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Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 03 JUNE 2013 Papers, Questions for Oral Answer, Motions and Legislation
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.06.2013 (Article Archived on 20.07.2013)

After H E the Governor Mr Haywood left the meeting the confirmation of the records of Legislative Assembly meetings taking place on 20 December 2012 and 21 February 2013 took place.

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 03 JUNE 2013

Papers, Questions for Oral Answer, Motions and Legislation

 

Tape and Transcript by J. Brock (FINN)

 

It has been decided to transcribe Gavin Short’s Motion for Adjournment speech as the last item on the transcript list.  We continue with Questions for Oral Answer during the Monday, 03 June 2013 session.

 

After H E the Governor Mr Haywood left the meeting the confirmation of the records of Legislative Assembly meetings taking place on 20 December 2012 and 21 February 2013 took place.

 

 

The following papers were then laid on the Table by the Honourable Chief Executive:

 

(Copies of Subsidiary Legislation published in the Falkland Islands’ Gazette since the last sitting of Legislative Assembly and laid on the Table pursuant to Section 34.1 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance 1977)

 

1.     Falkland Islands Development Corporation Transitional Provisions

 

2.     Falkland Islands Development Corporation Contracts and Ceiling

 

3.     Falkland Islands Development Corporation Reserve Powers Regulations

 

4.     Falkland Islands Development Corporation Appointment, Co-option and Removal of Board Members Regulations

 

And laid on the Table Pursuant to Section 30.13.1b of the Statistics Ordinance 2010:

 

1.     The Falkland Islands’ Census 2012 Statistics and Data Tables

 

And in accordance with Section 11(c) of the Public Accounts Ordinance 2009:

 

1.     The Comments of the Public Accounts Committee in respect of the audit reports on the Winter Fuel Allowance

2.     The Customs Service

3.     Fixed Assets

4.     The Falkland Islands’ Government Office

5.     Stanley Leisure Centre

 

 

Question No 6/2013 by the Dr the Hon Barry Elsby:

 

Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, Can the Honourable Roger Edwards please tell this House by what percentage Falkland Island (s’) pay awards have fallen behind the retail price index for the period July 2000 to July 2013?

 

RE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I thank the Treasury for the response to this question.  Over the period July 2000 to July 2013 the cumulative effect of FIG pay awards means that the wages are approximately 13% behind what they would have been had pay awards matched RPI. 

 

For example, an individual who earned £20,000.00 in 2000 would now receive a wage of £27,743.00 following all the intervening FIG pay awards.

 

Had FIG pay awards matched RPI the corresponding wage would have been £31,841.00.  IE current FIG wages, are at 87% of what they would have been had they matched changes in RPI over the period.

 

A full table of the pay awards and RPI is included in my answer but, Mr Speaker, there are 13 lines to read out and I propose that I publish them and give the Honourable Barry Elsby a copy of this.  But they will be made public as part of the answer to this question.

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank my Colleague for that reply.  Of course I need to declare an interest here as a Government Employee – one of very many.  I would just like to ask a quick question, if I may?  Considering pay rises also are usually reflected in the increases in Pensions and looking at the amount of fall between RPI and salaries, does he consider that it is right that we continue to approve below inflation pay awards and thus pension increases?

 

RE:  Mr Speaker, I think more to the point is the ability to pay.  And at each and every budget session, we spend many hours looking at the income to the Falklands and how much we can afford to pay the growing number of people employed by the Falkland Islands Government.  I am sure that you and all other Members and the public at large are well aware of the huge increase in numbers of personnel being employed by Government and we have to maintain a balance between payment and affordability.

 

 

Question No 7/2013 by the Hon Mr Gavin Short:

 

Mr Speaker, Honourable Members could the Honourable Barry Elsby please advise what progress has been made with the Nuisances – that’s Noise Level Working Paper that was submitted from the Police Committee and what is the estimated time line to have something in a form that can be put out for public debate and consultation as its implementation in some form or the other is equally awaited by those who have been and still are victims especially to noise nuisance?

 

BE:   Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for his question.  He is right that a paper did come to the Environmental Committee in February this year on the question of noise and other nuisances.  And it seemed to us at the time that the main focus of that paper from the Police Committee was to look at noise from public houses late at night, private parties and the like.  But as the Committee started our discussions it became apparent that there was much more to this than really met the eye and we would need to talk about noisy vehicles, noisy roosters – in certain cases – a number of people have contacted me about noisy roosters waking them up early in the morning – dogs barking as well and my Honourable Colleague, Dick Sawle will tell me for the last 3 or 4 nights he didn’t sleep because there were noisy jiggers in the harbour.  So there is a lot more to the noise element than we realised.  When it comes to the nuisance again, where do we start and in the Committee we are mindful of complaints about lights being used on jiggers in the harbour when oil exploration and exploitation starts again next year we will have much more noise nuisance coming from FIPASS.  There is also a lot of nuisance from dust from the Quarry – which certainly is a public health hazard as well as being a nuisance; and what about Lorries belching fumes being a nuisance to people? 

 

And the committee felt that really the common law ought to apply that obviously noisy parties can be addressed by the Police.  Noisy public houses can be addressed by the Police.  And if public houses become a regular nuisance then the licencing laws could be used to curtail that problem if they weren’t able to look after their clientele as they left.  And certainly there is no other legislation, I believe, in the Islands apart from Police Legislation to control that.  And our Committee were uncertain whether the Police Committee wanted new laws developed to attack and look after the noise and nuisance problems, which would almost certainly need the employment of civil enforcement officers to go along with that.

 

And the Environmental Committee felt that – our committee – the Environmental Committee as it is presently constituted was not the ideal place to discuss this.  So in summary we felt it was a much bigger problem than first thought and that the Environmental Committee was not the right forum.  And so we referred it back to the Police Committee for further discussion there.  But I believe your Police Committee hasn’t met since our Committee.

 

GS:  I thank the Honourable member for his reply and I was totally unaware that it had been referred back to the Police Committee so I shall be urging that we have a Police Committee meeting forthwith because this is something that – oh – I am not allowed to debate, Sir.  Sorry.

 

MS:   Mr Speaker, Honourable members, can I ask the Attorney General to advise what remedies are available under Common Law ti deal with Noise?

 

ML:  Honourable members, the position under the common law is that the Law of Nuisance is a Civil Proceeding so it relies on one person taking action in Civil Court against another person for nuisance.  And the remedies that would be available would be by way of injunctions or possibly damages or a combination of the two.  Just as a correction, the Police don’t have specific powers in relation to nuisance as such – nuisance itself not being a criminal offence as such. 

 

And just by way of comment, in other places there is specific law developed to deal with nuisance which does involve enforcement officers and is done by local authority officers and not the Police.  Common law powers are civil powers which are available from one citizen to take action against another citizen in nuisance matters.

 

DS:  Mr Speaker I would just like to ask the Honourable Barry Elsby if he thinks that his answer perhaps sounded like an answer from “Yes Minister?”   In other words, let’s widen the debate and let’s include everything but let’s not tackle the issue, which I believe my Honourable Colleague Gavin Short has made fairly clear and simple.

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I am not sure I should be congratulated on whether I make it sound like a question from ”Yes Minister” or not?   But it is certainly not meant to be in any way obstructive.  It was the clear view of the Committee that the Environmental Committee as it is formulated is not the right forum to take this matter forward.  And we thought it would be better addressed if the Police Committee formed a sub-committee to look at that and co-opted on that committee somebody with more experience – more relevance.

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, might I suggest perhaps a working group should also be formed with extensive public consultation?

 

KB:  The Honourable Gavin Short, If you wish?

 

GS:  No.  No.  No.  It is just more a statement I would like to make, Sir – not a question.

 

Question No 8/2013 by the Hon Mr Gavin Short:

 

Can the Honourable Dick Sawle please advise if there has been any consideration in respect of moving the regulation and enforcement of amateur radio licences from the Post office to Regulatory Services?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, no consideration to date has been given to moving the regulation and enforcement of amateur radio licences from the Post Office to Regulatory Services.  Depending on what progress is made to achieve an out-sourcing of the Post Office Service – and this is by no means a foregone conclusion at this stage, a move of this function in future if appropriate.

 

GS:  Even if we don’t privatise the Post Office, would you agree that telecoms in general are quite a specialist field and perhaps it may not lie with the expertise that is contained within the Post office?  And that to do this would require more of a specialist unit within Regulatory Services would be better to handle this sort of thing?

 

DS:  Mr Speaker, yes.  I thank my Colleague for that supplementary question.  The difficulty is not so much with telecommunications.  The question has more to do with the regulation enforcement of radio licences.  This is a big issue.  Spectrum Management, which this falls under, has been considered by the Regulatory Department in our on-going discussions over telecommunications in general.  One of the difficulties with it is that it does involve a very large piece of work on legislation and also regulation to bring it into force.  Once you bring it into force you then need enforcement agencies that will basically check on whether or not you are using the licence correctly and so on and so forth.

 

As it is not considered to be a big enough issue at the moment, yet I think – probably summing up my other Honourable Colleagues’ opinions here – I don’t think it’s likely to reach any top priority in the list we already have of legislative drafting that goes on.  I agree entirely that Spectrum Management is something that should exist and it would be good if it did exist.  But to try and do that at this present moment in time certainly would require a huge amount of work and additional posts to enforce and regulate.

 

GS:  I thank my Honourable Colleague for his reply.

 

Question No 9/2013 by the Hon Mr Gavin Short:

 

Can the Honourable Barry Elsby please advise what steps are being taken to eradicate or at least to control invasive species within the Falklands, in particular, Thistles – with apologies to my Scottish friends?

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank my (Honourable) Colleague for his question.  The Falkland Islands indeed have a lot of invasive species as well as thistles and we have Thistles in Town, on Saunders and certainly MPA has a problem with Thistles as well.  But we have Rats, Foxes, lately earwigs, which is a big problem, Caliphate at Port Sussex, hawkweed at Port Stephens –

 

GS:  People

 

BE:  Give me time – Rage-wood, Gorse, and there are others including, of course, people, politicians, sheep – but the main ones, I think you would agree, are the ones we just talked about.  But as anybody will realise, control first is prevention.  And I think it is vitally important that we have a very strong biosecurity system such that we try to stop the importation at the very beginning and I know that the Agricultural Department is trying to beef up their system so they can try to control and reduce the chance of more invasive species that are arriving here.

 

Looking at Thistles, they are found mainly around MPA, Stanley, Saunders and the control programme we have in place there is funded by the Environmental Studies Budget.  MPA also contributes money towards trying to eradicate Thistles around Mare harbour and the area there.

 

Caliphate – well, that’s a huge problem out at Port Sussex to the effect that it’s out of control.  Many methods have been tried to control it – mechanical methods by the Agricultural Department – with some success but it’s a huge problem.  We did look at biological controls there but they really don’t look as though they are going to produce anything.  Hawkweed – again, a huge problem out at Port Sussex -some efforts have been made to try to control this but with very limited success and if we are going to control it, it would need a huge input.

 

Rats – well, we have been much more successful there.  Many of the Islands that were Rat infested have been successfully cleared of rats and progress is now on-going and research has come to the Environmental Committee recently to try and find out whether rats actually swim to close-by Islands.  You don’t want to eradicate rats on islands close by the mainland only to find out Rats swim over there.

 

And of course Earwigs.  They are perhaps our newest invasive species and we hope that biological controls will offer the best long-term solutions to that problem.

 

But coming back to my Honourable Colleague’s initial question about Thistles, spraying and strimming offer the best hope of control and certainly people around town can play an important role because if they see Thistles growing in their gardens or in the streets they can pull them up and bin them.  That’s the best way to control them around town.

 

This year we hope to have around £20,000.00 allocated towards the control of invasive species but that’s really a drop in the ocean.  Biological controls for Earwigs - if they go forward - are going to cost us £60 to £70,000.00.  And any meaningful attack on Caliphate and Hawk-weed will take many hundreds of thousands of pounds and that’s just for control.  If we are looking to eradicate as you mentioned, then we are looking at many, many hundreds of thousands of pounds on top of that.

 

GS:  I thank my Honourable Colleague for his supply.

 

Question No 10/2013 by Dr the Hon Barry Elsby:

 

Mr Speaker, Honourable members, the Sapper Hill Housing Development will generate significant numbers of housing plots.  Many are greatly subsidised for first time buyers.  With this in mind, does the Honourable Sharon Halford believe the time has come to change planning regulations so as to prevent so called in-fill building within Stanley?

 

SH:  Mr Speaker, on the statement there made by the Honourable Barry Elsby about first time buyers, I would hope he recognises that it was this Assembly who decided that first time buyers should get houses at Sapper Hill at significant subsidised prices.  And I think that is to be commended actually and would hopefully go on into the future.

 

As to his question on in-fill, it is important to recognise that people have different views on what constitutes in-fill development.  Some have interpreted the term as applying only to residential development of garden land within an existing plot, whilst others have considered that the term should also embrace the development of any small area of land in the town, including vacant plots within existing frontages.  One planning definition of in-fill is building on a relatively small site in-between existing buildings.  In-fill development may involve development of undeveloped land for re-development.  This definition covers a wide range of potential development sites.  A blanket ban on in-fill development for the whole of Stanley may not be appropriate as the opportunity and the scope for in-filling varies and each case should be judged on its merits.

 

That said, the Town Plan is under review and proposals are being brought to take the criteria used to assess in-fill developments, such as establishing a minimum size for plots, reviewing the maximum percentage that a dwelling may take up on a plot and increasing the distance between dwellings and plot boundaries.

 

Though the sub-division of garden land is proposed, it will also be important to insure that the existing dwelling retains a reasonable amount of garden.  The revised policy might also establish additional design criteria for proposals near listed buildings or the historical parts of the town.  The net effect of these changes, if adopted, will mean that fewer in-fill developments will be approved in the future.

 

BE:  I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for that reply.  And I am sure she shares my concern that we don’t want to destroy the character of the old part of Stanley by in-fill particularly at this time when more plots are becoming available out of the immediate area of Stanley.

 

MS:  Mr Speaker, would the Honourable Barry Elsby not agree that this issue is rather bigger than in-fill.  What we are talking about is the character of the old part of Stanley.  And there is a lot more to preserving that than in-fill.  And would he not agree therefore that this is a much bigger issue than that?

 

And can I also ask the Honourable Sharon Halford if when the Planning Committee are considering this they bear in mind the balance between the necessity for regulatory provision and the rights of people individually who own property and land to dispose of that land as they so wish?

 

BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, yes it is a big problem but it is a problem that people have spoken to me about what they see as the cramming in of houses into ever smaller plots which they feel is destroying the character of Stanley.  And yes you are right.  There is a bigger issue here but my question was specifically related to the in-fill issue.

 

 

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