Falklands : Legislative Council (Part 2) 28 January 2005
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 02.02.2005 (Article Archived on 16.02.2005)
Councillors speak their mind during Motion for Adjournment speeches.
LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, 28 JANUARY 2005: MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECHES
Cllr. The Hon. Mrs Jan Cheek:
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I think I must be sitting in John Birminghamís chair because I have this almost overwhelming inclination to reply to something in the newspaper this morning. In fact, I have to. I am alleged to reiterated time and again that legislation would have to be changed in order to meet the concerns of an individual at the public meeting the other day. Just to set the record straight, I did say once in relation appointments to the Education board that if we were to change the people who are eligible to seek appointment we would have to change legislation. I did say it again, so I reiterated once, I think, in relation to the appointment of School Managers, for secondary school. Further, given the available resources, I believe that the services provided by the secondary school and by the Leisure Centre to the community are most praiseworthy. However, constructive suggestions are always welcome by the education department and Councillors. And, I am quite sure that we would try to accommodate reasonable requests, particularly if they appear to have broad support.
The second issue I wish to speak on relates, in a way, to the Hon. Stephen Luxtonís earlier reply on the question of the Murrell Road. I am pleased that my plea made several meetings ago, that interested parties be consulted about the route of that road has now been answered. It seems that the sensible dialogue has taken place. And, I sincerely hope that an equally sensible conclusion will be reached. Of course, we are all aware of the financial uncertainty caused by the unpredictable fluctuation of the fisheryís Squid catches and are conscious need for fiscal responsibility. But I would not like this Council to be remembered, to use another Hackney saying, to be remembered as one, which knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The Murrell area is an important leisure amenity within walking distance of Stanley and therefore needs careful management if itís to be enjoyed by future generations. This issue has highlighted, and fortunately resolved the difficulty people have in getting any kind of hearing, if their legitimate objections for a development cannot be taken into account by the Planning Committee because of the structure of the legislation.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all those involved in the hard work in the recent visit of the Canadian Parliamentarians, particularly, the Clerk of Councils, Claudette Anderson, and the Hon. Richard Cockwell and the Hon. John Birmingham for their support in getting them invited here. I believe the visit was a great success and it shows us again that anything we or any of our friends can do to promulgate accurate information on our right to self-determination is invaluable.
I support the motion.
Cllr. The Hon. Mr. Ian Hansen (IH):
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I will be very brief. I would like to begin by congratulating the people of the Falklands for their generosity concerning the Tsunami Earthquake Fund. This proves that, again, the contribution that we make per capita compares more than favourably with the other countries.
A couple of brief comments that I guess are leading to the forthcoming budget. Seven years ago, before a different budget session, I remember an experienced Councillor representing the Camp constituency saying to me, ďnever apologise for living in Camp.Ē It is a piece of good advice, I think. I know it appears that Camp is more heavily subsidised at times than anywhere else. But I believe we have every right to make representation if we feel, for instance, freight rates are too high or if health services are inadequate or if we just feel the bumps on FIGAS. So I will never apologise for living in Camp and I donít think I ever would.
The second point: budget submissions from the departments have already been scrutinised. I recognise the difficulty the departments have, trying to achieve the required savings. I have to say the majority are getting on with it and doing it probably wonít affect the service they provide. But I think these departments need a thank-you from Councillors as it makes our part of the budget procedure so much easier. However, I also believe we have to be capable of good service that may be affected. Health and safety are the obvious ones. So, perhaps, should we be slightly concerned that though the town is expanding, the fire service appears to be shrinking.
Sir, I beg to support the motion.
Cllr. The Hon. Mr. John Birmingham (JB):
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am about to apologise for living. Following on from something Cllr. Cheek said earlier on. I am happy she is sitting in the seat I was in for a couple of years there. I left it nice and warm. But I also have to say something about the newspaper. I think it is interesting that we organise these meetings on a Friday, so it is still hot. What I was going to say about the editorial this morning and by the way, I bought my newspaper from the editor first thing this morning on a bright, sunny day. And, I know that she doesnít take things personally and I certainly donít. But I am not going to pursue any kind of a personal agenda dare I say unlike some in public forums.
I would just like to make one point and that is about the evening classes at the Community school. The numbers of evening classes that are now being run are in direct relation to a decision made by this Council by us that we would cease to fund those evening classes and that they would have to be self-funding. That, I suggest, is the main reason why there are not so many evening classes around at the moment.
I would also support Cllr. Cheekís comments on the running of both the Senior School and the Junior School and also the Leisure Centre, which over the last 18 months Ė 2 years, has really brought it together and is very well used. You can hardly book anything in there at the moment because everything is used up.
Mr. Speaker, as you will be aware, and has already been mentioned, the visit by the Canadian Parliamentarians went very well and we have seen the fruits of that visit in the press that we have seen from South America. I hope, as the editorial this morning, that this is the first of a few that we will be seeing from other parts of the world. The Canadians in particular do not take kindly to bullies, as we know and I think we found ourselves some very useful friends and lets appreciate whatís been done. And, I would like to thank Richard Cockwell publicly. Heís not here at the moment. Heís not very well. He is the man that really should be thanked for bringing those people down here.
At these meetings, we had these questions today. I think we got eight questions. And some seem slightly off the wall such as the ones about widths of footpaths. I walk around on occasion and you do see various parts of the town that the widths are different. And, the Honourable Member from Fox Bay has now given us an answer as to why. But I do question the widths and I do question sometimes whether it isnít just to do with money, when you see a woman or a man with a pram and a younger child has to walk in the road. You may well think whether we should save that kind of money. But I know it is taken seriously and I hope in the future we will be able to maybe think of the kinds of people who are using the paths. These questions are about public information. My other question there about speed and emergency vehicles Ė thatís purely for public information.
Regarding the expansion of the town and the Fire Service. It was spoken about this morning at the Standing Finance Committee meeting. And, I do take onboard the remark by the Honourable Member from the West. But we also have to appreciate that with modern building techniques Ė and if you look at the statistics Ė thankfully we find that there are fewer and fewer incidents regarding fire. The growth, it would appear, is in road accidents and we will keep an eye on that. I am sure.
Mr. Speaker, I support the motion.
Cllr. The Hon. Mrs. Norma Edwards (NE):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to support the Motion for Adjournment, if I may, I would just comment on the Murrell Road. As Cllr. Cockwell is ill and he is Chairman of the Planning Committee, when I just said the Planning Committee did not make a decision likely as regards to the route of the Murrell Road. We made a decision on the advice that was provided for us. We had an environmental assessment of the area done and on all that advice we made a decision as to the route of the Murrell Road. I am very pleased now that itís been spelled out that there is a route for appeal by people who are concerned that they donít like the route that the Murrell Road is taking and I do agree that there needs to be a management plan. But I also have to point out that we have an obligation in these times to make sure that we get the best deal for our money and we donít over-spend unnecessarily.
I unfortunately was not able to meet the politicians from Canada. Weather did not permit us from getting into town. But I understand it was a very successful visit and I congratulate those who organised it. I await with interest to see if it makes any difference in the attitude held by Canada regarding the OAS that they attend. Itís nice to have some support in that region and in that forum.
Just one other thing I would like to mention is the Post Office. Quite often we get complaints from the public Ė some of them justified Ė some of them not. Lately, of course, we had difficulty getting our mail. It hasnít been our Post Officeís fault. May I just say that over the Christmas period they worked extremely hard and they do work hard in the Post Office. People go in there and see them sitting behind the counter and think they donít do anything. Thatís not true. And, the things that go on in the background and the extra hours that they work Ė probably they are the department that puts more effort into getting the mail to the general public and working extra hours to do so than perhaps any other department.
So, Sir, I support the Motion for Adjournment.
Cllr. The Hon. Mr. Roger Edwards (RE):
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I only had a couple of points to make and I would like to elaborate a bit on what Cllr Hansen said about apologising in Camp.
Firstly, I was one of the hosts for Dr. Chris Doyle when he came out to Camp and I must admit I was delighted to see the turn-out at Fox Bay. And, I was even more delighted to see his wide-ranging report, which I thought was a very sensible and factual report. However, I have a few bits of re-arranging in finding a few more bits of kit to keep the Camp telephone system, as weíve been told by Cable & Wireless. I think that it is a short-term stop-gap rather than a solution. And, I hope that Cable & Wireless and/or others are seriously looking at the long-term future of Camp telecommunications systems.
My second point I wish to make was Falklands Conservation. I know they do a very good job and they are subsidised by the Falkland Islands Government. They are not universally paid and I know, even at this very moment, there is a plan for a farmerís conservation group to get together almost in opposition to Falklands Conservation. The reason I raise it today is because it was brought to my notice recently when one of the farms on West Falkland was for sale and Conservation was rumoured to be involved in purchasing part of that farm. I can remember saying in a private conversation that Conservation would need to get permission to buy agricultural land Ė to buy farm land and so on. And, I got the message back that they donít need any clearance. They can buy whatever land they like. I thought this was wrong. And, I might say, so does an awful lot of my fellows in Camp. Other farmers around the area also thought it was wrong. I would like to see Falklands Conservation go through Executive Council to get permission to purchase land. I know under the ordinance Ė I think there were three separate organisations that are entitled to purchase land anywhere in the Falklands. I would like to see Conservation being one of those organisations that do need to go through Executive Council. I am sure, 99 times out of 100, it would be nodded through Ė no problem. But it may well be a case one day, one of the bits will come up and Government and Council might decide that it would be better kept as a farm or that island would be better kept as a farming area rather than turned over and used as a purely conservation area. So, I intend to raise a paper to eventually come back to Council on that matter.
I wasnít going to mention anything else but Councillor Hansen mentioned about not feeling sorry for living in Camp because of Camp subsidies.. The other day, I turned the tap on and no water came out of it. So, I thought I would go and pump water Ė we have an electric pump. I couldnít produce any electricity. I had to sort the problem out. How often in Stanley do people turn the tap on and no water comes out, or turn the switch on the wall and electricity doesnít come out. I think Camp subsidies are open and above board and people can see where, and who gets it in every case. But when you think about it. And, I know they pay for their water, their fuel and so on. But I bet you if you look at the infrastructure costs of maintaining Stanley the subsidy per capita in Stanley would be every bit as high as those in camp. So, I donít feel sorry about living in Camp and accepting some subsidies along the way. Nor should anyone else. And, the Falklands are much bigger than Camp Ė it is Camp and Stanley combined, so we shouldnít bicker about who gets what.
Mr. Speaker, I support the Motion.
Cllr. The Hon Mr. Stephen Luxton (SL):
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, a couple of my colleagues have already mentioned the visit by Canadian friends in the CPA. I guess there will be people out there who say that in times of financial belt tightening we shouldnít be doing this sort of thing and itís all a bit of a jolly. But I have actually been surprised and pleased to hear most comments from people on the street are being positive and perhaps suggesting that we should do far more of this sort of thing far more often. It isnít cheap, of course, but in my view such visits are an invaluable contribution to strengthening our position in the world and educating our friends, wherever they may be from, in what the Falklands are all about and the threats that are still lurking from those who would seek to secure our freedom and way of life.
Which brings me on to the lurking threat. I think the interesting things we developed in discussions here recently, particularly last week with the Canadian delegation that is the theme of the restrictions, which are in place against us by Argentina. They amount to no more or no less than illegal economic sanctions. I think those of us who lived here for most of our lives were perhaps settled into a frame of mind where we tend to regard the Argentine Governmentís disjointed antics perhaps as being on the same level as a horrible little boy throwing rocks at a window. That horrible little boy fortunately canít throw them quite far enough, isnít a very good shot anyway and occasionally drops a rock on his own foot. Itís interesting to see how people from outside actually view the situation far more seriously than perhaps we do. The term ďeconomic sanctionsĒ is one that would arouse fury in most nations affected by such things but it is actually a perfectly valid description of the efforts of the Argentine Government to harm the Falkland Islandsí economy by disruption of tourism and communications. Our past, present and future vigilance in not allowing Argentina to become involved in any key services to the Islands has and will continue to serve us well. But to the extend in which Argentina continues to try and influence our external communications would anywhere else in the world cause absolute outrage and I am sure it will be an issue raised in the United Nations. The actions of the Argentine Government can only really be described as despicable and as long as they are pursued, deserve the widest possible condemnation from all free and democratic countries world-wide. Perhaps it is time the Argentines took a look at whatís happening with Gibraltar and ponder why Argentina is one of the few countries left in the world today with a foreign policy still firmly entrenched in the 19th century.
Finally, I would just like to close with an observation that as Councillors get paid over £100,000.00 as we hear in the news, there ought to be a queue right around the Town Hall on Ross Road in November.
Sir, I support the Motion.
Cllr. The Hon. Mr. Mike Summers (MS):
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I have only a couple of things to talk about.
I thoroughly enjoyed the public meeting the other night. I thought it was quite good fun. There were some interesting discussions. Leaving aside the one that seems to have created the controversy, there are some other interesting discussions and I hope, if public meetings are to be like that in the future, more people will come and join in. There was one point raised with which I really ought to take issue. And, it is that individual members of the public are perfectly entitled to have their own agendas. And, they can be in a minority of one if they wish. They donít require public support in the same way that we do. They are not required to declare interests in particular subjects in the way that we do. We have a different type of position to maintain, so I thoroughly encourage people to come along to have their say. And, if they are in a minority of one, I dare say they will find out in due course. In the meantime we can look for the pearls in the way.
I wish to support my colleagues in congratulating the public of the Falkland Islands in the astonishingly generous terms in raising well over £20,000.00 now Ė getting on for £4.00 a head fin aid of the Tsunami Disaster. I actually lived in Thailand for a few years many years ago and so I shall sort of know and understand what the Thai people are going through. I am equally confident they will get through it because of the type of people they are. But they will require assistance from the World community. I have more concern. I have to say, about the people in the Maldives and in Sri Lanka, who have been really badly hit. Itís none of my business where the money goes to from here. It is a community project and the community will decide but I do hope that if there is an option to chose then I hope we think about the people in the Maldives in particular because complete islands have been destroyed in the same way that Granada was almost completely destroyed last year.
The budget process is well underway, as has been mentioned and I would like to thank and congratulate those Government departments who have now just about met their target savings from last year with a few months to go. Thank you for that. Thatís not the end of it. You will be asked for another lot next year. However, the Illex season so far doesnít look as dire as it did at this time last year. There is some Illex on the high seas. We are not entirely certain that they will migrate to the Falklands or not but there is some possibility. So there are always rays of hope. But, of course, the budget process is going to be tight and there are always going to be difficult decisions to be made about where public expenditure sits and where there are arguments about Fire Stations or numbers of Policemen or Stanley or Camp or whatever. Itís all public expenditure and it all has to be properly applied and properly justified. And, I donít regard any public expenditure at the present time as a subsidy. We are a nation and we apply public funds for the whole of our nation where it is most required. Thatís the right thing to do.
The final point is about a visit that is about to take place of some Argentine Next of Kin. This was not supposed to be in the public domain yet but it is because the Argentines put it in the public domain. And, I believe that the Governor will be talking about the matter at lunchtime today on the news. At least I hope he will. But there is a visit planned and a relatively small group of Argentine next of kin in March. They will come on a scheduled LanChile flight and thatís good and they will stay for a week. I hope, when they come here, people will respect the fact that despite Argentine Politics, they are people who lost sons, brothers, husbands in that unnecessary war and treat them accordingly. Itís a long time since we had a next of kin visit. This country has always welcomed next of kin from Argentina and from the United Kingdom. I hope we will respect and welcome them when they come.
Sir, I support the Motion.
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