I have very liberal views on almost all social policy issues. I led the successful amendment to bring religion and sexuality into the first phase of the anti-discrimination legislation, alongside disability and race as protected characteristics. I was only sorry that we felt we had to leave age and gender identity to a second phase, but hopefully all of the protected characteristics will have been covered by 2026. I am a Trustee of Liberate, the LGBT charity.
I seconded an amendment to legalise and regulate the supply and consumption of cannabis. We waste enormous police, court and prison service resources on prosecuting people for possession or supply of cannabis, giving (mostly young) people criminal records which may affect their ability to get jobs and lead productive lives. The scientific evidence shows that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, the sale of which is legal and regulated.
I should state for the record that I have no personal interest in this issue, because I have never taken any illegal drugs (I don’t even smoke tobacco!). Equally, I have no interest in any business concerned with the production of cannabis or any other drug, although I think the production of cannabis of pharmaceutical quality has the potential to be of some economic value to Guernsey.
The availability of affordable housing is a significant problem for our community and our economy. Young Guernsey people should be able to aspire to buying a home here, which is currently almost impossible for many, without family support. And if we want to develop new creative industries in an increasingly digital world, we have to make it possible for young technology entrepreneurs to move to Guernsey and bring their skills with them. So we must address the availability of affordable housing (and our Population Management regime, as discussed above).
As President of the States Trading Supervisory Board, I tried very hard to get the Fontaine Vinery site cleared for development as affordable housing, and the Leales Yard project and the Regeneration Areas present similar opportunities.
On education, I support the present Committee’s policies of non-selective secondary education, and the creation of a Guernsey Institute to combine the College of Further Education, the GTA and the Institute of Health. However, I have always preferred smaller schools, and I abstained on the Requête calling for a review of the Committee’s two-school plan for secondary schools, because the Committee would not undertake to have another look at the two-school model. Now that they are doing so, I hope the review will come up with a viable model that commands the support of teachers, probably, I suspect, a three-school model.
Guernsey’s health services have performed outstandingly well, in keeping us all safe in the Covid-19 pandemic. I support the plans for the modernisation of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital, and I see potential in ‘medtech’ as an economic activity. This could take the form of medical research, the development of medical appliances (building on our existing industry) or medical tourism. I have been working with the Health & Social Care Committee and Blenheim Chalcott to explore the opportunities. These may have been enhanced by Guernsey’s new-found reputation for competence in health matters.