Falklands : DR THE HON BARRY ELSBY’S MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT SPEECH
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.06.2013 (Article Archived on 06.07.2013)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in rising to support the Motion I will indeed be brief as much has already been said and it doesn’t bear repetition.
DR THE HON BARRY ELSBY’S MOTION FOR
by J. Brock (FINN)
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, in
rising to support the Motion I will indeed be brief as much has already been
said and it doesn’t bear repetition.
I think the budget has been an
interesting time and I again extend my thanks as well to all the people in the
Treasury that made it the efficient process that it was.
People won’t be surprised to learn
that I fully support the staged change to MST.
I think MST is a stealth tax and it should have been abolished. It should never have been brought into place
but at least the provision of a threshold of £15,000.00 will help the lower
paid and I hope whoever is in as a Member of Legislative Assembly next year
will persuade more Members to finally take that next step and abolish MST.
I am also pleased to see that the
tax thresholds have again increased to £15,000.00. Again, that will help the less well paid in
our society and that can only be good.
I am also pleased to see (and
perhaps I should declare an interest here) but the government pay increase of
5% this year, which is near towards inflation.
As we heard two days ago in this Chamber, over the last 12 years the FIG
pay scale and presumably the ones in the private sector have fallen very
significantly behind inflation so people now are far well less well off than
they were in the year 2000. And I think
we need to make slow but steady progress to claw back that difference.
I have only been involved in two
budget processes but it strikes me as somewhat odd that we don’t have someone
representing employees both for Government and the private sector in
discussions as to what we should award people in the form of a pay
increase. We do have a small Union at
the moment and I gather in the ‘90s we used to have the Civil Service
Association. And I gather as far back as
the 1990s discussions still took place between those two bodies and Government
as to what pay increases should take place.
And personally I would see some place for a bigger union and a bigger
Civil Service Association so we can have some input from employees so when MLAs
are making decisions as to what pay rises should be, they are not just
listening to the Treasury putting their side but we should also be listening to
the other side of the argument. And I
think that will be helpful. People might
think that’s a step too far but MLAs already have big enough formal meetings
with the Chamber of Commerce so that the Chamber of Commerce can put their
views to the members so that they can be hopefully taken into account so as to
how the Chamber feels decisions might help them.
I would like to talk just briefly
about the Minimum Wage. It’s a very
important step and I welcome it with open arms but it’s not new. The Attorney General’s Department tells us –
that there was a minimum wage passed in 1941.
What happened to that legislation – people are uncertain. I hope and I trust the same will not happen
to our new Minimum Wage Legislation that we hope to pass.
There are discussions going on
about the minimum wage and I fully support it but there are elements of it that
I think so need adjustment. There is no
provision for on call payments for the minimum wage. You could have someone who is employed on the
Minimum Wage – they could be on call for whatever their job is every night of
the week, expected to respond but they are not going to be paid for that period
when they are on call.
I also find it very difficult to
rationalise why 17 year-olds are going to be paid less than 18 year-olds doing
the same job. If the job is a very
menial job and needs no extra skill, then it is difficult to believe that an 18
year-old would do it any better or more efficiently than a 17 year old
particularly if they have the same out-goings – if they already live away from
home – they already have housing costs to meet and they have to feed
themselves. I am not happy with that
differential between 18 and 17 year-olds and I do hope we can bring that to a
more level playing field. But I think it
perhaps equates in some way with how things were years ago when women doing the
same job as men were paid less. It might
sound incredible we used to do that.
It’s not acceptable any longer because if someone’s doing the job
whether a woman or a man they should be paid the going rate for that job and I
think the same applies for 17 and 18 year olds.
I think if they do the job they should get the same pay.
I would just like to close by
commenting briefly on housing. I think
housing is a huge problem and I think it’s only now that we are really
beginning to grapple with it. We are
going to have to create many more jobs in Government if we are to prepare and
do all the work that’s necessary to be ready for that time where we hope oil
will arrive in 2017. But if they are
going to be contract officers – as many will be – we have a duty to house
them. At the moment we have no spare
housing. All the houses that are being
built at the moment on Hansen Hill were destined for the local pool, to make up
for short-fall. All those houses on
Hansen Hill are now being given to contractors because we need to employ contractors. But it means that the 12 that we hope to put
into the local pool are no longer going to be there. And so I think we have to realise we are
going to have to spend many millions of pounds on a very big house-building
programme if we are going to be able to meet the demands of new contract
officers and the demands of our own people.
Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.