My amendment to Population Management Regime
I was delighted to have my amendment accepted by the States on 27 June. Below you will find a copy of my speech explaining why it was needed.
The effect of this amendment is quite straightforward, although it may not appear so at first glance.
The purpose is to enable the continuous residence restriction to be extended from 3 to 5 years. It also clarifies the treatment of absence from the Island and when it does not constitute a recognised break in residence with regard to Short Term Permit Holders.
Before providing further explanation as to the reason behind my placing this amendment, I would like to thank the Director of Population Policy for her advice and assistance in helping me develop this amendment.
Proposition 8(d) has been amended to remove reference to a continuous period of residence and Proposition 9 amended such that it makes clear that, where a Short Term Permit Holder does not take a recognised break eg 9 months on, 3 months off, the period of absence will form part of the calculation of aggregate residence per proposition 8(d).
The effect of this amendment is to allow a Short Term Permit Holder on, say, a 9 month permit to come to the Island for 5 cycles of 9 months on, 3 months off.
Before I explain the reasons why I believe this amendment is necessary, I would like to emphasise the point that I believe that, in the first instance, we should be helping and encouraging businesses to employ local people and the default option should be to choose local, not to fall back on short term permits. As a Member of the Board of Commerce & Employment I am fully supportive of the pilot Stepping In Scheme, a joint initiative between the C&E, Housing and Social Services Departments which aims to reduce the number of short-term housing licences issued for certiain types of jobs in the Island, by supporting employers to train local unemployed jobseekers.
I really hope that, through this initiative as well as robust administration of the permit system , that we no longer need to bring in people from outside Guernsey to work in a fish and chip shop.
Now, one reason for proposing this amendment was to deal with inconsistencies and anomalies in relation to other propositions.
The current proposition 8(d) is inconsistent with Proposition 26 which states that tenants of a Part D house in Multiple Occupation can live and work on the Island for a maximum period of 5 years’ continuous residence.
In addition, the effect of current Proposition 9, ‘To agree that an individual has to have been away from the Island for a period of time which is at least equal to the duration of his or her last period of residence in the Island, before that individual will be eligible to obtain an Employment Permit for a subsequent period of residence’, is that an individual on a 6 month work permit could return to the Island for 6 months every year for 10 years, whereas a worker on a 9 month permit would only be able to return for 3 years as the 3 months is not long enough a break.
More importantly, it is evident to me, having read the proposals for a Statutory Body and Advisory Panel, that the new regime will result in additional cost to the private sector, something I will elaborate on in the main debate, and this will be exacerbated for seasonal businesses by limiting the amount of time that individuals can return to the Island.
This became apparent to me after having spoken to a number of such businesses. Remember these are predominantly locally owned companies, not subsidiaries of multi-national operations, and as such bear the greatest burden in terms of fees, charges and taxes. We are living in a difficult economic climate and we need to ensure those businesses that operate in the global marketplace, which many of these businesses do, can do so competitively.
At the same time, seasonal businesses have been part of the economy of Guernsey for over a century and seasonal workers from outside the Island have been essential to those businesses for much of that time. Something, incidentally, that isn’t unique to Guernsey.
Setting a 3 year continuous residence period will in reality mean that the first year will be spent investing time and money getting workers up to speed. Year 2 will enable the business to start getting a return from that investment and Year 3 may not happen at all as the individual looks for other work. The proposal to increase the potential cycle of continuous residence from 3 to 5 years, enables businesses to get a better return on investment should they be unable to employ local people.
Finally, I would like to thank Deputy Conder for seconding this amendment and hope that members will agree with me that this is a sensible and pragmatic amendment that deals with today’s reality and enhances the report as it currently stands.