Falklands : Falklands Legislative Assembly Meeting 26 February 2010 Part 1
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.03.2010 (Article Archived on 18.03.2010)
A meeting of Legislative Assembly was held at 1030hrs on Friday, 26 February 2010 in the Court and Assembly chamber of the Town Hall
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY MEETING HELD ON FRIDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2010
(Part 1 – Questions for Oral Answer and Legislation)
By J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of Legislative Assembly was held at 1030hrs on Friday, 26 February 2010 in the Court and Assembly chamber of the Town Hall. Present were MLAs Jan Cheek (JC), Roger Edwards (RE), Emma Edwards (EE), Bill Luxton (BL), Sharon Halford (SH), Glenn Ross, (GR), and Gavin Short (GS). Also present were the Attorney General Mr David Pickup (DP), the Speaker, Mr Keith Biles (KB) the Chief Executive Mr Tim Thorogood (TT), the Clerk, Ms Claudette Anderson-Prior (CAP), the Director of Corporate Finance, Mr Keith Padgett (KP) and the Commander British Forces, Commodore Thicknesse. Dick Sawle (DS) has departed for the UK.
After prayers by the Rev Dr Richard Hines of Christ Church Cathedral the minutes of the meeting held on Friday, 18 December 2009 were accepted. The Speaker drew Members’ attention to the following: “Two subsidiary answers that are contained in that record – the first one to a question by the Hon Roger Edwards. Are you (RE) satisfied with that answer?
RE: I am Mr Speaker
KB: And the second one was from the Hon Bill Luxton. Are you (BL) satisfied with that answer?
BL: (indicates he is).
Papers to be Laid on the Table by the Honourable the Chief Executive
Copies of Subsidiary Legislation published in the Falkland Islands Gazette since the last sitting of the Legislative Council and Laid on the Table pursuant to section 34(1) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance 1977.
Taxes and Duties (~Defence Contractors’ Employees Exemption) Order 2009
Road Traffic (Approval of Devices for Breath Testing and Analysis) Order 2009
Planning and Building General Development Order 1991 (Leading Lights Direction 2009)
Registration of Charities (Exemption) Order 2009
Patricia Luxton National Nature Reserve (Chartres) Order 2009
Patricia Luxton National Nature Reserve (Chartres) Regulation 2009
Public Accounts Committee (Maximum Fine) Order 2010
Public Accounts Committee (Registrable Interests) Order 2010
Public Accounts Committee Ordinance (Correction) Order 2010
Falkland Islands Government Statements and Audit Reports laid on the Table in accordance with the provisions of Section 57 of the Finance and Audit Ordinance for the year ends 30 June 2009.
Falkland Islands Government Currency Fund
Pensions (Old Scheme) Fund
Capital Equalisation Fund
and for the year ended 31 December 2008
The Retirement Pensions Equalisation Fund
Questions for Oral Answer
Question Number 01/10 by the Honourable Sharon Halford
Could the Honourable Glenn Ross please advise this house how many farms have received assistance for pasture improvement under the FIP programme and how many of those farms
(a) are now supplying livestock to FIMCo, and
(b) have achieved the 3 in 1 return that was anticipated?
GR: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I am grateful to the Honourable Member for the question and to the Department of Agriculture for providing the answer, which reads as follows: “A total of 58 farms have used the Farm Improvement Programme (FIP) of which 55 have received assistance for pasture improvement. Of these, 49 supplied livestock to FIMCO in the 2008/2009 season. This represents 89%.
Part ‘B’ of the question – the answer to how many of the farms 3 to 1 return on investment is rather more complex. By way of explanation to others, this relates to the criteria against which applications for FIP funds have been assessed. Applications have to show that there will be a 3 to 1 return on the investment over a 10 year period.
In terms of assessing applications judgment has to be exercised as to whether the proposals are likely to result in a 3 to 1 return. The 3 to 1 target has been used for FIP assessments for six years, whereas the assessment over whether the target has been achieved is based on 10 years.
In cases where the target has been achieved within the 6 years of the current FIP, it is possible to be clear about that and it is possible to identify the proposals which are unlikely to achieve the target within 10 years.
The issue is further complicated as investment in pasture improvement is not a one-off process. In order to maintain the benefits of pasture improvement further inputs are required during the 10-year FIP period – an example being regular applications of fertiliser.
All FIP projects are monitored. However, monitoring tends to be more general in terms of gauging success or otherwise, rather than evaluating whether a 3 to 1 return has been achieved, which is linked to a longer 10-year period.
The results of monitoring are used to fine tune best practice strategies for pasture improvement and the future evaluation of FIP applications. The complexities of measuring the 3 to 1 return on investment are such that the Agriculture Advisory Committee have yesterday considered proposals to produce alternative methodology for the evaluation of FIP applications. And there will be further consultation with farmers on this.”
SH: I thank the Honourable Glenn Ross for his response and I am terribly sorry I gave him such a difficult question to answer. I am also very pleased to see the percentage of farmers that are supplying livestock to the abattoir after receiving the pasture improvement assistance. Thank-you.
Question Number 02/10 by the Honourable Sharon Halford
Could the Honourable Glenn Ross please advise this house that once farmers start down the road to pasture improvement how many years are they able to claim funding for and to what value, and do the Agricultural Department monitor the success or failure of each project and if so for how many years?
GR: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, once again I am grateful to the Honourable member for Camp for the question and to the Department of Agriculture for providing the response, which reads as follows: “There is no limit as to the number of years a farmer can access FIP funds. The Maximum funding that can be accessed by any farm was £7,500.00 in the current financial year.
Each application is assessed on its merits, so each individual application has to satisfy the criteria for the allocation of farm improvement programme funds. The response to question 01/10 covers some of this ground.
The Department of Agriculture does monitor the progress and assess the future of each project. As indicated in the earlier response, it is not straight forward to assess the 3 to 1 return issue and monitoring focuses more on how successful the project has been generally.
Monitoring will continue for a 10-year period set by the FIP unless, of course, it is clear that there’s nothing further to be gained by such monitoring. Equally, with approval, farm monitoring will continue for longer, where useful information can be gained and be applied to future projects. So there’s no finite cut-off point in terms of monitoring.SH: I thank the Honourable Glenn Ross for that reply.
Question Number 03/10 by the Honourable Sharon Halford
Could the Honourable Bill Luxton please advise this house of the current situation regarding the installation of television to camp and indicate when the project is now anticipated to start and finish?
BL: Mr Speaker, restoration of BFBS 1 for Camp is due to happen this month. The new transformer has cleared the manufacturer and is with MOD for air shipment. MOD bumped it earlier this week due to other priorities but tell us it will arrive next week. SSVC were on Mt Moriah last week doing preparation work for its arrival and checking out the transmitter. When the transformer is in situation on the mount another restoration attempt will be made. Hopefully this time it will work but there is still a risk that it will not. If it does not more investment will be required, which at present is not funded and is not available within the TV budget project.
Regarding TV for Camp – the four channel digital services – satellite dishes are due to arrive by ship on the 26th of March. The first satellite dish installations in Camp will start shortly after this. On installation the householder will receive a decoder and a viewing card. Installations will commence on the West around Port Stevens, working upwards on the west, then across to the East, going south and then north to Stanley. Other islands will be done progressively in that direction. Overall installation west to east will be done between April and June 2010.
I would just like to add that with the early start on the West I think householders are well advised, if they haven’t already done so, to get their concrete bases in place as soon as possible.
SH: I thank the Honourable Bill Luxton for this response but I think there is a slight anomaly there in the answer. If we are going to start this month and the staff’s not arriving till next week, then I suspect it will be next month they actually start. Could the Honourable Bill Luxton also tell us if there is going to be any charge for this service. Has this been discussed?
BL: The satellite dishes are due to arrive on the 26th of March and installation will be between April and June so there is presumably time to get those dishes out to Camp for the initial installations.
The question of a charge – media charge – is a matter for debate within this assembly at the moment so following the budget session I think that will become apparent.
RE: I thank the Honourable William Luxton for the answer he’s given on the television but it’s not only television that we are going to be putting into Camp. It is a radio service as well. The current analogue system that is received in some areas of the Camp and other areas still not being received will be allowed over a period of time to fade out and there will be no analogue broadcasting to the Camp. So my follow-up question to the Honourable Bill Luxton is: What is going to be put into its place? Are we going to have a digital audio broadcast system so that people can receive and pick up a digital system in all areas of Camp or is it only going to be a digital system available at the end of the pipe where your satellite receiver receives a digital signal? Perhaps he could answer the question on digital radio broadcasts.
BL: I think the Honourable Member knows well that at the moment there is no answer to that. The current system is working in some areas and not in others. At the moment there are no plans, to my knowledge, to extend digital broadcasting. I think this is something that has to be addressed in the fairly near future.
RE: Mr Speaker, indeed I did know that as an answer but I wished to make the point so that people are aware because I actually perceive television as being entertainment whereas the radio is essential information. And I think people would find it very difficult to live in the remote areas of Camp – probably could do quite well without the television but without a radio as well I think would be very difficult. And therefore I hope that we get this problem resolved sooner rather than later.
KB: Would the Honourable Member like to ask a supplementary question rather than make a statement?
RE: Perhaps the Honourable Bill Luxton would like to bring this to the House sooner rather than later.
BL: I thank the Honourable Member for that statement and question and I agree entirely. I think it is essential that we try to ensure that radio reception throughout the whole of the Camp continues. There are some areas without reception at the moment and I think it needs to be brought to the whole of the Camp population. I thank the Honourable Member for drawing attention to this.
Question Number 04/10 by the Honourable Jan Cheek
Could the Honourable Sharon Halford advise the House, what has been the annual cost of in-service training, including CPD, for Health Services staff in each of the last two years and how has that amount been split between doctors, nursing staff and other health professionals?
SH: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I thank the Honourable Jan Cheek for the question and, obviously, the medical Department for giving me the answer.
The Health and Education Department is pleased for the opportunity to reply to the question. UK health bodies now have the requirement for their professional staff to demonstrate that they have undertaken continual, professional development during specific time frames in order for them to remain registered. The Falkland Islands Government has supported their staff in this. CPD indicates to the health bodies that the professional is working to continuously improve and develop themselves in line with relevant and up to date practice.
Alongside this the Health Service has developed staff locally using the National Vocational Qualification systems.
The majority of the funding approved over the last two years has been for the CPD requirement to enable all professional qualified clinicians to maintain their registration. Funding has also been approved to allow two members of the nursing staff to go to the UK to work towards gaining their qualifications as a Registered Nurse.
Their entrance qualification was gained through the NVQ system. One of these staff members qualified as a Registered Nurse in 2009.
In house mandatory training days for all employees are also provided. The hidden costs for these training days are (that) the staff time as well as the training resources required. However, the benefit is that staff can work safely within the policies of the health service. The majority of these costs are absorbed through the KEMH budget. In the 2008/9 budgetary year the cost for this training amounted to just under £52,000.00. And in the current year it’s just over £29,000.00 – a considerable cut but perhaps that is down to the budget.
Both these totals are broken down as follows: For GPs, for which there is a contractual obligation, in the last financial year it was just under £15,000.0 and this year it’s about £4,500. For Nurses, including Registered Nurse Training, last year was just over £22,000.00 and this year it’s been about £19,500.00. For the Dental Department it was just under £2,000.00 last year and only £60.00 this year. For Allied Health Professionals it was just over £1,500.00 last year and £600.00 this year. For other staff, it was around £2,500.00 last year and £1,500.00 this year. For the engineers, £9,000.00 was spent on training last year and £3,000.00 this year.
JC: I thank the Honourable Sharon Halford for her reply. Thank you.
Question Number 05/10 by the Honourable Jan Cheek
Could the Honourable Glenn Ross advise the House if there is full cost recovery for veterinary services, including inspections to the agricultural industry, meat production, and to the fishing industry? If not what is the annual subsidy cost to each of the above?
GR: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members I am grateful to the Honourable Jan Cheek for the question and once again to the Department of Agriculture for providing the response.
I should warn people that the answer contains a word that I find difficult at times to pronounce – it’s veterinary. English is my second language and at times I trip up so if part way through it I refer to the vet’s surgery not because the Department of Agriculture became informal but because I have given up trying to pronounce it.
So the response reads as follows: Costs relating to all domestic small animal clinical work at the veterinary surgery in Stanley are based on full cost recovery. The current schedule of veterinary charges generally result in full cost recovery where services are supplied specifically to the meat production and fishery industries. There is some scope for reviewing charges in relation to export certificates.
Some services are provided on a developmental or trial basis and these are not always charged at full cost recovery rates at the outset. In the case of meat production there is full cost recovery on the provision of the Meat Hygiene Inspector and the official Veterinary Surgeon. In a similar way, the charges apply to fishing vessel inspections and transhipment inspections should result in full cost recovery including travelling time.
Charges applied to the agricultural industry cover costs in relation to drug usage and clinical procedures. In the case of farm visits, the cost of travelling time and travel are not fully recovered. So overall cost recovery in this sector may be around 50% as an estimate.
In terms of the Veterinary Section Budget, the overall budget shows revenue accounting for 40% of the total expenditure.
The nature of the veterinary task is such that not all the time can be charged to individual customers. And that’s a very significant overhead charge to be added into the charging structure.
The Veterinary section also spend time working on issues relevant to the Falkland Islands Government including welfare, clothes, legislation in relation to fisheries and the abattoir, import and export protocols, care of the sick, wildlife in conjunction with Falklands Conservation, other more general veterinary issues, which again could not necessarily be charged for any particular sector. There is also a general research component which does not involve cost recovery but which should produce future benefits.
JC: I thank the Honourable Glenn Ross for his most comprehensive reply.
Question Number 06/10 by the Honourable Jan Cheek
Could the Honourable Gavin Short advise the House, what has been the cost to date of ferry terminals including work to improve access roads and what is the estimated cost of completing both terminals and their access?
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I thank the Honourable Mrs Cheek for her question and I am indebted to the Director of Public Works for the reply he supplied me with.
The Capital Expenditure to date of the ferry terminals and associated works to form and upgrade access roads linking to these is the terminal’s permanent and temporary works £2,138,000.00. Roads – construction, upgrading and capping is £1,190,000.00.
The projected further cost of capital works is for the ferry terminals is £752,000.00. And that’s for the construction of the permanent terminal at Port Howard.
Moving on to roads, which gives a figure of £1,218,000.00 and this is for the completion of capping to Newhaven this season and of the remainder of the road from Port Howard to Fox Bay to remove the need to place a 15-tonne weight restriction on those sections of road in the winter and to enable year-round freight container haulage from Stanley to Fox Bay via ferry terminals.
And this makes a grand total of £5, 298,000.00 actual and projected expenditure.
JC: I thank the Honourable Gavin Short for his reply.
ORDER OF THE DAY: BILLS
Public Accounts Committee (Amendment) Bill 2010 – Exco Paper 31/10 25.02.10
(Certificate of Urgency )
TT: Mr Speaker I beg the first reading of the Bill and I will be asking my learned friend, the Attorney General to explain the details.
DP: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, this Bill seems to amend the Public Accounts Committee Ordinance which came into force on the 1st of February 2010 in response to representations made to the Government from the Members of the Public Accounts Committee.
The main purpose of the Bill is to make two changes to the arrangements of the Committee that were set out in the Ordinance. The first was to give the Committee a limited power to enter into contracts in its own name in order to carry out its functions. An example would be a contract with a person – for that person to act as a secretary to the Committee. The Ordinance contains no such power, i being envisaged that all such contracts would be entered into by the Government on behalf of the Committee.
The second is to clarify the extent to which meetings of the Committee should be open to the public. The Ordinance provides that all meetings of the Committee should ordinarily be open to the public. This Bill would amend that so that only hearings in which evidence is to be taken would be subject to that requirement. Valid arguments exist to justify both the positions set out in the Ordinance and the changes which are proposed to be made by this Bill.
In relation to the power to enter into contracts, there is certainly no absolute requirement for the changes to be made. The system can operate perfectly well under the provisions of the Ordinance. But on the other hand, for the contracts to be entered into in the Committee’s own name, emphasises the independence of the Committee from the Government.
It should be noted that the power to enter into contracts provided by this Bill protects the public purse by providing that such contracts can only be entered into by the Committee if the terms and conditions of any contract have been agreed in advance by the Governor advised by Executive Council.
In relation to public hearings there is, of course, some irony in one of the first steps of the Committee being to seek to restrict the right of the public to attend its meetings. But it has to be recognised that obvious difficulties would arise from a meeting of a committee taking place in advance of a hearing at which evidence will be taken from a particular individual at which how the hearing will be conducted, what areas will be probed and what questions will be asked will be discussed by the Committee Members and all of that having to take place in public, thus giving the individual an enormous advantage when it comes to actually give their evidence.
Similarly, after the evidence has been taken and the Committee is considering its report on a particular investigation, it might well be counter-productive if the process of agreeing what should be in that report had to take place in public.
So what this bill does is to provide that it should only be at meetings at which the Committee is to take evidence that it should be subject to the requirements that would be ordinarily held in public. That would enable the Committee to hold its other meetings in private should it decide to do so.
The position that only hearings where evidence is to be taken are open to the public is, as I understand it, is the position in relation to the UK Parliament Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, the final change made by this Bill is to correct some cross-referencing errors in the Ordinance.
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