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BUDGET SPEECH 2022 – The Hon Samantha Sacramento MP - 469/2022

July 01, 2022

Mr Speaker, it is a privilege to once again address Parliament and it continues to be an honour to serve this community as a member of Her Majesty’s  Government of Gibraltar, now in my 11th year. On this occasion, I set out my Budget address as Minister with responsibility for Justice, Equality and Public Regulation.

Before I speak about those responsibilities, I would like to begin by making reference to the pandemic that we have just emerged from and which clearly is still not over and has even played some mischief at our budget session and has denied us from the enjoying the opportunity of listening to the Father of the House deliver his speech, I am sure that we can all agree Mr Speaker that when it comes to the Budget and Sir Joe, reading his speech is not the same to being in his presence when he delivers.  I have been in touch with Sir Joe this morning and I wish my dear friend a speedy recovery from COVID.

Mr Speaker, this is a stark reminder that COVID is not yet over, and neither is the economic effect that COVID has had, not just on us, but globally.

For this reason I just don’t understand a lot of what has been said by the members opposite so far. They speak as if without any realisation or acknowledgment of the global economic situation.  Where have they been for the last two years? The bottom line is that we have to tighten our belts, just a little bit,  just for 2 years, to be able to get us out of this, but of course pensioners and those on lower wages will be insulated, as they rightly ought to be. 

Mr Speaker I must congratulate the Chief Minister for being brave in what he has done in the budget, and his rationale for so doing.

Let’s hope Mr Speaker that we can transition back to normality as soon as possible.

Speaking about what we have had to endure from the members opposite, I must call out something that was said by Hon Mr Clinton yesterday.  I am sure he did not mean to mislead Parliament in what he said, but he was clearly disingenuous in the way that he presented the matter in that he did not provide the full picture.  Mr Speaker, the Honourable Mr Clinton made a big fuss about our business class travel and this is because his last Parliament Question was quite one sided was limited only to ask when we travel on business, he never asked how many times we travel otherwise. 

Mr Speaker I regularly travel economy, we all do, the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister, the Minister for Tourism who are the ones who travel the most, the travel economy, but he did not mention that part.  Mr Speaker I only travel when it is absolutely necessary, as we all do.  Personally I don’t like to travel; I hate packing, I hate flying, I hate airports, I get travel sick but I do it because its my job to do and we all do it because it is our duty.  Only last week I was in Berlin for 48 hours and I flew Ryan Air.  When I travelled to Iceland, I travelled economy as well, that trip was subsidised by the CPA as I was travelling in my capacity as the Chair of the CWP. 

Mr Speaker, while the Hon Mr Clinton pontificates about business class travel from his pedestal, I need to remind him that last year we both travelled to Northern Ireland for a CPA conference, where I travelled direct on easyjet and the Hon Gentleman travelled BA business class not direct so he had two fights there and two fights back. 

Mr Speaker, I make this point only to show that the Honourable member did not present all the facts.


Mr Speaker, In August 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, I was appointed Minster for Health and I held this responsibility until a few months ago.  It has been a very difficult, all consuming and intense time.  The job of being Minister with responsibility for Civil Contingencies and also Minister for Health meant that the work was relentless and I have been pretty much working on adrenaline for two years.

At the outset the priority was to support an organization that was at the coal face in the battle against COVID, particularly at the ERS.

Additionally, it became apparent to me that I had two major priorities as Minister for Health.

The first was to make mental health a priority, not just for the GHA, but for the whole of Gibraltar.

Using the Public Health England Situational Analysis Report 2019, which I immediately published when I became Minster for Health, using that as a benchmark I launched the five year strategy in July 2021 with the objective of improving the mental health and wellbeing of the population of Gibraltar by having a comprehensive, integrated mental health system that promotes self care, recovery and reduces stigma.

The strategy was developed through comprehensive multi agency stakeholder, patient and public engagement process with listening and learning being a cornerstone principle.  The strategy has four overarching strategic priorities aligned with the World Health Organisation global mental health action plan 2013-2030.

Importantly the strategy has an inbuilt mechanism of accountability and includes timelines for the implementation of the key milestones.

There were some very immediate improvements in the delivery of the GHA mental health services including the instruction of a mental health crisis line at the 111.

I wish to in particular thank the members of the statutory Mental Health Board and the Mental Health Tribunal.  An enormous amount of time is dedicated by those who sit on these and they do so on a voluntary basis.
Immediately also I became acutely aware of the impact that the pandemic was having on hospital services and I feared the outcome of its aftermath.

It was the invaluable help and guidance by Professor Ian Cumming OBE, who I had initially engaged in January 2021 to devise and lead on our vaccination strategy but who became invested in assisting Gibraltar, that we worked together on what were to become landmark reforms and the Reset, Restart and Recover programme later in the year.

On the 30th November 2021 I announced these landmark reforms with the objective of improving the GHA services provided to patients and the accountability of the Authority to the Government and therefore the taxpayer.

This represented a radical reform Mr Speaker.  A seven point plan for Reset Restart and Recover was announced and also a reconfiguration of the GHA Board to ensure its function as the key strategic oversight body for the GHA, the removal of the Minister for Health as the Chair of the Board and a new Independent Chair of the Board appointed and the introduction of a new position of Director General to provide overall leadership to the organisation. This restructure represented our serious and genuine desire to transform the GHA.

Mr Speaker, I could think of no one better to be the interim Chair of the Board at this time than Professor Cumming so he was asked to take up this role on an interim basis. I wish him and the Board all the best in ensuring that the GHA deliver for us all.

Mr Speaker, in my time as Minister for Health I worked with very dedicated professionals, I thank them for their guidance and support during this time.  The services of 3 nurses in the GHA have been recognised with Honours.  Of these I have worked very closely with the Head of Elderly Services Susan Vallejo and the Director of Nursing Sandie Gracia and I can certainly say that their recognition is very well deserved, my congratulations to them.




So starting with my responsibilities as Minister for Civil Contingencies

Mr Speaker as you will surely imagine, the centre of the Government’s ongoing response to the COVID 19 Pandemic has been the Office of Civil Contingencies. 2021/2022 has continued to be largely dominated by the global pandemic as well as planning for a possible no negotiated Brexit outcome and dealing with consequences of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

When our vaccines arrived at the beginning of 2021, and we have to thank the UK Government for their generous and constant supply of vaccines, our community saw a rapid decline in positive cases, deaths and hospitalisations.  The hugely successful vaccination programme, executed by the GHA allowed us to start winning the battle against COVID-19 and as restrictions quickly started to be eased, Gibraltar became the centre of attention for a post-vaccination world.

As the new Director of Public Health expressed her concerns over vaccine effectiveness waning, the booster programme was launched in early October with the aim of offering maximum protection to our people over the winter months. As cases in the ‘boosted’ population started to improve again and hospitalisations of positive cases were kept at a steady and manageable rate, we were once again reminded about the risks from new variants of concern.

With a large uptake in boosters and with a better understanding of the Omicron variant, the first quarter of 2022 has allowed Gibraltar to continue with its exit strategy and easing the vast majority of restrictions. The last two years have been painfully difficult for everyone in our community but it now seems that we are well on our road to recovery noting of course that we must continue to remain cautious and continuously monitor the situation.

 When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Gibraltarians living in Ukraine with their young families reached out for support. The Office of Civil Contingencies assisted with the repatriation of the family by making the necessary travel arrangements and deploying one of its officers to Poland to meet with the family to deliver the necessary emergency passports and other travel documentation.

The Office of Civil Contingencies has also coordinated much of the support given to other Ukrainian families who fled the war-torn country to safety in Gibraltar where they have been provided with accommodation at the Retreat Centre and coordinated support from the Care Agency and the Department of Education amongst others.

Mr Speaker I could not have asked for a more dedicated or focused team to steer us through these extremely difficult times.  My thanks to the Civil Contingencies Co-ordinator Mr Ivor Lopez, whose efforts were also recognised in his very well deserved award, and Ernest Danino and Brian Brooks.  The latter who recently with others also made a round trip to deliver medical supplies to Ukraine on behalf of the Red Cross, a selfless endeavour indeed and they should be congratulated.


On my Justice responsibilities I will commence with the Gibraltar Financial Intelligence Unit.

Gibraltar Financial and Intelligence Unit

Mr Speaker, GFIU plays a critical role in the fight against economic crime but it also uses financial intelligence to tackle other criminal conduct. The unit has over the last two years made an immense contribution to ensure that Gibraltar features well in the Financial Action Task Force Post Observation Period. In the process it has built on the successes of 2020, driven decisively with new developments that will create innovative approaches to tackle financial crime.

In 2021, the GFIU received almost 4,000 suspicious activity reports. This has placed a significant workload on the unit but it has also taken advantage of its digital transformation with better analytical software that helps strengthen its capacity by creating a modern digital ecosystem that harnesses the many pieces of information received from a wide range of sources. 

The GFIU is not just providing training locally, and this is quite a remarkable recognition of the level of work that they deliver.  In 2021, the GFIU were invited by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to deliver training to Morocco’s financial institutions, sharing Gibraltar’s experience in improving engagement with the private sector to detect illicit financial activity to end human trafficking.

It also delivered training to INTERPOL’s Project Proteger, an initiative designed to enhance capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean countries to target the proceeds of smuggling persons or trafficking in human beings.        

Mr Speaker, another significant development has been the establishment of a public-private partnership, called the Financial Liaison and Intelligence Network. This partnership led by the GFIU which is comprised of Gibraltar’s Banks, the Royal Gibraltar Police, HM Customs and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission is expected to greatly enhance information sharing.

As the lead agency for Counter Proliferation Financing, the GFIU established the Joint Coordinating Intelligence Group to Counter Proliferation Financing a pioneering working group that ensures that Gibraltar mitigates the threat to global security by those intent in facilitating the illicit development of weapons of mass destruction.

Now, Mr Speaker I will turn to the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Royal Gibraltar Police

The past year has seen the RGP work to achieve the recommendations and areas for improvement set out in the 2020 report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services. This has meant the RGP undertaking some significant reform to achieve this.

Crime recording is now more in line with the Home Office Counting Rules and the RGP has established the criteria which has been followed by UK police forces.

Further to this, the Code of Ethics has been embedded in all operational activity, determining standards of behaviours and the principles of policing. This activity is now coordinated by the Ethics Champions Lead, with an Independent Committee on Ethics overseeing ethical dilemmas in the RGP.

To achieve this, the RGP has also introduced policies and procedures determining standards of behaviour, mechanisms for officers and staff to report on poor behavioural standards and control measures to protect the reputation of the organisation. The entire work force and any external partners working with the RGP will require to be vetted as is the practice by UK Police forces. A Vetting Unit has been established, with an emphasis on a new internal Counter Corruption Unit.

Mr Speaker, the recently created Victims of Crime Support Team has trained officers in line with the Victims in Criminal Proceedings Regulations. Every Victim of Crime is now contacted and provided with support through the entire investigation process.

Combating domestic abuse also features highly on the RGP’s agenda, with the creation of a Domestic Abuse Unit implementing better protective measures for victims of this terrible crime.

The Government is of course committed to supporting the Royal Gibraltar Police.  Last week I had the pleasure to speak at the Passing Out Parade for 17 new recruits.  I wish them all the best in their careers in the policing family. Recruitment for a new intake of officers has already  commenced.

Mr Speaker, I now turn to the Gibraltar Courts Service


Gibraltar Courts Service

Mr Speaker, during the past year, the Law Courts have continued to work extraordinarily hard in order to deal effectively with the current substantial workload brought about as a result of the scaling down of operations during both COVID-19 lockdown periods.  The current full complement of judges coupled with the fact that when hit with the pandemic there was no backlog at either the Magistrates’ or Supreme Courts, allows the Law Courts to continue to be in a strong position.

The Rt Hon Sir Martin Moore-Bick retired this year in March as a Justice of Appeal, bringing the current number of appointed Justices down to four.   In order to maintain the complement of the Court of Appeal Justices at six, it is envisaged that recruitment will proceed for two more Justices.

As a result of a number of retirements and in order to maintain the complement of existing Justices of the Peace, on advice from the Judicial Service Commission, it is anticipated that the recruitment process will shortly be advertised for appointment.

Acting on advice from the Judicial Service Commission, the Government has agreed to continue to provide funding for a fourth Judge of the Supreme Court.

Government Law Offices

Mr Speaker, and now the Government law offices

Mr Speaker, since the last Budget Speech, our team of lawyers have continued to play a crucial part in delivering legal advice to the Government, shaping legislation, and providing legal representation to our law enforcement agencies.

During the last year, the GLO published the following legislation:

18 Government Bills

16 Acts

344 Legal Notices

And Mr Speaker a staggering 423 COVID Regualtions and at this point I would really like to thank the small team who were working on the COVID Regulations so intensely during the last 2 years because sometimes Mr Speaker we literally had to work day and night to get these Regulations right.

Related to Brexit, the GLO has continued with the publication of measures to revoke or amend retained directly applicable EU legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019.

The following legislative projects have also come to fruition during this period including the commencement of the Freedom of Information legislation, the Register of Property Occupation Act 2021 was also commenced and associated subsidiary legislation published and the Gibraltar Health Authority Act which reconfigured the GHA Board and separated the functions of the GHA and the Ministry of Health and Care. Following the recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in February of this year the Government published the Employment (Bullying at Work) (Amendment) Bill 2022 which seeks to address the issues raised. The Government has passed the British Sign Language Act.  All this work has been done thanks to our lawyers at the GLO.

Mr Speaker, the Government law drafters are currently working on a number of other legislative projects that I have commissioned in my capacity as Minister for Justice, including in relation to a Bill on prohibiting vaping for under 18 year olds, Online Safety legislation, a Domestic Abuse Bill having been published previously as command paper, a project on gender neutrality in legislation, and conversion therapy ban.

I also wish to announce that I will be commencing two important and significant reviews of existing legislation, a review of Family Law and a Review of Crimes legislation.  The team at the GLO are preparing the groundwork for me so that I can formally proceed to the consultation process.

I am also involved in their ongoing work regarding the extension of a number of Council of Europe and United Nations Conventions to Gibraltar, these include the United Nations Conventions on corruption, disabilities, rights of the child and the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

I thank the team Mr Speaker for all their hard work and advice.


Mr Speaker, I now turn to my responsibilities on Safeguarding:

As Minister with responsibility for children and adults safeguarding and regulation, I believe that no child or vulnerable adult should be exposed to harm or left behind. Everyone has the right to feel safe and live at peace.

To do so, we need to tackle the social issues that have arisen or have been exacerbated by the pandemic and lead the way for continued changes and improvements to our safeguarding systems. Effective safeguarding requires partnership collaborating with individuals, professionals and other agencies working together to recognise the potential of preventing harm. Prevention is therefore the responsibility of a wide range of agencies as well as other organisations, charities, and groups. It is for this reason that I have reconstituted the function of the Child Protection Committee and established a Safeguarding Adult Board and a Youth Offending Committee. The latter two being the first of their kind in Gibraltar.

I must highlight that the purpose of the Child Protection Committee and the Safeguarding Adults Board is to provide a joint forum to allow for a close working relationship between the Care Agency, the RGP, GHA, Education Department, and other key organisations who share the common aim of protecting children and vulnerable adults at risk and for developing, monitoring, and reviewing safeguarding policies.

The Chairperson of both committees is currently the Chief Executive of the Care Agency who reports and provides advice to me on safeguarding with respect to the CPC and SAB work and I am very grateful for these additional responsibilities that he discharges.

Social care and safeguarding services all around the world have experienced great challenges in providing optimal care and protection to the most vulnerable members of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Care Agency and all other bodies with safeguarding functions have spent the last two years dealing with the challenges of the pandemic by building innovative ways of managing risk. This must and will continue as we move to recover from the consequences of the pandemic especially since the full impact of COVID on vulnerable groups is not yet known.

The Youth Offending Committee has been working towards preparing recommendations which includes analysis and conclusion of the main issues that have arisen through their meetings. All the services involved are united to ensure that children are supported and empowered to make the most of their lives, enjoy and achieve and make a positive contribution to the community within Gibraltar and agree that this requires all involved with the child to tailor their services to the individual child’s need. The Committee has identified ways in which progress can be made to ensure a reduction in first time offenders, a reduction in reoffending, a reduction in the use of custody and a reduction in first time offending.

Management of sex offenders in the community comes under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).  There are currently nine trained Designated Risk Managers (DRM) across the different MAPPA organisations, who undergo yearly specialist training in the assessment and management of risk posed by Sex Offenders. From the DRMs and representatives of key partner agencies a Core Team has been formed, the Core Team received further specialist skills in assessment and interventions with MAPPA cases to ensure effective risk management. 

The Gibraltar Public Protection Panel comprises of members from the MAPPA organisations, is responsible for the identification and implementation of risk management plans for each offender.

Her Majesty’s Prison

Mr Speaker, I am now turning my attention to Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

From a prisoner management perspective 2021 saw the highest daily average of prisoners 54 since 2015, a figure which was adversely affected by the influx of detainees and which were unable to be deported for a period because of COVID restrictions. This impact factor is no longer the case. At present the daily average population stands at 38 for the first quarter.

The prison’s facilities continue to be well used by those in custody as the year progressed, with all of these seeing a higher percentage of users. Of these, 32% of the prison population attended educational classes (up from 29%), 91% made use of the gymnasium and 49% attended vocational classes (up from 22.4%).

Counselling is essential in providing support and the system must maximise its efforts to pick up from the excellent work coming out of the Prison’s Voluntary Drug Testing Scheme, this currently boasts a participation of 67%. This program will better place offenders on the road to rehabilitation and successful re-integration into society and therefore reduce the rate of reoffending.

Probation Services

Mr Speaker, I am now turning my attention to Probation Services.

The Probation Service continues to provide services to the Courts in terms of pre-sentence reports, and to the Parole Board for consideration of Parole. Probation Officers continue to supervise and manage those offenders subject to licence conditions and Community Rehabilitation Orders and carry out intervention plans based on the needs of the offender. One of the Probation Officers also forms part of the Prison Board and undertakes prison inspections.

Last year Probation Officers underwent training in the Freedom Programme as part of the Government’s Domestic Abuse Strategy and this programme is now being delivered with perpetrators of domestic abuse as part of their licence conditions and or Community Rehabilitation Orders. The Probation Service continues to explore further training in domestic abuse interventions.


Mr Speaker, I now turn to the final uniformed bodies that I am responsible for, the Fire Services 

Airport Fire and Rescue Services

Starting with the Airport Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) has maintained a very busy period of activity. Its primary focus throughout the last year has been to consolidate practical training and essential development courses. It has also undergone external reviews to ensure that its personnel, manning and resources are adequate to fulfil its operational response tasks and that these are delivered in accordance with mandated international standards. At the same time, it has reviewed all its processes and operational procedures to ensure these remain current in the lead up to its 15-month full audit by UK Civil Aviation Authority inspectors.

As integral components of their ongoing competence based training AFRS personnel undertook a variety of training and instruction courses which are fundamental elements of their continual professional development.

In addition to its training, Senior Officers also attended an Airport Fire Officers’ course in the UK which was an excellent opportunity to work alongside senior officers from across UK airports. The AFRS is an acknowledged and well respected organisation amongst UK Airport Fire Services in different aviation fire and rescue forums, so staying in continual touch with these allows it to keep abreast of industry developments and thereby remain relevant. 

Also late last year the AFRS underwent an overview audit inspection and a series of Task Resource Analysis sessions under the auspices of the Defence Fire Safety Regulator. This entailed both theoretical and practical sessions to formally confirm and document that the AFRS is meeting its mandated incident response requirements, with sufficient personnel and firefighting resources. In this respect the AFRS was given a clean bill of health for its operational effectiveness.

The AFRS continues to work closely with the GFRS having a great professional working relationship, collaborating on training and other projects of common benefit to both. The AFRS strives for organisational and individual self-improvement ensuring that its firefighters maintain the necessary skills and competences which are critical for mitigating risk, enabling safety and allowing them to effectively fulfil their roles. This underpins its strategic operating principles with its team, always moving forwards in a dynamic cycle of improvement, whilst positively responding to the evolving challenges facing Fire Services.

Mr Speaker, from the AFRS, I now turn my attention to the GFRS.


Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service 

Mr Speaker, for them it has been a year of continued progress and adaptation to new challenges, no different to the rest of the Pubics Service and Gibraltar in general, as we move out of the pandemic restrictions.

With the growing number of developments, amendments to fire safety standards, and innovative fire engineering solutions, the GFRS Fire Safety team is constantly challenged and does a magnificent job in the anticipation of risks, subsequently impacting their frontline operational preparedness. The GFRS continues with their primary objective, implementing and adopting measures or procedures necessary to ensure that they maintain competence and provide the best possible level of emergency response to safeguard Gibraltar and its citizens.

The GFRS are also as first responders very much part fo the Gibraltar Domestic Abuse strategy and they too are receiving training.

GFRS officers have been working for months to come up with the right formula for the revised Firefighter Recruits selection process. This new system mirrors the selection process applied by their counterparts in the UKFRS, with a single standard for all applicants, and was put to the test last month, leading to the appointment of their newest Firefighter Recruit. In efforts to adopt full transparency and equal opportunities, video footage capturing all activities is provided through the GFRS website to demonstrate the process and level of fitness required from all candidates.

Mr Speaker it goes without saying that I have been working very closely with the Chief Fire Officer in the same way that I have been working with the Commissioner of Police to try and increase diversity in the number of women who join and the Ministry for Equality is working with both departments in this regard.

During the past two years, most of the GFRS’ efforts focused around the pandemic and implemented rigorous measures to protect minimum levels of response if faced with virus-spread within the department. These were very testing times for staff who went the extra mile to ensure that Gibraltar could still count on an efficient emergency response.

I must thank all those in the essential services and uniform bodies that I am responsible for.  Mr Speaker as they are the ones who run towards danger in order to keep the rest of us safe.

Mr Speaker, in the recent reshuffle I was given the additional responsibilities of Regulation and Town Planning.


Mr Speaker. I will now turn my attention to my responsibilities for Town Planning and Building Control.

I would start by reminding this house of the Government’s commitment to the development plan. The Government recognises the importance of having an up to date Development Plan in place, this important for a strategic approach to our development. I hope to make further announcements on this once the tender process has been completed.

On a day-to-day, the volume of applications dealt with by the department continues at the high levels of past years with a total of 961 applications across all application types between 1st January 2021 and 31 May 2022.

Probably one of the largest and most complex applications that the Department has dealt with was the recent application in respect of the Eastside.

Mr Speaker, in 2021 the Development and Planning Commission (DPC) held a total of 11 meetings whilst so far this year it has held 6 meetings. Additionally, the DPC’s subcommittee meets regularly to determine minor applications which greatly help to speed up the decision-making process for more minor applications. There were 27 meetings of the sub-committee held in 2021 and 12 so far this year.

DPC meetings have continued to be held remotely via video conferencing. The meetings have also continued to be live streamed on the Government’s YouTube channel. 

I will ensure that public access to planning applications and the decision making process continues with the transpancy that we have been enjoying for over the last 10 years, and shall strive to improve on this accessibility and transparency wherever possible.

Mr Speaker, the Department continues with their work to continue to improve their e-Planning service that allows for easy access to application details for the public and provides a platform through which applicants can submit their applications online. I am pleased to say how sucessfu this function of eGovernment is that almost 98% of Planning and Building Control applications submitted in the period 1st January until 31 May 2022 were submitted via the portal.

Mr Speaker, my department is also undertaking an exercise to review the current Building Regulations and various building codes with a view to bringing them in line with the latest standards.

Finally Mr Speaker, we will be having a new workstream that will be a collaboration between the Town Planning and Building Control Department and the Ministry of Equality with a view to taking a more holistic view on making Gibraltar more accessible to people with disabilities.



The GRA has again managed to remain fully operational during another challenging year, efficiently continuing to respond to public concerns and to enhance its awareness raising initiatives.

Testament to the GRA’s ability to remain flexible, was the GRA’s successful hosting of a virtual European Case Handling Workshop in 2021, an annual feature in the calendar of European Data Protection Authorities, and typically an in-person event. The workshop provides a platform for international cooperation and focuses on the practical implementation of data protection on a day-to-day basis. The year has also seen the GRA win an international Global Privacy Assembly award, for its awareness raising initiatives undertaken regarding its “Education and Public Awareness” work.

Furthermore, the GRA continues to proactively publish guidance notes and to organise data protection workshops intended to promote collaboration and debate and to provide an open forum whereby organisations can discuss data protection law and best practice. 

Office of Fair Trading

Mr Speaker, my predecessor spoke yesterday about the work of the OFT.  I thank my friend Min Daryanani for his dynamic work and progress in this respect.

In addition to the department’s responsibilities that he outlined, the OFT’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulatory role for the real estate agent and high value good dealer sectors continues to mature with the implementation of new procedures and ongoing supervisory programmes.  The team is currently conducting a round of onsite visits to businesses in these sectors on a risk based approach. Of the 13 visits carried out since November 2021 the OFT has issues 5 fines to local business.

In this past financial year, the team has carried out significant outreach to these sectors to support businesses to achieve compliance. This has included hosting virtual training opportunities with the assistance of the Gibraltar Financial Intelligence Unit.

On the Fair Trading Bill Mr Speaker, I can confirm that the Government continues to work with the OFT on the Fair Trading Bill with the aim of producing a more appropriate and mature framework within which the OFT can operate building on the work that has previously been done. The Bill will make the establishment of new businesses easier and quicker by simplifying the business licensing process. It shall therefore drastically improve further the manner in which the OFT can provide its services to the public. At the same time the new Bill will protect consumers in Gibraltar and allow the OFT to set trading standards.

Mr Speaker, having recently taken on this role I am already working on this aspect.  Given that this is a such a big and important piece of work, consultation is key, and I am committed to continue to engage with the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to ensure that it will support the business community in Gibraltar in the same as Min Daryanani did.

New Regulations

Finally on regulation, there are two major innovations in the pipeline. 

The first is the introduction of the Anti Corruption Authority.  I have given this work priority as soon as the COVID pressures permitted.  There is a draft Bill in final draft form and it is going through the final stages of internal approval.  It is my hope to be able to publish it as soon as possible in the coming weeks.

A very interesting new piece of work that I have now embarked upon is the regulation of quality of care.  I have already met with the Chair of the Medical Registration Board and the Chair of the Nurses and Midwives Registration Board to consult on their views on the most appropriate way forward.  The new structure will also make provision, importantly, for quality of care inspections of providers.  I am very excited about this innovative piece of work and I shall make more detailed announcements after the summer.


Mr. Speaker, I now turn to my portfolio as Minister for Equality. During this administration’s three terms of office it has been my privilege to have held various portfolios.


Of all of those portfolios, the Equality portfolio has been the one that I have held from the very first day. It was a great honour to be chosen as Gibraltar’s first Minister for Equality in 2011 and it is a responsibility that I have always been, and continue to be, extremely proud of.

As Minister for Equality, I lead the Ministry for Equality, a department which our administration created and which is dedicated to upholding equality principles and to eliminating all forms of discrimination.

Whilst it is a sad reflection that equality matters were given little if any political/parliamentary consideration until 2011, I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that it has been incredibly rewarding to have been at the helm of a department which has been innovative in its philosophy, vision, policies and, of course, most importantly, in legislation.


As the month of June draws to an end today, this being Pride month, I think it fitting to begin with LGBTQ+ rights, Mr Speaker, no less because in the eleven years since the inception of the Ministry of Equality, we have made such huge strides to ensure that gay rights are properly protected by legislation, and that through our awareness campaigns and community engagement, these are understood and embraced.

The development of LGBTQ+ rights since we have been in office has been nothing short of remarkable and I feel that this was symbolised most recently with the very successful Pride event last Saturday.  Although this was not the first Pride celebration in Gibraltar, and incidentally, I also attended the one that was organised in 2014 and that one was also successful for its time and this year’s was different as it reflected that we have progressed even further in the eight years since the first one.  I must congratulate the LGBTQ+ Committee who organised this year’s event so marvellously.

Looking back now, it is hard to believe that the first time that the word ‘gay’ was mentioned in Parliament was in my very first budget speech in 2012 and that the first time that gay rights, regrettably, were first properly achieved in this House was in 2014.

The Civil Partnership Bill, which was the first Bill that I ever moved in this Parliament, was a landmark piece of legislation. For the first time in Gibraltar’s history this Bill enabled the formal recognition of relationships between couples of the same sex. Two years later in 2016, I brought the Civil Marriage Amendment Act to this House to allow for the civil marriage of gay couples.

Further to this, we also legislated to outlaw homophobic hate crime and hate speech and such  crimes are now thanks to us aggravated offences.

In July 2015, and in recognition of our transgender community, we made provision to extend protection from discrimination for individuals who have undergone gender reassignment.

The passing of all this legislation has marked a hugely significant change in values and demonstrated our commitment to equal rights for all members of our community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender reassignment.

Legislation is hugely important in ensuring that everyone can enjoy the same rights, Mr. Speaker, but legislation alone cannot immediately bring about cultural change.

Mr Speaker, what we do is sometimes controversial, for example last year we installed stencils to some traffic lights to depict LGTBQ+ images.  It was a real conversation starter Mr Speaker and I glad that it gave people the opportunity to explain why such visual representation is important to them.  I am glad that it provided a platform for discussion and debate and for this reason, wheras the traffic lights were initially intended to only be installed for the month of pride, the whole Cabinet agreed that they should be kept indefinitely.  Mr Speaker, it really does make me smile every time that I cross the road here at Line Wall, even more so this week to come to this House.  I have also heard many tourists comment very favourably when they see our traffic lights.  Again, another small, but important step that I am glad we took.

This is why we continue to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ matters and for this very reason we are committed to listening to the voices and concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.

This was our motivation for launching the first LGBTQ+ Survey to coincide with Pride month last year. Hearing directly from stake-holders is essential in progressive democracies and I am happy to report that there was an enthusiastic response to the survey which was open for a period of three months.

 A total of 196 responses were collected and the information collated will allow my team to glean insights into the experiences of members of the community locally and act on them accordingly. The survey findings in full, plus a report by the Ministry of Equality on the findings will be published as soon as it is finalised.

These valuable insights will enable us to ensure that any remaining barriers experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community are swiftly eradicated.

And whilst we have ensured that legislation protects members of the LGBTQ+ community we will continue to mark Pride month because there is no place in Gibraltar for homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.

Mr Speaker we mark Pride in a very visual way as awareness is key.  We do this by flying the Rainbow Flag in prominent places throughout Gibraltar, by illuminating the Moorish Castle in rainbow colours, with the installation of the traffic lights, and in supporting the Pride parade.  We organise this visual representation to send a strong message to anyone who needs to hear it, how incredible supportive this Government is and that we do not shy away from doing so.

We will continue to mark Pride month because there is no place in Gibraltar for hate.

We will continue to mark Pride month because in a fair and just, in Gibraltar we are all of equal value and that we all deserve and are entitled to full respect at all times.

We will continue to mark Pride month, Mr. Speaker, because it is not right that some people, especially young adults, cannot live true and authentic lives out of fear of rejection of those around them.

Gender Equality

This government’s commitment to equality is embedded in everything that we do.

Gender equality, Mr Speaker, is another important strand of my equality portfolio. I believe that gender equality is a necessary component of a modern and progressive society and it is a vital factor in our pursuit of social justice.

A key strand of the gender equality strategy is the economic empowerment of women.  Inevitably, the last two years have regrettably had an impact on some of the projected initiatives for gender equality, but needless to say Mr Speaker we are working incredibly hard to catch up.

Nevertheless, I am happy to report that one of the key initiatives of the gender equality strategy, the Women’s Mentorship Programme, has been able to continue in recent months.  We recently competed the third cycle of this programme, and once again the feedback from participants, both mentors and mentees alike was extremely positive.

I am very proud of the Women’s Mentorship Programme because its aims are hugely ambitious.  In the first instance, the Programme helps women to develop personal and professional skills; in the mid to long term the Programme aims to address the under-representation of women in positions of leadership and management. We now know that a more gender balanced workforce is better, not only for organisations and businesses as proven by numerous studies and research, but for national economies too.

Therefore, ensuring that we maximise the skills and talents of both men and women in equal measure is a goal that we can all support and that we can all benefit from.

The third cycle of the Women’s Mentorship Programme came to a close in March and I am very pleased to say that there was a very positive uptake of the Programme.

There were 57 participants in the third cycle bringing the total number of participants to 175. This means, Mr. Speaker, that since the inception of the Women’s Mentorship programme, 89 mentees have been able to access support and advice from established professionals. In case anyone is wondering why the numbers do not add up this is because some people are repeat mentors and we are very fortunate that some people have been with us through every single cycle, I would like to express my gratitude to them.


because this is such an invaluable opportunity and Mr Speaker and I am delighted to announce that the next cycle of the Women’s Mentorship Programme will commence in September.  I will make a more detailed announcement on this next week and I would like to urge anyone interested in participating in the Women’s Mentorship Programme, either as a mentor or mentee, to contact the Ministry of Equality and to register for the next cycle.

Finally on gender equality Mr Speaker, as you will know I was elected as Chair of the CWP Steering Committee of the BIMR.  That also gave me a seat on the steering committee of the wider International CWP committee.  As everything happens at once, I was elected Chair in March 2020 just when the pandemic was starting so in additional to everything I had happening at time I had to deliver on this too!  My tenure came to an end in March this year.

One of the objectives of this committee is to encourage more women to parliament, another is to support women parliamentarians in discharging their role.

Mr Speaker, I am the only woman in Government, I am one of only two women in this Parliament.  Mr Speaker this ratio is not good because it means that the gender balance of this chamber does not reflect the gender diversity in our community and it should.

Mr Speaker, I have the pleasure to announce that later this year I will be hosting a regional conference of  the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians of the British Islands and Mediterranean Region in Gibraltar.  One of my motivations for hosting this conference here is that I can arrange for outreach with other colleagues women Commonwealth Parliamentarians from our region to promote discussion of political life locally and hopefully that this be one the tools to encourage more women to stand for election at the next opportunity.  I hosted a CWP conference here in 2015, it went extremely well and it is still referred to by those who attended.  I also hosted the conference last year, albeit virtually. This next conference will be the first in person conference for a number of years and everyone is looking forward to it.

Mr Speaker, regrettably, this week I am the only woman here.  The Honourably Lady opposite is unable to be with us because of the sad passing of her mother, Lady Hassan.  Understandably, the Hon Lady  is going through a difficult time and feels that she cannot be here.  I was very saddened yesterday to learn of some online abuse that she received because if this.  Mr Speaker, we are servants of the people and we are in the public eye, but that should not make us fair game to personal insults and abuse and, Mr Speaker, we get them all too often.  We are also human and we cannot be strong all the time.  I am sure that the Honorable Lady would have wanted to have been here if she could, but regrettably, and for a very sad reason she feels that she cannot, so I ask that people respectfully allow her grieve the passing of her mother.  My condolences to the Hon Lady and her family once again.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Mr. Speaker, as we have slowly emerged from lockdown measures, the Ministry of Equality has been able to resume its on-going training and awareness programmes.

The Ministry of Equality has been able to continue embedding awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion. It has facilitated bespoke training at the University of Gibraltar for the current PGCE and the  nursing cohort.

We are also currently liaising with the Royal Gibraltar Police to provide ‘Unconscious Bias’ training to officers and staff.

In recent years the Royal Gibraltar Police has taken significant strides in its equality, diversity and inclusion journey as an organisation with the formation of an LGBT+ Forum, the Muslim officers Forum and the Women in Policing Network.

The training on unconscious bias will be a vital opportunity to further embed equality, diversity and inclusion principles at an individual and at a strategic level.

Another key point to address is domestic abuse, which is at the forefront of my equality agenda.  Eradicating domestic abuse is a top priority for us and so much work has been done.  As Minister for Justice and Equality I am only too aware that effecting legislative changes which will strengthen responses from key agencies is crucial in addressing domestic abuse.

For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I published a Command Paper for a Bill specifically dedicated to offences relating to domestic abuse. This landmark, standalone and consolidated piece of legislation seeks to enshrine in law the protection of victims of domestic abuse. However, since that was published, further to representations received on the Command Paper, changes are being made to the draft to ensure that concerns that have been raised are dealt with. The Bill will be redrafted and finalised and will ensure that coercive and controlling behaviour is criminalised and introduce domestic abuse protection notices and orders. These notices and orders will afford the Courts and the RGP with new tools with which to address and target domestic abuse as they prohibit abuse and may prohibit contact or stop the perpetrator going within a certain distance of a victim’s home.

Mr Speaker, this will send a very powerful message to the perpetrator and the wider community that this Government is committed to eliminating this very serious social issue and I hope that in the coming months and certainly before the end of the year that all the legislative requirements are in place are in place.

Mr Speaker we will of course support this with training because this is a strategic priority.

We have already in 2020 offered to training to all officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police, 250 of them and this was commissioned from a specialist charity called Safelives.

The Ministry for Equality, Mr. Speaker, also commissioned training on the Freedom Programme which is a very successful therapeutic programme for victims of domestic abuse, the perpetrators and their children.


Mr Speaker, this brings me to speak about other landmark equality achievements in the progress that we have made for disability.

Mr. Speaker, in my last budget speech I mentioned how COVID had put a stop to a lot of our plans. This year has seen a resurgence in our efforts to make sure we are back on track, we have to do double the work in half the time, but we are committed to doing so.

Setting our work in context, it was after much preparation, in 2017 we passed the Disability Act, the fundamental purpose of which is of course to promote and protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms of people with disabilities.  Even the Chamber of Commerce described it at the time as one of the most significant pieces of legislation that our Government had introduced.

Of course, this progress had been previously overlooked by those opposite who although now attempting to rewrite history in this respect, the reality is that they did little to nothing in the furtherance of the rights of people with disabilities.

The passing of that legislation was always intended to be the first step to Gibraltar requesting that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities be extended to Gibraltar.

Quite unlike the transposition of an EU Directive ( of course in the good old days but no longer), having Conventions extended is something that we do via the UK and it can be a long and complicated process with various stages and audits along the way. 

But as you heard the Chief Minister say on Tuesday, this process has already begun.  I have already met with the Government’s legal team and their work has started and they will be working closely with my team at the Ministry for Equality to progress it, they all received the memo from me that this must be a priority and I want this to be progressed as quickly as possible.

In order to be able to progress on the extension of the Convention, we need to step up the standard once again.

A tremendous amount of work is required on this journey, but what matters is that the work has already commenced and my Equality and Justice teams will be working together to deliver.

Returning to the Disability Act, when it was passed in 2017, there were 2 sections that were not in force.  These are the sections that require that all buildings be made accessible.  Immediately after the passing of the Act we also passed the Part R Building Regulations.  This means that since then, all new builds or modifications are required to meet the accessible standards.  Sections 13 and 14 however, relates to existing buildings and these provisions were paused in order for those responsible for buildings have sufficient time to prepare and phase it in.  We did this in full consultation and agreement with the Disability Society at the time.


It was for this reason that in 2019 the Chief Minister announced tax relief for businesses who adapted and made these modifications to their existing premises.  Regrettably, another initiative that became a victim of COVID and slowed down the progress that we wished to make and as such inevitably delayed the coming into force of these sections.  For this reason the Chief Minister announced the he would once again make this tax relief available for a further two years and Mr Speaker I can announce that it is our intention to trigger those provisions after the end of that period and bring them into force, indeed bring them into force in the lifetime of this Parliament.

Therefore, the Ministry for Equality will shorty be launching an information campaign on what these obligations will entail and will offer guidance in their usual helpful way.  We will also offer training so that everyone is aware is aware of their responsibilities and what is expected of them as best practice as we want to support everyone in getting this right.

Of course the work on the Convention also goes hand in hand with the Government’s Disability Strategy and this essentially provides our roadmap for our journey.

The Ministry for Equality is responsible for the strategy and its delivery and spearheads it and has been doing so for the past 10 years.  All the improvements that we have seen throughout our term in office is due to this.

But we are stepping this up too and I would like to publish a multi agency national strategy, very much like the Gibraltar National Mental Health strategy that I commissioned last year, and I would like for this to be published by the end of the year.  

That means that there will be a lot of strategic activity in this regard in the coming months and there will of course be stakeholder consultation.

I have already also commissioned refresher training on the Disability Act for the public sector as there will have been changes at senior level since the last one.  This will be rolled out in September and will be a reminder to all departments of their responsibilities on having disability policies to promote inclusion and comply with their obligations under the Act.  The Ministry for Equality will assist in revising their policies if necessary.  As this work will be undertaken by my team, there will be consistency of standard across the board.

There will also be other training programmes offered and these will be sector focused so that we can properly target for maximum effectiveness.

One of the important strands of Government’s Disability Strategy and the first thing the Ministry of Equality did, Mr Speaker, when the restraints of COVID were lifted, was to restart the Disability Customer Care Training on Language and Etiquette that we had halted a year or so earlier. This training now forms part of the Government’s Human Resources Department’s training prospectus. To date 270 public servants have received this training, and there will be a next session in July so this figure will go up even more.

Further efforts, Mr. Speaker, have been done to ensure that this training is available to other sectors as well including the private sector.

Mr Speaker, interaction between the general public, representative bodies and Government bodies is another important strand of our disability strategy. As with training and awareness, this is a strand that needs to nurtured and developed continuously if we are to develop the services Gibraltar deserves. I am happy to say, Mr Speaker, that this is something the Ministry of Equality does very well and this can be shown by the work done in the past year.

The Ministry of Equality was there to advise on the introduction of a WhatsApp service available to people with severe hearing difficulties that needed to contact the GHA’s 111 service for either the COVID helpline or the Mental Health Crisis Pathway. Also in conjunction with the GHA and Public Health, Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Equality joined GHITA and the campaign on hearing loss prevention during Deaf Awareness Week on the theme “To hear for life, listen with care”.

Mr. Speaker, this Government has also seen the implementation this year of Sign Video services, originally introduced in the GHA in 2014, now available across most, if not all public departments. This now makes British Sign Language interpretation available instantly to any department or agency that may need this service in order to communicate with a member of the public.  And whilst we are on the subject, Mr Speaker, let us not forget how this house just recently passed the British Sign Language Act, recognising BSL as a language in Gibraltar.

Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Equality has for years been in close contact with the Ministry of Environment and the GSLA in their development of accessible services at our beaches and pools. This year has been no different. You will no doubt be aware, Mr. Speaker, that when Government inherited the Europa Pool complex, the facilities available were not ideally suited for people with disabilities.  The have been numerous improvements and made an announcement in this respect recently and I would like to thank both the GSLA and the Ministry of Environment for their dedication and awareness, this year and in previous years. I think I can confidently say that Gibraltar probably has some of the most accessible beaches in Europe and whilst I am not going to pretend services are perfect, Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Equality and other Government departments that allow for improvements to services year after year will continue to work together in furtherance of the Government’s Disability Strategy.

Mr Speaker, the Ministry for Equality, is and always has been, the central coo-ordinating Government department for disability and the Ministry for Equality is very much involved in an advisory role with numerous committees like the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment Panel mainly led by the Department of Education, the Traffic Commission and as a consultee to Town Planning and Building Control on new applications. It is right for this to be the case.

Mr Speaker, on another note,  I am really excited about is our partnership with Special Olympics.  One of our joint initiatives is the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Programme that this Government hopes to emulate in Gibraltar. This House may  will remember a meeting held last March between the Government, including the Chief Minister, Special Olympics Gibraltar and David Envangelista, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia and Senior Advisor for International Development at Special Olympics, Inc. The Healthy Athletes Programme, Mr Speaker, is a programme developed by Special Olympics, who are very much the specialists in the field of learning disbaiities, and designed to facilitate various health check-ups to athletes with learning disabilities and importantly, provide the necessary training to the medical practitioners who see them.

This programme, Mr Speaker, is already used extensively around the world by Special Olympics on both national and world games and has proved to be incredibly successful in highlighting health issues that the athletes may have.  Anecdotally Mr Speaker, because of the issues that people with learning disabilities may have, and their limitations on communication, this can have an impact on their health and the screening programme is a preventative measure and has proved to be very effective.

Whereas this programme was originally aimed for the athletes attending the games, the desire from Special Olympics Mr Speaker, is for this initiative to be used across the board for anyone who may need it.

This is why, Mr. Speaker, having only just returned from Berlin for this purpose, to earn about this programme I cannot wait to put this into action.

Mr Speaker, at this juncture I would really love to recognise and thank Annie Risso MBE for her sterling and selfless work on the progress of Special Olympics in Gibraltar, her dedication to Special Olympic athletes and the movement is incredible and every time that I travel with her she is so established in the world of Special Olympics that everybody knows who Annie is.  She needs to be recognised for this progress and thanks to her for opening the doors for us to access this programme and the training that will be offered. It will have a very positive effect on us locally and this will form part of the health equality strand of the Government’s Disability Strategy.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I spoke before of our LGBTQ+ survey and the results and report just published. This is not the only survey issued by the Ministry of Equality. You may remember Mr. Speaker, that a Disability Survey was launched in October 2021 and ran until 31st January this year. This information has been collated and a report is currently being compiled for me by the Ministry for Equality and which will be published once complete. I am sure that its contents will make for interesting reading and be of exceptional value to our Government’s Disability Strategy.

Mr Speaker I have to really commend the small but effective and efficient team at the Ministry for Equality.  They really are committed, full of ideas and wanting to make progress at every single opportunity and I thank them for all the work that they do.

Mr Speaker, in wrapping up I would like to thank absolutely everyone who I have worked with during this year who has supported and advised me, in particular this who work closely with me in my office Craig, Leyton, Nyreen and Ian.  And of course Mr Speaker, to yourself and your staff in Parliament for supporting us too.  It also go without saying to my Ministerial colleagues, we work very closely together as Government Minsters, we are always there to support each other.

Thank you Mr Speaker.