the Guernsey Disability Alliance during a time of unprecedented financial constraints and tremendous demand generated by reviews of social policy in HSC, ESC and ESS. While much of this work was “behind the scenes”, it allowed the third-sector to have a considerable impact on areas as diverse as Capacity Legislation, implementation of the Autism Framework, the review of Education Law, and the like. During this period, I sat on the Disability and Inclusion Strategy Project Board, interacting directly with government in the development of (amongst other things) Discrimination Legislation. My experience of taking a leading role within committees goes back much further, and I think I have the talent, skill and experience needed to work effectively in States’ Committees.

With unemployment currently running at an all time high, what measures would you like in place to ensure local people are offered jobs before license holders ?

To my knowledge, it would be illegal to put in place any measure that offered jobs to local people before current licence holders. Our employment law, in line with international law, requires equal opportunity. The goal is to ensure that employers are able to offer work to the best candidates for the job, without unfair discrimination. What I believe is guaranteed by our law is that employment must be offered first to local/licenced applicants ahead of other applicants if they are able to fulfil the job requirements. I am happy to be corrected if my unstudied knowledge of the law in this area is wrong.

What concrete measures would you like to see implemented in Guernsey during the next term to achieve net zero carbon by 2050?

I recognise that my answer to this question may frustrate some readers, but I hope they will persevere with my response. The problem is that there are limited steps we can take within four years, and I would be seeking to commit the States to some longer term strategies for energy self-sufficiency based on emerging technologies. That said, there is what looks to be a strong business case for moving rapidly to electric airplanes, which could see us running a carbon neutral airline within the next term, and there is scope to increase immediately the economic pressure on individuals and companies to ensure that replacement vehicles are hybrid or electric, and to reduce energy consumption (e.g. through boilers and central heating systems, air conditioning, etc.) in numerous ways.

I live in St Peter Port but have interests in the Vale, St Peters and Castel. Will you be looking at Island Wide issues or more so in your Parish of residence?

My primary interests are in over-arching social and fiscal policy. That said, as an elected deputy, I would expect to respond with equal concern to every member of my constituency. Given Island wide voting, that constituency would be Island wide, and my intention is to deal with every issue brought to my notice with the same due care and attention.

Are you concerned about the large amount of agricultural land that is being lost for private gardens?

I am concerned about the amount of green space that is being lost to development. There are strong, balanced arguments for re-developing brown sites instead, despite the increased overheads. I am not familiar with the conversion of agricultural land to gardens. To my knowledge, unless agricultural land has been rezoned for housing, the private purchase of agricultural land does not allow for a change of use. The issue of about how much farmland should be taken “out of circulation” (that is, not farmed) is extremely fraught, especially in a jurisdiction of our size. I would need to do some detailed research to provide a better answer to this question.

You will make many commitments as a politician, but how will you actually ensure these are achieved? If you have been a deputy before, what will you do differently this term to improve achievements?

It is a mistake to assume that I will make many commitments. The fact is not that I am non-committal, but that I do not make promises I do not intend to keep (and, therefore, I do not make promises where I cannot already see a tenable route to their timely fulfilment). There is a limited amount any deputy can achieve in a term, and there should be a commensurate limit on the promises made. If I lose votes for not making promises I cannot fulfil, so be it. Frankly, if you have to commit hypocrisy to get elected, I would rather not get elected.

What are your opinions on climate change and Guernsey's role in tackling it?

Having an opinion on climate change is like having an opinion on gravity. The principle facts are now well-established. We are facing an unprecedented global crisis because we have breached our planet’s ecological ceilings. Guernsey’s responsibilities in terms of closing those breaches and to fashion a sustainable economy are shared by every other jurisdiction on earth. There are clear international agreements about the way forward. To play our role in closing the breaches, we need to meet those targets. In terms of economic development, we need to embrace a way of measuring economic success that focuses on the well-being of citizens and the well-being of the environment, and routinely evaluates the optimal level of economic activity needed to achieve our goals sustainably.

What are the attributes and skills you will be looking for in the next President of the Policy & Resources Committee?

I will be looking for honesty, transparency, competence and integrity in the next President of the Policy & Resources Committee.

If the independent Cost Benefit Analysis supports lengthening the airport runway, would you vote in favour of investing in this key element of island infrastructure?

If the independent Cost Benefit Analysis of the proposal to extend the runway is not flawed and recommends such an extension, there would be no legitimate grounds for rejecting the recommendation. If it turns out that relevant costs have not been considered or relevant benefits have been ignored, then to pursue the recommendation without further consideration would be the advice of a fool or a person with partisan interests.

Do you believe that diversification of the island's tax base is an important consideration for Guernsey in today's volatile and fast-moving global economy? If so, how can this specifically be achieved for Guernsey?

I believe the diversification of Guernsey’s tax base is an important consideration. I think it would be an important consideration whatever the status of the global economy (the descriptors “volatile” and “fast moving” are better confined to certain sectors rather than the over-all picture, assuming one’s economic model includes anything like a global economy in the first place). I support gradual, considered, competitive diversification in two strands. There are local businesses that have the potential to increase their percentage contribution to the economy. The best of these should be fostered. There is the potential to bring in new businesses (particularly in niche areas of well established businesses, which might include things as diverse as specialised software development and/or technological development, and specialised higher education courses).

What are the candidates' views on maternity pay and leave and how would they improve the current arrangements, if at all?

The right to maternity leave and to paternity leave is, I think, well established. In order to bring about any change to the current position in Guernsey, there will need to be, I think, a strong public lobby. The evidence for the benefits of leave is out there, but I doubt strongly that government or business is going to be making the case any time soon. My commitment is to support a rational and evidence-based demand for a better all-round system. I’m equally happy to be the voice of those who are seeking to make it happen, but I suspect there will be others who could speak with more relevant experience and authority.

I believe Guernsey needs a vision; a forward-thinking concept for the future of the island’s infrastructure, community wellbeing and economy. What’s yours?

I believe Guernsey needs a SHARED vision. Organisations like the Dandelion Foundation have been trying to help us get there for a while. I admire their dedication, and their progress; but I bet they would tell you it is up hill work! So, my vision is for a representative “think tank” that develops a coherent and convincing vision (one that takes into account my wish-list and explains why we can’t have everything I want, and does the same for you). In my dream world, we would call it the States of Deliberation.

Do you agree that people should be encouraged to use cars less and if so what measures would you like to see introduced to achieve this?

It is unfortunate that the vast majority of people are not motived to change by facts. [Take a look at the history of introducing seatbelts, for example.] Although education is important, it only provides the background that makes peer pressure effective and generates public support for appropriate law. Since laws to reduce the use of vehicles are extremely unlikely, any effective change has to come via “peer pressure”. My most effective action would be to become a vocal champion of any balanced group or third sector organisation championing other means of transport (or setting up car-share schemes, and the like) in a bid to change public morality and thus public behaviour.

Do you support outsourcing of States services?

To reject outsourcing would be, for example, to reject the Medical Specialist Group. It would appear, then, that there is a willingness in the States to outsource. Personally, in the case of a role where efficiency savings could be made without compromising service levels or public service duties, and where appropriate scrutiny and control could be maintained, I would support outsourcing.

What will you do to educate the islanders about the reality of the climate crisis which is the biggest threat currently facing the world?

Public education is a government responsibility. Our schools are already working hard to ensure that our young people understand that the planet is in crisis. And our young people are working hard to drive the message home to the rest of us. From my perspective, the best thing the States could do would be to start acting as if the crisis were real, and thus to work harder to bring in policy and law designed to tackle the issues. If the government is not seen to be acting swiftly and effectively, I don’t think any amount of “preaching” will make a difference.

Most environmental problems are caused by the love of growth. Would you consider de-growth?

I am a long way from basing policy solely on GDP. In seeking to develop a sustainable economy for Guernsey that maximises the opportunity of every resident to flourish, it would be foolish not to consider every option. It seems to me likely that “de-growth” will be necessary in some sectors (e.g. the import of fossil fuels) and that “growth” will be necessary in other sectors (e.g. recycling, renewable energy).

What intra island transport strategy would you support to ensure safe and ‘clean’ travel on island for all road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists? And how do you plan to deliver that plan financially?

Traffic management is an incredibly difficult mathematical exercise. No matter how clever you are with the maths, however, you come up against the number of vehicles on the roads. Air pollution, noise pollution, and dangerous driving fall when the number of cars on the road falls. It seems to me that real progress means changing public practice. The models available for maintaining “people flow” while reducing traffic flow involve a large uptake of public transport. It is a depressing fact that the only way to get people out of their cars and into alternative transport has been to make the use of cars extremely inconvenient or unreasonably expensive. Neither option has been popular with the public, and uniting the States of Deliberation around a policy that is strongly resisted by the public would, in my view, require a miracle.

What environmental policies would you support to reduce Guernsey’s reliance on the internal combustion engine, in support of International global warming initiatives?

First, it is not clear that eliminating the combustion engine is a good policy. Burning cleanly produced hydrogen (with the emission of water vapour) may very well be a good solution in a number of cases. That said, I would support initiatives to phase out the use of fossil fuels in favour of cleaner energy supplies. We are well positioned to make use of winds, tides, currents and solar energy, so the transition period should allow competitive new businesses to flourish.

What measures will you put in place during the next term to ensure that environmental biodiversity will be protected and enhanced?

I will have no power to put in place any measures should I be elected. I would support proposals to designate and protect more areas of ecological significance and/or to enact reasonable laws to prevent actions that challenge the flourishing of native species without good cause (e.g. just for convenience). It seems to me that fairly substantial gains could be made by taking relatively small measures – even just changing government planting schemes on public property.

The Guernsey Press had an article and a picture of a proposed East Coast development called HYDROPORT. It seemed to me to be a brilliant plan and included a new deep water harbour, a hydro electric supply by enclosing Belgrave bay and changes to St Peter port harbour to accommodate cruise liners and super yachts. It would provide jobs, produce an ongoing and substantial revenue stream and make us to some extent self-reliant on electricity, why has there been no update on this project?

I don't know, but the Code of Conduct on Access to Public Information means that the questioner should get a clear and comprehensive response if they ask the government!

Do you agree that there is a climate crisis caused predominantly by the actions of humans?

I agree that human actions have contributed significantly to a number of ecological crises, including climate change.

Longue Hougue has been proposed as a site for inert waste disposal despite it being a site of international importance in terms of wildlife. La Societe Guernesiase and other scientists have advised against this. What will you do to ensure that this valuable habitat is protected?

The “States of Guernsey Inert Waste Management Strategy Options Report” (20 November 2017) suggest that none of the finally proposed sites “contained a major negative environmental constraint”. If evidence were provided that this claim was false and that there are viable alternative sites where facilities would have a less negative impact, then there would be a case for re-examining the matter going forward. [I would be unhappy to learn that La Société had not been consulted prior to the report. Such a situation would lend considerable weight to any case that it might now make.]

Most scientists and experts agree that a target of 2050 to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions is nowhere near ambitious enough and will have catastrophic consequences around the world. What will you do to ensure that Guernsey takes action to significantly reduce carbon emissions during the next term?

It would be reasonable to identify the two or three worst contributors to carbon emissions in Guernsey, and then to move swiftly to tackle them. My personal interest is in supporting innovative ways of delivering renewable energy. I would be looking for ways to promote trial projects that, if successful, could be rolled out in larger jurisdictions (and that, as by-products, would contribute to the diversification of the economy and provide educational opportunities for those seeking higher degrees in, for example, engineering).

What is your view on current spending on Aurigny, is it worth how much we are paying? Is it run efficiently? Did we need new aircraft?

I think it is time for a rethink. One option is here: https://www.mh-spirit-of-electric-aviation.com/theislander.php#environmental

If elected, would you fully support the retention, repair and ongoing maintenance of the Sea Defences provided by the anti-tank wall at L’Ancresse Bay?

I am a strong supporter of the need for the government to maintain sites of significant historical or cultural value, so I am in sympathy with those who want to preserve the tank wall. It makes sense, however, to wait for the publication of the environmental impact report before drawing a final conclusion.

A significant proportion of the concerns about the two college model of secondary education related to the capital costs and space standards: they could have been addressed with higher spending. Would you be prepared to spend more money on the future model of secondary education than previously agreed by the States in September 2019? If so, how much more?

My view is that we should determine what we need to deliver excellence in education, and then figure out how we are going to deliver it in the most cost effective way possible. I would be willing to spend more; but I would be equally willing to spend less if throwing money at the problem was not the solution. The goal is to spend what is required to fulfil our legal and moral obligations, and more to go beyond them if it is available.

With the general increase in costs of running the island and with various capital projects requiring funding; and with limitations on the amount that islanders can be taxed; do you think that it may be time to revisit the 0-10 tax scheme that created a big black hole in the island's finances?

The planning of fiscal policy for the medium to long term should involve looking at our entire tax regime, including the 0–10% tax scheme. “Building back better” undoubtedly means “building back differently”, otherwise we are back where we started.

If elected, what priority will you give to the introduction of the already-drafted consumer protection legislation?

What an interesting question! I don't know how the work of the law officers is prioritised. If the drafting of the legislation has already been completed (I am not sure that it has been), then it is a matter of convincing P&R to get it onto the agenda for debate. From memory, I think the enabling legislation was enacted about ten years ago, so surely there is a strong case for "no more delays". ("Where have I heard that before?" said the Vice Chair of the GDA.)

Did you know that same-sex families aren't treated equally when it comes to registering the birth of a child? What will you do to change that?

Yes! I think steps are already being taken to address the issue, but I would certainly push for equality in this matter as in many others.

Would you support a programme of privatisation of island utilities and other facilities such as Beau Sejour to help reduce record levels of borrowing resulting from the cost of Covid defences?

I would not support such a programme of privatisation without a detailed consideration of the long-term effects. In general, in other relevant jurisdictions, while privatisations often seem to have provided some initial short term benefits, they finally appear to have generated worse crises than the one’s they were introduced to resolve in the first place.

Increasing home working will likely result in surplus office space. Will you encourage an urgent revision of Planning Policies to facilitate conversion of retail and office space to residential & curb green-field development?

Good question! I can't give a good answer, although I'd like to. We need some measure of how much office space has become permanently vacant, and whether the locations were, in general, suitable for accommodation. It is not clear to me whether a change of use could be made under current policies in some cases. I expect it is not clear cut. Our planning policies are not the simplest to understand from the outside!

What is your attitude towards enhanced and mandatory registration, chipping and DNA recording of dogs and control of their fouling, island-wide?

For me, the issue does not begin with fouling, but with animal welfare. There is a strong welfare case to be made for compulsory licencing and chipping. DNA recording, to my knowledge, does not add anything in terms of animal welfare. Amongst other things, I am not clear how effective a deterrent it would be in relation to fouling. As a result, I don’t know if I would support compulsory recording of licenced animals’ DNA.

I have one question for sitting Deputies and one for new candidates. Deputies:- what, in your mind, was your greatest political achievement in the last four years? New candidates:- What is your biggest political goal in the next four years?

Clearly, I would like to see the discrimination legislation over the final hurdles, supported by an effective equality body. On a personal level, I am very keen to push for Freedom of Information Law to ensure that our government is as open and transparent as it should be.

How good are your mediation and conciliation skills? The key to the islands well-being and progress is in working together to achieve the projects approved - to see sustainable, innovative solutions. Leadership in pulling the team together to move forward, rather than in circles.

I have spent my entire career mediating sensitive social issues on both individual and institutional scales. I generally have a clear sense of direction, and I hate travelling in circles. Other people tell me they are surprised by what I have managed to achieve against the odds. I’m usually not surprised (hard work and careful planning can take you a long way), just pleased and tired.

Would you support not giving Local Market licenses to those earning above a set level to support both LM and OM?

My understanding is that not providing Local Market licences to those who were employed in roles attracting a salary above a certain threshold raises some difficult moral issues. For example, there would be the potential for employers to encourage employees to accept lower salaries in exchange for access to the local housing market. Moreover, such a scheme would seem to undermine the purpose of the local market, which is to ensure that we can attract the best employees to every job. My gut instinct is that there are better ways to tackle the lack of affordable housing.

First time buyers are encouraged to buy new build developments taking up green space, while there are vast amounts of listed properties facing dereliction on the island - buildings ripe for restoration, renovation and to be lived in. Currently, people are put off as they are greeted with stringent and outdated views by The Planning and Heritage Department - it takes too much time and money so are immediately put off. What will you do to change the process for the better?

My understanding is that first time buyers seek to buy the best property they can afford. That such properties were built on green land sites is not a consideration for very many at present. My instinct suggests that many first time buyers are already working flat out to bring in the income needed to afford their first home. Unless they are the kind of people who like to take on big projects, they will want their home time as leisure time. It seems to me that the renovation of neglected or derelict houses is more likely to be addressed by those seeking to make a profit by resale. Encouraging such enterprises would seem the best way to get things moving.

Would you support changes in the law to make cannabis for personal use legal?

To set the agenda, it is worth asking whether there are some reasonable comparators. The obvious example (all other things being equal) is alcohol. Here, the situation is clear enough. First, nothing compels a teetotaller to drink alcohol. Secondly, on the contrary, attempts at prohibition gave rise to increased public health issues, increased risks for children and young people, and increased criminalisation. There is another kind of comparator now. A few nations have decriminalised not just the medicinal use but also the recreational use of cannabis. I am not convinced that everyone will accept the evidence from the first jurisdiction – Uruguay (2013); the cultural gap is just too great. The evidence from the second jurisdiction, Canada (2018), is harder to dismiss. The evidence gathered one year after the legalisation of cannabis in Canada does not justify any of the usual fears and anxieties that many express. On the other hand, it is too slight to demonstrate convincingly an improvement in public health or decreased risks for children and young people (although it appears to be the trend). Criminalisation has (of course) gone down, although those seeking out illegal sources has not fallen as quickly as expected. A second year of statistics should be available by the time the new States sits. Whatever my personal choices might be, the evidence-based case for legalisation may be even stronger by then. I will follow the evidence.

Question for New Candidates: During the COVID-19 lockdown States Meetings were held virtually. On 24th of June Meetings resumed in the Royal Court Chamber. As a prospective States Member have you spent any time at all in the public gallery observing our Parliament (potentially your future workplace) in action? If not, why not?

I have sat in the gallery, particularly to hear specific debates about issues that matter to me.

In 1945, the generosity of people outside Guernsey enabled the delivery of Red Cross parcels to the island on the SS Vega. What is your view on the statement that ‘charity begins at home but should not end there’? How can we best show our care for people in need in other parts of the world?

First, it needs to be said that charity is a two-edged sword. No one should have to rely on charity to protect their access to food, housing, education, employment or health care. There is a danger for government to rely too much on charities to plug gaps in provisions they are legally obliged to make. The issue is one of balancing local need against global need. [The same issue faces families, where there would seem to be a moral obligation to feed your own children before ensuring that your neighbour’s children are fed.] Insofar as we can afford it . . . and we are not a poor jurisdiction . . . we have a responsibility to contribute appropriately to support effective international development.

This is a question for new candidates; do you agree with the principle of scrutiny of government and if so how would you ensure that it was fairly carried out ?

One of the main commitments of my campaign is to work for the introduction of Freedom of Information Law. The Code of Conduct on Access to Public Information, although laudable in its principles, has been insufficient to ensure that our government is fully open and transparent. A thief who cannot lie will not long remain able to steal. Corruption can only take hold where secrecy is maintained.

Considering the mounting public pressure against the way our current justice system deals with cannabis offences, what is your stance on the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in Guernsey?

To set the agenda, it is worth asking whether there are some reasonable comparators. The obvious example (all other things being equal) is alcohol. Here, the situation is clear enough. First, nothing compels a teetotaller to drink alcohol. Secondly, on the contrary, attempts at prohibition gave rise to increased public health issues, increased risks for children and young people, and increased criminalisation. There is another kind of comparator now. A few nations have decriminalised not just the medicinal use but also the recreational use of cannabis. I am not convinced that everyone will accept the evidence from the first jurisdiction – Uruguay (2013); the cultural gap is just too great. The evidence from the second jurisdiction, Canada (2018), is harder to dismiss. The evidence gathered one year after the legalisation of cannabis in Canada does not justify any of the usual fears and anxieties that many express. On the other hand, it is too slight to demonstrate convincingly an improvement in public health or decreased risks for children and young people (although it appears to be the trend). Criminalisation has (of course) gone down, although those seeking out illegal sources has not fallen as quickly as expected. A second year of statistics should be available by the time the new States sits. Whatever my personal choices might be, the evidence-based case for legalisation may be even stronger by then. I will follow the evidence.

In a review last year into drugs and treatments and States debate in January, HSC acknowledged that the disparity between life changing NICE TA drugs available in Guernsey compared to the NHS had become too great to be justified, with nearly 4000 patients now on sub-optimal treatments. The Guernsey Health Reserve was identified as the funding source. HSC announced last week a delay of at least a year to the implementation of this policy. How do you propose to tackle the pace at which change takes place within the States? Should you be held accountable for delivering on commitments you make individually, as a committee or collectively as the States?

It would be foolish to make a commitment that goes any further than promising to put your best effort into trying to ensure that a decision is taken and actions are implemented. Responsibility for decision making and the oversight of implementation finally lies collectively with the States of Deliberation. Even whole Committees cannot be held responsible if they cannot sway their peers. The failure to implement NICE TAs should be laid squarely at the feet of the States. Failures of individuals to do their best to put their money where their mouth is (as it were) should and can be laid at their own feet.

What ideas do you have to ensure there is affordable housing including support for first time buyers and ensure affordable rental property is available for locals so they can continue to live here? What is your stance on mortgage tax relief and shared ownership initiatives?

This issue was as live in the last election debate as it is now. It has not been resolved because, in the current economic climate, it appears the only comprehensive way to ensure affordable housing is either to interfere in the free market by capping prices or to provide subsidies (in some form or other) to first time buyers. Both strategies seem set to cause more problems than they solve. I am not an expert in this area, and my analysis may be naïve; so, if anyone out there can make a solid business case for an effective strategy, I would be happy to bring it forward: MY EARS, YOUR VOICE.

Earlier this year, the States passed the introduction of life-saving and life-changing NICE-Approved drugs & medicines by a massive 32-1 vote; these drugs are readily available under the NHS and SHS in the UK. HSC have now announced that the implementation of this is now to be delayed by a year or so. Out of all projects the States have on their list - this has to be THE single most important one because it will affect up to 4,000+ residents of our island. How do you intend to bring forward the delay of this incredibly important topic to a much quicker implementation date?

My understanding is that the only mechanism for bringing a topic forward (if it is not on the agenda already) is to lay a requête. I fully support the work of HEAL (and regret that it has been necessary). I would be draw up and seek signatories for such a requête.

What would you do to address traffic noise pollution from vehicles speeding and backfiring along St Georges Esplanade/Les Banques and towards town?

In the end, perhaps the best way of tackling such noise pollution is the best way of tackling vehicle emissions as well. We need to be moving more swiftly toward the use of electric cars (vans, trucks and buses).

In January 2020 the States passed a policy to make all NICE TA drugs and treatments available to Islanders. Do you see this as a priority and if so how would you expedite implementation?

I fully support the work of HEAL (and regret that it has been necessary). The failure of the States to implement agreed policy is frustrating here as in many other areas. My understanding is that the only mechanism for bringing a topic forward (if it is not on the agenda already) is to lay a requête. I would be draw up and seek signatories for such a requête as a priority.

The recent Frontier report on the runway extension summed up that "the economic benefits of extending the runway are likely to outweigh the costs" with net benefits over 40 years of up to £687m (over £20k per household). Post COVID, do you support continued investigation into the potential for a runway extension to improve Guernsey's infrastructure, air links, and sustain the visitor economy?

I understand that pausing before committing is likely to appear evasive. I would, however, rather appear evasive than make a significant error by rushing forward before considering new evidence. It is not entirely clear what the airline industry will look like in a year, nor that building back better will not move us away from trying to deploy larger aircraft fuelled solely with fossil fuels. I think there is a need to re-examine the business case.

Have you been made aware that every report that the SOG has commissioned for 20 years has flagged the need to extend the runway to circa 1700m+ and the commercial benefits it will bring for the island as a whole?

I am aware of the advice and the caveats in the reports. I understand that pausing before committing is likely to appear evasive. I would, however, rather appear evasive than make a significant error by rushing forward before considering new evidence. It is not entirely clear what the airline industry will look like in a year, nor that building back better will not move us away from trying to deploy larger aircraft fuelled solely with fossil fuels. I think there is a need to re-examine the business case.

Brexit presents a unique opportunity for Guernsey to strengthen its ties with other Commonwealth countries and stand on its own two feet on an international scale. Would you be willing to make an effort to strengthen our diplomatic ties to countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Canada?

There is very rarely a case for not strengthening diplomatic ties. I am a Canadian, and a Commonwealth Scholar. The proposal to strengthen diplomatic ties with Commonwealth nations seems good sense to me.

The current states assembly has approved proposals for a Discrimination Ordinance, but much work needs to be done. How committed are you to ensuring that LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, people with disabilities and people of faith are protected on this island?

I sat on the Disability & Inclusion Strategy project board as the Social Policy Lead for the Guernsey Disability Alliance in the preparation of the proposals for discrimination legislation. It was frustrating to have to “compromise” in order to move matters forward, when the positions with which we were forced to compromise were largely and evidentially erroneous. I am highly committed to seeing this project through to completion, and to pushing for an effective and independent Equality body.

What criteria do you use for decision making?

I trained first as a mathematician. I am committed to logical reason. I did my doctoral work in physics. I am committed secondly to evidence based reason. The fact is, a sound argument requires true premises (that’s where the evidence comes in), and valid reasoning (that’s where the logic comes in). I am not inclined to support arguments that are not sound.

In the last two years two pieces of legislation have come to the States which specifically target the most vulnerable members of our society - euthanasia and abortion - where a person’s fundamental and basic right to life is overridden in the name of lesser rights. Do you believe that disposing of a person’s life is a sign of progress? Do you believe that failing to protect human life at any age or stage of development is the mark of a civilised and enlightened and caring society?

Assertions of human equality rely on the assertion of the equal and enormous intrinsic value of every human life. In my view, all legislation in such fraught areas must balance competing demands for protection. The issue is made more complicated for the right of each person to make autonomous decisions. My fears are that making the ending of any human life “too easy” would not only undermine that balance, but worse, undermine the already fragile sense that every human life is of equal worth.

It is beyond time to invest in our people, infrastructure and public services. Do you plan to make the island's tax system more fair and progressive, so that more businesses and the wealthy pay a fairer share?

I would struggle to support any policy that was not fair and unjustified. There is a case for concerns that our current tax regime is not well justified. The commitment to “build back better” means that tax review should be on the agenda.

In light of covid-19 and the hit that the tourist industry has taken what plans (if any) would you try to put in place to make Guernsey more attractive to tourists after travel bans are lifted? And do you feel tourism should play a more crucial role in Guernsey? If not, why?

While we can, to some extent, capitalise on our natural beauty and our vibrant restaurant scene, the evidence suggests that they will not support dramatic growth in the tourist industry. Several proposals have come forward to put Guernsey on the tourist map, not least the proposal to build a world class art exhibition facility with resident artists. My own view is that we have to develop such a large-scale, internationally attractive feature and part of building back better, and that the gallery proposal is the best one on the table.

Please list in order of importance: - driving Guernsey’s economy - addressing social needs - protecting the environment - invest in Guernsey’s infrastructure and improve - sort out the schools - focus on air and sea links - extend the runway - implement revive and thrive as a priority - open our closed borders as a priority - reduce states expenditure

I think it makes more sense to list the topics given from least priority to highest priority. First, I do not think there is any realistic way to reduce States expenditure and deliver on the services required by government. Health Care alone needs more funding. That does not mean that I countenance wasteful expenditure, but it does mean that I expect the States to meet their legal obligations to provide services for residents. Secondly, our borders are not closed. Determining the best quarantine regime to protect the population while doing the best we can for the economy is not a trivial exercise. Our team is, in my view, not doing worse than our nearest neighbours. Thirdly, the focus on transport links is important, but needs a big rethink in the light of changing demand and our ecological commitments. Fourthly, the investment in infrastructure cannot be separated from, for example, redeveloping our schools (which are part of that infrastructure, and which will affect, amongst other things, roads). Infrastructure development needs to take place within the larger scale overview of economic development. Fourthly, I refuse to separate “the economy” understood in monetary terms from “the economy” understood in human terms and environmental terms. The distinction is false and unhelpful. There is a significant piece of work to do to integrate our fiscal, social and environmental visions in keeping with the commitment to make Guernsey one of the best places to live on earth. Finally, although it may surprise some, I give top priority to sorting out education. Access to education is a fundamental right, and in failing to deliver properly we are failing our future, including our future economy.

List your achievements to date which have been a benefit to Guernsey.

I have taught at least two generations of pupils to pursue truth with courage and justice with integrity. I founded the Guernsey Fencing Academy, which meant the Island had for the time I was there the top public fencing school in Great Britain and our young people were able to win medals at Commonwealth level and rise to represent Great Britain. I sat as the social policy representative for the Guernsey Disability Alliance on the Disability and Inclusion Strategy Project Board during the development of the approved proposal for discrimination legislation. As manager of the Ron Short Centre, I have committed to building the Island’s first Changing Places facility (see http://changing-places.org), and to making it available to all who need it. While I suppose all these ventures are of value, I am, nevertheless, more proud of the work I do behind the scenes to support individual people.

Do you support a reduction in the cost of running the civil service? If so, how would you do that and over what timescale?

It is clear that (e.g, in relation to some educational services and some health services) in some areas the Civil Service needs to expand. The issue is not about cost savings, but about the effective use of capital to uphold the law and meet public needs. That said, the lockdown experience has shown that there are still efficiency savings to be made by streamlining working practices and service provision. I am aware, too, of efficiency savings that could be made by reducing poor practice in some areas. Such matters can be addressed immediately.

As we subsidise the airline, should Aurigny have a monopoly over all air routes to and from the Bailiwick, with a regulator to ensure fair pricing and a policy of not for profit?

I understand that there are better options on the table now.

What is your view regarding commercialisation with respect to States owned entities?

The fact that government is “not for profit” does not mean that it should not be commercial, only that income is reinvested in service delivery. I would not support a programme of privatisation without a detailed consideration of the long-term effects. In general, in other relevant jurisdictions, while privatisations often seem to have provided some initial short term benefits, they finally appear to have generated worse crises than the one’s they were introduced to resolve in the first place.

Should the island be spending tax payers money on maintaining air and sea links?

The States has a duty to ensure that the Island remains connected to the wider world in the most cost effective way possible (where “cost” includes social and environmental costs as well as capital expenditure). It follows that the government should use tax payer money as necessary to maintain our essential transport links in the most cost effective way possible.

What is your view on future funding for long term care as current funding will be insufficient by 2040?

The States of Guernsey has a statutory duty to ensure that no one goes without the care required to sustain health and dignity. Given our present knowledge of inevitable future shortfalls, new revenue streams, new savings/investment schemes, and new insurance measures need to be agreed and implemented. Starting small now will prevent crises in twenty years.

What is your opinion of introducing a goods and sales tax?

My initial instinct is that there are fairer ways of justifiably increasing States revenue.

Would you support the ‘listing’ of all remaining historic military structures, as Jersey has done, to ensure their ongoing protection, repair and maintenance?

I would support the “listing” of all significant remaining historic military structures.

What initiatives would you put in place to grow our economy?

Unrestrained growth of one element of a body at the expense of others is called cancer. If by “economic growth” this questioner means the increase of GDP, then my answer is by investment in the development of clean energy systems that can be trialed in Guernsey before being made commercially available to larger jurisdictions. There are many other feasible sectors where growth could be encouraged in good conscience; it is just that the physicist in me finds this one the most attractive.

Do you believe that the rates of income support are a) too low b) about right or c) too high? Explain your answer in some detail.

My current employment involves working alongside people on income support, whether those who cannot access the open job market or those who are on work rehabilitation schemes. My overall feeling is that the level of income support is not far off the mark (given the complex set of issues that need to be balanced yet cannot be accurately measured). Although I recognise that errors are sometimes made (and some people need help to get them put right), my general experience is that ESS works hard to ensure that people get the right level of support.

How will you support and encourage young people coming to the island with regards to housing and licencing to ensure the island has more stable tax base as the population ages?

Equal pay for work of equal value would be a good starting point.

How will your religious faith influence your voting decisions?

Truth is eternal; justice is ideal. I conceive of God as Truth, and have committed my life to pursuing justice. I do this within the context of my Anglican priesthood. I am happy to expand on my approach to Christian faith (and its relationship to my scientific career) with any voter for whom it is important.

Have you read the recommendations contained in the Frontier Economics Report in which they state that the long term benefits of extending the runway far outweigh the environmental and capital costs? If so, are you in favour of extending the runway?

I believe that that aviation industry will look very different after the pandemic has been brought fully under control. It is not clear that the case made in the Frontier Economics Report addressed all the issues that will be relevant to any future decision regarding the runway. [I was in favour of the extension. I am not certain that I will remain in favour if I have correctly read the signs of change – especially as the signs are not entirely clear (or at least not to me).]

What are your views on the cost of Primary Healthcare locally and what innovative ideas do you have that don’t simply involve ‘redirecting funding from a different states pot’ to create fair, equitable and affordable access to Primary Care for all islanders?

Improving the quality of our Primary Care is, like it or not, about increased investment (whatever efficiency savings might be made, and whatever gaps might be plugged by partnership with the private sector and the third sector). There is some hope that discrimination legislation will guarantee equal access for all residents. I think we have reached the point where we have to recognise that a larger percentage of government income has to be directed toward Health. If other areas are to maintain the same level of investment, then government revenue must increase.

Do you support developing end of life care (including palliative care) or would you look to introduce a form of euthanasia as in assisted dying (assisted suicide)?

It is my view that introducing primary legislation to allow assisted dying would be a mistake. I understand the fears of those who are afraid to live in some conditions of health, but I am not convinced that individual fears should be seen as sufficient to warrant commitments to assessing the value of life in terms of its quality. The cost is an undermining of the fundamental principle on which human society now seeks to flourish; that is, the equal value of every life. The case for legalising assisted dying becomes weaker as palliative care becomes more effective. Double effect is sufficient to ensure that the intention to alleviate suffering provides the protection we need to ensure that palliative care can remain effective right up until end of life. In jury trials, it also seems to effectively protect ordinary people who do assist others to die in circumstances of great suffering. [This space is too short for a more nuanced response to the pastoral issues that arise.]

Education - Do you know what T levels are and if you do, would you be enthusiastically demanding that they are available here in Guernsey?

I enthusiastically support ensuring that every pupil has access to the kind of education that best suits their ambitions and abilities. On these terms, I would welcome the introduction of T-levels based on demand that was not skewed by the reduction of other current options.

What will you do to help Guernsey businesses revive and thrive and make Guernsey a 'smarter' and technologically advanced place to do business, and to encourage new start up businesses?

Realistically, the best I can do is to promote decisions within the States that make Guernsey a smart place for companies developing green technologies to invest. To claim the ability to do more would be disingenuous.

There is a lack of mental health support available - particularly to those who seem to fall into the apparent gap between the secondary and primary mental health services. What will you do to address this?

In my view, there is need for greater scrutiny at Committee level (and, indeed by the Scrutiny Committee) of the implementation of many of the frameworks policies put in place by the Committee for Health and Social Care. While it is the role of the civil service to deliver, it is the role of politicians to ensure that they are delivering. [Freedom of Information Law would help the public to support politicians in this role.]

How would you as a deputy ensure emotive proposals such as, change to abortion law or assisted dying law would be publicly debated? And allow Islanders to have more of a say in these emotive issues.

The States has a duty to consult on these issues. The presentation of a factual framework provides secure scaffolding for allowing the expression of strong feelings without the breakdown of respectful debate. There are people on Island who are skilled at leading such discussions. It is a matter of holding the States to account if consultation is seen to be cursory.

What is your position on the opportunity to debate the abortion issue more openly and fairly with more balanced representations to the Deputies?

There is little value in any debate that is not open, or fair (for example, any debate that does not take into account all the relevant information) or respectful. I think all issues of wide public interest should attract proper public debate.

How do you see the way forward for secondary education in the island? Do you favour a particular model and if so which one?

I prefer three schools with a separate sixth form integrated with the College of Further Education. That said, I am not inclined to vote for policies that I prefer, but for polices that are best (that is, the policies a dispassionate assessor would favour). [It would be nice to think that I always preferred what is best, but I have often formed preferences before fully understanding the issues.]

Recognising the importance of our natural environment and our hospitality industry how would you propose to move forward essential repairs and any development at St Peter Port harbour, securing access to our beaches (e.g. Petit Port, Divette, Soldiers bay), the maintenance of our cliff paths and the important access from the bathing places to the Clarence battery? Does this essential maintenance take priority over the development of the East Coast/Town seafront?

This response is not meant to be brutal, though it is, perhaps unfluffy. First, if work is essential, then there is not a question about moving it forward. Determining what is essential as opposed to desirable is no easy matter! The problem is, it seems unlikely that the States of Deliberation will be easily convinced to secure access to our beaches (e.g. Petit Port, Divette, Soldiers’ Bay) or undertake maintenance of our cliff paths and the important access from the bathing places to the Clarence battery unless a case is made that there is a risk to public safety, or the benefits outweigh the costs. I would be happy, however, to help concerned people develop such a case and to put it forward to the States on their behalf. My motto is not MY EARS, YOUR VOICE for nothing.

What are your views about the proposed way forward with regard to Probate, recognising that the age-old system has been efficient, pastoral, and inexpensive? Are you of the view "if it ain't broke don't fix it"?

I do not know enough about this subject to give a certain answer. My understanding is that the Ecclesiastical Court does manage these matters, as the questioner says, in an efficient, pastoral and inexpensive manner. Unless there is a good case of which I am unaware, I cannot see changing the system as a priority.

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