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Llamas to step back from frontline politics

GSD MP Lawrence Llamas has said he will not stand at the next general election, as he delivered his fourth and likely final budget address in Parliament yesterday.

Mr Llamas quit the party in 2017 in the wake of controversy surrounding his decision to break ranks by voting in favour of the Appropriation Bill while his fellow MPs voted against it. He rejoined the party last year.

Opening his address yesterday he said: “It is with great honour that I rise to deliver my fourth budget address, in all likelihood the final one I shall deliver to this Parliament for the foreseeable future.”

Pressed by the Chronicle as to whether this meant he would not stand at the general election later this year he said: “That’s correct as things stand at the moment.”

Reflecting on the trajectory of his term in public office, Mr Llamas said it had been a “tremendous privilege” to serve this community over the past four years, adding that it was a duty he had executed with pride.

Turning to the scope of his portfolio, Mr Llamas set out the GSD agenda on areas such as health, care, drugs and supported employment.

In doing so he told the House: “Gibraltar is not as rosy as the Government would have you believe.”

On mental health, Mr Llamas lamented that there is still a long way to go before it is treated equally to that of physical health.

He said: “In an appropriation of £128million towards our health budget, only a very small percentage will in actual fact reach the mental health services - 6% in 2017 by the Ministers own admission.”

“I welcome the recent announcement from the Minister for Health regarding the new liaison nurse based at Ocean Views as an improvement on the existing service, however I strongly believe this is simply not enough and more radical policies have to be implemented.”

Turning to drug misuse, Mr Llamas expressed “disappointment” that the Chief Minister had not addressed the area within his budget address.

“It does not augur well from a perspective point of view,” he said.

“In a four hour speech, for the Chief Minister to either forget, or conveniently forget to include a reference to the drugs issue is appealing to say the least. Not one word Mr Speaker, not one.”

He added: “I have no doubt the Chief Minister will now try to fix things by dedicating a considerable about of time to this issue in this Budget reply. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.”

Mr Llamas restated the GSD’s position on the subject and its proposals should it be elected to government.

He added that the GSD has a track record and was a pioneer in the area of addiction and rehabilitation, highlighting the work of former GSD Minister Hubert Corby and the Bruce’s Farm Trust employees.

“It is lamentable that the project has not changed much in the past eight years, other than by diminishing the numbers of beds offered,” Mr Llamas said.

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