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PRESS RELEASE: "I thought better of Guernsey’s System of Democratic Government"

“I thought better of Guernsey’s System of Democratic Government” says GPEG Chairman. “Small businesses will drown in a sea of wokery and red tape.”

Lord Digby Jones today launches an impassioned attack on the way that stifling, poorly drafted proposed anti-discrimination legislation is on its way to getting onto Guernsey’s statute book, almost by stealth. He implores Deputy Roffey and the members of the Employment and Social Security Committee in the States to listen to small businesses and not just pay lip-service to the genuinely-held concerns of the growth and jobs engine of the island.

He says:-

“Some form of anti-discrimination legislation on the Island is a good thing. We need various wrongs put right. It is good for those discriminated against, it is good for social inclusion and it is good for us all as we emerge blinking into the daylight of a post-Covid World. Indeed we welcome much of the proposed legislation but the employment component is poorly thought through and needs considerable improvement. Unless some firm and important action is taken swiftly we will all be lumbered with a law that is poorly drafted and which will fall foul of the Law of Unintended Consequences. As drafted, this will set Guernsey back as it tries to raise revenue in the future. We want small businesses employing more not fewer people; we want businesses paying employees more money not spending their money, time and effort in accommodating the apparently anti-business brigade who will have gathered future legislative power to themselves without oversight from the democratic process of the States.”

“How many voters on Guernsey, indeed how many Deputies, realise that the cost to the Public Sector, the taxpayer, of this appallingly drafted text is over £2 million with a subsequent annual cost to the taxpayer of £1.9 million? Also taxpayers need to be made aware that there was a lack of proper costing when it went before the States for approval. No one has had to justify the huge cost to small businesses and the tax-payer-funded public sector that this politically-inspired, anti-employer legislation will create, right at the time the Island can’t afford it. The Government Work Plan in fact states that ‘There is a need to better understand the impact of Phase 1…and to undertake an economic assessment in order to better understand the financial impacts of such policy changes’. When is this going happen? it hasn’t happened so far and as Deputy Roffey looks to rush this legislation through there will be little time to perform this properly.” “Some Deputies in their enthusiasm to shackle small businesses on our Island (some two-thirds of all Guernsey businesses employ fewer than five people) have never explained satisfactorily what is the actual factually-existing problem their proposals are designed to deal with. They were eventually forced into offering the entire draft law out for consultation and were then very selective in whom were invited to comment and they have never given small business a good chance to understand the complex and, in part, bizarre proposals.”

“I hear that they (with the Guernsey taxpayer picking up the tab) are offering small businesses “training”. That’s like saying “I’m going to shackle you and then teach you how to deal with doing your job in shackles”! Why shackle them in the first place? Will one of these Deputies please explain that if their proposed Anti-Discrimination Legislation as drafted and being rushed through is the answer, what is the question?”

“As promised in the Government Work Plan dated 17 June 2021 section 1.5 states that ‘the States must: Reduce unnecessary burdens on business while meeting international standards – we need less regulation, and where required it must be proportionate and risk-based’, this legislation is not in line with this.” “The whole process has been secretive & non-consultative. As drafted:-

- every single person on the island can fall within the currently planned definition of “disabled”. What sort of farce is that! - all sections can subsequently be amended or added to by Committee and not by the Deputies in the States, giving Deputy Roffey and his Committee total power over the future law. The draft actually states that the law can be amended “by regulation” not in the States. What sort of Democratic system is that? - the new laws would automatically apply to “job applicants” but discussing eg disability would be forbidden. Quite how is it proposed that a small business makes reasonable adjustments to its premises if it can’t discuss requirements with an applicant? What would stop

a disappointed applicant looking to this legislation to seek redress for a spurious grievance? Don’t blame businesses in future for not employing people and for not investing in the island’s future. The dice are loaded against the small employer; if a complaint is raised then the employer has to prove decisively that the accusations are false in circumstances where the legal bills of both sides will have made it another good day for the lawyers, with them being paid in all likelihood by the employer whatever the merits. The small business won’t be able to afford it, they will give in and some politicians and lobby groups will conclude that the legislation works! How can that be a beneficial way forward as common sense is conspicuous by its absence.” “It is time some Deputies with common sense in their veins stopped this legislation in its tracks NOW and forced a proper open debate about the text, about what all this means, involving all those affected so that we end up with a sensible piece of useful law rather than the shambles with which we are currently faced.” Lord Jones concludes:-

“Why doesn’t Deputy Peter Roffey, President of Employment and Social Security, meet small businesses in a public forum in front of those who will be affected by his plans and take the opportunity to justify his actions and this proposed legislation to the employers of the island, not just his apparently anti-business allies?”

For further comment contact

Lord Digby Jones or Jon Moulton on



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