The first Guernsey referendum has resulted in a new electoral mode and in 2020 we will be voting for our Deputies island-wide, rather than by electoral district.
It has become apparent to me, through the many months that we have been discussing this matter, that one of the key issues that the referendum was seeking to find a solution to was a way to find an increased quantity of quality candidates and ultimately therefore improve the quality of sitting Deputies. It is a presumption that this would improve the quality of debate, decision making, etc. and therefore the lot of our island.
I do not believe that we as the States take the role of a People’s Deputy seriously enough and I have pondered this since being elected. I view my role very much as a fiduciary role, owing a duty of care in all aspects of activity and decision making to the people of Guernsey, whether or not they voted for me.
The term “fiduciary” is associated with finance and being a finance person by trade, I do in fact equate my role as a Deputy to be very similar to that which I carried out when looking after clients personal wealth when I worked in the Trust industry. I undertook lots of training and practice to make sure that I could carry out my duties to a high standard and took my responsibilities seriously. The role specification was clearly defined and there was a culture of high expectation embedded in the organisation to ensure that one performed to best of ones ability.
Now back to the job role of a Deputy. There is currently very little in the way of guidance for the role and I think this is unfortunate because it really is a fantastic job – extremely challenging, enjoyable and overall very satisfying. If people could see that is really is a serious role with quite a technical side to it, then I think it would be more attractive and would encourage more capable individuals with the valuable attributes we need.
So, I have drafted up a Job Spec. in a slightly tongue in cheek way, though there are a lot of serious points in there, as well as some wishful thinking in regards to training.
This reflects only MY VIEW of what I think we want, or the island needs, in a People’s Deputy. Readers may agree or disagree. It’s not entirely definitive, but it’s a start in clearly defining the role, which I think is a better way towards finding the holy grail of the seemingly elusive “quality candidate” . Here it is:
We’re hiring for “People’s Deputy States of Guernsey”.
The position of a Deputy in the States of Guernsey is a varied, high profile role, requiring a flexible attitude to work requirements and working hours. The work of a Deputy is open not only to public view, but also to public scrutiny. Candidates should be energetic and convey enthusiasm about the role, ensuring that they maintain a professional approach to work at all times.
This is an historic, political position and involves you working as part of team of 40 people (including political representatives from Alderney) as a member of the island’s parliament. You will also work with a wider team of supporting colleagues from the States of Guernsey Civil Service. Other than for one of the team members who is elected as Chief Minister, you will have no personal office or personal administration support provided. Research support is limited.
Role duration: 4 years
Salary: £37,000 p.a.
Holiday Entitlement: none
Sick Pay: none
Expenses will be paid if you are sent on States business out of island.
Notice period: none*
(*NB if you step down from the role before the end of the term a by-election will be triggered at a cost to the public purse.)
Essential Skills and Attributes. You will have:
- Good/Excellent interpersonal skills
- Smart appearance
- Agile approach to hours
- Good/Excellent IT skills and ability to work remotely
- Good/Excellent organisational and administration skills
- Good/Excellent level of literacy and numeracy
- Good/Excellent research skills
- Good/Excellent presentation & public speaking skills
- Knowledge of different media platforms including social media
- Evaluation, analytical and problem-solving skills
- Effective listening skills
Duties & responsibilities, not limited to but, include:
- As an elected representative of the people of Guernsey, you will be expected to act in their best interests at all times and to conduct yourself according to the States Members Code of Conduct.
- You will be expected to carry out the mandate of the States of Guernsey, as decided from time to time by the States of Guernsey, but also to challenge and scrutinise such mandate ensuring that it remains fit for the purpose it was created for.
- You are expected to carry out constituency work which may involve visiting parishioners, community groups, schools and businesses to give and receive information related to States of Guernsey policy.
- You are expected to respond to inquiries from the community and the media.
- You are expected to be knowledgeable about current political matters affecting the community.
- If you are elected to sit on a Committee you are expected to carry out Committee work alongside general States work.
- You are expected to attend every States Meeting for the duration of the meeting and wherever possible participate in each vote.
- You are expected to adhere to the rules of procedure for States Members in meetings and to act in a professional manner during meetings.
- You will be required to receive meeting papers and States Billets and are expected to have read these in advance of every meeting.
- Working as part of a team whether or not you take you a seat on a Committee, you are expected to maintain the best working relationships possible with both political and officer colleagues.
What we give you (this is what I would like us to have -currently no training provided!):
Training is offered as part of the package and to support you in your role. You will be taken through a 3-day course on the principles of Corporate Governance, how to read Financial Statements, understanding IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) and Committee work. A separate day will be dedicated to train you how to be an effective Parliamentarian.
EO&E – NB this is not an official Job Specification from the States of Guernsey!