Guernsey's senior political committee hampered by 'power vacuum'

Policy and Resources committee
Image caption The committee's authority is "contested and frequently challenged" by the States

Guernsey's senior political committee struggles with a "power vacuum" in government, according to a new report.

A governance review of the Policy and Resources Committee (P&R) concluded the island's political system was a barrier to effective governance.

P&R controls Guernsey's finances and is responsible for co-ordinating other political committees.

However, there was praise for the committee's commitment to provide "effective leadership".

Despite this, P&R's authority is "contested and frequently challenged" by the States and other committees.

The report argues P&R's authority is insufficient to "hold other committees to account" because it lacks the "levers and sanctions" of executive power.

Image caption The chamber where the States of Deliberation take place

This is the third governance review into the island's committees carried out by Professor Catherine Staite from the University of Birmingham.

The first, which examined the Health and Social Care Committee, criticised its independence from external influence and engagement with the public. .

A second report into the Home Affairs Committee was damning of alleged "bullying" by the committee president Mary Lowe.

Professor Staite also highlighted the poor communication between committees, arguing the system was defined by a "silo" mentality.

She said this could be overcome by deputies displaying "collaborative, not competitive behaviour".

"The necessary skills and behaviours are not demonstrated consistently by enough Guernsey Deputies to overcome the inherent weaknesses of the committee system."

Vice President of P&R Lyndon Trott welcomed the review and acknowledged the need for some reform to ensure the government was "fit for purpose."

However, Deputy Trott said additional reform to the political system needed further review and would not be possible before 2024.

Mr Trott argued the report demonstrated P&R's commitment to provide solid leadership, despite the barriers of the committee system.

He added: "Good people with the right attitude... can make an imperfect system work well."

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