La Mare de Carteret – PAC response

I made teh following speech as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in relation to the Education Department’s report submitted at the November 2014 States meeting and the amendment placed by the Chief Minister requesting a review. In the end, an amendment to the amendment was approved that instructed Education and T&R to work together in relation to such a review.

Sir, as members of the Assembly will be aware the La Mare Schools are not the first schools to be rebuilt in Guernsey. In the last 10 years, High Schools have been rebuilt at both St Sampsons and Les Beaucamps.

In this context, the PAC does note one glaring omission in this extensive States Report and accompanying appendices – it does not contain any section outlining the lessons learnt from the earlier High School developments. However, we are not surprised by this as the Post Implementation Review of the latest High School to be built (Les Beaucamps) has not been undertaken despite the school being operational for a significant period of time.

One of the PAC’s mandated functions is to review Post Implementation Reviews or PIRs. These PIRs should be undertaken within six months of practical completion of any capital project.

PIRs determine whether efficiency of project management and value for money, have been achieved throughout the development of particular projects. Deputy Trott referenced just this in respect of the SSH PIR yesterday. Any ‘Lessons to be Learnt’ from a project should then be available to assist the project management of future capital projects.

In order to understand whether lessons learnt were being incorporated from one project to another, the previous Public Accounts Committee undertook a review in 2010 of the most recent PIRs it had received from the Education Department culminating from the first phase of the Education Department’s Educational Development Plan.

The main issue highlighted in PAC’s report was that PIRs for the Education Department capital projects were at that time, not being undertaken nor disseminated in a timely manner. Lessons learnt therefore, were not being noted and instituted prior to the commencement of the next Capital project.

This PAC has considered it worthwhile to review the capital projects across the States of Guernsey since 2010, to determine whether improvements have been made in the last 5 years and we will be publishing our findings in the near future.

More immediately however, the PAC has serious concerns regarding commencement of the La Mare project prior to a formal PIR being completed for Les Beaucamps, which has been open to students since September 2013. There have been numerous reports of issues relating to that campus which is why the information gained would be invaluable for the proposed La Mare redevelopment.

Despite having raised its concerns on more than one occasion with States Property Services which oversees all States Capital projects, a PIR is still outstanding.

The PAC was informed that the project as a whole was not considered complete until the Sports Hall was finished and so the PIR would not be undertaken until then. However, being mindful that the Education Department was hopeful that the La Mare redevelopment would go ahead in the near future, the PAC suggested that the Les Beaucamps PIR should be conducted in two stages, reflecting the 2 phases of the project. This would allow a review of the school building to be completed ahead of the La Mare project. It would also ensure that any issues arising during its development could be formally documented to assist the La Mare project board. Unfortunately, the Committee’s suggestion was rejected.

This is not good governance.

 The PAC therefore has serious concerns about the Education Department commencing a complex high cost project prior to the formal lessons learnt from the Les Beaucamps project being produced and disseminated.  Irrespective of whether the project team has a similar composition to previous projects, there is no evidence to suggest that lessons learnt have been, or will be, incorporated into the La Mare development.

The PAC also believes that it is unfortunate that the existing agreed process for bringing forward major capital projects has not been followed in this case. For T&R political representatives to withdraw from the project board before the newly proposed SCIP arrangements were implemented is not good governance. The lack of a completed Outline Business Case for a project of this scale, prior to submission of this report to the States,  again is not good governance.

These actions by both Departments may have led to the current impasse, which shows neither party in a good light.

Another notable omission from the proposal is a comparison of the ongoing costs of running the new build with the existing costs of the current school. When assessing the merits of the new build surely this information is pertinent? What is spent now? We don’t know from the report. We know from page 2660 that the new site will cost £580k a year to run and understand from a document circulated by the T&R Minister that this is £186k more than current costs.  And how will this be funded? None of this is apparent from the report. Reference is made in the response to Deputy St Pier’s questions prior to the debate, which I will refer to later, but there are no figures to back this up.

Neither is there any indication of potential income from the use of community and sports facilities. Presumably, if the pre-school will be run privately, rent will be charged – or does the department believe that the business running it should get a new building for free?

It also seems surprising that the report does not include any measurement of outcomes. The people of Guernsey might reasonably expect that the department anticipates an improvement in educational standards and attainment once the build is complete. However, what that improvement will be is not explicitly stated.

Finally, I should like to say that clearly the PAC would be expected to welcome any attempt to provide assurance that a project, certainly of the magnitude and complexity of this one, represents value for money. However the proposal to have T&R leading the review process concerns the PAC from an independence point of view. If this review is to be truly impartial then we believe it must be managed by an independent third party such as the PAC. And would welcome confirmation that such an approach would be acceptable.


‘Fake’ FTP Saving

I was delighted that after much debate, public and media interest, the Policy Council agreed to seek to withdraw the fees paid to Capita totalling £42,000 in relation to a transfer of funding from general revenue to the Guernsey Health Service Fund. This really should not have been allowed to go on for so long. It was clearly not a saving to the taxpayer and did not follow the spirit of FTP.

States Capital Investment Portfolio

I made the following speech regarding T&R’s proposals for the SCIP at the July 2014 meeting.

Sir, 3 weeks ago we were asked to make a binary choice between executive and committee government and told that the Policy & Resources Committee would just be a co-ordinating Committee, with the States always having the final say. Well, I would like to know just how that fits in with the proposals before us today and the additional powers and resources that we are effectively being asked to provide to the Centre.


Just to be clear, I am not commenting on the merits or otherwise of the new model, but I do think Members need to be mindful of the fact that this trend towards delegation of authority and decisions being taken away from this Assembly emphasises the need for a more powerful, better resourced Scrutiny function.


Now, from a PAC perspective, this report is broadly welcomed. The concept of a portfolio approach propounded here is sound and is a method widely adopted across many organisations, be they in the public or private sector. In particular, we welcome the understanding of the need to identify and ensure the delivery of project benefits. Further controls of the capital programme – which will see significant public monies being invested – can only be supported by the PAC as we strive for embedding ‘Value for Money’.



However, there is concern that the cost of doing this appears high. 0.4% may sound small, but when it is a 0.4% of £275m that’s a fair amount – £1.1m to be precise. And that assumes that Category D projects are not included, if they are that would be an extra £400k. It isn’t clear from the report whether that is the case.


These concerns prompted my email to the T&R Minister and again I thank his department for the detailed response. We wanted to know what work was included for this considerable sum.






And what work is included for this? Well, it is quite difficult to see from the report what more is going to be done than is done at the moment. It would appear to us that we will only be getting monitoring reports on the portfolio and general advice on process and business case development. Project management isn’t included as this will be embedded in individual project costs. So, the key question is whether the benefits are worth the £1m extra in staff costs we are being asked to approve today.

A major point is made about the potential savings arising from increased procurement input but that appears to be hard to justify. Can we seriously be expected to have in-house expertise on every type of project? I refer Members to Table 1 on page 1573, which lists current pipeline projects. Look at the diversity of projects listsed – replacement radiology equipment, wastewater outfall and SCFH roof. Does it make sense to build up in-house expertise on everything?


SPS – not even mentioned in this report – what are they doing, will they be involved in the future?

The report indicates that in-house expertise could be used to challenge conclusions put forward by those working on the larger capital projects and contracted externally for their domain knowledge. I would question whether he benefits of such an approach would outweigh the costs of the extra staff required.

Awaiting response from T&R re email – will determine  next part of speech. However, we know that they haven’t worked out precisely what they need yet – so;





It is evident from the reply I received from T&R that the Department has yet to decide precisely what resources it needs. I find that deeply ironic that the Department to whom all other departments are having to report and produce strategic cases, outline cases and full cases, is the very department that has put little in the way of a case for the money it wants.

Now by having more staff employed at the centre it is implied that project costs will be reduced as external resources currently used won’t be required in the future.

Paragraph 11 on page 1571 states that

“the project assurance reviews have concluded that the projects often do not have access to sufficient experienced and qualified specialist internal resource which leads to an over reliance on external advisers.”

However, given we are told that staff at the centre will not be directly involved in project management or implementation, we do wonder what these people will be doing.

There appears to be some conflict with respect to what these staff are expected to do. On the one hand we are told that they will provide specialist resource to all departments in order to help support the development of business cases, but on the other they will review business cases and will ensure appropriate scrutiny and challenge and ensure value for money.

I would argue that wouldn’t that be for a properly resourced PAC to do? After all, how can you be involved in the business case and provide appropriate scrutiny at the same time? On that front, no mention of whether Post Implementation Reviews will change or not. {Lessons learnt – all departments to see them]

So, in summary, the Committee does believe that the proposals will improve the current project management process but that we are concerned about the costs with the need for a strong independent scrutiny function to ensure we will be getting value for money in the future.

States Accounts / ‘Fake’ FTP Saving

I made the following speech on the States Accounts in July 2014. This is when the issue of the ‘fake’ FTP saving of £650k was raised.


3 weeks ago we sat here having 4 extra days set aside to consider the future organisation of the States’ affairs. Yet, I find it concerning – and somewhat disappointing – that no specific time is ever put aside to debate the current organisation of the States’ financial affairs as presented in its annual accounts.

That aside, on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, I should like to start by saying that these accounts will help the PAC to determine its priorities within its forward work programme, keeping in mind the limitations of it’s resources.

However, I should like to focus attention for the purpose of this debate  on 3 key points that have arisen from an initial assessment of the information contained. Namely budgets, FTP and pay costs.


The Committee was pleased to hear the recent statement from the T&R Minister about the need to move towards zero-based budgeting. PAC has been calling for this for quite some time and consider this a matter of some urgency.

Indeed it is the Committee’s view that this should have taken place before the FTP process began. This may have prevented the need for a 5% vacancy factor and reduced payments to Capita if nothing else.

At a time when consideration is being given to whether taxes need to go up, we need to make sure we have a greater understanding of how we are spending taxpayers’ money.

As such, zero-based budgeting will be meaningless until such time as the States Accounts are prepared under generally accepted accounting principles and are more transparent as a result. I remind the T&R Minister again that the States approved funding for this exercise in 2011.

With that in mind, I refer members to the columns within all the main income and expenditure accounts headed ‘Original Budget’ and ‘Total Authorised’.

Nowhere in the accounts is there a clear and definitive explanation as to why we start off with one budget and end up with another. I believe, as does the Committee, that there should be a clear reconciliation between the original and the final authorised budget for each department within the accounts. This would provide a clear line of sight to each department’s uplift during the year –  together with the rationale.

I will demonstrate using HSSD by way of an example. Apologies Deputy Dorey but what has happened in that Department serves to demonstrate how a fair amount of activity has occurred which is not fully referenced in the accounts. This despite the fact that the Assembly is being asked to approve a stated overspend of £306k, not against the original budget of £108m but a total authorised budget of £112m.

However, before I start, I should like to state that the Committee is pleased that improvements recommended in its report on the ‘Financial management within HSSD’ have been made. We’ve seen ongoing communication between HSSD and T&R at Ministerial and Senior Officer level, addressing ongoing issues such as the drawdown of £0.8m from budget reserve, for what is described as an ‘exceptional circumstance’.

Now, in terms of the HSSD budget. With the exception of the uplift for staff, which is accepted practice across the States,  together with the already mentioned drawdown for the ‘exceptional circumstance’, we note from Deputy Dorey’s statement earlier in the year that there was an uplift in the HSSD budget of £0.8m to support the cost of severance payments and an agreed uplift with T&R of £1.3m.

Therefore, together with the acknowledged £0.3m overspend, it could be considered that there is a £2.4m variance from the 2013 budget to the eventual outturn.

We have no further information as to why T&R have agreed an uplift of £1.3m-in fact, none of this information appears in the accounts.

How can we Deputies approve the final overspend figure if we can’t be certain how that figure has been arrived at?

By way of an aside, we also question the inconsistency of treatment of the voluntary severance payments. Whereas those Departments who were able to absorb the costs of voluntary severance did so, HSSD have effectively been given a credit.

FTP – 650K:

 I would now like to discuss the FTP and at this point ask members to turn to page 61 which shows the FTP targets and breakdown for HSSD.

Members should be aware that the Public Accounts Committee has serious reservations about the inclusion of an FTP project referenced as ‘Visiting Consultants charged to Health Insurance Fund’ totalling £650,000.

The Committee has spent several months trying to ascertain from the Policy Council why this item is included as a saving. To all intents and purposes this is just a budget transfer, a bookkeeping entry, as there are no net savings within public expenditure.

From the information received by the Committee, it would appear that the rationale for accepting the proposal was that the Guernsey Health Service Fund, which is being charged, rather than the general reserve, could absorb the £650K whilst remaining in operational surplus and without any additional contributions.

It was clear that there was a level of hesitation in supporting this proposal at the time and the PAC requested that Policy Council revisit this particular proposal to ensure that the rationale for inclusion was valid in both the letter and spirit of the FTP criteria.

The PAC, whilst noting that due process has been followed, is disappointed that these savings have remained within the FTP Portfolio of savings and attributed to HSSD.

For the sake of clarity, the PAC does not query the rationale of the transfer, only that it is included in the FTP and that Capita have received c£40k in fees as a result.

On a related point, we see that HSSD’s outturn for last year was £112m, the initial 2014 budget is £104m. The FTP target was originally set at £6.1m, then reduced to £4.7million. It is evident that HSSD’s 2014 Budget and FTP savings target remain a serious challenge and there is clearly a significant risk of a major overspend occurring in 2014, as already brought to the attention of the Assembly.

We do acknowledge the recent efforts being made to make savings and thank Deputy Dorey for meeting with myself and Deputy Harwood last week, which gave us a useful insight into the approach being taken on a number of matters.

However, it remains PAC’s considered position that until a fundamental review of the overriding Health and Social Care Model is undertaken, the question of ‘Value for Money’ from the overall Health and Social Care spend across those departments involved in its provision, cannot be assured.

I should like to make it clear that the PAC is calling for an overall Health & Social Care model review – not just a review of HSSD – this would include patient and financial pathways covered by HSSD, SSD, MSG, GPG, St Johns and the 3rd Sector. The regulation of Health & Social Care and the promotion of Public Health must also be included within this Value for Money review.

As long as a modular review approach is being pursued, we find it hard to see how we will ever gain assurance that we will ever see a point where HSSD will meet its financial targets or know what those targets should be.

With the FTP drawing to a conclusion at the end of this year, we would ask the T&R Minister to consider whether funding for any such a review could come from the various Funds created specifically for this kind of purpose – Fundamental Spending Review Fund or Strategic Development Fund.

Pay Costs / Recruitment & retention of staff:

 I would now like to talk briefly about pay costs, or more specifically the States of Guernsey Employees Pension Scheme.

With a growing pension liability the PAC questions why the scheme has not been closed to new members. We believe that given such action was taken in the private sector 10-20 years ago and more recently to the States Members pension scheme, there is little justification in keeping the door open.

Whilst the horse may not have bolted yet, it is building up a sweat and I would argue that the door needs to be closed now before it runs away from us and we can’t keep it under control.

 Finally, I would like to finish with one question for the T&R Minister.

The main accounts of the States of Guernsey are not currently drawn up under generally accepted accounting principles, or to give it its abbreviation, GAAP, but those of some of the other States’ entities are.

Members may be aware that these are exciting times in the accountancy world – from 1 January next year  those accounts produced under GAAP will now need to conform to a new accounting standard known as FRS102. I would therefore like the Minister to advise whether work has commenced to ensure that all entities will be in compliance with FRS102 by the time of reporting of the 2014 accounts.

Machinery of Government – amendments

I laid successful amendments against the States Review Committee’s proposals for changes to the machinery of government. These focused around the new proposals for the scrutiny function, which I did not believe would be effective. In particular, one dealt with the financial scrutiny function requiring a standing committee and the other instructed the States Review Committee to consider the necessary power and resources that the new scrutiny function should have. My speeches reflect the frustrations experienced over the previous 2 years in working with an under-resourced Committee that also has limited powers in the current structure. I was delighted that fellow members understood this and the amendments were unopposed.

Sir, before I begin I would also like to thank the SRC for not opposing these amendments and in particular would like to thank Deputies Conder and Fallaize for their time and effort over the last week in enabling us to get to that position.

Now, I would like to say at this point that I am very aware who the last incumbent of this seat was and how it is sad that the late Paul Ardiiti is not here with us today to participate in this debate. However, I’m sure he is looking down on us today and critically reviewing what we are saying. After last week I’m just glad that I’m not  up there with him. Though I do wonder whether this chair might be jinxed.

Members will be aware of a letter I sent as Chair of PAC to the Cm as Chair of SRC earlier this week. As those of you who read it may have guessed, it  was borne as much out of the increasing frustration that the PAC has experienced in trying to fulfil its mandate over the last 2 years as it was the proposals in the report.

I will go into more detail when we debate my amendment relating to powers, resources and impartiality, but I thought it important that I make that point at this stage.

So, with regard to the amendment before us now, I would like to endorse what my colleague Deputy Rob Jones has  said and would just like to make some additional comments.

Speaking as Chair of PAC and Vice Chair of Scrutiny, like Deputy Jones, I do believe the concept of a Scrutiny Management Committee is a good one. This was a Belinda Crowe proposal that made a lot of sense.


The current Committee structure does not support rapid response to issues as they happen.  Certainly, it makes a joint review next to impossible where you have to get agreement from what can in theory be 18 members.  No, I always supported this aspect of the Crowe report. Indeed, in my speech when I sought election as Chair I said how I would like to see the functions merged.


This has already happened at staff level, with a joint Principal officer and works very well.  An example being the public hearings held by Scrutiny, which required the input of all staff to ensure they ran smoothly.


BUT, as I stated in my letter,  the Committee believes that it is essential that the financial scrutiny function is led by a member of the States who then has the opportunity to speak in the States of Deliberation, challenge financial matters on the floor of the Assembly and is genuinely accountable to the people of Guernsey. It is our belief that the real value of scrutiny is realised when interventions are timely and, given the inadequate professional financial resources at the Committee’s disposal, these methods have been used by this Committee to influence debate and raise matters of urgent concern. I would refer to questions and comments made about the budget, accounts, FTP, risk management and financial controls and more recently the waste and transport strategy debates. These have led to government action with far greater focus on risk management, the action plan for the ITO and improved reporting of FTP.


I should also like to make it clear that the Committee is not opposed to ‘task and finish’ panels. Indeed, we operate such a system now. And we also like the idea of co-opting members and non-states members to such panels.

But, our concerns relate more to the fact that all panel members will have to be recruited for each review. Not only will this mean that it will be harder to build up skills and expertise but also, increase the administrative burden, without necessarily adding value.


Although we did consider alternatives to resolve these issues, such as 3 member 2 nsm combinations, it became apparent to the Chair of Scrutiny and myself  that it was too soon to be able to determine the exact make up and structure of the SMC until we knew the future shape of government. Setting out the detail of the scrutiny structure at the same time as govnerment in 2004 led to the problems we have now.

In addition, the make up of such a Committee needs to be considered in terms of how technical resources are made available. I won’t go into detail now on resources, I will leave that for the specific amendment that deals with it. But, it is my view that you can’t look at the membership structure without knowing what support they will get.

The fact we can agree basic principles now is the important thing. That is why we have this amendment before us that enables the SRC to consider scrutiny in light of what is agreed this week and in the context of having the basic structure agreed. I will be happy working with SRC to ensure that we get a structure that does work and that we have a scrutiny function that matches the system of government that we want and is fit for purpose. Working together I believe we can make it happen.





Financial scrutiny


This amendment reads…..

To add the following to the end of proposition 9b:

“but also to acknowledge that some tasks which are currently undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee require continuous scrutiny and will need to be organised and co-ordinated by the Scrutiny Management Committee on that basis and the most appropriate structure for fulfilling such functions will be determined in Stage 2 of the Review;”


This amendment relates to a lesser known, but no less important aspect of the work currently done by the PAC and whilst I don’t want to take up a lot of Members’ time I think it is worthwhile that I highlight aspects of it given what is being proposed. Whilst many only think of scrutiny committee work  in terms of reports and hearings ie what they see, an invaluable part of the mandate of PAC relates to its interaction with and questioning of both internal and external audit.


Members will be aware that this Assembly elects the external auditors on the recommendation of the Committee every 5 years.  The Committee is then responsible for agreeing the contract with the auditors. However, this is only where our involvement starts. The Committee has appointed an audit panel which is in regular contact with the auditors throughout each year as they prepare for and then undertake the annual audit. In reality, the audit of an organisation of the size and complexity of the States is a year round job.

The Committee has a crucial role to play in the process as, not only can it inform  auditors of potential  areas that they may wish to focus on, but also learn from the auditors areas of concern to follow up with Officers and Political boards. It also has a duty to monitor the performance of the auditors and to inform this Assembly should it believe that they are not performing their duties adequately.

It is a part of its role that this Committee has taken very seriously from the moment it took office and made significant improvements ,  ensuring we get value for money from the external audit process.

This role has taken on even more importance over the last 18 months as a consequence of the SAP implementation on 18 December 2012. It would be an understatement to say that the implementation didn’t go entirely smoothly and this had knock on effects for the audit. In this regard, the Committee has taken a very active role as part of fulfilling its mandate to ensure States’ bodies operate to the highest standards in the management of their financial affairs.

We haveregularly called in the States Treasurer to panel meetings to seek assurance that issues raised by the auditors were being resolved and probed the auditors on their findings from their audit closure report. We have also this year introduced a detailed questionnaire sent to finance directors in each department to obtain their feedback on their experience of the audit and how the auditors conducted their work. The responses have been invaluable and will be used to follow up on issues and further improve the process.

This work and specifically the monitoring of risk management  and controls is one of the most important roles PAC actually undertakes. And if anyone here doubts that, I would like to remind them that the States of Guernsey was defrauded of £2.6m in June 2012 and the subsequent report by E&Y made it clear that this was an incident waiting to happen. I make no apologies for the fact this Committee has  focused on risk management during this term. Indeed, we will be releasing details of our review into financial controls since the SAP implementation shortly. After all a major reason advocated for spending  £7.9m on the Shared Services model in 2011 was that it was expected to lead to better information governance through strong internal  process controls and States wide application of policies, processes and procedures.


And this leads to the PACs role viz a viz internal audit. The Committee meets the Head of Internal Audit and Assurance on a regular basis and we also receive an annual report of activity during the previous years as well as planned reviews for the next 12 months. I will speak more about our relationship with internal audit in my other amendment, but what I would say here that this interaction is extremely important, especially where the head of internal audit also shares the role of head of assurance where there is a potential for conflict of interest. It also informs the Committee of areas that it may wish to review or follow up where concerns have been raised.

Now I know Deputy Fallaizesaid on the phone-in on Sunday that theOrganisation of the States’ Affairs wasn’t a sexy subject and I’ll readily accept that talking about internal and external audit probably confirms it, after all auditors make economists seem exciting, although not actuaries.

However, I hope this gives a flavour of why the Committee believe this amendment is necessary and why we believe consideration needs to be given to this work when finalising the new scrutiny structure. I thank the SRC for not opposing it and hope all members will be willing to support it.






Power and resources

Sir, ‘no system of government guarantees effective scrutiny and without the proper culture, organisation, systems and processes in place, scrutiny will not be effective in any form of government.’

These aren’t my words, this is a quote from the report on Financial Scrutiny by Jim Brooks Consulting, published in early 2012.

Now a lot of publicity has been given to the Belinda Crowe report of 2012 into the Scrutiny Committees. However, less attention, wrongly in my view, has been given to the Brooks report that dealt specifically with financial scrutiny. In many ways I think it was superior as it considered the scrutiny role in the round whereas the Crowe report was focused far more on the structure.

It is this quote that sets the background for this amendment, which reads as follows;

To insert a new proposition between Propositions 9 and 10 as follows:

“9A.     To note that the effectiveness of the States’ scrutiny function depends in part on the powers, resources and impartiality of the scrutiny committees and panels, and to direct that, prior to implementation of the improved committee system in 2016, the States’ Review Committee shall propose to the States ways of strengthening the powers, resources and impartiality of the scrutiny committees and panels.”


Now, when I became Chair,  back in May 2012 when the sun was shining and the Sarnian Spring was starting to blossom (Yes it seems a long time ago now) I knew that not everything in the PAC garden was rosy  – 2 reports into the scrutiny function and a motion of no confidence in the last term  made that clear.

However, I started to realise there were real underlying issues that need resolving when a certain Deputy said to me on the steps of the Royal Court right after my appointment that I really didn’t know what I had taken on. I then went to PAC offices at SCFH at let’s just say it was quite apparent that it had not been a happy ship.

Then, to cap it all, I got the run down from a previous member of the committee about his experiences that didn’t exactly fill me with the joys of spring. So, it didn’t take long for me to realise that change was needed.

BUT things began to look up. Firstly, I managed to persuade a fantastic bunch of people to join the team. I know Deputy Le Clerc’s arm took time to recover after I bent it so much. Seriously, I am very lucky to have such excellent group of people with me. With minimal technical support, the members have been very hands-on and contributed to making positive change in the States – much of which has happened out of the public eye and more on that in a minute.

Secondly, the Berlin wall between the PAC and Scrutiny committees was knocked down and staff were together in one room.

And finally, we heard all the right noises about getting more staff. At this stage we had 2 staff and an acting principal officer.

And it is resources I wish to cover first.

2 years on and we just have 3 FTE staff. And it hasn’t been for the want of trying on the part of the  Vice Chair and myself. Heads and brickwalls come to mind and it certainly led to a few headaches.

However, we are in many ways in a better place than we were in May 2012 and I would like to thank the staff for their perseverance and support over the last 2 years. The Crowe report advocated producing reports in-house rather than always using outside consultants, which had been done before. We published our first internally produced report on HSSD financial management earlier this year and staff are working on 2 reviews as we speak. The foundations are there BUT we still have a long way to go.

The first paragraph of our mandate states that PAC’s role is to ensure proper scrutiny is given to the States assets, expenditure and revenues to ensure that States’ bodies operate to the highest standards in mgt of their financial affairs – with 3 staff? It is not about relying on staff to do all the work, members roll their sleeves up and get involved above and beyond the call of duty, but practically can’t do it all themselves. This is particularly the case for non-States members who also hold down jobs.

I look on enviously at the PAC in Westminster which is basically fed reports everyday by the 800 strong workforce at the National Audit Office, but I know we need a solution that fits a small Island of 60,000+, not 60m+.

Am I proposing an Auditor General? No. I think it will be another expensive office that is created which, if it’s like any other similar quango created by the States, it will cost upwardsof  half a million pounds to run a year.  All we really need is technical expertise supporting a Scrutiny Management Committee, enabling it to operate in a timely and efficient  manner.  Any solution also needs to consider the relationship with Internal Audit as I believe there are opportunities to simplify and streamline and enhance the current processes. However, that’s the detail and is not for now but I will be happy to work with the SRC to ensure we get the support structure that works for Guernsey, as it certainly doesn’t at the moment.


I will now explain why the powers of the Committees need to be reviewed.

As a member and now Vice Chair of Scrutiny I’m delighted that the Committee has undertaken public hearings and think that, whilst we can learn how we can improve how they operate, it’s a fantastic start. It also required co-ordination with PAC as all hands were needed on deck to run them which also meant PAC work was put on hold as a result. Now,  we will be holding a public hearing later this year in relation to the budget and possibly combining this with the PTBR. However, we have been trying to hold one before now, at every turn we have been prevented from doing so,  due to issues surrounding disclosure of financially sensitive information.

It is no coincidence that all 3 Scrutiny Chairs opposed the new Code of Access to Public information when it was debated last year. It is basically a list of reasons why not to disclose information. One such excuse relates to commercial confidences. We will in the next few months be issuing a report that links to the work being done on the States Capital Investment Portfolio, in advance of the debate on funding for a new school building at La Mare de Carteret  . However, we are told we can’t make references to issues on specific capital projects due to matters of commercial confidentiality. How can that be right? It’s not. It is completely unacceptable.

The Committee believes that a future financial scrutiny function would benefit from the following changes:

–          be able to compel witnesses to attend;

–          be able to enforce requests for information; and

–          be able to release confidential information where appropriate.


The financial scrutiny function is different from the political scrutiny function in that it may be inappropriate to review certain topics in a public forum, therefore it is essential that the above powers are available.


I will now briefly refer to the final issue of concern to the Committee – impartiality.

This does not relate to dealing with conflicts of interest. I believe these are handled very well. No this is more about staff reporting lines. We currently are in the ludicrous position that our Principal Officer has a reporting line to the Head of Internal Audit and Assurance and ultimately the Chief Exectuive. Now I would like to make it very clear that all parties do act with the utmost integrity and I don’t want members to think I am implying otherwise. However, the perception it gives is not good, particuarly, when the internal audit function reports to the PAC!

I could go on but would like to end on a positive note.  As I said earlier today, the letter we sent to the Chair of SRC was borne out of frustration and hopefully Members have now got a better picture of where that frustration came from.

I believe the role of a financial scrutiny function is to act as a critical friend. Like a good teacher, we should highlight good practice as well as areas that can be improved and provide recommendations on what those improvements could be. This has been the approach taken by the committee over the last 2 years. BUT, as I’ve hopefully made clear, we are limited in how much help we can give which ultimately slows down how quickly government can improve and demonstrate to the Guernsey people that the services they pay for really do represent value for money and that extravagance and waste have been eradicated.
By supporting this amendment, therefore, we are a step nearer to not only improving our scrutiny function but also government as a whole. A win-win situation that I hope all Members will support.


However, now we have a real chance of doing something about it and I really do believe that if we can can work together as well as we did last week, we really can put in place the foundations for an effective and efficient scrutiny function . Now Disraeli states that a fool wonders and a wise man asks. Now I’m not a man and whether or not I’m wise I will leave others to judge but I am asking you all to support this amendment that will give us a chance of removing the shackles that bind the current scrutiny function in its job of ensuring good corporate governance in the States of Guernsey.

Transport Strategy – PAC comment

I spoke on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee on the proposed transport strategy in April 2014. In effect, the point was made that no assurance could be given as to the figures in either the majority or the minority report.


Sir, A key aspect of both reports is to influence behaviour such that the motor vehicle is not the default choice of transportation. They propose various means of doing so, some aspects similar some different to achieve it. However, how can we be sure either strategy represent value for money?

The Committee would consider that, unless there are targets, what each strategy wants to achieve, it is very difficult to do so.

For instance, both aim to increase bus usage and a principle means of doing this is through free bus fares. However, nowhere does either state what would be a minimum target to determine success?

At the core of the minority report is the implementation of paid parking. However, there are no targets in terms of car park occupancy, though 80% is mentioned as an aim with dynamic pricing at some future point.

Nor do either reports cover targets in terms of reduced cars on the road, increased cycling and alternative modes of transport. Although assumptions are made for the purposes of coming up with figures. Eg Main report 15.4 it states that the Department has allowed for a 10% pa swing away from larger more polluting vehicles and has allowed for a 1% pa reduction in fuel use in favour of walking, cycling and bus use. 10% swing to cleaner vehicles and 10% to narrower vehicles. Para 164 of the minority report mentions the need for a worthwhile modal shift, but this is not quantified.

The problem of not having targets is not being able to judge whether money raised is being well spent. If we reduce cars on the road by 1-2% is that enough – would that really make a difference in terms of what the strategies are trying achieve? It won’t make much difference to the current situation so is it worth £1.6-£2m a year?


And this leads to a further concern. There a wide range of assumptions being made, that do not appear to have any justification other than being considered by the authors as ‘reasonable’ in their minds. These include reduction in fuel use, car use and infrastructure improvements.


In terms of fuel duty rises, various academic papers have shown a correlation between increases in fuel prices and car usage, which supports the Policy Research Unit’s report. However, the situation is not so black and white. A study undertaken last year showed that whilst usage went down, car users were not willing to reduce journeys for sending or taking family members and shopping. We would also question the calculations of potential fuel income being based on annual mileage of 10,000 miles and would question how this estimate was arrived at.

[Reduction of Private Vehicle Usage in Response to Fuel Price Rise:  A Comparison between Automobile Drivers and Motorcycle Riders]

In addition, as made clear by Deputy Burford, we would agree that it is not possible to ignore the effect of the 2008 crash on fuel usage. It is also not helpful not having diesel included in the analysis.


Generally we do have concerns regarding the robustness of the figures on page 617 and 620 of the main report covering income and expenditure respectively. In particular, the heavy emphasis on education and communication is not borne out by the costings of £!00k in the first year and £50k thereafter.

We would also question how the 3 additional 2nd hand buses correlate with additional bus routes and frequency of £300k a year. It cost, according to CT Plus’s accounts, £3.6m to run the bus service in the year to 31 March 2013. Much of these will be fixed costs and it is therefore hard to understand that this would result in an extra £300k plus £200-£300 to place it on what is called a firm footing and an extra £200k pa for targeted routes.

Generally, the Minority report is more detailed and it would appear that quite a lot of work has gone into the estimates being made. However, we would question why capital items are mixed together in annual expenditure for instance costs of buses and bus shelters whilst the bus depot has been considered as an amortised expense separately. It would be preferable if these figures could have been analysed separately.


So, in summary, the Public Accounts Committee has concerns about the financial aspects of both strategies in terms of what they are setting out to achieve and the assumptions being made. It is our belief that no assurance can be given as to the robustness of both sets of figures at this stage.

Extra Care Housing

I spoke on the proposals to support the phase 2 of the development of Extra Care housing in March 2014. The purpose was to emphasise the need to focus not on processes, but outcomes.

Sir,  I believe this report is well written and totally understand that moving directly from one phase to the other without delay, makes logical sense from a cost point of view. The case for voting for the propositions is also strengthened by the excellent track record of the Guernsey Housing Association.

On the above basis I am happy to support the report. However, I would just like to raise a general point in relation to the level of financial information we should reasonably expect in order to make an informed decision in this Assembly. It is often the case, as in this report, that the costs are well documented and understood in monetary terms. This is understandable given it is the costs we are asked to approve to enable a capital project to progress. However, ongoing financial savings as a consequence of a project are less well understood.

And we have an example here. Whilst the word significant is used 6 times in the report to state the level of recurring benefits and savings that will arise, nowhere are these significant savings or benefits quantified.

In this instance, a particular problem in stating that evidence from other jurisdictions is that extra care housing is cheaper than residential care and that housing those with a learning disability and those currently in off-island placements will lead to significant savings is that these assumptions are based on numerous factors that have not been analysed.

We are provided with capital cost figures and usually the qualitative ongoing benefits, such as in this case, the advantages of extra care housing for those with a learning disability, but we are frequently being asked to make decisions where the financial benefits aren’t quantified. As such, we do not have the full picture.

So, whilst it is pretty clear what will be saved by moving from one phase to another without delay, and on that basis I support this report, I would urge all Departments, when submitting reports to this Assembly to centre their financial analysis less on the processes and focus more on the outcomes.


Accounts of States’ trading bodies

At the January 2013 States Meeting I proposed a Motion to Debate the accounts of Guernsey Electricity and Guernsey Post. My Motion was successful, which apparently was the first time this had happened in the States. I gave the reasons for  placing the Motion in the speech I made to the Assembly, which is set out below.


Sir,  I understand that each of these Motions have to be debated separately. However, what I say now applies to both Motions and I will re-iterate this at the appropriate time.

Whilst I have already briefed Members as to my reason for placing both these Motions to Debate I should also like to place this on record today and elaborate further on certain points.

Under the States Trading Companies Ordinance 2001, the accounts of States trading companies and the reports on them, must be placed in the Appendices to a Billet.

It is my belief that this is insufficient to give the accounts the prominence they deserve.  Certainly, as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, this is a concern in terms of accountability and the ability of Members to comment on those accounts in the same way that they can on the general accounts of the States of Guernsey.

Not only that but, in contrast, under paragraph 6(1) of the Financial Services Commission (Bailiwick of Guernsey), Law 1987 the accounts of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission have to be submitted as a report by the Treasury and Resources Minister and I quote ‘as soon as practicable for consideration by the States’.

There is an obvious inconsistency here and I can see no valid reason why States Trading Companies should not also be treated in the same way as the Commission or the general states accounts and be presented in the main body of the Billet where they will be available for consideration as a report by default.

Aside from accountability, I believe that such accounts should be presented to Members in a more timely manner. These accounts were signed off in June and July 2012 and readily available on both companies’ websites, but we only have the ability to debate them 7 months after sign off and 10 months after the accounting year end. This is far too late. The timetable for the preparation and audit of accounts are set well in advance of the companies’ year ends. Indeed, the Department is given 10 days notice of when the AGMs will be held and there should be no reason why the accounts are not submitted  as soon as possible after they have been approved by the shareholders.

The Public Accounts Committee continues to strive to ensure proper scrutiny is applied within its mandate, balanced within the finite resources available to it. To this end, I and my fellow Public Accounts Committee members are committed to continually reviewing how appropriate and proportionate level of scrutiny can be applied in the future.

Finally, I should like to advise that I will, on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, continue to place a Motion to Debate until such time as the Ordinance is amended.

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