Falklands : Falklands Legislative Assembly Meeting 22/10/10 (Part 1)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 25.10.2010 (Article Archived on 08.11.2010)
A meeting of Legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 1030hrs on Friday, 22 October 2010.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY MEETING FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER 2010
Transcript and Commentary by J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of Legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 1030hrs on Friday, 22 October 2010. Present were Members Sawle (DS), Luxton (BL), Halford (SH), Short (GS), Cheek (JC), Edwards, E (EE) and Edwards, R (RE). The Hon Mr Gavin Ross sent his apologies as he is stuck on the West. Also sending an apology is CBSAI, who is otherwise engaged at Mount Pleasant. Also present at the meeting were the Speaker (KB), the Hon Mr Keith Biles, the Clerk of Council, Ms Claudette Anderson-Prior (CAP), the Chief Executive, Mr Tim Thorogood (TT) and the Attorney General, Mr David Pickup (DP).
The session began with prayers by the Rev. Richard Hines of Christ Church Cathedral. Confirmation of the Record of the Meeting of Legislative Assembly held on Friday 30 July 2010 went according to plan.
Papers were laid on the table by the Hon Chief Executive which are 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. And in accordance with the provisions of Section 57 of the Finance and Audit Ordinance, the; Falkland Islands Pensions Scheme Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2009 Falkland Islands government Retirement Pensions Equalisation Fund Financial Statements for the year end 31 December 2009 The programme of business of the Public Accounts Committee to June 2011 Laid on the Table in accordance with section 12 of the Public Accounts Committee Ordinance 2009:
· Banking Regulations (Amendment) Order 2010
· United Kingdom Forces (Jurisdiction of Colonial Courts; Civilian Component) Order 2010
· Taxes and Duties (Defence Contractors’ Employees Exemption) (No3) Order 2010
· Currency Notes Order 2010
· Complaints Commissioners (Form of Summons) Order 2010
· Complaints Commissioners (Maximum Fine) Order 2010
· Public Accounts Committee (Form of Summons and Warrant) Order 2010
Question number 13 of 2010 by the Honourable Dick Sawle
Would the Honourable Sharon Halford agree with me that the ever increasing MCA regulations are having a negative effect on the operation of the Concordia Bay to the outer islands; and I would ask the Honourable Member to advise the House of what arrangements are currently in place to get plant and machinery to the outer islands, and if there are any plans to improve the accessibility for these items in both the short and longer term?
SH: Mr Speaker, I thank the Honourable Dick Sawle for this question as it is an area of great concern to the residents of the outer islands, many of whom must see progress as something that has gone backwards when it comes to their communications.
To answer the first part of the question, are arrangements are currently in place to get plant and machinery to the outer Islands; to date much work has been done by FIG and close collaboration with both island owners and Workboat Services Limited to assess and improve the ability to move plant and machinery as well as meet the operational needs of the islands.
Several island owners have already built or are in the process of building ramps. Unfortunately, despite this there are still some islands like Speedwell Island though despite efforts to find a suitable beach for landing the Concordia Bay, access still remains a problem. Undertaking any work to improve access such as jetty repairs and the construction of sea ramps generally needs to have plant and equipment in situ to be able to undertake the work.
Under the MCA Regulations on safe carrying limits, sea trucks are not permitted to carry such heavy loads. The MCA are merely enforcing the weight restrictions set out by the manufacturers of the sea trucks.
Whilst the sea trucks can and do transport smaller payloads, I understand that these particular sea trucks are unable to carry lighter vehicles like land rovers, too. The only other option that currently exists for movement of such items is via the Military, with their tugs, barges or helicopters. These options do, of course, need collaboration with the Military on costs and availability.
To answer the second part of your question, a lot of efforts are being made to find a long term or indeed a short term solution to these problems; as already mentioned in response to the first question, many Island owners have worked very successfully in collaboration with PWD and Workboat Services Ltd to find workable solutions for improving access by installing sea ramps and looking at using gabion baskets. This work is on-going and will continue into the future until a workable solution is found for all habitable islands.
Unless or until MLAs wish to consider the possibility of purchasing a sea truck with a heavier loading capacity than what we currently have, then our options are likely to remain as above.
DS: Mr Speaker I would like to thank the Honourable Sharon Halford for a very comprehensive answer to the question and some communications including this type of communication do indeed seem to be going backwards; as I believe they type of operation we are talking about was entirely possible not that long ago before MCA Regulations made it too difficult but I would like to ask the Honourable Sharon Halford if she believes the a simple solution is to allow Workboat Services to load somebody’s own vessel instead of using sea trucks.
SH: I do believe I should not be giving an opinion on that and it would be something that would need to be discussed with Workboat Services and (reference) the contract they have with FIG.
DS: Mr Speaker, I would simply like to request that the Honourable Sharon Halford takes that forward accordingly.
SH: Mr Speaker, we can, I am sure, ask the Attorney General can look into this for us.
KB: Are there any supplementary questions? (There are no supplementarys.)
Motion No 2 of 2010 by the Honourable Dick Sawle:
That this House do adopt the current and future regulation of its business – the revised standing rules and orders – as laid before each Member at this sitting in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 of the Falkland Islands Constitution.
DS: Mr Speaker, honourable Members, the review of Standing Rules and Orders has taken place and has been discussed and gone through in detail with Members of this House so there are no surprises. The aim of the revisions has been firstly to remove duplications and anomalies within the old standing orders and reflect current practice, to make Standing Orders compliant with the new Constitution, given that we now have a Public Accounts Committee and also, of course, a Complaints Commissioner; to make the process of passing legislation through the Assembly clearer; to include the definition of the roles of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker into the body of the Standing orders; to specifically incorporate the body of the Nolan Principle of Standards of Public Life into Standing Orders; and to ensure compliance with these by a code of conduct applicable to and positively accepted by all Members of Legislative Assembly; and finally to provide a procedure to enable alleged breaches of the code of conduct to be passed to the Principle Complaints Commissioner for investigation and report.
I must thank Mr Speaker and also the Attorney General’s Chambers for their work in completing the revisions and also explaining them to Members. It is a lengthy document but one that further strengthens accountability of Assembly Members.
Mr Speaker, I propose therefore that this House adopts for the current and future regulation of its business the revised standing rules and orders as laid before each Member as this sitting in accordance with the provisions of Article 46 of the Falkland Islands Constitution.
The Honourable Roger Edwards Seconded the Motion.
KB: Before we enter into further debate I would like to draw the attention of Honourable Members to a slight change to the printed version of Standing Orders. Its No. 31 Subparagraph 1 where the word “Shall” should be “may.” It has already been changed in the orders that are in front of you. Does any Member wish to speak to the Motion?
There were no comments or objections to the Motion and it was carried and the new standing orders had immediate effect.
LEGISLATION: ORDER OF THE DAY: BILLS
Supplementary Appropriation Bill (2010-2011) Bill 2010 (Exco 21/10/10) does not require publishing in the Gazette (first reading)
Statistics Bill 2010 - Exco 174/10 29.07.10 - Gazette Supplement 8 - 4.08.2010 (second reading)
Smoking (Prohibition) Bill 2010 - Exco 191/10 19.08.10 - Gazette Supplement 9 – 31.08.2010 (second reading)
Public Accounts Committee (Amendment)(No 2) Bill 2010 - Exco 223/10 16.09.10 - Gazette Supplement 10 – 30.09.2010 (second reading)
Supplementary Appropriation Bill (2010-2011) Bill 2010:
This Bill was not required to be published in the Gazette and required a first reading. Mr Keith Padgett begged to move that the Bill be read a first time. The Chief Executive seconded the Motion. After the first reading, the explanation was delivered by the Honourable Financial Secretary.
KP: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, this Bill, if enacted, will provide the legal authority for the additional sum of £842,700.00 to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund to replace the Contingencies Fund. This sum is represented by two contingencies warrants that would approve following the Standing finance Committees on 30th of July and 19th of August 2010. The bulk of the funding in the sum of £790,140.00 relates to carry-overs of unspent funds from the 2009/10 financial year. These were set out in the Standing Finance Committee paper on the 19th of August.
The remainder relates to two additional items that were approved by the Standing Finance Committee on the 30th of July.
I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
The Chief executive seconded the second reading. There was no debate and the Bill was fast-tracked, read a third time and passed.
Statistics Bill 2010:
KP: Mr Speaker, Thank-you. Mr Speaker, whilst the Statistics Bill 2010 is not a particularly large piece of legislation it is important that its scope and practical application are well defined and understood by Honourable members.
Mr Speaker, by way of introduction, the Statistics Bill has been a long time in preparation and is key in supporting both public and private sector future strategic planning. The Bill has three over-arching objectives:
Firstly, it formalises in a single place a lot of statistical and data gathering work that currently already occurs within the Falkland Islands Government and also between the Government and the private sector. This includes the Census – traditionally performed every five years as well as the annual production of National Accounts, which measure gross domestic product alongside other globally comparable economic statistics.
Secondly, Mr Speaker, the Bill articulates the scope and methods for, if required, collecting additional data from businesses and individuals for future policy formulation and for reporting bodies such as the European Union and the International Labour Organisation.
Thirdly, Mr Speaker, it offers legislative protection and recourse to private businesses and individuals that provide data to the service within the Falkland Islands Government if the stringent confidentiality provisions are ever breached. Having a law in place that centralises and also defines the reach and scope of Government Data Gathering as well as putting in place sufficient confidentiality protection is essential for the smooth and proper running of the Government.
It will help avoid duplication of data collection and enable provision of timely relevant and accurate information to inform Honourable Members’ decision making.
In terms of background, Mr Speaker, the Policy Unit within the Secretariat currently collects and collates annual economic statistics to a degree possible under existing laws and guidelines.
This Bill will establish a Statistical service within the policy unit which shall operate under the guidelines detailed in the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I think it is important to emphasise that this service shall require no change in personnel or additional cost to the Government. It should, however, lead to streamline a more productive statistical service.
It is also important to note that whilst the Statistics Bill correctly ensures the statistical service is there to present true and relevant information requested by Honourable members, the bill ensures the service is protected from any political bias or conflicts of interest.
It also ensures that private information is protected by comprehensive confidentiality provisions.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
The Honourable Financial Secretary seconded the Motion. The Honourable Dick Sawle spoke to the Bill.
DS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like to crave your indulgence for a few moments before we launch ourselves into the smoke and fire and I would like to speak regarding this important piece of legislation which potentially effects everyone in our community and is of fundamental importance for the future development of our economy of which I wholeheartedly support in principle.
Wearing my Trade and Industry hat I have discussed this legislation with the Chamber of Commerce Council at their request. And whilst the points they raised with me are very much last minute, I would like to formally respond to some of the concerns expressed by them to me on Monday afternoon of this week and propose four amendments to this Bill.
In summary, the four points of detail that have been raised and concerning which I would like to propose amendments are as follows:
1. Executive Accounts approval of a general area of surveys is already required by the Bill and I would propose an amendment which would have the effect of taking this one stage further and requiring Executive Council approval of the detail of the questions to be asked. I believe that this is an important point as it makes Executive Council bear responsibility for the detail of the questions asked and therefore allows for greater scrutiny by the public of the decision.
2. The Bill as it stands requires 6 – monthly surveys (biannual) to be performed. The amendment that I propose is that biannual surveys would require Executive Council approval. I am proposing this for the same reasons already given above.
3. In order to address what I consider to be legitimate concerns over possible loss of raw data and confidentiality, which are areas already covered under the Bill I propose an amendment that would include reckless acts as well as deliberate ones. This amendment addresses concerns that businesses have expressed over the possibility – albeit a very remote one I admit – of data being recklessly lost.
4. I also propose an amendment that would introduce a power to make regulations confidentiality and security. This means that powers would exist to organise and protect data from, for example, hacking or otherwise unwarranted intrusion. Whilst data currently held, for example, at the Tax Office, is protected in various ways as a matter of good practice. I believe it is important that people who submit data know that we have the powers to enforce a variety of methods for their sensitive data to be protected.
Mr Speaker, I would therefore propose these amendments.
The Bill was read a second time by the Clerk of Council and the Bill went to Committee. The Hon Dick Sawle spoke during this stage of the debate:
DS: Mr Chairman I would propose that clause 14 be omitted and the following substituted:
14 – Business Surveys
(1) carry out business surveys
(2) as far as possible business surveys are to be carried out at 12 month intervals (annually)
(3) the questions to be asked in a business survey are to be prescribed by the Governor by
(4) the Governor may prescribe by order
a. the method by which a business survey is to be carried out
b. what an authorised officer may require a person to do for the purposes of a business
RE: Mr Chairman, I just have a query of my colleague, Dick Sawle and in that section 14 they also cover household surveys to be carried out at annual intervals. I don’t think he mentioned that in his amendment. Is it being excluded all together?
DS: Mr Speaker, I believe that issue is covered under Clause 16 – the amendment of Clause 16.
The new Clause 14 then stood part of the Bill.
DS: Mr Chairman, I would move that Clause 15 be deleted and the following clause substituted:
15 – Additional Business Surveys
(1) The Governor may by order make it a function of the service to carry out additional business surveys that are more limited in scope both as the number of businesses surveyed and the information sought.
(2) An order under sub-section 1 may specify
a. The scope of additional business surveys
b. The intervals at which they are to be carried out
c. The questions to be asked in an additional business survey
d. What an authorised officer may require a person to do for the purposes of an additional business survey
There were no objections and the new wording stood part of the Bill.
DS: Mr Chairman, I propose that Clause 16 be deleted and the following substituted:
16 – Household Surveys
(1) It is a function of the service to carry out household surveys
(2) As far as possible household surveys are to be carried out at 12 month intervals (annually)
(3) The questions to