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Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 04 JUNE 2014 Questions for Oral Answer
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.06.2014 (Article Archived on 19.07.2014)

The first budget session of Legislative Assembly for 2014 took place in the court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0900hrs on Wednesday, 04 June 2014. The first order of business was the Governorís Address to the Nation and the Motion of Thanks Speeches that followed, for which H. E. the Governor Mr Colin Roberts remained.

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 04 JUNE 2014
(Part 1: Regular Business)

The first budget session of Legislative Assembly for 2014 took place in the court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0900hrs on Wednesday, 04 June 2014. The first order of business was the Governorís Address to the Nation and the Motion of Thanks Speeches that followed, for which H. E. the Governor Mr Colin Roberts remained.

MLAs present were: the Hon Mrs Jan Cheek, the Hon Mr Roger Edwards, Dr the Honourable Barry Elsby, the Hon Mr Ian Hansen, the Hon Mr Michael Poole, the Hon Mrs Phyl Rendell, the Hon Mr Gavin Short and the Hon Mr Mike Summers. Also present were the Speaker, the Hon Mr Keith Biles, the Financial Secretary, the Hon Mrs Nicola Granger, the Clerk of Council, the Hon Mrs Cherie Clifford, the Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett and the Acting Attorney General, the Hon Miss Ros Cheek.

In this section of the meeting the confirmation of the record of the Legislative Assembly held on the 24th of April 2014 took place. Mr Biles signed the report as a true record.

The following papers, 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 35.1 of the Interpretation and General Clauses ordinance 1977 were laid on the table:

1. Criminal Justice Police Codes of Practice Order 2014
2. Electoral Register Publication Date Regulations 2014
3. Fisheries Products Hygiene Amendment Regulations 2014
4. Fisheries Products Vessels Establishment and Installations Regulations 2014
5. Fisheries Products Designation Order 2014

In Accordance with Section 80.2 of the Constitution of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee in respect of the Accounts of the year ended 30 June 2013 for the Falkland Islands Development Corporation Accounts 2013.

In Accordance with Section 80.2 of the Constitution the Report of the Public Accounts Committee the Report of Audit Report for the year Ended 30 June 2013, Interim Audit Report, Audit Completion Report, Income Audit Completion Report.

QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER:

Question 11/2014 by the Honourable Gavin Short:

Mr Speaker, could the Honourable Michael Poole please advise whether all employers operating within the Falkland Islands are now fully compliant with the Minimum Wages Ordinance that came into effect on the 1st of December 2013?

Answer by the Honourable Michael Poole:

Thank you Mr Speaker. I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for his question and also for his continued monitoring of this important issue.

Unfortunately I cannot definitively answer the question as to whether all of the employers are compliant with minimum wage legislation. Honourable Members may recall the legislation which was enacted last year made non-compliance a civil matter. This enables an employee to make a complaint to Summary Court. It places the obligation on the employer to share information with the employee so that the employee can check and see whether they are being paid the minimum wage as defined within the ordinance. The Government currently plays no official role in that.

If an employee believes they are not being paid the Minimum Wage they can then bring a case before the Summary Court who will make a ruling on the way.

I can confirm there have been no cases brought before the Summary Court since the legislation came into force on the 1st of December 2013. This would appear to suggest the legislation is being adhered to. However, we have to be conscious that it has been a very short period since it was enacted so this is far from definitive.

Anecdotally, a number of Members also heard of incidences of alleged non-compliance with the law. If this is the case I am sure that my Honourable Colleagues will join me in condemning such actions.

Where employees feel their rights are not being met under the Minimum Wage Ordinance then advice is available from the FIG Tax Office, Citizens Advice Bureau and MLAs are also happy to act as advocates with individuals if this is required. I know that has been happening.

This legislation is detailed and two short information leaflets are available from the Tax Office and are also online in the Policy Section of the Government Website.

I would encourage people to please make us aware of any potential issues surrounding the minimum wage and the more we know the more we can address.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

GS: Mr Speaker, I thank my Honourable Colleague for his reply. When I drafted this question I had anecdotal evidence about certainly one large employer based outside of Stanley that still had not implemented the minimum wage within its workforce. I have since heard within the last couple of days Ė only anecdotally Ė because I did write to the Company and they have not replied to me Ė that they are now in compliance. Wages, I believe, have been adjusted but I am also hearing anecdotally again that some local people have received back pay for the period of non-compliance while, I believe, some of their overseas people may not have but I am pursuing that.

Would he not agree that although it was a conscious decision to leave the pursuant(s) of non-payment of the minimum wage to the Civil Court, we may have got it wrong and that perhaps it may be an idea to re-visit this and see whether there should be a department or person within Government who a person can go to? It probably would require a change in legislation but certainly talking to employees Ė a lot of them are actually scared to put themselves forward into a situation where they may get into a court case because they have the abject fear that they probably would not get another employment contract with that company if they do so? Whether that is real or not or just perceived, I do not know but it is a perception that certainly stopped one or two people pursuing claims.

MP: thank you Mr Speaker, and thanks to the Honourable Gavin Short for his follow-up. In response I would say it is a bit too early to say whether we should be thinking about any kind of legislative change at this point. We are only a few months into it and I take on-board the comments about the perceived threat that employees may feel from their employers of potentially being sacked if one were to raise concerns. But from my basic understanding the legislation covers that and prevents employers from acting in that way.

The Acting Attorney General may wish to comment on that particular area afterwards.

Sir, I think it is something we need to monitor. There is advice available within the Falkland Islands Government, from the Tax Office and from the Policy Section of the Government website. Thatís relatively clear-cut; and if there are issues one should continue to raise them and obviously we will make an assessment in due course.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

The Hon Acting Attorney General Ms Ros Cheek:

Mr Speaker I am afraid I canít give any further information on the detail of the legislation at the moment but I am happy to talk about that afterwards.

Thank you.

GS: Mr Speaker, Thank you. I thank the Honourable Mr Michael Poole for his reply. Could he just clarify one point? If we are going to continue to monitor, who should people report to? Could he tell me what the reporting chain is? There seems to be some vagueness about this as well as to who the buck stops with?

MP: Thank-you Mr Speaker. Certainly it is not as clear-cut as it should be and I think that is a good point and something we will need to tie down.

At this point I would suggest that the Falkland islands Government Tax Office is probably the best place to feed information into and I think we will talk to them about collating that and making sure that we as Members and the Policy Unit receive that summarised information as well.

Thank you.

GS: I thank him for his reply.

Question 12/2014 by the Honourable Gavin Short:

Would the Honourable Mike Summers please advise how many medical treatments overseas over the last 5 years can be directly attributed to the lack of exercise; how many were related to exercise or sports injuries and has there been any discernable trends developing in these two categories over this 5 year time period, please?

Answer by the Honourable Mr Mike Summers:

Mr Speaker, Honourable members, this is a very difficult question to answer because to provide the sort of detail that the Honourable Member may be looking for would take an inordinate amount of staff time and that doesnít seem to be a reasonable thing to do.

But I can provide the following information, but it would be difficult to tease out whether medical treatment overseas is directly due to lack of exercise but I will provide some more information on that shortly.

Medical treatment overseas referrals would not indicate if it is a sports injury as such. It is most likely to be captured as an orthopaedic referral and these also include other types of injuries. Again we live in a small community and anecdotally there have been very, very few sports injuries referred overseas for treatment.

Because of the above it is not possible to discern any trends but let me share with you some thoughts that were provided to me by the Chief Medical Officer at my request, which I think confirm some of the anecdotal evidence and beliefs that many Members share.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the UK is trying to start an initiative to start lifestyle change to encourage more activity and a productive life. Thatís exactly the debate we had in this House last time we met because we regard it as important. There has been much debate on the fact that a relatively small amount of weight loss Ė and as little as 3% - can cut the burden on health costs considerably by reducing the numbers of new type 2 diabetes and hypertensive cases. The key is keeping this weight off. Obviously participation in exercise is one of the key ways to do that.

There is excellent evidence to show that waist size directly impacts on a personís health. As a rule of thumb your waist measurement should be no more than half your height. Obese and over-weight people should make this basic aim as a starting point to reach. (I see many people looking around and looking down.) Diseases directly linked to obesity and being over-weight in general include: hypertension, cardio-vascular disease, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes osteoarthritis, spine pain and certain cancers, for example, bowel cancer, breast and endometria cancer. This list is not exhaustive. All these diseases have led to and will continue to lead to medical treatments overseas from the Falkland Islands.

I hope that answers the Honourable Memberís question adequately.

GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his reply. Certainly I would not want to put the Medical Department to great trouble trying to tease out this information. It was very much because of the debate in the House that I asked this question. I was trying to see if we are indeed a beer-swilling, fag-smoking over-weight people, we should be seeing some correlation between this but I am guessing we may not have the way of figuring out whether our lifestyle down here is causing the large MTO budget. What I would suggest though is if we did manage to slim down slightly something else is going to get us in the long-run. I guess everything in moderation probably is the way to do it.

BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, as the Honourable Gavin Short says, (the grim reaper) will get us some time the question is, I guess, we want to push that question further along and lead a longer, healthier life. As my Honourable Colleague Mike Summers has said, obesity and things like that are vitally important. I understand my Honourable Colleague Mr Short is interested in health matters. Would he not agree with me that the more people we can encourage to stop smoking, the better the community would be?

GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I laid myself open to that one, didnít I? I would say to everyone listening that smoking is a stupid thing and not to do it. But I will also day that when you get hooked as I have Ė I have tried many times to give up Ė and to be honestly I am of the opinion that something is going to get me so I will enjoy a bit of backy along the way. Indeed it is a matter of choice and it is up to the individual whether they wish to smoke or not but I would say to the younger generation not to do it but if you are a smoker Ė we make choices and go with them.

JC: (I would just make) an additional related point, now that smoking seems to have come into it, is that the Honourable Gavin Short and the Honourable Mike Summers are aware that a 20 a day smoker they could have an additional £2500.00 per year in their pocket if they quit.

MS: Mr Speaker, to be clear, I didnít wish to leave the Honourable Gavin Short with the idea that there wasnít a directly identifiable trend in terms of connection between medical treatment overseas and obesity. There is a very direct correlation between obesity and a wide range of diseases which, in our particular circumstances do lead to the necessity for treatment overseas.

GS: I thank you for that clarification.

The budget considerations follow with standard debate referring items sent to clients to the Budget Select Committee.

 

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