Falklands lawmakers: The full time problem
Falkland Islands are holding elections next 7 November and eleven candidates will be disputing the five Legislative Assembly seats for Stanly and five the three for the Camp.
Although there is nothing new about the every four year democratic event and the challenges the new assembly will have to address, as of now the MLAs will be full time and paid a salary accordingly.
For a small community of 3.000 people the issue was long discussed but remains controversial.
A readers' letter in the latest edition of the Penguin News points out to concern about the revolutionary variation' and equally significant it was written by a long time prestigious journalist born and raised in the Falklands, Patrick Watts MBE.
Follows the text:
It appears that the move towards full-time MLAS is inevitable and the newly elected Legislature will create history in this respect. However I feel I am not alone in expressing concern over this revolutionary variation, particularly as I feel it deters many people from standing simply because they cannot afford to devote five days a week sitting in Gilbert House while they have a business or sheep farm to run.
Already several 'good' Camp Constituency prospective candidates have said they did not stand for the reason that I have stated above. One farmer was adamant that he did not wish to spend his £40,000 MLA salary, if he was elected, paying someone else to run his farm for him, as he had been advised when enquiring about standing.
Now we hear that a former MLA, who worked incessantly during the past four years on promoting the Falklands at an International level - portraying the Islands incredible progress since 1982 and the desire of the population to stay British - has not stood because this former MLA cannot combine being a full-time MLA and maintaining a business. The person not standing is a considerable loss to the Islands. If indeed we do have full-time MLAs then I would hope that several high level posts within Government will in due course be abolished as, for example, I would expect the full-time MLAS to decide the policy for the Falklands and accordingly the highly paid post of Head of Policy could go and thus bring a considerable monetary saving within the public service.
Patrick J. Watts MBE - Stanley