Hansard 04/12/2018

STATES OF JERSEY

 

OFFICIAL REPORT

 

TUESDAY, 4th DECEMBER 2018

PUBLIC BUSINESS

1.Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005: amendment to Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019 (P.137/2018) - reduction in lodging period to allow debate on 4th December 2018

1.1Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier:

1.1.1The Connétable of St. Clement:

1.1.2Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier:

1.1.3Deputy M. Tadier of St. Brelade:

1.1.4Deputy S.J. Pinel of St. Clement:

1.1.5Deputy J.A. Martin of St. Helier:

1.1.6Senator K.L. Moore:

1.1.7Deputy S.G. Luce of St. Martin:

1.1.8Connétable M.K. Jackson of St. Brelade:

1.1.9Senator S.W. Pallett:

1.1.10Deputy J.H. Young of St. Brelade:

1.1.11Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier:

1.1.12Connétable C.H. Taylor of St. John:

1.1.13Deputy R.E. Huelin of St. Peter:

1.1.14Deputy S.M. Wickenden of St. Helier:

1.1.15Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

1.1.16Deputy R.J. Ward of St. Helier:

1.1.17Senator I.J. Gorst:

The Deputy of St. Peter:

Senator I.J. Gorst:

1.1.18Senator S.Y. Mézec:

1.1.19Senator S.C. Ferguson:

The Solicitor General:

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

Deputy M. Tadier:

1.1.20Deputy G.P. Southern:

2.Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005: amendment to Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019 (P.137/2018) - proposition to move to first item on Order Paper

2.1Deputy M. Tadier:

2.1.1Deputy J.A. Martin:

2.1.2The Connétable of St. Brelade:

2.1.3Senator K.L. Moore:

2.1.4Deputy M. Tadier:

3.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018)

3.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

3.2Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4))

3.2.1Senator K.L. Moore (Chairman, Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel):

3.3Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)) - amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)Amd.)

3.3.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

3.4Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)) - as amended

3.4.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.4.2Senator K.L. Moore:

3.5Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.)

3.5.1Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.6Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)) - amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)Amd.)

3.6.1Senator T.A. Vallois (Deputy Chief Minister - rapporteur):

3.6.2Deputy K.F. Morel of St. Lawrence:

3.6.3Deputy M. Tadier:

3.6.4Deputy J.A. Martin:

3.6.5Deputy G.P. Southern:

3.6.6Senator S.W. Pallett:

3.6.7Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.6.8Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

3.6.9Deputy M.R. Higgins:

3.6.10Senator T.A. Vallois:

3.7Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)) - as amended

3.7.1Deputy M. Tadier:

3.7.2Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.7.3Deputy K.F. Morel:

3.7.4Deputy J.H. Young:

3.7.5The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.7.6Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.8Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): seventh amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(7))

3.8.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.8.2Senator L.J. Farnham:

3.8.3Senator S.C. Ferguson:

3.8.4Deputy M. Tadier:

3.8.5Deputy K.F. Morel:

3.8.6Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.9Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): eighth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(8))

3.9.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.9.2Senator L.J. Farnham:

3.9.3Deputy M. Tadier:

3.9.4Deputy K.C. Lewis of St. Saviour:

3.9.5Deputy J.H. Young:

3.9.6Senator S.C. Ferguson:

3.9.7The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.10Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2))

3.10.1Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.11.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2)) - amendment (P.110.2018 Amd.(2)Amd.)

3.11.1Senator T.A. Vallois (Deputy Chief Minister - rapporteur):

LUNCHEON ADJOURNMENT PROPOSED

LUNCHEON ADJOURNMENT

3.11.2Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.11.3Deputy J.H. Young:

3.11.4Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.11.5Senator S.W. Pallett:

3.11.6The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.11.7Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.11.8Deputy M. Tadier:

3.11.9Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat of St. Helier:

3.11.10Senator T.A. Vallois:

3.12Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2)) - resumption

3.12.1Senator T.A. Vallois:

3.12.2Deputy G.P. Southern:

3.12.3Deputy K.F. Morel:

3.12.4Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.13.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.) - as amended

3.13.1Deputy M. Tadier:

3.13.2Deputy L.M.C. Doublet:

3.13.3Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.13.4Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

3.13.5Deputy M. Tadier:

3.14Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): eleventh amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(11))

3.14.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.15Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): sixth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(6))

3.15.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.15.2Deputy M. Tadier:

3.15.3The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.15.4Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.16Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10))

3.16.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.17Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)) – amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)Amd.)

3.17.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

3.17.2The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.17.3Deputy M. Tadier:

3.17.4Senator S.W. Pallett:

3.17.5Deputy K.F. Morel:

3.17.6Deputy R.J. Ward:

3.17.7Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

3.18Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)) - as amended

3.18.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.18.2Deputy M. Tadier:

3.18.3The Connétable of St. Saviour:

3.18.4Connétable J. Le Bailly of St. Mary:

3.18.5Connétable J.E. Le Maistre of Grouville:

3.18.6Deputy L.B.E. Ash of St. Clement:

3.18.7The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.19Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): fifth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(5))

3.19.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

3.20Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018) - as amended

3.20.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

3.20.2Deputy J.H. Young:

3.20.3Deputy J.H. Perchard of St. Saviour:

3.20.4Deputy R.J. Renouf of St. Ouen:

3.20.5Deputy M.R. Higgins:

3.20.6Senator K.L. Moore:

3.20.7Deputy M. Tadier:

3.20.8Senator T.A. Vallois:

3.20.9Senator L.J. Farnham:

3.20.10Deputy K.F. Morel:

3.20.11Deputy C.F. Labey of Grouville:

3.20.12Senator S.W. Pallett:

3.20.13Deputy G.P. Southern:

3.20.14Connétable R.A. Buchanan of St. Ouen:

3.20.15The Connétable of St. Helier:

3.20.16Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

ADJOURNMENT


[9:31]

The Roll was called and the Dean led the Assembly in Prayer.

PUBLIC BUSINESS

The Deputy Bailiff:

I did not mention to Members yesterday because I was operating from slightly wrong documentation that Deputy Young’s amendment to the Draft Budget Statement, that is the first amendment, has been withdrawn, so that will no longer be falling for debate.  Before we start the debate on the Strategic Policy, which is the first order of business, there are a number of items proposed to go before the Assembly, which have not met the requisite lodging period, and I propose to list them now in order that we can decide whether or not they are to be dealt with during the course of this sitting and people then know precisely where they stand.  The first of those is the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22, P.110, fourth amendment, which was lodged by the Council of Ministers.  Are Members in favour that that be taken in the ordinary course of business during the course of the current debate?  Very well, that will be debated.  The next, Draft Finance (2019 Budget) (Jersey) Law lodged by the Minister for Treasury and Resources.  Do Ministers agree that that be taken on the Order Paper where it appears?  Yes, very well.  I am assuming that any Member who wishes to have the matter put to the vote or has any objection will indicate so that we can deal with the matter more formally, otherwise for the sake of expediency I propose to just deal with it in this way.  The next is the Draft Taxation (Companies - Economic Substance) (Jersey) Law, P.132, lodged by the Minister for External Relations.  Do Members agree that that may be taken on the Order Paper?  Very well.  Then the Draft Employment (Minimum Wage) (Amendment No. 15) (Jersey) Regulations, lodged by the Minister for Social Security; do Members agree?  Yes.  Lastly, the Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005: amendment to the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019, lodged by Deputy Southern. Do Members agree that that may also be taken?

Connétable L. Norman of St. Helier:

I have to say with that particular one I am very uncomfortable, in fact more than uncomfortable, and I do not think we should put it on the agenda today because it brings into question as to why we have lodging periods.

The Deputy Bailiff:

In which case, Connétable, what I will ask then is for Deputy Southern to make the case and you can then speak on it and we will vote upon it.

 

1.Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005: amendment to Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019 (P.137/2018) - reduction in lodging period to allow debate on 4th December 2018

1.1Deputy G.P. Southern of St. Helier:

I did not expect to be standing quite so soon but nonetheless, the case that we should be debating this is the obvious one, that we have, with the best of intentions, got ourselves in a really awkward place.  We have our public sector unions very angry and very upset and balloting for action and yet we have tied ourselves to a 4-year plan, 4 years ago, and we are saying there is no more money.  Everybody on this Island knows there is money because it so happens that tax income has gone up markedly recently and we say there is no money, we can do nothing, we cannot negotiate, our hands are tied, and this is a position that we really should not be in.  What I am offering is a chance to get back round the table and negotiate a deal with the unions so that we can engineer a win-win situation.  That is what I am proposing and I think it is important that we get on with that and do that as soon as we can to show that we are willing to compromise, to look again at what we have got with the public sector representatives, and to engage with them.  If we wait - and that is the alternative - until 2020 then we will have shown no willingness to do that.  I think we should be meeting on real terms to engage with our workforce as of now.

The Deputy Bailiff:

So you ask the Assembly to take the matter ahead of ...? 

Deputy G.P. Southern:

Yes, Sir.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is that seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on the proposition to take the matter ahead of time?

1.1.1The Connétable of St. Clement:

I do not really have much argument with what Deputy Southern is trying to achieve.  What I am objecting to is reducing the lodging period for this proposition.  I am more than uncomfortable about it.  I think it is wrong because it does bring into question as to why we have lodging periods at all.  We have the lodging periods to research, to understand and to consult on propositions and amendments.  Very often, a day or 2 of the laid down period can be acceptable but we are talking here about 10 days of bringing it forward, an important proposition, and even the Council of Ministers have not had the opportunity yet to present their comments for Members to consider.  I would suggest that this proposition is verging on the irresponsible and we should not accept it to be debated at this session.

1.1.2Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier:

I hope new Members have taken note since they have been here the number of times the Council of Ministers have asked for a reduced lodging period.  It is standard practice for them to criticise Back-Benchers for not bringing things earlier or having to have the lodging period reduced but the Council of Ministers, the whole time I have been in this States, successive ones, have always tried to bring things forward, and in the past they had the majority to enable them to do it.  They do not at the moment and I hope you will consider whether it is fair on Back-Benchers, and I think we should allow Deputy Southern to bring his forward.

1.1.3Deputy M. Tadier of St. Brelade:

It is strange that the Constable of St. Clement has waited until Deputy Southern’s proposition to raise a point of principle, and it is something which I may have done also in the past.  We notice that there are 2 other pieces that we have given the leave of the Assembly to take today, which is P.132 and P.133, the Economic Substance Test and the Minimum Wage, neither of which are directly related to the Budget or directly related to the Common Strategic Policy.  But we have decided to do that for expediency presumably, even though Ministers have many civil servants within their departments to help them prepare and to know that they need to lodge things on time in order to make sure that they are debated in this Assembly.  It has become common practice for Ministers to receive a rubber stamp for a reduction in lodging time.

[9:45]

If we remember, I think it may have been under the Constable of St. Clement when he was chairing P.P.C. (Privileges and Procedures Committee), there was a reduction in the bar for the test which the Assembly could decide to reduce the lodging period.  It used to be if it was for a matter of such urgency to be prejudicial to the interests of Jersey, which was quite a strange and ambiguous term, but quite a high bar nonetheless, which would often get met nonetheless.  It was reduced to whether it was in the public interest.  I think whoever is bringing this proposition, the substance before us is clearly something of public interest.  We are facing a moment perhaps which is unprecedented in modern political history where we are facing perhaps a universal strike from all those other unions which can and are able to ballot.  They have already taken indicative or actual ballots for action up to and including strike action.  If we, as an Assembly, do not think that it is in the public interest to at least have a debate about a mechanism which would put some money on the table, to have meaningful negotiations before the end of the year to avoid all the trauma that can come with potential strike action, then it seems very strange.  It certainly is within the public interest.  If that is not in the public interest then I do not know what is.  It does not mean that Members have to vote one way or the other when it comes to the actual debate but at least let us have the debate, which Deputy Southern has been working hard on to find a potential solution to averting what could be a long period of industrial action, as we head into the Christmas period and beyond.

1.1.4Deputy S.J. Pinel of St. Clement:

I will be very brief because I quite agree with what Connétable Norman said and I do not want to repeat myself, but I feel I must object also in the strongest possible terms to Deputy Southern’s proposals to reduce the lodging period.  The Deputy lodged his proposition 2 weeks ago and was requesting that the 4-week period prior to the debate be halved.  It is not just a matter of a few days.  The rules devised and adopted by this Assembly are there for a reason and to attempt to flout them is unacceptable.

1.1.5Deputy J.A. Martin of St. Helier:

I only really rise because Deputy Tadier has said that we have let P.132 go and all the paperwork was in on time, the Order was signed and my paperwork got put to the bottom of the pile by the Greffe and it was ... the Greffier maybe nodding but I know this is what happened.  What I did not hear from Deputy Southern and Deputy Tadier is why it was not lodged earlier and I reserve which way to vote on that but I still have not heard a reasonable answer or excuse why that it has only been lodged for 2 weeks.  It is not as if these negotiations have come out of nowhere.  Deputy Southern has been appraised of them for many weeks now.  So I would like to hear that.

1.1.6Senator K.L. Moore:

Life, as we all know, is about timing and Deputy Martin simply just mentioned and questioned the timing but I would like to remind the Deputy and other Members that the ballot of the unions was only taken very recently therefore this is a matter that has come to light and the pressure behind it has come to light particularly recently, which I would presume is what led Deputy Southern to lodge his proposition.  I could also draw Members to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel’s Budget report which does touch on this issue of the large surpluses in the Consolidated Fund and potential uses of them.  Indeed as a recommendation we have asked the Minister to consider the use of the Public Finances Law which is there to consider when there is a state of particular urgency to offer the opportunity to the Assembly to rethink what they are doing, and I think in this particularly extraordinary case it is the right time to do so.

1.1.7Deputy S.G. Luce of St. Martin:

It is no surprise to me that we are having this very short debate now.  Over the weekend, considering my papers, it occurred to me that maybe it was about time somebody brought a proposition to this House to discuss again lodging period times because we have, on a regular basis, both sides complaining, whether it is Back-Benchers, whether it is the Council of Ministers and Government about how the other side tries to reduce lodging periods.  The Constable of St. Clement has beaten me to it this morning.  The only reason I did not rise to speak after the first time you spoke was I just wanted to get to the end of the list of how many pieces we were going to be asked to reduce the lodging period on this morning.  It has been said time and time again since I have been in this Assembly: “We are on a slippery slope if we reduce lodging period of setting precedent for others to follow.”  That period that we accept gets smaller and smaller and before we know where we are the whole thing about lodging periods will be lost.  We have to, at some stage, set a new benchmark and maybe today is the day to say: “Look, enough is enough” and the lodging period is there for a reason.  We need to respect it.

1.1.8Connétable M.K. Jackson of St. Brelade:

Just briefly.  I think there is a degree of expediency needed in this matter but for a meaningful debate to take place I would prefer to have some comment from either the Treasury or the Chief Minister, and perhaps the Chief Minister will be in a position to enlighten the Assembly as to when we may receive that.

1.1.9Senator S.W. Pallett:

I was not going to speak in regard to this but this is very early days of this Government and frankly they are pretty exceptional times.  We are going through a very difficult transitional period with the Civil Service.  We know morale is particularly low in the civil service and the pay dispute is not helping that.  I have had particular issues around information around my departmental budgets which have concerned me.  I think with a pay dispute like this that needs resolving I think we need to be professional with the unions, and I am sorry in regard to this pay dispute.  Dealing with them with our hands tied behind our backs frankly for me is being irresponsible and it is not very pragmatic.  They are difficult times and I think sometimes we have to realise that we have to discuss things that perhaps are not always in order, perhaps always are not in the timeframe that we would like and, in terms of lodging periods, I agree with Deputy Southern that it is really important that we have this debate today.  For me, not doing that I do not think is being fair to the 6,500 employees that we employ within the States so I would urge Members this morning to vote with Deputy Southern on this so that we can at least have this debate.  It is not often I disagree with the Deputy of St. Martin.  I cannot remember the last time I disagreed with the Deputy of St. Martin but it is important we do have this debate.  Without this I think we are going to through this Budget debate knowing that we have not had an opportunity to deal with an issue that is going to come back and bite us very badly if we are not very careful.  So please let us just this debate.

1.1.10Deputy J.H. Young of St. Brelade:

I agree very much with the last speaker.  I think it is in the public interest we debate this.  I think Members should put out of their mind making any presumptions about if we do discuss it, and we were to agree it, what would be the outcome of that.  Yes, there is the issue of the pay award but my principal reason is that I think that the outcome of that proposition is highly material to the major debates that we are going to have on the common strategic priorities and on the draft Budget.  We need to be clear on that issue clearly for the public and for our employees because we are in a bad place.  Personally I think the key issue for me is that - and it was mentioned in a radio interview this morning - it is a constitutional point.  In normal societies after an election new Members elected have a chance to influence decisions, key decisions, on the financial priorities of the body in which they are elected to, and this proposition goes straight to the heart of that.  One of the first things I was told when I got elected and fast-tracked into this Council of Ministers  which I did not expect  was that the Medium Term Financial Plan was not fit for purpose and we had to have a new replacement.  Also that the Budget, we had very little choice because the rules were set for us and for me that was putting us in a straightjacket, which I have never felt comfortable with.  Now, I ask Members to support this that we should have the debate.  By doing so I am not presuming the outcome.  I ask you to put that from your minds and, yes, we have had the issue of the union representations, and I do not know the way the vote will go or what will be the output, but this proposition of course asked for a process.  It asked for an amendment.  I hope we can debate it and have a discussion about that but I think public interest decides that this will be in our interest to clear this issue and I would like to see it cleared personally - and Members may disagree with this - but before we discuss the C.S.P. (Common Strategic Policy) and the Budget because I think it sets the parameters.  That is my view.  It is for Members to say but at the very least I think we should discuss it.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Could I just inform Members that obviously if it is accepted that this debate take place at the moment it is the last item on the Order Paper and it will be called as the last item unless and until a proposition is made to move it up the Order Paper, which will be a separate matter for the Assembly to consider.  So at the moment the Assembly is simply considering whether to debate it at all and then the place in the Order Paper is a separate decision.

1.1.11Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier:

I do not want to prolong this unnecessarily but I am surprised at the Members who are telling us that it is not a priority debate.  Certainly the emails I have been getting from people out there are not about other things, they are not about the retail tax cut that I am trying to make, they are about people’s jobs and people going into the festive period with uncertainty hanging over them in terms of the jobs they are doing and the remuneration they receive.  I am particularly surprised to hear the Minister for Home Affairs opposing this because we know that there is a problem in those departments where people are worried about their jobs.  So I would urge Members, let us get on with this debate because it is important.  It matters to people out there more, if I may say so, than the Common Strategic Policy, and I think to some it matters more than the Budget so let us get on and let us have this debate.

1.1.12Connétable C.H. Taylor of St. John:

We are often criticised as Members in this Assembly of being ill-prepared and not knowing what we are talking about.  This is exactly what will happen if we go ahead with P.137 because we do not have all the facts available at the present time.  It will take time for officers to produce these facts.  A previous speaker mentioned that the Minister has not had an opportunity to respond to this and that is absolutely correct.  The Constable of St. Brelade very ably said: “We have not had the information we need to have this debate.”  That is what is important.  Are we going to just go off the hoof, making decisions on what we think we know and what we think might be good without having good solid properly researched information before us?  I am not frightened of making decisions but I will only make those decisions if I have that evidence before me.  At the moment I do not have that evidence and the vast majority of us do not have that evidence so how can we make that debate?  I would urge Members to use common sense and not emotion in voting against accepting the advancement of this proposition.

1.1.13Deputy R.E. Huelin of St. Peter:

May I beg your indulgence as a still relatively new Member?  I have not read every line or word of the M.T.F.P. (Medium Term Finance Plan) and I am not a lawyer and I have not analysed everything but I find it inconceivable that the M.T.F.P. is so rigid and fixed that there is not a way by which monies can be freed-up for the state of concern or emergency, or whatever you call it, this Island may be facing at the moment.  So I would like to just get clarification from the A.G. (Attorney General) that this is absolutely necessary and there are no other routes available to the Minister for Treasury and Resources or the Chief Minister to solve this situation.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The Attorney General, I do not think, is in the office.  I have asked for the Solicitor General to be called.

Deputy M. Tadier:

I do not know if it is a point of order but just if the Chair could be helpful.  This seems like it is a valid question but it is a point, presumably, for the main debate as opposed to whether or not we take this now.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I think, Deputy, if the Solicitor General is not able to be here on time then I do not think we can pause this.  We will have to make a decision on it and Members will have to make it without the benefit of that advice.  It is one of those things but I have asked for him to be called in any event.

Senator K.L. Moore:

I did refer in my speech, if I could be helpful, to the Public Finances Law and the ability in that law for the Minister to make a proposal to the Assembly in light of an important matter.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well.  Thank you very much, Senator.  That I will take as a point of clarification of your previous speech in those circumstances.

[10:00]

1.1.14Deputy S.M. Wickenden of St. Helier:

Many people have said in Standing Orders - it is the rules we run by - it says that we have lodging periods that we need to adhere to, but it also says that if we want to reduce it in Standing Orders we can bring a proposition to reduce.  This is exactly what the Deputy has done.  It is about public interest.  The case has to be made: is this in the public interest to reduce a lodging period?  That is what it says in the Standing Orders.  You can reduce it if it is within the public interest.  The Constable of St. John talks about having all the right information.  These negotiations have been going for 3 years; some of them setting out pay deals.  If we do not know all the information about what is going on in the time that it has been going on, then when are we going to?  Another couple of weeks is not going to matter.  I believe this is in the public interest.  Public sector workers: the morale is down, the pay negotiations are going nowhere.  Let us get this done as soon as possible.  To say no now is just to kick it in the long grass and it is a poor excuse so I will be supporting it and I ask other Members to.  Standing Orders allow for it.

1.1.15Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

I suppose firstly I should just start by apologising for where there have been some breaches in lodging periods very recently.  I am equally as keen as other Members that this is avoided as much as possible.  In the instances we have just referred to some have been because there has been an administrative error somewhere in the process, in other words the department in question, as Deputy Martin referred to, did get the documentation to the right place at the right point, it just did not get out to States Members on time.  One has been in the spirit of trying to achieve a compromise on a position, I gather.  We will see how the Assembly takes that one.  Another one is, as I believe, there was a late intervention externally, which is in the international interests of the Island.  Most of those would all have been in time depending on how long the session takes this week.  What I am going to try and avoid is debating the merits of the proposition in question because that obviously will depend when we, or if we, get there.  I think the crucial thing is: do States Members consider they have sufficient information in front of them to make an informed decision?  The second question is ... well, there are a variety of questions.  We in the past have had various debates about States Members’ pay and the conclusions generally have been that debating States Members pay on the floor of this Assembly is not a professional way of doing things which is ... I think Senator Pallett referred to having a professional approach.  We have a States Employment Board who I have great confidence in and they are the people appointed by this Assembly to negotiate on pay.  Now, if this Assembly feels it is appropriate to go down that line that is fine.  Technically that is not what the proposition is about.  The proposition is about asking for a change in the law in order to allow and then it then talks about lodging a new 2019 M.T.F.P.  I point out we are, I believe, 3rd or 4th December today and therefore 2019 is not that far away but we will get on to the merits of that particular thing if we get to that point.  The purpose of lodging periods is to allow States Members to have a considered opinion on what is happening in a relatively dispassionate way if possible, without a knee-jerk reaction.  We know we are in difficult times and that is up for Members - very much we are going to be guided by the Assembly - but it is up for Members to decide if this meets the test but it has not been lodged for very long and that is why, for example, to date comments are not on the desks of Members. We are trying to get things to Members but obviously I cannot give you a precise time when they are going to land on people’s desks.

1.1.16Deputy R.J. Ward of St. Helier:

I would like to say that Sunday was 6 months since I was elected to this Assembly as a new Member and in those 6 months, as many as new Members have, we have tried to contribute as best we can.  First of all, I am very surprised that we are even having this discussion because what we are talking about is whether we debate in a democratic Assembly a much-needed amendment so that we free ourselves up from the M.T.F.P. that I did not vote for and none of the new Members voted for and only passed by one vote.  This gives us the opportunity to have more relevance to the Island, to have more intelligence in the way that we look at 2019, and I do not want to spend another year after this 6 months with absolutely no opportunity to solve the problems that are so desperate and immediate on our Island.  The lodging period I understand but I also have seen many reduced lodging periods since I have been here already but circumstance means that we have to take an opportunity during this period of debate to look at whether we can make some change, not kick it into the long grass and wait for another 12 months because the outcome will be much more negative than simply worrying about a few days of lodging period.  I think we owe it to the people of this Island to have a democratic debate on this proposition.

Deputy J.A. Martin:

Can I just ask; I am sure the Deputy did not mean to mislead the Assembly but the last M.T.F.P. he said only passed by one vote.  I was in the Assembly.  It did not only pass by one vote.

Deputy G.P. Southern:

If I may ...

The Deputy Bailiff:

Well, you are going to have a right of reply in any event, Deputy, to the proposition.  You can say whatever you want then.  Does any other Member wish to speak on the proposition?

1.1.17Senator I.J. Gorst:

I understand the frustration about the lodging periods.  I think the Chief Minister has perfectly explained why we find ourselves ... or you sought at the start of this sitting to ensure that all of those items which are properly lodged, assuming that we continue to sit on Thursday, but out of good process you asked the States Assembly to confirm that first thing this morning whether that was necessary or not; we shall wait and see.  Even if the proposition is debated and approved the urgent changes that some Members think it will deliver around the pay negotiation are not correct.  It will take time to set in place a process.  I am very clear that this should not be the first item on the agenda today.  I will not be voting for the proposal.  These are difficult times.  The M.T.F.P. rightly puts constraint on spending and the Budget is reasonably constrained in raising taxes as well.  Be in no doubt that if Members take this debate, which is not lodged for the requisite period of time… and as the Deputy of St. Martin said, there is a reason for those required times.  If we accept the Deputy’s proposal we will be opening the purse.  We will be opening the wallet.  The Deputy wants to spend more money.  He is going to argue and claim that we can simply curtail that increased spending to the pay award.  That will not be the case.  If we reopen the M.T.F.P. rather than carefully managing within the current constructs, and I would argue in the main debate that there are ways, if Members really want to offer more in the pay award, of doing that, I think as the Constable of St. John indicated and the Solicitor General is just going to advise us accordingly so I do not wish to ... perhaps you would like me to sit down while the question can be put to the Solicitor General so he has time to think about it because he seems to be indicating ...

The Deputy Bailiff:

If you would like to pause, Senator, but I would mention that we are not obviously talking about the substance of Deputy Southern’s proposition; we are talking about whether it should be debated at all.  So may I ask Members to avoid going too much, if at all, into the substance unless it is absolutely necessary to illustrate why we should not debate it or should debate it during the course of this meeting.  Deputy of St. Peter, you had a question for the Solicitor General, perhaps you would like to put that question so the Solicitor General can think about it while the ... it relates to the facility within the Medium Term Financial Plan to make changes, I think.

The Deputy of St. Peter:

Yes, the question is: is there anything within the M.T.F.P. or within our legislation that allows the Minister for Treasury and Resources or the Chief Minister to release funds, for want of a better word, from the M.T.F.P. in the state of an emergency or a potential catastrophe, calamity, however you want to describe it?  The question is: is there flexibility for the Minister for Treasury and Resources to release funds for the situation of a potential pay rise for our hardworking civil servants?

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is that sufficiently clear, Solicitor General, and do you wish ...

Mr. M.H. Temple Q.C., H.M. Solicitor General:

Can I just have a few minutes to think about it?

The Deputy Bailiff:

Of course.  Senator, do you have anything to add to the ...

Senator I.J. Gorst:

I do.  Mindful of your guidance that we are not talking about the main proposition, I do not think the case has been made to take this item before the Christmas recess.  Rather I think this item is endeavouring to portray Deputy Southern as Father Christmas and he is going to provide these presents.  I have learned, having children at the age of 6 and 9, that when discussing Christmas one needs to encourage one’s children within a certain budget and not simply say: “Well, of course, yes, Father Christmas is going to bring whatever they desire.”  I fear [Aside] ... indeed, call me Scrooge if you will but for me, therefore, this is not something that this Assembly should be doing 6 months since its creation.  There are ways, I believe, within the existing framework where that deal can be changed if that is what Members require.  Let us deal with that particular issue rather than, as I say, reopening the wallet.  That would be very imprudent indeed.

1.1.18Senator S.Y. Mézec:

I totally disassociate myself from the comments in the previous speech.  I have sat in this Assembly for the past 4 years and time after time have seen instances where Standing Orders have been used to reduce the lodging period for absolutely spurious reasons from time to time.  Often it has been done purely at the convenience of a Member who wanted their say on something not because it is in the public interest.  So I ask the question, if this is not the public interest short of debating emergency war measures what would be public interest?  This is about our hardworking public sector workers where events outside this Chamber are moving much more quickly than they are inside this Chamber and we must be prepared to respond to that and to respond to it will sometimes be inconvenient.  It will sometimes mean we have to deal with things more quickly than we would like.  It will sometimes mean we have to put together arguments quicker than we otherwise might not like but I say that that is the price of democracy.  Sometimes democracy is inconvenient.  Sometimes it means elected representatives have to work a little bit harder than they otherwise might want to.  The central issue underpinning all of this is that we have our hands tied behind our back by the previous Governments.  This is a new Government, a new Assembly, we must surely have the right to issue a verdict on what we want to see the people who elected us live under those rules.  If ever there was an opportunity to say that a lodging period must be reduced for the public interest, this is it.  I have never seen a better case for it before.  I urge Members to vote in favour.

1.1.19Senator S.C. Ferguson:

In the time I have been in the States - I was first elected in 2002 - there have always been complaints at the end of the year, in July, coming up for Christmas and more recently in April this year where people have said ... particularly I am thinking of P.1/2018, the change to machinery of government.  There have been a lot of complaints that that was brought very late in the session.  It was done in a rush and people are fed up with it.  I am really very concerned that doing this one, this particular proposition, in the same sort of rush is going to end up with a decision which is perhaps not in the best interests of the Island as a whole, and I would ask Members to think very carefully before they start thinking about a proposition which is encouraging the spending of money, particularly with the uncertainties coming.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Mr. Solicitor General, are you in a position to answer the question that has been asked?

[10:15]

The Solicitor General:

I am afraid my computer is not working but my recollection of the Public Finances Law is that there is a provision in ... I think it is around Article 9 of the Public Finances Law which sets out certain protections against the amendment of an M.T.F.P. once it has been passed by the States but in addition there are certain exceptions whereby an M.T.F.P. can be amended, and my recollection is that an emergency is one of them.  In addition, I think there are other exceptions where there is - I am not sure of the exact language - a proven need.  I am not sure if that is the exact term that is used in the statute.  So there are exceptions and my recollection is also that the States may by regulations pass a resolution amending part 3 of the law in which the protections appear.  So it is something that the States can do by regulations.  It does not require primary legislation or Royal Assent.  So I am afraid that is as far as I can take it when my computer is still unfortunately not properly configured.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Would it assist if you had an unofficial consolidation of the Public Finances Law?

The Solicitor General:

It would.  I was looking for one in the papers but it did not appear to be in the papers either.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I had forgotten that I had brought one to the Assembly.

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

If it assists the Solicitor General can have my computer.  It is on the screen now.

The Deputy Bailiff:

While the Solicitor General is consulting that does anyone else wish to speak on the proposition?  Failing which, after the Solicitor General has advised, it will be for Deputy Southern to respond.  Could anyone indicate whether they are intending to speak pending the Solicitor General’s advice because that would help me?  No.

The Solicitor General:

I am grateful for the copy of the Public Finances Law.  Yes, the exception includes one where if the Council of Ministers is satisfied on the recommendation of the Minister for Treasury and Resources that there is an urgent need for expenditure and there are 2 further requirements: the balance currently available for contingency expenditure is insufficient to fund the expenditure that is urgently needed; and the expenditure that is urgently needed cannot reasonably be funded out of existing heads of expenditure.  So there is a provision that the expenditure must be urgent and it cannot be funded out of contingency or existing heads of expenditure.  The part of the law in which that appears is part 3 of the law and that is one that is covered by Article 69A of the law, which is a power to amend by regulation, so it is something that the States can deal with by regulations and it does not require Royal Assent.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Thank you very much indeed.  Deputy Higgins, you have already spoken.  Are you intending to speak?

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

There was just clarification.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Well, you can ask for clarification from the Solicitor General, yes.

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

Article 9.2(c) says: “If the Council of Ministers is satisfied there is a serious threat to the economic, environmental or social well-being of Jersey which requires an immediate response.”  We are faced here with almost the entire public sector ...

The Deputy Bailiff:

No, I am sorry, Deputy, you can ask for a point of clarification from the Solicitor General, what you cannot do is make a second speech.

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

Okay.  I just made a point though that ...

The Deputy Bailiff:

No.  I am sorry, you absolutely cannot make a point.  You can ask a question but you cannot make a second speech.  You have already spoken in this debate.

Deputy M.R. Higgins:

Okay.  In that case it falls within the ability of the Council of Ministers to vary the Medium Term Financial Plan and you also mentioned in your answer the Contingency Fund.  There is £126 million I believe in the Contingency Fund and therefore there is nothing stopping the Council of Ministers using that fund at the present time, is that correct or not?

The Deputy Bailiff:

Thank you.  That is a perfectly valid question, Deputy. 

The Solicitor General:

It is not Article 9.1 of the law.  It is not 9.2 of the law.  That sets out a number of exceptions and the first of those is that if a state of emergency is declared that obviously would not apply.  If there is an immediate threat to health and safety - that is the second exception - that would not apply either.  As regards a serious threat to the economic, environmental or social well-being of Jersey, which requires an immediate response, now as to whether the situation that is proposed would satisfy those particular criteria, I have my doubts.  It is not an environmental serious threat.  As to whether it is an economic threat to the well-being of Jersey, I am not convinced of that.  Social well-being of Jersey, again I am not convinced of that.  But the one that I did have in mind was if the Council of Ministers ... it is exception (ca) of Article 9.2 if there is an urgent need for expenditure, that potentially would cover this situation but there are additional criteria that have to be satisfied and that is that the balance available for contingency is insufficient.  That is a question of fact which I am unable to assist the Assembly on but no doubt there will be other people who can advise on that.  Then there is a second criteria that the expenditure that is urgently needed cannot be reasonably funded out of existing heads of expenditure.  Again, that is a question of public finances which others will be better placed than me to assist the Assembly with.  So the exception I have in mind, in answer to the Deputy’s question is, there is an exception.  It is not the one that he had in mind and there are additional requirements that need to be satisfied as a matter of the public finances.  I hope that assists.

Deputy M. Tadier:

Sir, may I follow up with a question?

The Deputy Bailiff:

Of the Solicitor General, yes, Deputy.

Deputy M. Tadier:

So the question is under (ca) then who decides that criteria, whether those criteria apply?

The Solicitor General:

The way it is worded is that the Council of Ministers must be satisfied on the recommendation of the Minister but it seems to me that there is an opportunity for the Assembly, if it is minded, to pass a resolution which the Council of Ministers would need to consider, and while the decision is ultimately one according to the legislation that is theirs, nevertheless it would be a serious political matter if the Council of Ministers did not decide to follow a vote of the Assembly.  It seems to me that it is something the Assembly can do.  It can amend this legislation, for example, to remove the wording about the Council of Ministers being satisfied on the recommendation of the Minister.  That is something that the Assembly could do by regulation itself.  The alternative is for the Minister to consider a resolution of the Assembly and follow it.  Those seem to me to be 2 alternatives that are open to this Assembly.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Thank you very much, Mr. Solicitor General.  Very well, I call on Deputy Southern to respond.

1.1.20Deputy G.P. Southern:

I very grateful to hear from the Solicitor General because I have discussed this very issue with him and we looked exactly at 9.1(ca) and looked at the reservations around that and I deliberately, and it is partly why I was late-ish lodging because I had to spend some time working out a way to take it outside of those regulations and, lo and behold, as the Solicitor General says, power 69A: “Power to amend the law by regulations.”  This amendment can be made, amendments can be made, on fairly short order by regulation of any part of the Public Finances Law in 3 and 4.  So I deliberately took it away from those limitations to get the widest possible scope to say: “Find a solution to the Minister for Treasury and Resources.”  It has to be the Minister for Treasury and Resources, and I think effectively that works well.  I do apologise for late lodging.  I could have been - old days - used to be able to get on with things willy-nilly.  My workload now is greater than it used to be and hence the late lodging.  Nonetheless I think it is - as has been shown by several speakers - in the public interest that we deal with this issue.  I leave it to the House to decide when it deals with it, whether it is the first item today or after the Budget, after the C.S.P.  That this debate has taken already the best part of three-quarters of an hour suggests that it is in the public interest.  The interest is there.  I think it is important that we do deal with this issue and we open the door to negotiations.  All this does is opens the door to negotiations.  It means that we do not have to go into the room with representatives of our public sector and say: “There is no more money” as we have been doing for the past 6 months or longer.  We can deal honestly with our employees if we choose to.  I urge Members to please accept the reduction in the lodging time on this particular project.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  Any Members not in the Chamber I invite to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.  A vote pour would enable Deputy Southern’s proposition to be dealt with during the course of this meeting.

POUR: 25

 

CONTRE: 21

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

2.Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005: amendment to Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019 (P.137/2018) - proposition to move to first item on Order Paper

Deputy M. Tadier:

Could I make the proposition that we move this to the first item on the paper today?  I am happy to make the case for that if I do so now or perhaps wait for it to be seconded.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Well, it seems to me that this touches upon the order in which the Assembly will conduct its business.  It is, therefore, in order for a proposition to be made in that regard because it is to deal with the way in which the Assembly continues from now on.  The normal method will be you will propose it and it will be seconded and it will be a matter for Members whether they want to debate it any form of length.  Deputy, yes, if you wish to make a proposition.

2.1Deputy M. Tadier:

The reason I make the case, first of all it has been established that this is clearly in the public interest.  We probably would not have spent 45 minutes debating it if it was a matter that is not of public interest and that has been decided today.  The reason that I think it is germane we take it as the first item is that it touches on everything that we are going to be debating both in the C.S.P. and in the Budget.  If we look at the wording of the proposition it says that: “There should be a revised Medium Term Financial Plan for 2019, in which the maximum amount of net States expenditure from the Consolidated Fund is increased above the limit set in 2015, so that additional monies can be made available to fund public sector pay claims” and that is what we have been focusing on up until now but that is not the entirety of it.  The second part of the proposition says about: “Additional investment to deliver C.S.P. priorities such as ‘children first’” and other Council of Ministers priorities.  Now, what we know is that we have already gone through a very strange process where for the first time we will be debating the C.S.P., the Common Strategic Policy, which is effectively the old Strategic Plan and the Budget on the same sitting.  It may well be on the same day.  This is very unusual and that was done for political expediency.  If I had been in the Assembly - I think I was away on States business at the time - I would have objected because I think it is very strange that we debate the Common Strategic Policy on the same sitting as the Budget because how do you know what the Budget priorities should be if you do not know what your Common Strategic Policy is?  We do not have a Common Strategic Policy yet because it has not been decided.  The Council of Ministers have their strategic policy which needs to be approved by the States and it would be an enormous presumption of them to presume that the States should just rubberstamp that without debate and there will be clearly debate and there may be some amendments and that Common Strategic Policy will be different probably to the one that the Council of Ministers have put forward.

[10:30]

Of course we have their Budget and then we have the Budget debate after that with the amendments.  Now, that being the case we cannot change that but it would seem strange to decide a Budget one way or the other and then afterwards say: “Well, we want a different Medium Term Financial Plan with implications on the Budget that we have already had the debate on.”  It may also be the fact that certain Members will not vote for the Budget if they do not think that they can have additional investment.  We have already had a couple of bizarre sittings and question times where Ministers and Assistant Ministers effectively are having to ask questions in the public forum of other Ministers because they have not been getting the information that they require, and that is not because Ministers have been unhelpful.  It is because Ministers do not know.  So when it comes to sports funding, for example, or cultural funding or whether it comes to Jèrriais teachers or ... all sorts of money that should be put aside for 2019.  Those individuals do not know where they stand and nor do we and all these things are germane to the debate that we will be having.  It will be completely topsy-turvy, having decided to allow Deputy Southern’s proposition, to talk about whether or not we still remain with our hands tied or whether we can have those shackles removed, to have that after we have decided the C.S.P. and the Budget debate.  So while it might be inconvenient for some Members who do not feel prepared, I think in order to know where we stand in the main 2 debates, we need to know what kind of Budget, going forward in 2019, we are likely to have.  It seems entirely sensible and in fact I would go one step further, it would be completely illogical to leave this debate until the very end.  Because although a very big part of it is about freeing-up money for negotiation purposes with the unions, it is not entirely about that, it is about the whole way we set Budgets for 2019 and allowing Ministers to know what the state of play is for 2019, which is something that we and they have not been able to do up until this point.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Your proposal is then to have the matter dealt with as the first item of business.  Is it seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on that proposition?

2.1.1Deputy J.A. Martin:

Although I said I reserved my judgment in the last debate and I did let Deputy Southern ... because all the reasons were given; this is in the public’s interest.  I think Deputy Tadier is now saying: “Tear up the rule book and let us go home.”  Because we do have Standing Orders.  We have let Deputy Southern take it this week, it will be the end item but Deputy Tadier has to push us one step further because it is the most important thing.  The proposition does not say it is or, so we can all, let us say, have more money or money for children.  I do not want to get into the proposition.  Today we have said Deputy Southern ... I voted for Deputy Southern to take this at the end.  I am still hoping, and we heard from the Chief Minister earlier, we will get comments on this because I want some more information on the other side of Deputy Southern’s proposition.  Do it today, do it now, do it with your hands tied behind your back and do it blindfolded, as far as I am concerned.  If you push this one through, Deputy Tadier knows that really and truthfully you really might as well … as the Constable started off today, we do have some rules.  We have got over the hurdle.  Deputy Southern can take this at this sitting as the last item of business.  It will be a big business.  It could take all of Friday, so be it but I will be prepared and so will everybody else here.  I absolutely say do not let this go first item.

2.1.2The Connétable of St. Brelade:

I concur entirely with the last speaker.  I would, once again, urge, whether it be the Chief Minister or whether it be the chair of S.E.B. (States Employment Board) or the Minister for Treasury and Resources, to produce comments to Members so that we can debate the matter in a proper, mature way.  I cannot see that happening before the end of the debate.  While I would wish to have the debate, let us have the information so that we can debate it properly.

2.1.3Senator K.L. Moore:

Just briefly, it would appear that Members are focused on the Common Strategic Policy as the first item of business and some Members have not yet read the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel Budget report, which, helpfully, makes some comments about this matter.  Therefore, I would suggest that the Assembly should wait a little so that Members can be better prepared for the debate.

2.1.4Deputy M. Tadier:

I have made the proposition and Members can vote accordingly.  What I will say, and I do not want to drag this out, is that it is logical to have this debated before the Budget, if not before the C.S.P.  Members may want to take that into consideration in how they vote.  If this does not succeed, I will make the proposition that we take it before the Budget but after the C.S.P., which would give time for Ministers to provide comments to the C.S.P.  What I would do, Sir, if I can have the leave of the Assembly to withdraw this proposal, I will be making a counterproposal to have it debated before the Budget, which should give sufficient time.  I suspect we are going to be here for a day or 2 debating the high-level policy of the C.S.P.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Do Members agree that the Deputy has leave to withdraw his proposition?  Very well, that is withdrawn.  At the moment then Deputy Southern’s proposition is to be debated as the last item.  I will not allow another debate at this point on the timing.  If you wish to bring a debate to have it dealt with before the Budget, then the time to do that is after we have debated the …

Deputy M. Tadier:

Sir, can I just give notice that that will be an intention and ask Members to give consideration as to the preference and practicalities of doing that?

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well.

 

3.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018)

The Deputy Bailiff:

The first item of Public Business is the Proposed Common Strategic Policy - P.110- lodged by the Council of Ministers and I ask the Greffier to read the proposition.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

The States are asked to decide whether they are of opinion, in accordance with Article 18(2)(e) of the States of Jersey Law 2005, to approve the statement of the Common Strategic Policy of the Council of Ministers, as set out in the appendix to this proposition.

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Sir, can I just clarify a matter with the Greffe, also it is for yourself?  There have been various Members who have … and it is appreciated, agreed that we are accepting our amendments, therefore, the C.S.P. is being proposed as amended.

The Deputy Bailiff:

That is a matter for the Assembly because whereas the Council of Ministers might agree, other Members might have wished to put in amendments to the amendments or things of that nature.

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Okay, so sorry.  What was received from the Greffier was that that was an appropriate way of dealing with things.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I think what will need to happen, Chief Minister, you can certainly indicate when you propose which amendments you are intending to accept and you can speak to it in that way.  But it has to be, I think, a matter for the Assembly as to whether or not any particular amendment is permitted, simply because, for example, Members might have wished to put in amendments to the amendments if they had known what the Council of Ministers then proposed.  It could be that that will operate very quickly and people will simply indicate that they do not wish to have a debate on it but it seems to me that we must take it item by item.

3.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

Okay, Sir, thank you.  In which case, my apologies to the people I have been liaising with because the advice we had received up to just now was to the contrary but, okay, point taken.  The future prosperity of our Island, the developing of its people and the sustainability of our environment all depend upon the ability of Government to prioritise its work and to set out a compelling vision that will guide Ministers, senior leaders and employees across the public sector.  In proposing this Common Strategic Policy the Council of Ministers is setting out its vision for our term of Government and the areas in which we will focus to make Jersey a better place for all to live, work and do business.  This is not simply a wish list created by the Council of Ministers.  The core principles have been developed through detailed discussion and debate, and focus on real change for the lives of Islanders.  Only by building these stable foundations on which policy can be formed will we be able to develop the Government plan against which we can align our policy decisions, assess our successes and provide the measures against which we will be held to account.  In developing this Common Strategic Policy we have, I believe, undertaken the most inclusive and productive process of any Council of Ministers to date.  We have worked successfully across the political spectrum to provide a cohesive vision and a set of priorities on which we all agree.  In implementing the C.S.P., we have opportunity to make meaningful and tangible changes to the lives of Islanders, especially those most vulnerable and needing our investment and support.  This can only be achieved in partnership with all Members of this Assembly, whether in Government, in Scrutiny or in the Parishes and Districts.  Once we have debated the C.S.P. and its amendments to reach a common agreement… and I do give my commitment to foster that partnership to achieve the outcomes that are sought by us all.  But I must emphasise this is not a strategy that will be debated and then put in a drawer but a living document that I will be using, as a cornerstone of my role as the Chief Minister, across the next 3½ years.  It will be the overarching document that directs us in all our actions.  It will guide the decisions we make and how we fulfil our obligations to Islanders to make just laws, provide modern, essential public services and leave a legacy that will benefit the generations who will follow us.  At its heart are 5 priorities, which Ministers have unanimously agreed should be a beacon for our Government.  We will put children first.  We will improve Islanders’ well-being and mental and physical health.  We will create a sustainable, vibrant economy and local skilled workforce for the future.  We will reduce income inequality and improve the standard of living and we will protect and value our environment.  I believe the focus we give to these priorities will make a real difference to Jersey, making our Island stronger, safer, healthier and more self-confident.  While I do not propose to examine each section of the C.S.P. in granular detail, I would like to highlight some of the key aspects of the priorities, which will be further developed in the Government Plan that will follow in 2019.  I am certain that Members will agree that all of our Island’s children should have an equal opportunity to be safe, flourish and fulfil their potential; they are our Island’s future.  We will put children first by protecting and supporting them throughout their childhood; from birth through early years into primary, secondary and tertiary education.  We will do this by improving their educational outcomes and by involving and engaging them in decisions that affect their everyday lives.  We will work to address the underlying causes that contribute to the known gaps in health, well-being and learning and development throughout childhood and adolescence.  To assist in this we will publish a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to identify priority areas for policy and service development.  This will enable us to understand the effectiveness of different approaches to achieving equity and fairness for the most vulnerable children.  We also bring forward plans to incorporate the U.N. (United Nations) Convention on the Rights of the Child and this is likely to include a scheme that introduces a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment and a comprehensive review of the impact and benefits of incorporating children’s rights into Jersey law.  I know that Members share my appreciation of the hard work and dedication of the Children’s Commissioner and under the C.S.P. we will extend the legal powers and functions of the Children’s Commissioner, the Care Commission and the safeguarding arrangements to maintain a focus on children’s rights, quality of services for children, standards and performance.  We will start our work with a focus on children’s mental health and well-being.  Following on from the 1001 Days taskforce, we have established a policy development board for early years to ensure that all children up to the age of 5 achieve the best start possible.  We are also committed to improving Islanders’ overall well-being beyond childhood, through every stage of life in Jersey, including supporting independent living and adding life to years into older age.  This C.S.P. will embed health and well-being considerations at the heart of all government policy, acknowledging that Government action can either narrow or widen the gap in health of all Islanders.  We will improve Islanders’ well-being and mental and physical health by supporting them to live healthier, active, longer lives, improving the quality of and access to mental health services by putting patients, families and carers at the heart of Jersey’s health and care system.  Mental and physical health and care services must be fit for purpose, accessible and be more integrated around the needs of Islanders.  Care must be provided when and where it is needed most and closer to people’s homes.  This will include testing new approaches to the delivery of primary healthcare with more support within the community and Parishes, through multidisciplinary teams, community hubs and excellent acute care within a new hospital.  A sustainable, vibrant economy and skilled local workforce are also essential for the future prosperity of the Island.  We will ensure this by delivering a comprehensive economic framework that will deliver the economic evidence to assess and prioritise how and when we act.  We will work with all sectors of the economy to understand their long-term policy, legislative and resource needs and we will collaborate with partners to design and implement economic development policies.  We will continue to enhance our international profile and promote our Island identity beyond financial services.

[10:45]

Our international reputation should reflect the richness and diversity of our Island’s talents and the many ways that we act as a responsible global citizen, such as through the work of Jersey Overseas Aid, as well as facilitating international commerce and investment.  We will also deliver the best outcomes from Brexit, built on extensive contingency planning and continued engagement with the United Kingdom and the European Union.  We will improve education and skills in the Island to deliver our skilled local workforce for the future, reducing education attainment gaps and recognising the value of and expanding vocational qualifications.  This will be supported by proposals for a higher education centre of excellence and campus to deliver both the academic and vocational skill needs of the Island, including digital, finance, tourism, innovation, energy and creative industries.  Income inequality remains a critical concern of the Council of Ministers.  The Island’s average income per person is high but this hides large gaps between the highest and lowest earners.  There is concern about growing levels of income inequality and the negative effect this will have on our community and our economy.  We will reduce income inequality and improve the standard of living by improving the quality and affordability of housing, improving social inclusion and by removing barriers to and in employment.  We will work towards a fair balance between wages, taxes and benefits, rents and living costs, enabling Islanders to achieve a decent standard of living and have secure incomes into older age.  We will consider whether our fiscal strategy needs refreshing.  In particular, we will consult on the future of the personal tax system and conclude the current review of the social security scheme, which is examining contribution rates, old-age pensions and working-age contributory benefits.  We will also need to secure a consistent supply of good-quality homes that are affordable to local families, improve the quality of rented homes and strengthen the rights of tenants.  Finally, we will implement the Disability Strategy, clarify rights for newly-arrived residents within a new population and migration policy and improve citizenship education.  We will work with Parishes and local community groups to reduce social isolation and loneliness.  Our local biodiversity, heritage and landscape are priceless and I am committed to preserving them.  Protecting the Island’s natural resources and managing its waste are vital to our physical and mental health, to our quality of life and to active living into older age.  We will protect and value our environment by embracing environmental innovation and ambition.  We need to design and deliver great liveable communities where everyone has access to high-quality and affordable accommodation, open and play space and active travel and transport networks in order to achieve a vibrant, inclusive and healthy Island.  We need to protect the natural environment through conservation, protection, sustainable resource use and demand management.  We need to explore the role that renewable energy can play in Jersey’s future.  We must meet increasing global standards and best environmental practices in order to maintain our historic export markets in agriculture and aquaculture.  As we pursue these 5 strategic policies and deliver our central public services, we will bear in mind 6 common themes that have emerged from our discussions.  We will enable Islanders to live active lives and benefit from the arts, culture and heritage.  We will make St. Helier a more desirable place to live, work, do business and visit, redeveloping and revitalising the powerhouse of our economy.  We will promote and protect Jersey’s interests, profile and reputation, ensuring that our interests are understood and proactively protected, not just in the U.K. but also in the E.U. and internationally.  We will improve transport infrastructure and links, allowing us to trade, to travel and for visitors to have easy access to our attractions and our economy.  We will work in partnership with Parishes, churches, community groups, the third sector, volunteers, businesses and key stakeholders, building on the Island’s proud history of volunteering and honorary service as a whole.  We will prepare for more Islanders living longer, managing our resources needs, as the balance between working age and the non-working age population changes.  We are not starting with a blank canvass.  We acknowledge 4 ongoing initiatives, which are already underway and which also underpin the delivery of our strategic priorities and, firstly, a new long-term strategic framework that extends beyond the term of a Council of Ministers.  The C.S.P. is not a statement of everything the Government does or will do and nor is it a detailed plan for how the public service will deliver the work of government.  It sets the priorities for the current Government term and is an important part of a new long-term strategic framework for Jersey.  We will shortly propose transitional arrangements for 2019 in a report to this Assembly, which will enable us to start work on our priorities within the financial constraints of the current Medium Term Financial Plan; that may, obviously, depend on the outcomes of this week.  In June 2019 we will propose a 4-year Government Plan from 2020 to 2023, which will provide the fine detail of government activities, plan for the immediate year ahead and set up the priorities for the subsequent 3 years.  This will then be updated every year on a rolling basis.  In 2020 we will propose a new Island Plan for 2021 to 2030, setting out an agreed single, integrated, strategic and spatial approach to the longer-term challenges and opportunities faced by our Island, which will be dealt with beyond a single term of Government.  Second, ongoing initiative as a States Assembly and Council of Ministers that work together for the common good.  I am committed to improving the way we work with Scrutiny, the way in which we develop policies, such as through the policy development board and how we secure improved resources for non-Executive States Members. Thirdly, we need to complete the work of developing a modern, innovative public sector that meets the needs of Islanders effectively and efficiently.  The One Government programme of restructuring and reforming how we deliver public services is critical and, in my view, we must see it through.  Finally, we must deliver a sustainable long-term fiscal framework and public finances that make better use of our public assets.  To start summing up, what I want to reiterate is what I said at the outset of this speech; we are committed to working with this Assembly to implement this Common Strategic Policy and ensuring that it is done in partnership with Parishes, volunteer organisations and the public.  The approach we have taken from the outside is to consult, is to collaborate and, preparing for this debate, to incorporate proposed amendments either through Council of Ministers’ support, also budgets, by suggesting additional amendments, which we hope will be acceptable to the Assembly as a whole.  Obviously, I do not propose to go through each individual amendment; Sir, I have taken up your advice.  But I would just like to thank 3 individuals for their approach; Deputy Wickenden for his approach in developing his amendments, the Constable of St. Helier for his collaborative style and Deputy Tadier for agreeing to accept our amendment to his amendment.  I hope that will allow us to proceed swiftly on areas, given that we have a long week ahead of us; that is always a matter for Members.  Jersey has a successful history of looking forward and planning for its future and I believe that implementing this Common Strategic Policy is a crucial step in meeting the needs of the Island today and in preparing for those that Jersey will face in the coming years.  As we all know, 2019 in itself is going to be a challenging year.  By supporting this policy Members will help to ensure that Jersey remains the special place that we love for this generation and generations to come.  I commend this Common Strategic Policy to the Assembly.  [Approbation]

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the proposition seconded?  [Seconded]

3.2Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4))

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well.  There is an amendment, amendment number 4, to the proposition.  Members will have their running order in front of them and that is an amendment of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.  I can ask the Greffier to read the amendment but it is quite long and I wondered if Members were prepared to take that amendment as read.  Yes.  Very well, then the proposal is to amend in accordance with the terms of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.  I call on the chairman to speak to the amendment.

3.2.1Senator K.L. Moore (Chairman, Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel):

Our amendment proposes to add a sixth strategic priority nurturing a diverse and inclusive society.  It is a matter of regret that the Council of Ministers will not support this amendment and instead seek to demote it to the second tier.  That action, in itself, is a good example of why the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel is asking the Assembly to include diversity in the Common Strategic Policy.  For those who were not here back in 2012, the States Assembly of that time, following an amendment from a former Scrutiny Panel, the Health and Social Services - and it was not then Housing Scrutiny Panel - of which I was the chair successfully asked the Assembly to include an additional priority of promoting family and community values; and here it is.  This has been done before and it can be done with the will of the Assembly.  As a panel, we were struck and concerned by the absence of any references to diversity in the C.S.P.  We felt that this issue needed to be clearly defined in policy.  Diversity and inclusion are vital for the social structure of our community.  A diverse and inclusive community is one where everyone is enabled to play their part and contribute their talents without obstacles, limitations or glass ceilings.  Poverty and homelessness, of which we are all focusing today, as the soup kitchen prepares to sell us soup this lunchtime, is a big issue in the Island and also another cause of social isolation, which provides a barrier to those people who face difficulties in this area.  Jersey is a diverse community made up of many different nationalities, ages, genders and abilities and sometimes these differences can act as barriers.  That is why we see an integration project being developed for newcomers to the Island and the excellent work of Caritas International working to develop social cohesion.  It is time for the Island’s Legislature to commit and make this a priority.  We want the Government to promote inclusion and equal opportunity for all.  We had to look hard at the text to find a single reference to promoting the interests of disabled Islanders, older people or other vulnerable groups.  In the Jersey Lifestyle Survey of last year 27 per cent of people, of adults, reported a longstanding illness, disability or infirmity and that is a greater percentage of 50 per cent of older people who reported those attributes.  Our amendment would bring greater focus to the importance of implementing the Disability Strategy, which was launched last year.  It includes a specific outcome to implement the Disability Strategy during this Council of Ministers’ term of office.  Some progress is being made, it has to be said.  For example, just yesterday on International Day of Persons with Disabilities it was announced that the Beresford Street Kitchen has won the tender to run the canteen at police headquarters.  [Approbation]  We can always do more.  If the C.S.P. is a vision statement we feel that it should include a vision that everyone can share in.  Supporting the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel’s amendment is not a nice to have; it is a must have, which can bring real benefits for society and the economy.  We also want to see a greater emphasis within housing developments on inclusive communities and intergenerational living.  This recognises the benefits of having 20-something families and older people all living side by side in the same communities.  Another specific outcome is for the Government to promote diversity within companies and other organisations.  The States accounts for 2017 show that 13 per cent of directors are female, while within the States subsidiary companies around 20 per cent of directors are female.  In senior roles in the U.K. Civil Service, for example, women account for 43 per cent of senior roles; we have a great distance to travel.  Also in the U.K. the Government has set up a target for top companies to have 33 per cent of board positions going to women by 2020 and they are going to achieve it.  We would like to ensure that Jersey achieves such a target too.  The challenge for Jersey is to consider what data do we have on boardroom diversity and what are we going to do to tackle any identified imbalance?  Also, why do we simply not know these figures yet?  Nobody has taken an interest to date.  Our amendment will make this a clear priority for Government.  It is well evidenced that diverse boards make better decisions and yield greater profits.  People who feel valued in their working environment are also more productive.  Change is on the horizon in relation to Brexit and managing our own Island population presents a risk and that certain parts of our society could become even more marginalised.  We want the Government to ensure that its policies fully consider the impact on social inclusion and that the relevant parts of our community are consulted before changes are introduced.  In considering diversity and inclusion it is important that we, as an Assembly, fully embrace these themes.  While some progress is being made, there was always more that could be done.  This amendment also provides support for the Diversity Forum, chaired by Deputy Doublet.

[11:00]

We are glad that the Council of Ministers has acknowledged in their amendment that matters of diversity and inclusion should be given greater prominence in the Strategic Policy.  However, we consider that this important area should feature as one of the Government’s main priorities, rather than one of the lower-profile common themes.  In conclusion, there is much that the Government can do to nurture diverse and inclusive community from very early on.  After this Common Strategic Policy was lodged we identified this as an important area that was missing from the policy.  This is an important area where action is needed and I hope the Assembly will support our amendment and reject the Council of Ministers’ amendment to our amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]

3.3Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)) - amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)Amd.)

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, there is an amendment to the amendment lodged by the Council of Ministers.  It is not quite so lengthy as the main amendment but do Members agree, as it is a little bit to read, we take it as read? 

3.3.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

I was disappointed to hear the comment about demotion.  I do not think that is really the stance that we are trying to take on this.  Overall, the Council of Ministers are supportive of the panel’s underlying attention in bringing this fourth amendment and all Ministers are committed to ensuring that Jersey fosters a diverse and inclusive society where opportunities are open and equal for all.  I will touch on that shortly, except for the fact it was closed at the page on my report, which was quite crucial.  But the point being that what we tried to do in developing the C.S.P. is to keep the priorities fairly focused on items that we think really are important to the Island as a whole and mostly without rereading into our Strategic Plan: children, mental and physical health, economy, income inequality and environment.  Sorry, I am just looking for the quote that I said in my speech, this is not about trying to prioritise everything.  If you prioritise everything you do not prioritise anything.  The Common Strategic Policy does not lay out everything that Government will do because there is an awful lot of normal business that you would expect us to do and diversity is one of those areas.  We rather feel that the proposed C.S.P. does already capture the aims of the fourth amendment and shares some of those details as a means of tackling inequality, and I will touch on that.  The point being, if we thought that the aspect we were trying to do here is achieve a compromise, in other words, if the Assembly… it is always in the hands of the Assembly, if the Assembly feels it has got to be a strategic priority, fine, we feel we have addressed it in some of the areas already.  But what we can do with a cross-cutting theme is diversity should cut across everything that we do and, therefore, that is why we thought it was the appropriate place to put it into the C.S.P.  What I will just say, and I will quote from a couple of paragraphs in the Common Strategic Policy - sorry, I keep want to call it the Strategic Plan even now - and what we said is, for example, around housing: “We need to secure a consistent supply of good-quality homes that are affordable to local families, improve the quality of rented homes and strengthen the rights of tenants.”  It talks about the policy development board, which: “Gives a long-term view of how we can create sustainable and affordable housing provision for the next generation to meet the aspirations of our young people.”  Immediately after that we say: “We need to create a society where everyone has opportunities, helping people to participate to meet their potential and improve their quality of life.  We will implement the disability strategy and clarify rights for newly-arrived residents within a new population and migration policy, improve citizenship education.  We will work with the Parishes and local community groups to reduce social isolation and loneliness.”  We have rather considered, bearing in mind we are trying to create a high-level document, that it gives at a strategic level what we want to do; we thought that was an appropriate level.  Obviously, the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel disagree.  Our view in bringing this amendment is to kind of meet halfway or to say, okay, if you want greater emphasis, we think it should be put across as a theme, rather than a separate strategic priority and, again, that is a matter for the Assembly.  But what we think is to ensure that diversity issues are considered across all government activity and in all policy making.  We are not that far apart.  It is basically going to be a case of up to Members and whether you want to see it as a common theme, which will cut across everything or separately as a strategic priority.  On that basis I make our amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment of the Council of Ministers?  Those in favour of adopting the amendment kindly show.  The appel is called for and I invite Members to return to their seats.  The vote is on the adoption of the amendment of the Council of Ministers to the amendment of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 21

 

CONTRE: 16

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

I thank the Assembly.

3.4Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): fourth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(4)) - as amended

The Deputy Bailiff:

We then return to considering the amendment of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel as amended by the Council of Ministers.  Does any Member wish to speak on that amendment? 

3.4.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

I had a few points that I would have raised in the previous debate had it occurred.  It is just to say that I think that this proposal, as it now stands as amended, is a good proposal that will strengthen the Strategic Plan and force us to think about some issues that we do need to think about.  I am grateful to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel for raising some of these.  In particular they have raised the issue about the representation on States boards; that is something that I think Jersey does badly at and we absolutely do need to see some progress.  I think to have that enshrined in this way is very helpful.  As the Chief Minister said in his speech to his amendment, there are other areas in the C.S.P. that I think deal specifically with things like the disability strategy where we make it very clear that we want to implement that.  The simple point I want to raise, and it is one that I have made throughout all of the workshops we had on the C.S.P, is that economic actions have social consequences and the levers that you use; I personally believe that it is the economic levers are the ones that make the most difference because it is harder to be tokenistic.  It is all well and good to say what our intention is and to say nice words but really it is the economic actions that will make that difference and make it harder to regress into a less diverse and non-inclusive society.  I just wanted to briefly stand to support this amendment and hope the rest of the Assembly will adopt it.

3.4.2Senator K.L. Moore:

I sense the mood of the Assembly and, although I am disappointed that the Assembly has not supported making this an absolute priority and to clarify the importance of diversity and inclusion in our society, I move the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for and I invite Members to return to their seats.  The vote is on the amendment of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel as amended by the Council of Ministers.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 40

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.5Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.)

The Deputy Bailiff:

The next amendment is amendment number 3 lodged by Deputy Ward and I ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “, except that on page 9 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (Section 5: Strategic priorities), in the section headed “What we will achieve”, at the end of the list of bullet-points, to insert a new bullet-point worded as follows: “Attend schools that have guaranteed minimum 15 per cent headroom funding so that there are well-resourced classrooms that can support learning”.”.

3.5.1Deputy R.J. Ward:

I thank the Assembly for their time.  I would like to start by explaining what it is I mean by “headroom funding” in schools and why the issue is so important to the day-to-day experience of education of our young people.  Headroom is the money left after staffing and premises costs are accounted for.  It is the money available for resourcing the day-to-day needs of teaching and learning.  It is here that schools have faced continued pressures over lack of funds.  It is important to point out that the growth funding allocated in the current M.T.F.P. merely dealt with the increase in demographics in our schools.  Indeed, the reality was a real-term cut of £2.8 million to school funding.  This has resulted in even greater pressure on resources at a time where significant changes for schools have had to be addressed.  By this I refer to changes to all key stages, that is primary and secondary school teaching, and the nature of what is to be delivered.  This is particularly true for secondary schools that have faced major changes to G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education), B.T.E.C. (Business and Technology Education Council) and A Level curricular.  This means new resources are needed, including books, materials and wider resources for practical subjects in order to simply deliver the new curriculum, let alone innovate and develop what is taught for the wide range of abilities and challenges that are faced in education and they are growing.  The last 2 years have, therefore, been particularly difficult and this amendment is desperately needed.  Low headroom funding is driven by the lack of a defined level of funding.  It has a number of distinct and damaging effects on schools.  It prevents long-term planning of resource-buying, as there is no certainty over the level of funding that will be available each year.  This is compounded by the academic year being September to July and the financial year being January to December.  Longer-term stability and certainty is needed.  This comes from a defined level of resource funding so that schools can plan ahead within the safe knowledge that it will be there.  It stifles innovation.  Making decisions based upon the lowest amount of resource on which a course can run does nothing to improve the quality of those courses.  Put very simply, the best book may be the most expensive, so we make do with the one that is adequate.  It is interesting to note that adequate is no longer a lesson observation outcome.  Instead we have room for improvement and a score with an overall rating of room for improvement will have a support board in the U.K.; it would be in special measures.  It means that schools become increasingly reliant upon charging parents for basics, particularly in creative and practical subjects.  Schools become dependent upon the P.T.A. (Parent Teacher Association) to fund the basics and this is fundamentally wrong.  Car boot sales and cake bakes should not be the source of funding for a successful education system.  It means that teachers are making decisions on teaching based upon the lack of resources, not on what is best to engage and empower our children to learn.  The reality of low-resourcing funding is that money runs out at the end of every year.  I know schools that have had to stop all photocopying, where a book for each student is a luxury that they cannot afford and where they are waiting until January for a new budget to buy the very basics is an annual event, where primary schools are going cap in hand to replace basic gym equipment; this at a time when we are emphasising the importance of exercise and healthy lifestyle.  This has to stop and it is within our remit to make it stop.  With this amendment we make a strategic and long-term change to the way in which we fund schools.  Let me be clear about the detail of the amendment, we need to allow schools to first meet their staffing needs, this is vital and the majority of a school’s budget.  Premises costs must then be accounted for.  It is then that we prescribe a level of funding that is suitable for the real resource needs of the classroom.  I detail this as it is essential that more money is not simply allocated from the current unchanged budgets leading to staff cuts and premises crumbling over time.  Importantly, it does not stop a general increase in school funding for staff and premises, which is needed long term.  I will also point out the miracles worked by schools to deliver quality teaching with minimal funds and the toll this takes long term over staff and students.  I did some rough calculations and it is very difficult to do but we spend about 80 pence per child per day on a charge resource funding at secondary level in an 11 to 16 school.  That is not per subject; that is per child for all of their subjects, that is not even the price of a cup of tea.

[11:15]

When I was a head of science, I had a budget of £8,000 to teach science to 900 students, to resource them; that is about £8.88 per student per year.  To put that in context, a text book was around £16 for the cheapest, so if I bought one book between 2 for that department I had no money left, and still a child did not have their own book.  I worked miracles, as so many other heads of departments in schools do all of the time and we need to support them and make a significant change.  I understand the amendment to this amendment that has been lodged, that the States talk about a good level of funding but to me this is too vague.  We could say that if we increase funding by £50, we can define that as better than it was, so it is good and we must not do that.  We lose it and that is what has happened over so many years.  By signing a figure that the head teachers identify as necessary and I have taken the figure from the Professional Qualification for Headship training, that assume head teachers will have 15 per cent headroom funding; they never do.  They start their careers with that one hand tied behind their back in terms of their funding and we need to stop that happening.  We need to give the funding that directly impacts in the classroom; that is what this is for.  If a lesson or a school is rated as good, as the amendment suggests, the pressure is to become outstanding.  Let us do the same and let us strive to make our funding outstanding, so that our schools can be outstanding.  No excuses, no clever use of words, no defining cuts as growth funding; let us define clearly and directly a level that will work for schools, work for teachers and, more importantly, work for the children in our schools who are the future of this Island.  Finally, I would just like to say that I understand, I signed the pledge for children and I understand some of the reasons because I had some good discussions with other Members about reasons why some people perhaps did not sign it.  One of the reasons was there was a lack of detail and outcomes.  This is an opportunity for you to vote for a detailed outcome, a chance to vote for a defined level of funding that will meet the needs of our children and genuinely put children first.  I ask you to please reject the Council of Ministers’ amendment and vote for this amendment.  I thank you for your time.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]

3.6Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)) - amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)Amd.)

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, there is an amendment to the amendment lodged by the Council of Ministers.  I ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

Substitute the words “Attend schools that have guaranteed minimum 15 per cent headroom funding so that there are well-resourced classrooms that can support learning” with the words “Be able to attend schools that are well-resourced, including good levels of financial headroom so that schools can positively support the achievement of the best outcomes for all children”.

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Senator Vallois is acting as rapporteur on this one, Sir.

3.6.1Senator T.A. Vallois (Deputy Chief Minister - rapporteur):

I could not agree more than anyone else, I think, with the comments of the Deputy with regards to ensuring we provide outstanding funding for outstanding outcomes for our children in terms of education.  The reason why we are putting forward this amendment is because we acknowledge Deputy Ward’s intention for a commitment guaranteed minimum of school headroom funding.  But I and the Council of Ministers are unable to support a prescriptive percentage figure, as it could do more harm than good.  The reason I state this is school funding is made up of various different elements, such as S.E.N. (Special Educational Needs), Jersey Premium, utility costs, staff costs, premises costs and school resources.  The term “headroom funding” is often used to identify the element of funding available to the head teacher to spend after the core costs of a school are paid for, such as staff, premises and utilities.  Often headroom funding is thought of as being available to a head teacher to spend on resources, including a wide range of items, such as books, teaching materials and equipment.  However, comparisons regarding headroom with other jurisdictions are not helpful, as higher headroom for schools in other jurisdictions may be prevalent, as the school is required to pay for services, such as psychology, special educational needs and long-term sickness absence, for example, all of which are paid for centrally here.  Any commitment to a prescriptive percentage of headroom funding could be detrimental to other elements within schools’ budgets.  In plain terms, being mandated to have 15 per cent of headroom funding could result in less funding within a school budget for teachers, special educational needs or Jersey Premium.  Schools have different demands to each other and demographic and student-support needs can change from year to year.  These changes influence the resource requirements and my department and the schools need to be able to adapt and respond to these changes.  A guaranteed 15 per cent headroom funding for all schools would limit our ability to respond flexibly to changes in the most appropriate way.  I and the Council of Ministers are absolutely committed to funding the overall school budgets to a level that ensures high-quality education and outcomes for all students.  I will be working with colleagues to ensure the Government Plan, in which we determine the financial constraints in which we have and ensure proper funding for our services, is based on detailed analysis of all aspects of school funding, including headroom.  The Deputy’s amendment, as worded, would limit our flexibility within budgets and would prevent us from achieving the best outcomes if consequential effects reduce funding in other areas.  The Council of Ministers’ amendment acknowledges the importance of headroom funding as part of the overall financial package that ensures well-resourced schools.  What it also achieves is the removal of the potentially negative aspects of committing to a defined percentage, as I have described, in the Common Strategic Policy.  I would urge Members to support this amendment to ensure that the good intentions of Deputy Ward are supported without the real risk of those intentions creating a negative result for student outcomes.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the Council of Ministers’ amendment seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on that amendment? 

3.6.2Deputy K.F. Morel of St. Lawrence:

It has been very interesting listening to both Deputy Ward and Senator Vallois, who I know both come from the same perspective on this.  I do have a problem, if I can leap ahead to Deputy Ward’s amendment just in that it is so prescriptive, and so I understand the Minister for Education’s desire to maintain the flexibility within the budgeting and to give schools the opportunity to fund themselves as best they see fit and allocate their resources as they see fit.  But the problem I have with the Council of Ministers’ amendment is that it is so woolly it is almost pointless.  Including good levels of financial headroom means absolutely nothing.  That is a big problem with this.  It does not say: “Adequate levels”, it does not say: “Levels large enough to achieve X, Y and Z”, it just says: “Good levels.”  I have no idea what the Minister for Education believes is a good level and unfortunately, without having an understanding of what she believes is a good level, this amendment stands meaningless.  I am disappointed because I do understand why Deputy Ward’s amendment is overly prescriptive but I would have hoped that the Council of Ministers could have come up with something, which is slightly more of a commitment to funding education in Jersey, which sadly, for an Island with more than adequate resources, is underfunded in this Island.  We do need to make sure that schools have large enough funds to be able to give a proper education to our students and that teachers are not worked to the bone and also that teachers are not having to find, as Deputy Ward said, interesting ways of funding textbooks and things like this.  It truly hurts me to hear that our schoolteachers have to find innovative ways of funding their own lessons; it is wrong.  If this Council of Ministers cannot come up with proper funding for our schools then this Council of Ministers will not have succeeded at any level.  To have an amendment that says: “Good levels of financial headroom” is the first indication that this Council of Ministers is not as committed as I would want it to be to education.  I would have expected more from this amendment sadly.  That is all I have to say.

3.6.3Deputy M. Tadier:

I am pleased to follow the last speaker.  I agree with his words and the sentiment as well.  We often hear in this Assembly, and in general, when it comes to politics that markets like certainty; markets do not like uncertainty.  That can apply to many things; it can apply to one’s personal life; it also applies to the workforce, whether it is in the private sector or in the public sector, and it certainly applies to our departments.  What we know at the moment is that there is a lot of uncertainty - we are going to be talking about that ... not externally, we know that there is lots of international and national factors to do with uncertainty, but in our own Island we know that, as we have said before, people do not even know what the budgets are going to be for next year.  So I know that, for example, in my department and the arm’s-length organisations, admittedly we are not talking about them now, but for way of example, it is very difficult for them to plan when they do not know their budgets.  It is very difficult for teachers to plan when they do not have a specified maximum or minimum amount of headroom that they can deal with.  So when we hear the words “flexibility” that are put forward by the Council of Ministers saying: “We prefer our amendment because it gives us more flexibility” that is fine, but the corollary to that and the counterpoint is that in the classroom it gives more uncertainty, it means that the flexibility and the moving around of budgets, as the Council of Ministers may feel they need to do, that means that certain schools do not have that certainty that for every year, no matter where they are, they will have 15 per cent minimum headroom.  It means that they have uncertainty.  It means that they have a lack of flexibility to make those decisions.  We are often told in the context of the hospital - which is a good example - we should be listening to our front line staff.  We have professionals in this Assembly who have been those front line staff, who know what it is like to work in those schools and to work with the uncertainty.  We also know that in Jersey, if you look at it on an average and holistically, we have a good education system, but we also have a very divisive education system.  I happened to be listening to a phone-in programme on Radio 5 Live yesterday before coming into work at lunchtime when I was at home and they were talking about the very difficult job that it is now to be a teacher.  They were talking about children who turn up to school who are not necessarily even potty-trained and who cannot necessarily expect the same level of normality that other families and other people would expect.  Quite frankly, we are seeing this increasingly in Jersey, not necessarily that example, but we are seeing a situation where many of the social issues that come from a divided Island are being transported into the classroom and teachers are having to increasingly become social workers, they are having to become psychologists, and they do that quite willingly but there is of course an impact there.  If you do not have the minimum resources and a fixed resource that you know that you can call on at any one point and you are constantly having to make individual representations to your head of year or to the head in order to get funding for individual cases that is not a good way of doing things.  Whatever our job in this Assembly, whether we are on the Executive side or on the Scrutiny side, we are all here to make sure that we make the correct decisions and to hold Ministers to account; whether we do that perhaps more privately around the table or whether we do it in the public domain as a Scrutiny member.  How can you hold somebody to account if they are having something which is essentially ethereal and completely movable, when it is just good words saying that we just want to make sure that schools have sufficient funding?  It is much easier to say: “Do all schools in Jersey have a minimum of 15 per cent headroom?”  I would suggest it is not prescriptive because you can exceed that.  So if Ministers want to be flexible they can go beyond the 15 per cent headroom; it just ensures a minimum threshold under which you cannot fall below.  I did also notice, and I know that when it comes to sentiment the Minister for Education and Deputy Ward are not that far apart because I saw her nodding her head in agreement almost in entirety when Deputy Ward was presenting his proposition.  I know that in terms of the Assembly it makes sense to be able to guarantee teachers and departments a minimum of 15 per cent headroom so that they know exactly where they are in the future.  Pupil Premiums are a great thing but we need to make sure that across the board we have that.  Just one last point, I have worked in teaching before and I had some friends in America who were teachers and it became very strange when I used to hear them saying: “We have to go to a fair today because they put on these fairs every now and again where teachers can go and we can pick up things like textbooks, pens and paper and basic things like that.”  I was absolutely shocked saying: “Is that not the basis for which you pay taxes?”  We may have completely different systems but it is almost universally agreed that you pay for schools, you pay for hospitals, you pay for roads and things like that.

[11:30]

But when teachers are having to start going cap in hand, which we are starting to see increasingly more in the Jersey context, and that is a worrying situation and that is why it is absolutely right that Deputy Ward is looking for a guaranteed minimum of funding.  That is why I think we should reject the Council of Ministers’ amendment and opt for the certainty, which is being put forward in this case by the chairman of the relevant Scrutiny Panel.

3.6.4Deputy J.A. Martin:

I stand because I just heard what Deputy Tadier said, Pupil Premium is a good thing.  Is he saying that we are going to get rid of this?  The 15 per cent is exactly the way Senator Vallois explained, why we cannot do it across the board for everything.  I was disappointed to hear that Deputy Morel does not like the amendment, he does not like our amendment, because the amendment is too prescriptive because it does not leave the Minister for Education anywhere to go, it does not leave the Council of Ministers anywhere to go.  One thing, I also stand here today, if you have been around the table at the Council of Ministers with this Minister for Education, if you do not believe that this Minister for Education has children and education stamped right through her like a Brighton rock because it says: “Education, education, education.”  I am very disappointed that people have not got it because we have and we are with her.  So I am sorry that the Deputy thinks the amendment does not go far enough.  The Senator would not have stood here today defending why she really agrees with the Deputy but just not this way.  We had so many discussions around the Council.  We have tried to be helpful, we have tried to accept every single amendment that we think has really added value.  Unfortunately, this does not.  It does not give the Minister and the Senator room to manoeuvre and that is where we want to go.  I am sorry that Deputy Morel thinks it is still a bit woolly; we are where we are again, obviously time constraints, people could have amended our amendment.  I am sorry we were a bit late in bringing it and I am not making any accusations, but one is too strong, one is a bit too woolly, there could have been a middle ground.  We did not come up with it and nor has anybody else.  So you have this amendment or you have Deputy Ward’s amendment and I say support the Minister for Education in this one.

3.6.5Deputy G.P. Southern:

I will start with saying what a joy it is to listen to my colleague Deputy Ward.  You can tell he is a scientist, can you not?  There was a case laid out precisely, concisely and logically, for what he is proposing.  When we come to choosing between a minimum - “minimum” note - we did not hear that very often from the Minister for Education: “This is a minimum.”  When I hear “a minimum of 15 per cent” versus “good funding” I think, yes, it does need a scientist because the difference between the 2 is an absolute world apart.  What do you call “good”?  I know what 15 per cent is.  Give me the figures, oh, look, 15 per cent, I can see it.  What about “good”?  Is that good funding?  Got to go all around the houses; that is woolly.  It is woolly and it should not be.  This is not too prescriptive because it says this is a minimum.  The Minister says or contributors have said it is too tight, it gives nowhere to go.  Yes, it does give somewhere to go with the word “minimum”, it means you can, if you choose, get even better and go above that.  That is the minimum funding.  It has come from a proper scientific background; it is the right funding that head teachers get taught about in their training how to do things, 15 per cent minimum headroom.  It is absolutely logical; there is no danger in voting for this.  I urge Members to vote.

3.6.6Senator S.W. Pallett:

It was important that the Minister for Education mentioned in her speech there were several other factors of equal importance that needed to be considered when you are considering headroom funding.  I quite like Deputy Ward’s proposals but headroom funding for me needs to be for pure educational uses and not filter down or used for any other purpose.  I know flexibility is a word that has been kicked about a little bit this morning but flexibility is important for head teachers if any level of autonomy is to be supported moving forward within schools.  We have given schools a greater level of autonomy in the past 2 or 3 years and that has been a really good thing, but I do not believe that having such a prescriptive amendment such as this is really what I would consider to be strategic thinking, but more the sort of level of detail that you would expect in a department business plan or perhaps as part of the next Government Plan.  There is a place for Deputy Ward’s well-intentioned amendment to ensure that schools are adequately flexibly funded and teachers do have the opportunity to amend and improve the running of their respective schools.  But I do not believe the C.S.P. is the place for such a proposal.  I will support Deputy Ward and Senator Vallois, the Minister for Education, to ensure children do come first and for me, in one particular area, it will mean finding the necessary funding to ensure that children can develop physically to the best of their ability and have adequate opportunity to develop a greater understanding of both physical and mental well-being.  But for me, Deputy Ward, bring your proposal back to the discussion around the next Government Plan or even a business plan, because, although I can see where you are coming from and I, in many ways, support what you are doing, I do not think the C.S.P. is the place for it.  But if this comes out in the Government Plan you will certainly have my support in ensuring that there is adequate funding for children, for education, and I will certainly be supporting Senator Vallois when it comes around to money discussions in the future and making sure that children do come first in our Island.

3.6.7Deputy R.J. Ward:

I just want to make a couple of comments on the amendment.  We run a risk here of making no change, just simply changing the word “good”.  I am sure that all head teachers when they are approached for money will say: “I am afraid you have to look at the whole budget; I am afraid we have to pay for everything else first.  I cannot separate up in this way.  There is no guarantee of my funding.”  This will do nothing to change that and we will be left where we are.  In terms of what is happening in terms of defining and comparing with the U.K., yes, I agree, they pay for lots of things out of their headroom.  That is why U.K. schools are in a desperate situation at the moment because they do not define their headroom funding and therefore head teachers cannot separate up.  Everything is just thrown at them and all the different pressures are put in there, which they have to make impossible decisions over.  The prescriptive nature of this is a way in which we can allow head teachers to do their job effectively and to allow school teachers and heads of department to do their job effectively.  If we vote for this amendment of the amendment it will mean that we do not move forward, we do not change.  So many of us were voted for on the platform of change and moving our education system forward and moving what we do in this Assembly forward.  I urge you to reject the amendment.

The Connétable of St. Helier:

I was simply seeking your guidance on whether Members of the Assembly who are teachers or who have partners who are teachers need to declare an interest.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I do not think so.  The headroom funding is nothing, as far as I am concerned, to do with the direct remuneration of teachers and I do not think there needs to be any kind of interest declared in these circumstances. 

3.6.8Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Really it is to reiterate a couple of points that were made earlier.  What we have tried to do all the way through the Strategic Plan, and in particular with the amendments that have come through, we have either accepted the amendments we directly can or we seek to find a way whereby with a tweak, a change, we can bring them in.  That has been the purpose.  We have tried not to get into loggerheads with anybody.  We absolutely respect the passion of Deputy Ward.  But, as Deputy Martin has referred to already, the passion of the Minister for Education as well is, I hope, visible to every Member in this room and she certainly promotes and pushes for the subject, about which she is most passionate, which is education every time it comes up at the Council of Ministers.  That is what you would expect from her.  It is very much from her direction that the original amendment prepared by Deputy Ward is too inflexible.  At this point, and this goes back to the point again, this is a high-level document.  The detail, as referred to by Senator Pallett, for example, the detail does come back in the Government Plan and it is at that point we start focusing on the numbers directly.  This is a high-level document, that is why we are suggesting that we can put a compromise in, which again raises the emphasis on headroom funding, but to put a percentage on it in a high-level document we did not think was right for various reasons that have already been alluded to, and no doubt Senator Vallois will cover when summing up.  That is why we put the amendment through.  Again, we are in the hands of the Assembly.

3.6.9Deputy M.R. Higgins:

I do not think there is a Member in this Assembly who does not want to see a good education system and I happen to believe that Deputy Vallois is genuine in wanting to see the improvements.  All I can say to Deputy Ward; I also agree there needs to be more funding at the face.  But I do agree that maybe this is not the time to be doing it.  I am not saying in this particular document and so on.  I am prepared to give Senator Vallois the benefit of the doubt and if I do not see the funding coming in from the Council of Ministers, who I am also giving the benefit of the doubt, then I will join in any campaign to ensure that it is put in.

Deputy M. Tadier:

May I ask a point of order?  Is the amendment in order?  Is it in order to specify a figure for the Common Strategic Policy?

The Deputy Bailiff:

The answer is these have now been considered as to whether they are in order or not and they have been accepted as being in order so they can be debated by the Assembly.  Very well, does any other Member wish to speak on this amendment?  I call on Senator Vallois.

3.6.10Senator T.A. Vallois:

I thank everybody who has contributed to the debate and I recognise some of the arguments because I usually make the same argument about the Strategic Plan.  I have made that argument many times over my terms in the States because it is what it is, it is a high-level document.  In returning to “prescriptive”, originally when this amendment came through to us at the Council of Ministers there was a recommendation to reject this amendment and I was not having any of it at all because I am absolutely committed as Minister for Education to ensure that we have the appropriate funding for schools.  But it is not just about headroom funding; it is about ensuring the health and safety of our schools, ensuring that the buildings are appropriate, ensuring that the children with special educational needs have the right funding, that we have the right primary care workers, even more so with regards to mental health in schools, and we need to make sure we have that right funding in the right areas.  The reason why I would not want to put a percentage in the Strategic Plan because that percentage would come in the Government Plan, and I would expect the Deputy to hold me to account at Scrutiny time and time again to determine whether I am getting those percentages and those numbers right and ensuring we are getting those figures, bringing them to the States in the Government Plan next year, to make sure we are providing outstanding funding for outstanding schools for outstanding children.  So what I would say is that I would ask States Assembly Members to support the amendment of the Council of Ministers because, although it may be seen as woolly by some people, what I can say is I will be fighting for an appropriate level of funding for schools in the Government Plan, which is where, rightly so, our financial planning comes.  But also I would say that this Assembly has an ability to hold me to account for those words, for that ability to do that, and as a Council of Ministers.  If they are not satisfied that I carry out the work appropriately, speaking to the very head teachers, and bear in mind I am a parent with children in schools at the moment, I see this day-to-day, I get asked for funding to fund creative or practical lessons as part of the curriculum.  It is absolutely wrong.  In terms of funding for schools, there is a bigger question of whether should it be in the Strategic Plan or should it be in the law?  Should there be an absolute minimum in the law in terms of ensuring funding for our schools so that there is a sustainability, not just for the next 4 years, not for the 8 years, but for the next 20, 30 years, so that teachers are not degraded in the way that they are able to support our children and constant changes in curriculum to ensure outstanding results.  So my commitment is absolute here and if Members do not believe that I would ask them that, if the funding that comes forward next year is not appropriate, is not sufficient and is not right for our education system, they have every reason and every means to bring a vote of no confidence in me.  I recommend the amendment and ask for the appel.

[11:45]

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  The vote is on the adoption of the amendment of the Council of Ministers to Deputy Ward’s amendment.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 37

 

CONTRE: 8

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.7Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): third amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(3)) - as amended

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, we now return to the consideration of Deputy Ward’s amendment number 3 as amended.  Does any Member wish to speak on amendment number 3 as amended? 

3.7.1Deputy M. Tadier:

I have realised belatedly why we have gone for the Minister’s version as opposed to something specified and that is because of course the Common Strategic Policy has to be a woolly document and by putting 15 per cent in that would have made it meaningful.  So by virtue of it not being meaningful we have to continue with a meaningless document, which is all motherhood and apple pie.  So what we have now is the motherhood and apple pie, we just do not know how big the slice of the apple pie that we will be getting.  So in these terms, in terms of this, the teachers and the head teachers of each school in Jersey know that they will be getting motherhood and apple pie, i.e. very good words from the Council of Ministers, but they will not be getting any guaranteed funding or guaranteed minimum levels of funding.  So that makes for an interesting amendment to say that we will provide good levels of financial headroom; it still remains for the Minister to define what she means by “good levels of headroom funding” so I would like her to put on record during this debate what she sees as being the acceptable minimum levels of headroom funding for schools in order for them to be good so that we can support this proposition with a clear conscience.

3.7.2Senator S.Y. Mézec:

Following on from Deputy Tadier, it is immensely frustrating in Jersey’s political system that we go through the process of spending 6 months coming up with a Strategic Plan and then have to wait even longer to find the detail underpinning it.  I have publicly stated several times what I think the solution to that is, and I am sure Deputy Tadier agrees with me on what the solution to that is; it is a fair democratic electoral system and party politics.  But since this is the debate we are having, and of course I will be voting to support this, we may have views on how wishy-washy it may or may not be.  But since I suspect the amendment will be supported by the Assembly I just want to say that in the interests of putting Jersey’s children first we have to be true to this statement and I am essentially asking the Assembly for a favour, and I am sure the Minister for Education would support this as well, is to hold us to account on this because the most difficult discussions that any Government has is on funding.  Where does the money come from to deliver this, what loses out so something else can get support for something, and we have made it our commitment to put children at the heart of everything we do.  That means a decent funded education system at all levels from start to the finish of their education.  So I simply raise the point, ask Members please hold us to account on this and make that commitment true and we can find the funding to deliver on this commitment because Jersey’s children deserve nothing less.

3.7.3Deputy K.F. Morel:

Do not worry, Senator Mézec, we will hold you to account.  There is no question.  The reason I voted for that amendment was because I do believe that our Minister for Education passionately wants to see proper funding in the education system, which I believe has been sorely underfunded for years, and that is something I expect to see this Council of Ministers reverse.  If it does not, yes, Senator Mézec, we will hold the Council of Ministers to account.  Education needs more money, our teachers need better support, and we need to see our pupils - the future of our Island - we need to see them flying, ready to take on the rest of the world, because they come from a tiny Island but we can give them one huge advantage and that is a superb education.  Over the past few years funding has been draining away from the education system and that needs to be reversed.  I expect, as we vote hopefully for this amendment, that will be the first step in seeing an Education Law, which does incorporate Deputy Ward’s amendment as originally written and it does make sure that we have superb funding - not sufficient funding - superb funding for our children and our schools.

3.7.4Deputy J.H. Young:

The last 2 speakers summed up the dilemma all of us have in this document.  All of us would wish we were able to sit here and make binding commitments on delivering all those commitments, unquestionably.  But we have to use the process we have and go step by step and so I see it is a shame to hear pessimistic views.  But I see this document as real progress and at the table I have heard real passion that children and delivering on our education system are absolutely up there.  Now I think the message for me though is the jury is going to be out about when we come to our budgets and when we come to our Medium Term Financial Plan and I put this warning now, because it says in here in every one what we will achieve in our term of office; it is a commitment and we stand or fall on that as a Council of Ministers.  So I am passionate that we should go with it but, sure as night follow day, when we are talking about our finances and looking at budgets and looking at if we have a debate on the revision to the Medium Term Financial Plan, yes, these will need to be resourced otherwise they will be empty promises.  But I am absolutely in support of the amended proposition.

3.7.5The Connétable of St. Helier:

I want to commend both the Minister and the chairman of the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel because what they have done together is tightened up what was an extremely woolly part of the policy and I hope that the chairman of the panel will not be asking me to consider my position because I did not support his amendment, because his amendment extracted from the Minister exactly the promise that we would expect her to make and we wanted her to make.  If that holds true, and for the other Ministers, thinking about Environment as well and other important aspects of this policy, then it will be improved by amendments even if they are defeated and even if the policy at the end of the day is rather more woolly than we would wish.  But I commend both the Minister for Education and Deputy Ward for their improvement of the policy thus far.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on Deputy Ward then to respond.

3.7.6Deputy R.J. Ward:

I am obviously slightly disappointed to have not got my way but that is perhaps a characteristic I have.  I am very pleased to have brought this amendment.  I am very pleased to have brought the subject about the funding of our schools right to the heart of this Assembly and when I was elected that is what I wanted to do.  I will continue to do that.  I am quite happy to bring the proposition to the change in law to make sure that headroom funding is there.  I will say a few things.  In terms of the prescription, and this is for the future, unless we start to separate the areas of funding of our schools then we will become entirely reliant upon hope in our schools to fund properly because there is no clarity in what is going on.  This would not stop Pupil Premium; Pupil Premium is a very distinct budget.  It would not have stopped the staffing budget increasing  It would not have stopped the funding for premises increasing.  This would instead have given a distinct future for the funding of the resources that are so desperately needed every single day in our classrooms.  I have also no doubt in the commitment to education that the Minister for Education has.  I have dealt with Ministers for Education before in a different role and I see a very different one, and I support you.  I am sure that you know that.  In terms of Scrutiny, I am more than pleased to have the Constable of St. Helier on that panel; he brings a great deal of experience and I appreciate that.  I would like to finish just by simply saying I really hope we can adopt this amendment because we have raised the profile.  We have raised the profile and we now, as an Assembly, have the opportunity to say, yes, we need to fund our schools more appropriately, now, into the future, if we are going to genuinely commit to children and genuinely commit to reducing inequality, genuinely educate our population and move forward to all of us.  I used to say to my students when I taught them, jokingly, but it was not jokingly: “I really want you to do well.  I want you to do well.  Not only because you will have a better future and not only because I will feel good about what I do, but you will be paying my pension.”  That was a really key feature of everything we taught them.  So I believe that the more that we put into schools, this is an investment.  Again, it is a shame we cannot have a figure, but I hope we will get there in the long time.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  The vote is on Deputy Ward’s amendment as amended.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 45

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.8Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): seventh amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(7))

The Deputy Bailiff:

The next is amendment number 7 brought by Deputy Wickenden.  It is a long amendment so hopefully Members will enable that to be taken as read.  Chief Minister, this is an amendment, which is accepted by the Council of Ministers, is it not?

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Yes, Sir.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Deputy Wickenden, it is a matter for you as to how long you wish to speak on the matter.  But of course I call on you to propose it.

3.8.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

I did not think I would have to make a speech on this today so I have not prepared anything but luckily I know my subject matter so I will be as brief as I can.  Firstly, can I thank the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers, and Senator Farnham for working with me to make sure that this was appropriate and it could be included, and for the Chief Minister’s kind words in his opening.  What I have done in this document is just strengthen some words to do with digital to include such things as eHealth in the next 4 years, certainly when we are looking at our hospital, make sure there are bits about Internet of Things, strengthening our economy through digital and digital skills.  So really what I have done through this document is just to add small parts in each area to strengthen the word about digital and I have created a common theme that sets out that digital is a common theme that goes through everything that we do in Government and in this plan.  I do not think I need to say any more than that to be honest, so with that I propose the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak? 

3.8.2Senator L.J. Farnham:

I know the Council of Ministers have accepted the amendment but I just think it is worth spending a couple of minutes just to run through the positive impact that the amendment will have on the Strategic Plan.  Part (a) reflects a digital health strategy and the fact that one of the agreed strategic priorities of Digital Jersey is the eHealth.  Part (b) references an existing strategy to be delivered in partnership between Digital Jersey and Health.  Part (c) reflects important priorities for the Digital Policy Unit in the office of the Chief Executive, for example the cybersecurity strategy that was approved by the Council of Ministers has been funded and is currently being implemented.  This particular amendment reinforces the increasing significance of this strand of work and in the face of evolving threats facing the Island.  Part (d) clarifies the existing priority in the corporate services in the Strategic Plan to the development of skills; very important, a number of departments are working together on that, and reinforces the importance of digital skills in particular.  This is an existing priority in the Education skills plan.  Part (f) adds the addition of an enhanced focus on digital, which is helpful; it is a helpful reinforcement of the need for digital skills in the future workforce.  Part (g) refers to the direct reference to cybersecurity and reflects the priority that this is given.  Part (h) and (i) references to the smart Island strategy as linked to Digital Jersey’s priorities and this is an area of focus that Digital Jersey intends to do more of in 2019 and 2020.  Part (j), again this amendment is useful in that it offers some clarification of how taking advantage of new technology can help deliver many of the overarching goals of the Strategic Plan and in turn reflects the priorities agreed in the digital policy framework.  I want to thank Deputy Wickenden for his very considered amendment to the Plan.

[12:00]

3.8.3Senator S.C. Ferguson:

I would just like to remind the Council of Ministers and Deputy Wickenden: it is all very well going on for this, that and the other, on the computer side, the digital side, but what about the people who are not computer literate.  There are quite a lot of our older population who are not computer literate, who do not want to be computer literate, and who could not afford it even if they wanted to.  So let us just not forget them and leave them out.  If we just carry on with this willy-nilly without thinking about them, we are leaving them out.  Now I am glad to hear Senator Farnham talking about cyber security.  As people know, I am interested in this, I know J.T. (Jersey Telecom) say that they are quite happy, G.C.H.Q. (Government Communications Headquarters) say they do not have anything that matters.  Well, if I was a wealthy investor with my funds here, I would very much like cybersecurity because I do not want an Appleby situation where all my private affairs are published on the internet.  So just let us remember that when we are talking about cybersecurity.  The other thing that apparently has not got through to all of the Council of Ministers is the excellent work that the States primary schools are doing in conjunction with one of our wealthy residents.  Our primary school children are learning coding; they are ahead of the game; they are going up to secondary school and the secondary people are absolutely thrilled about the skills that are coming up from primary schools.  So give the credit to the Minister for Education, she is behind the scheme, she is encouraging it and perhaps the rest of the Ministers would like to go and see how it works.

3.8.4Deputy M. Tadier:

I only want to speak to the healthcare part of this and following on from some of the comments that Senator Ferguson has made.  I do not see this as an either/or and I know that Deputy Wickenden will no doubt sum up on this if he wants to, but it is not a choice between the face-to-face primary care that people value in this community, especially perhaps the older generation who value the fact of seeing a real person when they go to their surgery or indeed if we go to the hospital.  I do have a niggling concern that a particular Government of a certain ilk, not necessarily this one, might see it as an opportunity to drive efficiencies, which are not necessarily in the best interests of the patient.  It could well be that if we are trying to drive down costs and we do not want to fully fund properly our primary healthcare service, which is something that we do need to urgently get to grips with, we must remember the Jersey context where so many individuals do not go to see their G.P. (General Practitioner) for fear of the costs that they cannot afford it.  Also the fact that there is a cost as opposed to it being presumptively free means that is in itself a financial disincentive to do something, which is already an unpleasant task for many people anyway.  So I would not want it to be seen by Government as a way of focusing on people going online to be checked out typing in their symptoms to avoid going to see their doctors.  Having said that, I think that Deputy Wickenden was right to include this specifically for the purpose that technology is advancing so fast that it may well be in the future that advanced intelligence will be able to diagnose much more correctly and in a superior way than G.P.s can, and that is already happening in certain areas.  Of course it is also worth me saying that G.P.s do not always get it right and that there are certain elements within the G.P. community who can be considered as ignorant in certain areas and dinosaurs when it comes to certain issues because they choose not to inform themselves correctly, whereas at least looking at best practice from all over the world that we can pool our resources when it comes to eHealth.  So eHealth is not specific to one particular area or one particular political way of doing medicine, it can look at best practice across the globe and then compare those factors.  It is particularly relevant when it comes to very rare diseases and we may have all heard of cases - I have certainly heard of them in my constituency - about very rare cases that would not be picked up by practitioners.  Not because of any of their own fault, but just simply they would not have come across these in their ordinary casework, but where you can share knowledge with a country, which perhaps has hundreds of millions of people and have that knowledge at your fingertips on the internet, it is perfectly understandable that this is going to be increasingly the way forward.  It is really the democratisation of healthcare that we will be seeing.  So I do not need to mention the fact that we have come a long way from the time when doctors might have prescribed leeches and trephining - so drilling holes in heads for somebody with a headache to get rid of a demon, to get rid of a headache.  But hopefully there is still room for improvement in Jersey with some of our G.P.s and some of our clinicians at the hospital who may wish to inform themselves using eHealth about what current practices are.

3.8.5Deputy K.F. Morel:

I also commend Deputy Wickenden on this amendment.  I would particularly like to draw the Assembly’s attention to part (c) where, unlike almost every other document I read about technology - and I read and write quite a bit about technology - he admits there are threats posed by the digital revolution.  I do not say that as a Luddite - I think technology is fantastic in so many ways - the problem is technology is neutral; it is how we choose to use technology that determines whether it creates opportunities or threats.  I think it is hugely important that we have in this document and as part of the Common Strategic Policy an acceptance that technology can bring threats in the way that it will shape our society, in the way that Jersey will move forward.  Just to give you some examples of the way we see it in China, which has recently in the last couple of years introduced a social credit system whereby the Government awards credit to its own population depending on how they act.  Is it in a way that the Government thinks is good?  If so, people are given credit.  So far, 8 million people have been banned from flying by the Chinese Government because they do not have an appropriate social credit score; 4 million people have been banned from travelling by train within China because they do not have an appropriate social credit score.  These are the sorts of threats that technology can bring and it is quite right that Deputy Wickenden acknowledges them in his amendment.  Carrying on with China, data from electric cars is being passed to the Government - this was heard yesterday just on the BBC News… being passed to the Government, giving it info on the daily habits of its population, so it knows where its people are at all times.  I see these as threats.  They are not the sort of things I would like to see our Government doing in Jersey and therefore it is right that Deputy Wickenden acknowledges the threats.  In Russia we have seen using social media to tear at the very fabric of our own democracies and our own societies, we have seen that in the U.K. and we have seen that in the U.S.A. (United States of America).  So by accepting this amendment we are not just saying technology is a wonderful thing that we must use in every which way that is possible, we are accepting it and we are saying that technology is something, which we must understand and use appropriately, and by accepting this amendment Deputy Wickenden has brought that in quite properly.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on Deputy Wickenden to respond.

3.8.6Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

I would like to thank everyone that has taken part in this.  I should know that when you think something is going to be very quick and easy in this Assembly it never ends up being that way but I am still learning, I guess.  I do thank everyone that got involved.  As far as Senator Ferguson, of course I wanted to make sure.  This is a 4-year plan, it has to have digital strengthened in it because that is the way we are going.  But there is plenty within the C.S.P. that talks about inclusion, it talks about health, it talks about things for people that are not digitally aware.  So I think there is plenty there, but they just needed a strengthening on digital, there was nothing I really wanted to push.  The cybersecurity strategy came out last year.  I published it.  Cybersecurity talks a lot in the strategy about helping Jersey be resilient and how we are going to help small and medium and even large businesses in their security and what we can do as a risk.  So that is what the plan that the Senator asked yesterday about cybersecurity, the document is there to try to help all Islanders to make sure that we are as resilient in the States as possible and, if in case there was a breach, that we have the right support through experts in the U.K. that can come and help us.  I am very glad that document came out and that we have it and it is part of what we are doing in Government.  Deputy Tadier, as far as eHealth I agree with you entirely.  The great thing about eHealth is that the watch on my arm does not just show a snapshot.  When you go to see a doctor the doctor sees what happens to you just then, how sick are you right then.  But with some of the technology that we have out now the doctor will be able to see how your heart rate was over the last week and other medical information, so they can see a trend of what is going on and diagnose in a better way.  It is definitely the way we are going to be going forward.  But, again, you cannot not see your doctor; the professionals are there for a reason.  Deputy Morel, thank you for your input there and I agree entirely.  There are threats and there are benefits to digital and we have to be aware as Government of them, which is exactly why I added the part in.  I do not think I need to say any more and with that I would like to propose my amendment and I do not think I need the appel.

Senator L.J. Farnham:

Can we have the appel?

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  The vote is on amendment number 7 from Deputy Wickenden.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 43

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.9Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): eighth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(8))

The Deputy Bailiff:

Next is amendment number 8 brought by the Constable of St. Helier and I ask the Greffier to read the proposition.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “, except that on page 14 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (“5 Strategic priorities”), in the section headed “What we will achieve”, after the second bullet-point, to insert a new bullet-point worded as follows: “Support and strengthen our tourism industry”.

The Deputy Bailiff:

This is accepted by the Council of Ministers, Chief Minister?

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Yes, Sir.

3.9.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

Given that it is accepted and it is an uncontroversial matter, this should not take as long.  However, I do just want to say a few things.  First of all, to say that my surprise that there was nothing in the policy - certainly not towards the start of it - about tourism, my surprise at that was I think only exceeded by a hotelier I was speaking to yesterday and when I said what we were doing in here and what I was trying to do about tourism, he said: “You mean it is not in the Strategic Plan specifically?”  I said: “No.”  He said: “Well my hotel is for sale.”  Of course it is not for sale but I think that is just an indication of how let down a local hotelier felt that tourism really is not here until you really start digging.  I understand this is high level and that we do have phrases in the second bullet point about purpose: “Deliver positive sustainable economic outcomes for Jersey.”  Well I understand that tourism is part of our economy; I think most people do, but underneath in our goals we have a dozen bullet points, including things like: “Promote Jersey’s positive international identity”, a lot about financial independence, safety and so on, a lot of inward-looking stuff, nothing there about tourism.  Then the next page: “Developing our priorities”, second paragraph: “The Island is a well-established and highly-respected international financial centre with a valued reputation for stability.”  Well we know that and most people’s perception of Jersey is of a finance centre.  In fact people unfortunately keep using the phrase “tax haven” about us, no matter how hard we try to persuade them that is not what we do.  What disappoints me is the number of people - and this will be something that many Members have shared - the number of friends and relatives who come to see us and say: “My goodness, I never knew Jersey was such an amazing place to visit.”  We are still, in spite of all the work we do and in spite of all the work that Visit Jersey does, a very well-kept secret in terms of people looking for holidays.  What I want people to know about Jersey - yes, we do financial services very well - I want them to know that we are a great tourism destination with cheap flights.  Remember how people used to say we do not have cheap flights?  Suddenly they came in and nobody ever said anything.  I never saw a single letter to the paper that said: “Well done, Government of Jersey, we now have cheap flights.”

[12:15]

We have great hotels, we have a vibrant capital, we have friendly Islanders, we are a great shopping destination, and we will come back to that when we look at the Budget, and we have a wonderful natural environment.  It is a shame that we do not blow the tourism trumpet more.  This plan should have blown it more and the purpose of my amendment is to try to correct that balance and to make sure that tourism will be there and it will be an important part of the plan as we go forward.  So I maintain the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded] 

3.9.2Senator L.J. Farnham:

I would like to agree with most of what the Constable has said and I was not the hotelier he spoke to, just in case anybody was thinking I might have been.  In fact the proposed plan acknowledges Jersey’s rich economic history and the value of all of the Island’s traditional industries, including tourism.  But it would have been simply ... well not impossible, but not appropriate perhaps to list every single type of business and industry in this plan and I hope Members will realise that Senator Vallois is not the only very passionate Minister in the Assembly about their portfolio.  I am incredibly passionate about tourism and at the heart of this Strategic Plan is the fact that we are going to develop the economy and develop an economic framework.  One of the workstreams in the economic framework, and I will say that I will be reaching out to States Members shortly into the new year with an invitation to come and see the work that has already started on putting the economic framework together and update States Members and receive input.  But it will highlight linkages between tourism, retail, transport, and other sectors, to help target our policy and make an effort on the areas where we can make the most long-term sustainable difference.  In fact yesterday the Chief Minister and I signed off the new Visit Jersey Destination Plan 2019 to 2020 and it is very exciting.  We have some tough targets; it is not going to be easy.  But we are making progress.  We are slowly but surely turning the hospitality and tourism industry around and I appreciate the Assembly’s support and I am very pleased that the Constable brought this amendment.  It takes nothing away from the original intention of the Council of Ministers and in fact it helps clarify that there very much is an intention to do more to support, not just the hospitality sector, but all sectors of our economy.

3.9.3Deputy M. Tadier:

I am happy to follow my Minister on this.  I want to speak for 2 reasons, the first of which is that I was considering an amendment and I think partly because of time and also the fact that it is sometimes just easier to talk to what your amendment would have been because, as we know, putting a word in here or there, while it can take up a disproportionate amount of time to sometimes just make the points you want to.  The first point is that we do need to reclaim the fact that we are a tourist Island.  There is a risk that the mentality is slipping away.  There are so many reasons to be proud of the fact that we are still a tourist Island.  It is one of those industries, which is different and that we can feel universally proud of, because whether we are young or old, we like to welcome people and show them the natural beauty of our Island as well as the often intangible cultural heritage that we have in Jersey, which may include things like Jèrriais; it may include some of the unique buildings that we have around the Island, the towers, the beautiful castles that we have, but it is also key to make sure that people can come here, that they do come here when they have a choice of going somewhere else perhaps, which is more guaranteed or cheaper, and we have to realise we cannot always necessarily compete on costs, but we can certainly always compete when it comes to quality.  I do not want to speak in clichés but as somebody who has travelled a little bit, and I am sure I am not unique in that, I have not found anywhere in the world that has better beaches than Jersey.  I have seen some beautiful beaches elsewhere, some warmer water elsewhere, but I have never seen anywhere that compares in terms of its natural beauty and the coastline, which we must always fight to protect.  It leads me on to the second part that I wanted to talk about, which is sustainability.  I would have liked to have put the words: “Strengthen and support a sustainable tourism industry” and I think it would have been easy for us to have adopted that amendment because we can probably aspire to it.  But there will be some tough decisions that we have to make about what a sustainable tourism industry in Jersey looks like.  It means that it will need long-term investment, it will need long-term support, but there will be some crunch points when it comes to things like the environment.  Part of the reason it was in the forefront of my mind is that I was pleased to attend a conference - and I know the Chief Minister also attended for part of that - in Andorra where the focus was on sustainable tourism, or le tourisme durable, because it was a French-speaking conference.  The 2 were really woven-in together that it was completely understood that you need to be obviously environmentally aware; that there can be downsides on your Island and your economy if tourism is not managed in the right way, and one example of that is going to be a very tough decision that we will have to make at some point about what we do with things like Airbnb.  We have a small Island; we know that we want to have a comprehensive offering in terms of accommodation when people come to stay here and we know that we need to, as far as possible, let people enjoy the rights to their property, but in the context of a small Island where we have a housing shortage we do not want to leave properties lying empty.  Questions and conundrums like that will need to be decided.  Similarly, from an economic development point of view, it would be great to just increase the number of tourists that we have in the Island.  We have a target of 1 million coming every year but we have to be mindful of the fact that there is a carbon footprint in bringing people to the Island.  I think everybody wants to see a sustainable environment, both locally and globally, but we also know that hopefully there will be technological changes in terms certainly of short flights in the future where we might see things like electric planes, so I think we need to be cognisant of all of those factors.  We need to be brave as well, so certainly from a cultural point of view I would like to make sure that we have as many of our tourist destinations open all year around; I think it is a shame that in the past perhaps due to lack of staffing or lack of funding that certain of our museums do not stay open all year around.  We need to get to the point where they do.  That will need political will, and also hopefully we will have the number of tourists and footfall there to do that.  We may also need to look at things like landing fees and landing taxes at the airport, which is partly within our gift, certainly around the shoulder months if that is when we want to increase tourism to the Island, where there is the possibility of bed space.  We need to be having those conversations about reducing or perhaps eliminating taxes in those periods because we know that when we get people to come to the Island the economic multiplier effect is there.  So I thank the Constable for that and perhaps if he could at least touch on sustainable tourism in his summing up to show that is the direction that we want to be going in to support and strengthen our tourism industry ultimately in a sustainable way.

3.9.4Deputy K.C. Lewis of St. Saviour:

I will be brief.  I have always been in favour of tourism and I have always promoted tourism.  We have seen a considerable amount of changes over the last few years, obviously in recent times even we have lost a few carriers, new carriers have come on board, but there are bargain carriers out there, so it is still relatively inexpensive to come to Jersey as opposed to a lot of other destinations.  We have lost quite a few hotels over the years, some were very tired and needed upgrading, but those that have remained - I will say that the ones I have seen - have made considerable reinvestments, into the millions, so I congratulate them for that.  Obviously, Brexit is coming so who knows, Jersey may become a very attractive destination once again in the not-too-distant future.  Who knows?  I will leave it there.

3.9.5Deputy J.H. Young:

I was not planning to speak, but Deputy Tadier is right to highlight those issues of the environmental issues, which I wish I had seen the need to do an amendment myself, but nonetheless tourism - there is no doubt that there will be some significant decisions ahead when we look at the Island Plan.  Deputy Tadier is absolutely right that choices about maintaining our countryside and our beaches in our special place to keep them special, particularly when we are facing major pressures from luxury developments in other well-known places, so I think those choices we need to be very mindful about.  Again the Minister for Infrastructure is absolutely right, we have seen very, very impressive investments in hotel accommodation but of course what has happened, our numbers have dramatically declined.  I think the latest figures that I have heard, I may be wrong on this, we have gone down from about - top - 20,000 to about 9,000 in beds.  Obviously, that is creating pressures from Airbnb and so on and I certainly have seen the effect elsewhere of where you have vacant homes, domestic homes held open for very large periods of the year because people can get more money from letting them out as Airbnb than they can from renting them as housing.  So I think that is an issue again that we need to be careful about.  Then there is also the need, while I feel very positive, to have more emphasis on sports and events tourism, which will mean investment in infrastructure as far as I am concerned, which I think the whole issue is about broadening out the length of the season to ensure that we can, within a limited bed base, sustain the number of visitors and that can only be done with that bed stock by increasing the season.  There is a risk that if we do not encourage - I think that the Constable was right to bring this - the industry and have a strategy to nurture them, we run the risk of those hoteliers bombing out and exiting and going and selling their hotels and putting them into residential development for luxury housing, because there is no question in my mind, very significant, more economic, the value is obtainable for those hoteliers.  So I think the whole case is there for sustainability and I support very much what has been said about making sure that is sustainable.  Those choices that I have covered there will probably have to be dealt with in the Island Plan policies.

3.9.6Senator S.C. Ferguson:

Yes, I appreciate the comments about supporting the tourism industry, particularly as we have 3 hotels in St. Brelade who have closed or are closing in the last 2 or 3 months; 2 for luxury flats and I am not sure what is happening to the other one.  So that is not good.  The comment about hotels opening for the year around; not all hotels are suitable for opening for the year around, if they were built as tourism hotels, summer tourism, then they will not have the insulation, the heating, all these other things that are necessary if you are going to open all year.  You have to bear in mind that January and February are pretty dead in the hotel industry.  I must confess I do have an interest in a hotel.  I am a director of the Biarritz and I might add totally non-sequitur that we do have diversity and that we have equal numbers of men and women on the board, but I will carry on swiftly from that.  The reason we have lasted I think, and this is something that needs to be encouraged with a lot of the smaller hotels, is that we annually reinvest in our premises.  Obviously, I will remind the Minister for the Environment, yes, we do need to look after the environment for our tourism industry, so please can we have the St. Brelade Bay long-term development plan before the whole bay gets full of luxury houses.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on the Connétable of St. Helier.

3.9.7The Connétable of St. Helier:

That is probably a good place to pause the debate.  Of course Members I am sure will come back to the subject of tourism in the debate on the policy once it is amended, ready for debate.  But I would not want to encourage Members to ride lots of hobby horses around the Chamber.  Yes, I would like to thank the Minister for Tourism ... sorry, I called him the Minister for Tourism, we do not have a Minister for Tourism anymore.  In fact when he was speaking I was just thinking about ...

Senator L.J. Farnham:

Can I just raise, I think the Constable might be misleading the House?  The title of my department still is the Ministry for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture for that very reason.  So I just want to make that clear.  So Jersey does have a Minister for Tourism; it is me and I am proud to be it.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I am not so sure the Assembly was misled; not knowing that Tourism was a part of your title.

[12:30]

The Connétable of St. Helier:

So, yes, the Minister says we cannot put all the strands of our economy in the policy, well when you think of the huge role that tourism plays in the economy I think it is worth a mention, particularly when you see how much we have put in about financial services.  But I have made that point before; I will not labour it.  I am grateful to the Assistant Minister for thinking of the sustainability of tourism and wishing he had put an amendment in.  I would say to him, this may sound a bit cynical, Deputy, but do not bother because for the last Strategic Policy, both as chairman of the Environment Scrutiny Panel and as a private Member, I put down umpteen amendments about the environment and I honestly do not think that made much difference to the way Jersey was run in the last 3½ years.  I am sorry, I will come back to the environment at a later point, but absolutely right, sustainable tourism is of course very important and I agree with the Assistant Minister; we need to reclaim the fact that we are a tourism Island.  I thank Deputy Lewis for his contribution.  He pointed to the importance of our links off-Island and it is true that 60 per cent of the passengers using the airport and harbour are visitors and it is important to remind local people of that because we do tend, as locals, to get rather obsessed with the difficulty of getting off the rock at times, particularly by sea, and the cost of getting off the rock by sea, but we need to remember that our ability to travel so readily from Jersey and to come home after our trips is really down to the tourist economy that supports those links and keeps them running.  I thank Deputy Young for his contribution.  Senator Ferguson, she is concerned about hotels closing, but I would remind her that we have some fabulous new ones opening and we are seeing really good signs of investment in new hotels, particularly in town, and that makes the tourism more sustainable because it reduces the need for travel.  I maintain the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 45

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.10Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2))

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now come to amendment number 2, an amendment of Deputy Ward, and ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “, except that on page 18 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (Section 5: Strategic priorities), in the list of bullet-points, after the penultimate bullet-point, to insert a new bullet-point worded as follows: “Ensure purpose-built youth facilities are created in the north of St. Helier, in close proximity to new housing developments at Millennium Park and Ann Court”.

3.10.1Deputy R.J. Ward:

I am very pleased and very proud to present this proposition because it is about improving the lives and communities at the very heart of our capital.  But it offers much more, it offers an opportunity to redefine the way in which we, as we develop and meet our housing needs, ensure that the communities that live within them have the facilities needed for the young people who will grow up into the future of this Island and determine the nature of our wider society.  For far too long the desperate need for youth and community facilities in the north of St. Helier have been overlooked, postponed or ignored.  For this reason we have to set a strategic priority to make the necessary change to make these facilities a reality.  Now, if you look up a definition of “strategic”, it is something relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and the means of achieving them.  The last part of this definition is the key to this amendment, being identified in the Common Strategic Policy.  I have no problem with the overall aims, indeed it is refreshing to see the priorities outlined, but they must be accompanied by examples of how we will achieve that are tangible.  There are 2 key areas of priorities identified in the C.S.P. that relate here, the strategic priority of protecting and valuing our environment in the wider sense and the key priority of putting children first.  Here we have the crux of the argument that I want to get across today and that I would like the Assembly to consider carefully and openly and support.  The area around the north of St. Helier is densely populated with more housing on its way - the latest figure is 117 more homes - and, regardless of the uncertainty of Ann Court, we cannot yet again kick necessary facilities into the long grass.  As children grow and become young adults, there will be an even greater need for facilities to enable supportive communities to be built and these are vital for our small Island communities.  It provides us with a particular and recognised challenge of need, but it also provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate that this Assembly is serious about its long-term aims and is willing to commit to making real tangible and successful decisions.  This amendment impacts directly for the good on a recognised area of need and sets a strategic precedent, community and housing development Island-wide, and it must not be watered down.  The counterbalance to the problem of densely-packed housing is the impact that can be made on so many by placing facilities at the heart of those communities.  If you like, you get more for your money because of the locality of that facility.  It is here that I want to point out the work of the Youth Service and those organisations, many of them, that interact to support our young people.  They are helped to do this with facilities that are in every Parish, outside of St. Helier, and in some districts of the capital.  The value of these facilities and the organisations working within them cannot be underestimated.  Socially and economically they provide superb opportunities that genuinely change the lives of young people.  So what about the cost?  First let us see it for what it really is; an investment in our future.  But let us be realisticWe will need to draw on funds and support from a number of sources if we are to do this well.  From Housing to provide its funds which will be going to St. Helier for regeneration, from funds put aside in the Strategic Plan, but also from outside agencies, companies, individuals and a range of possible sources.  This is another reason why this needs to be a strategic priority so that there is an overarching driver to bring all of the stakeholders together.  It is time to add a piece to the Island-wide jigsaw of youth facilities in the heart of St. Helier.  This strategic piece of the puzzle is vital for the long-term future of such a significant proportion of our population.  Failure to do this would equally have wider and lasting implications for quality of lives, social cohesion and long-term economic needs.  This will impact across the Island through cost and wider social impact of a generation that has not been given the support they need.  This is an opportunity to enable this Assembly as Deputies, Constables and Ministers to come together to make this happen, to enable the Youth Service, third sector, Andium, S.o.J.D.C. (States of Jersey Development Company), local businesses, wider groups and young people to see the benefits of working together and really understanding the meaning of the Government’s strategic priorities in action.  It is crucial that we consult children over these facilities and what is needed in the area and their voices must be heard; again, another priority of the Common Strategic Plan.  The drive of this specific amendment to the C.S.P. will empower us to make this project a reality, an underlying momentum that has been missing for too long but vitally for you, as an Assembly representing the Island community, it will enable us to create a model for future development that we have a strategic impact in the north of St. Helier.  It will send a clear message from the new Assembly for the C.S.P. that we are ensuring that housing development is accompanied by community and new facilities that are vital for the future.  Now I recognise the amendment to the amendment looks like it seeks to do this but we risk yet again of missing the specific area of our capital from the action that is needed.  By adopting my amendment we encompass the Council of Ministers’ amendment but with a specific and measurable outcome added in a location that has been identified by the Youth Service and the local community as a critical need.  To look at the amendment to the amendment, to be quite frank, we have actively explored in new housing developments for many years.  Outcomes have been minimal, limited and insufficient, the north of St. Helier has been ignored and we risk doing so again, or just providing the bare minimum of requirements, for example, a single room on one housing estate, which is not suitable to impact on our young people the way we need to.  We need a purpose-built facility and we need to say where it will be.  It is time to improve the living environment for this area and to put the children first in more than just words but in our deeds and actions.  I ask Members to support this amendment, reject the Council of Ministers’ amendment, and support our Island, our children and our future.  Thank you.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I beg your pardon, there is an amendment to the amendment, and I ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

3.11.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2)) - amendment (P.110.2018 Amd.(2)Amd.)

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

In the first paragraph, substitute the word “Ensure” with the words “Actively explore the creation of” and substitute the words “are created in the north of” with the word “in”.  After the words “new housing developments” remove the words “at Millennium Park and Ann Court”.

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Senator Vallois is acting as rapporteur.

3.11.1Senator T.A. Vallois (Deputy Chief Minister - rapporteur):

At the risk of the Deputy’s wrath for the second amendment, with regards to this amendment we are putting children first; it is one of the 5 strategic priorities.  The Council of Ministers are committed to improving services and facilities for young people in Jersey, making Jersey the very best place for children to grow up.  The creation of new youth facilities also aligns to the Common Strategic Policy commitment to develop great, liveable communities and the cross-cutting theme of making St. Helier a more desirable place to live.  Deputy Ward’s amendment is well meaning and aligned with key Common Strategic Policy themes but unfortunately it is too prescriptive in terms of location to ensure successful outcome.  The Council of Ministers’ amendment confirms our intent to search for suitable locations for new youth facilities and by removing a defined location it ensures that all locations can be explored, ensuring a higher chance of success.  If we are serious about listening to the voice of children and young people, we should be asking them for their views on the best location for any new youth facilities.  Accepting Deputy Ward’s amendment creates a Common Strategic Policy commitment to build new facilities but it would also commit us to where they must be built.  As the Minister for Education, I want to confirm to Deputy Ward and all Members my 100 per cent support for the Youth Service.  They really do a phenomenal job in terms of working with our children and young people across the Island.  I recognise their own call for a facility in the north of the town area to support their extremely good work which we need to consider in the capital programme.  We have an opportunity this term to embed the strategic commitment into a 10-year Island Plan that will consider all areas of St. Helier, not just at Millennium Park and Ann Court.  Deputy Ward is right to highlight in his amendment the current lack of dedicated Parish youth facilities in St. Helier.  We are in agreement that this situation should be improved.  The best way of ensuring we create any new facilities in the best location is to consider all options of location after listening to our children and young people.  The Council of Ministers’ amendment achieves that aim and I would urge Members to support it.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded] 

LUNCHEON ADJOURNMENT PROPOSED

Senator S.W. Pallett:

I would like to propose the adjournment, knowing that we have the Soup Kitchen and there is also a briefing for States Members starting at 1.00 p.m.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, the adjournment is proposed.  It is a reasonable time to do so.  Do Members agree?  Very well, the States stands adjourned until 2.15 p.m.

[12:43]

LUNCHEON ADJOURNMENT

[14:18]

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, we continue with the Council of Ministers’ amendment to Deputy Ward’s amendment number 2.  It was proposed and seconded; I have Deputy Wickenden to speak.

3.11.2Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

I was going to stand up before lunch but will say today I am confused about the amendment and the argument for the amendment.  There is nothing in Deputy Ward’s proposition or amendment that talks about “only” or “prohibitive language”.  It says that we will do it in these areas which are the highest concentration of flats and people that are living in these areas.  Nothing stops the Government and Council of Ministers from continuing to build the same kind of services in other areas at all, so what is the need for the amendment; it is not prohibitive.  So I am just confused about this amendment and the argument that says by being prescriptive in its wording that we would not be able to do it anywhere else because I do not see that in the Deputy’s amendment.  The Deputy’s amendment tries to focus it in an area where we have the highest concentration of building and people living but it does not say “only” in there at all; it just says these are a “priority”.  So, I am confused about that and I just wanted to stand up and make that comment.  Thank you.

3.11.3Deputy J.H. Young:

I think I can answer the Deputy’s question.  There is no doubt that the amendment we have from Deputy Ward is very good in principle.  In fact, what he has done, he has added to the list of the bullet points on page 18, the environmental objectives of the new C.S.P. which already includes access to open and green space for purposes of improved health and well-being, particularly in relation to children.  But of course, not only to children, because there is no question that in our future Island Plan we absolutely need to provide for more open and green space, and particularly in the built-up areas.  Because we have a situation of very, very high housing density and for many years, as long as I can remember, we have failed to meet the national guidelines for open space and yet we continually see very dense new housing developments.  Yet, there is some good news because things have started to turn around.  We have now Andium coming in with reduced-density housing developments, indicating there has to be both a recognition in our built spaces, we need to make decent living spaces, so we have that already in our plan.  Of course what Deputy Ward’s amendment does, it seeks to make an additional commitment, an extra bullet point in, for the creation of a purpose-built youth facility.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that, 100 per cent agree.  Obviously, there are many issues that will flow from that: what type of facility will it be?  Not in the least is: where is the best place to put it?  There are lots of potential locations and I think these are clearly issues that in my view the proper place to resolve them is part of our planning processes, as part of the Island Plan.  It would be great if we could simply pass one document like this and set ourselves a complete blueprint for every single detail; not many do.  I think it is a high-level plan, and it has to be, so I think the amendment we have from Deputy Ward is good but what the Council of Ministers’ amendment seeks to do is to remove or to change the discretion of giving us the general capacity to be able to have a broad plan in the Island Plan for doing that for the whole of St. Helier.  Now, in my view, we may end up with more than one facility.  For example, we may have a purpose-built building in one place, I think looking at probably things like ball parks for young people for playing and so on, and other facilities around the town.  Indeed, I would even go so far as to say I would be looking at purchasing land to increase open space, so some new land to go in on the fringes to help that.  But I think there are all those options and I think the thing is, that is the future.  That work is going to be done because it says “we will achieve”.  So while I am there as the Minister for the Environment, I will do my absolute utmost to make sure we achieve that.  It is one of my main platforms when I stood for election as Minister that we have got to concentrate on our urban areas and urban improvements.  We have created some very hostile environments, in my view, which desperately we need to improve upon.  Yes, open space, yes, a new facility but, please, give us the flexibility in our planning process ... and planning processes, do not forget, are going to be dependent completely on consultation.  We have to work with the communities.  In many, many experiences of trying to find suitable locations before starting these projects it is not always easy, you need good processes.  The Island Plan with stakeholder engagement and all sorts of groups will eventually, I think, produce some really quality proposals.  So, it is saying, yes, they have got to be close to housing; absolutely right.  I think the amendment of the Council of Ministers is a constructive one, it is not intended to dilute it; I cannot remember which Member said that.  It is meant to help it and make sure that we have got the right ingredients, additional ingredients in the Strategic Plan that the Council of Ministers can deliver on.  I will undertake to give my absolute best to make sure the urban area does achieve those achievements.  So I recommend strongly, ask Members to vote for the amendment to the amendment.

3.11.4Deputy R.J. Ward:

It is very interesting that there has been a history of flexibility when it comes to Island Plans, North of St. Helier plans, which may end up with some sort of facility somewhere near the vicinity if it happens but we are not sure, and this is the problem.  I believe the first Minister to propose this was James Reed and that was some time ago and nothing has happened.  Nothing has happened since.  What we are doing again is watering-down and removing the commitment that is needed for the centre of our capital, desperately needed in the most densely-populated area of our capital, or one of them, and it is not there.  This does not stop other developments going on.  Indeed, in my speech, and I am quite happy to give it again if you want to listen, I mentioned that this is a blueprint for what could happen with other housing developments.  So, indeed, what I have done is to incorporate the generality of the Council of Ministers’ amendment.  So I ask you to commit not to generality again which does not serve the centre of St. Helier, and I warn it will not serve any other area of the Island when you have such generality.  It will come up with no outcomes, no accountability.  This does the opposite.  This is part of the Strategic Plan because we need so many different areas to be involved.  The generality of this amendment really waters it down and it will be a huge disappointment for the people of the north of St. Helier and for the Youth Service and for those young people who desperately need this facility.  I urge you to reject this amendment.

3.11.5Senator S.W. Pallett:

I suppose, as with Deputy Ward’s previous amendment, you have got to ask whether the feeling of this is that it is strategic enough, and I argue probably this one is.  Does this amendment put children first?  Absolutely, yes, it does.  As the Minister for Education said: is it trying to make Jersey the best place for young people to grow up?  I think this supports that need.  This amendment, though, unlike the previous Council of Ministers’ amendment to the third amendment, I am afraid for me is just a watering-down of what is a reasonable proposition.  Although it highlights purpose-built youth facilities in St. Helier, it does not cater for the dire need of young people in the north of St. Helier.  I agree with Deputy Wickenden that this amendment is certainly not prohibitive.  When you look at what is happening in the north of St. Helier, and we have had questions yesterday about the north of St. Helier and what might be going on in and around various sites, it is going to be a hot bed of development, there is no doubt about it, there are multiple sites, both private and States-owned.  It is important that young people are catered for within that particular area.  I know from my own experiences with my own youth club, or what is now the Constable of St. Brelade’s youth club, although we both share a passion for it and an interest in it, having a youth club in the centre of an urban area is absolutely vital.  I can remember back a few years ago when we had all sorts of antisocial behaviour issues around Les Quennevais, the role that the youth club played in helping to assist that.  It did not solve it on its own, it solved it with various other organisations, but it was vital being situated where it was in dealing with some of the issues of that particular time.  Thankfully, those issues have not returned anywhere near the levels that we had at that particular time.  The Minister for Education mentioned about the opportunity for asking children their view.  There is nothing in this amendment that says that cannot still happen; they can be asked.  There is nothing in here that is specific about site, it says “close proximity to”.  So we are not asking to stick it on a specific site, and that is strategic enough for me to not support this amendment.  The health and well-being of all Islanders, but especially children, needs to be at the heart, I think, of all planning applications, the Minister for the Environment I hope would agree on that, but especially major housing developments which we are going to have several of in that area.

[14:30]

You could ask the question: if we were going to amend this particular amendment, why not, rather than just say facilities in St. Helier, say facilities in Jersey?  Because that would be even more strategic but they have not done that.  But I do support youth facilities where they are needed and it is clear for me, whichever way you look at it, youth facilities are going to be needed in the north of St. Helier.  I totally support Deputy Ward in what he is trying to achieve here and I do not support the amendment to his amendment.  I would urge Members not to support it and stick with the amendment as it is currently shown, as Deputy Ward has got it in his amendment.  Thank you.

3.11.6The Connétable of St. Helier:

A former English teacher rises to the defence of a former science teacher.  I almost called Deputy Ward a geography teacher which would not be good, with no, obviously, offence to geography teachers anywhere.  Yes, this amendment from the Council of Ministers, I want to focus on what they are doing with the verbs rather than with the adverbs or prepositions.  In other words, I am not really so exercised about the difference in meaning between “in close proximity with” and “in the north of” because I think that is not important.  This is not so much about the siting, it is about whether the Council of Ministers are committing to deliver a much-needed youth facility in the north of town in the next 4 years or not.  My reading of the proposition if amended by the Council of Ministers gives us this wonderful phrase “actively explore the creation of”.  If we analyse that for a minute, you wonder what exploring is like if it is not active.  Passively exploring anything sounds incredibly half-hearted to me and I do not think will get us anywhere, and “the creation of” again does not really get us anywhere.  You might actively explore the creation of a youth facility and come up with a nice document but you would not be any closer to delivering the youth facility.  So, I think the Deputy is right to object to the amendment because it does not deliver within the plan, or the term of the plan, it does not deliver purpose-built youth facilities.  Left unamended, the Council of Ministers must ensure that they are created.  Not explored, actively or passively, but created.  So they have to deliver them and that is going to push this project way up the Council of Ministers’ agenda, indeed, where it should have been in the last plan period, which I have already referred to, having tried to amend it and seen no action taken.  In fact, of course, the previous Council of Ministers put St. Helier way up there and gave it a bullet point for itself but it did not yield an awful lot, so I think the Deputy is absolutely right to stick to his guns here.  I would hope the Council of Ministers would withdraw their amendment because to introduce such bland language - and I apologise to whoever invented this phrase “actively explore the creation of a youth centre” - into a document we are going to have to live with for the next 4 years I think will be a pity.  I would urge them either to withdraw it or for a majority of Members to back the Deputy.  Thank you.

 

 3.11.7Senator S.Y. Mézec:

I am pleased to follow my Constable and I just want to start by congratulating Deputy Ward on this amendment.  This is, I think, a great example of a constituency representative raising this sort of thing, speaking up for the people they represent, and it is good to know that my former constituency is in good hands.  The only thing I would say that I disagreed with him in his speech to propose his amendment is that he only focused on 2 of the priorities of the Strategic Plan when in actual fact I think this fulfils all of the strategic priorities.  Of course it puts children first, of course it supports environment, particularly the urban environment, but this is going to improve Islanders’ well-being and mental and physical health by having access to these sorts of facilities.  It will improve the standard of living for people who live in one of the most densely populated parts of the Island and, yes, it will support the economy as well, if only because there will be a construction firm that will get a good job out of it but you might argue that is tenuous.  Just on the off-chance that it is an interest I have to declare, I will just state that I do of course live in the area, so this would be work that would be going on near where I liveI have claimed an exemption on the amendment to the amendment from the Council of Ministers on the basis that I have a very long-held constituency position on this from when I served as Deputy for St. Helier No. 2 for 4 years.  Some have disparagingly called me the Senator for St. Helier but I take that as a compliment.  When I was Deputy, I argued very strongly for more community provisions in St. Helier, in particular we were looking at the Le Seelleur building which is the building that is falling apart on the corner by the Millennium Park, which would have been absolutely the perfect place for these sorts of facilities.  I do not know if the ship has sailed on that one, I hope it has not, but if it has something certainly has to be done.  I lived in London for 4 years and I personally do not have a problem with urban areas being built up because I think built-up areas can be quite exciting and they can be good places to live.  But if you are going to have built-up areas, you absolutely have to have the right infrastructure there to support the people who are living there, you have to have green and open spaces to support people’s well-being, and you have got to have good community provisions so that you can reach out to all the people in those areas and help meet their needs.  It is a fact that there is a dire need for better community provisions in that part of town, especially when there are so many housing projects that are due to be built in that area, not just the proposed development for the Millennium Park, which I was delighted to see published yesterday, but also Ann Court.  Let us not forget, there are private sector proposals for the Play.com warehouse site as well.  There are going to be hundreds and hundreds of new properties in that area.  I do not know of any other part of the Island that is quite getting that scale, so I think it is right that we focus on this part of St. Helier and not necessarily have a wider focus like that.  So, right now the Youth Service does provide a portable facility which I know regularly gets used in the Millennium Park; I often walk past it on a Friday or Saturday evening.  That is great but it is not enough.  I think about last week when I went to the St. Peter Youth and Community Centre for a cup of tea with the Constable of St. Peter and we had a good chat.  I am always immensely jealous when I go to the St. Peter facility because it is a great facility and it is a really good community hub for the people there.  It gets used all the time, whether it is for public meetings or events for young people.  I know that lots of the other Parishes as well have really good facilities too, but the north of town has nothing.  The nearest facility it has is the St. James Centre, and of course that is a brilliant centre as well but it is an Island-wide centre; it has got a focus on arts and music.  It is absolutely brilliant but it is for people across the whole Island, not exclusively people in St. Helier.  We should be focusing on this part of town.  I do not think it is good enough to say “just St. Helier” because there are parts of St. Helier that are well served.  There is a brilliant youth club in Grands Vaux, there is a good youth club in First Tower as well.  La Pouquelaye does not have a great building for its youth centre but the provision they deliver there is good and that is something we need to look at improving in future as well.  So I am supporting Deputy Ward’s amendment.  I ask Members to reject the amendment to the amendment because it is right that the focus is on this part of town that is going to see a lot of change in the next few years.  I want us to commit to improving the standard of living for those people and put Jersey’s children first by delivering them brilliant facilities to help them in that part of the Island.  I would further say to that, that as we have these discussions in future, I think we should also be true to our pledge to listen to Jersey’s children and young people, commit that we will provide them a facility and ask them what they want that facility to do, where in the area do they think is a good place for it, access to what activities would they like to see delivered from there.  I think the amendment from Deputy Ward ticks every box possible and what the amendment to the amendment does is undo some of those ticks.  So I ask Members to reject the amendment to the amendment and support Deputy Ward’s amendment.

3.11.8Deputy M. Tadier:

The first point to make is that there is already sufficient flexibility, I feel, within Deputy Ward’s proposition, his amendment, without it being further amended by the Council of Ministers.  It does not specify a particular building or an exact area that needs to be developed or used; it says that it should be in close proximity to new housing developments at Millennium Park and Ann Court.  It has not come out of a vacuum, it is because there has already been a body of work done in this area and Senator Mézec has mentioned the Le Seelleur building.  When I think of the Town Park, and let us think back to the debate where there was a very knife-edge vote, it has to be said, and it could have easily gone the other way were it not for the, one might call it “divine intervention” of an inanimate object or through an inanimate object of the ring binder, which we all know about which is States folklore now, and that is the reason we have a Millennium Park.  I suspect we would not have had a Millennium Park today if it had not been for that decision even though there was an alternative on the table saying: “We have just got another way of doing it.”  It makes me question whether there is still a ministerial aversion to dealing with and being firm and resolute about investing in our very town centre because that has been completely transformed now from the old Gas Street Car Park that it used to be.  I had someone bend my ear, strangely enough, in the summer over it saying: “Oh, but you voted to get rid of that car park.  My son used to use that car park, it was really good for him.”  But I hope that most people would recognise that what has been done in that area is very beautiful and it is really widely appreciated and I think it is still a work in progress.  From a personal point of view, I was lucky growing up in a part of Les Quennevais where our house just opened on to the playing fields.  I think I can remember the fields being built; I certainly remember big loads of mounds of ground there which were put out for the playing pitches and the rich facilities we had, as well as a very good and active youth club at Communicare, along with all the other things that went on, with the scouts and I think Boys’ Brigade, more particularly, were based out of Communicare.  So there was a vibrant and active youth engagement in that area which I think the whole of the constituency benefited from and also the wider part of the Island.  What Deputy Ward is doing here, he has recognised a distinct need which happens to be in his constituency but will not only be appreciated by those living in the district.  What I would say, and I would echo the words of the Constable of St. Helier, because the exact same thought process went through my head: what is the opposite of active?  It is going to be passive, so passively pursue.  I think this is a time for us to be bold.  It is recognising the fact that we have put children as one of the strategic priorities and that I am also keen to note the fact that he is amending it in a part of the same document which talks about enabling Islanders to lead active lives and benefit from the arts, culture and heritage.  I think by using the word “ensure”, we as an Assembly can make a firm commitment today, albeit in our strategic priorities here, our Common Strategic Policy, to say that, yes, we recognise this is a developing area of town which does need continuing T.L.C. (tender loving care) and if we think about why the Town Park has been put there and why places like the Freedom Church have also been very successful in recognising that there is a building there.  It is more than just a church; it is right in the heart of the community and it is a facility which is already doing good and really useful outreach work but of course they cannot do it on their own.  The facilities and the services that the church put on are not going to be for everybody and I think there is already a good core there to justify this proposition that is being put forward.  So I am pleased to hear that it has the support of the Constable of St. Helier and also Senator Pallett who I know as a former Constable in St. Brelade was very active, often quietly, but working behind the scenes and very supportive of the youth facilities there.  I know that with these 2 individuals involved, including others who are very supportive, we can get something together in relatively short order to make sure that we have great facilities in the heart of St. Helier but not just for youths in that constituency but for the many young people who do come to visit.  Can I just say one last point; it will save me speaking in the main debate?  It is a personal gripe that we do not have enough basketball facilities in Jersey outdoors.  As a sport that I used to play when I was younger, I cannot remember the last time I have played basketball outdoors.  If I ask Members to think about how many golf courses there are in Jersey, we can probably name quite a few.  Admittedly, we are not comparing like for like - they tend to be private members’ clubs - but you can go and play golf.  But if you want to play street basketball, it is very difficult to find somewhere where you can just turn up that is not part of a school facility.  Having travelled abroad, I have been to Berlin, you go to Alexanderplatz, you can get your basketball, you can go and play in a public facility there.  You go to Nantes, they have got basketball courts which are part of the public sphere which have been incorporated into an artistic monument but where you can still actively play basketball.  I can talk about this more but we need some of those areas.  So you have your skate park; in the Town Park we put one basketball ring in the middle of a football pitch so you cannot play both at the same time.  Until recently they also put a skateboard ramp in the middle of the basketball court so that you cannot do anything in it.  Hopefully it has changed, hopefully it is more user-friendly now, but we really need to stop thinking about youth facilities just as an add-on and building it right around everything we have.  So today we can be bold; I do not think we need to use the word “actively explore” in the way that we might like to actively explore a hospital.

[14:45]

But we need to be able to ensure that we can be a can-do government and build something in an area where it is vitally needed.

3.11.9Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat of St. Helier:

A couple of months ago now I took an opportunity, along with a few of my colleagues, to go with Andium to visit Ann Court to see what was going on in that particular area.  We took the opportunity to go and stand on the roof of a building and it is quite eye-opening to see how large that actual site is if you stand on the rooftops.  From that perspective, one of the people that was with me on that day, who happens to be sitting in this Chamber, said to Andium: “Well, this is all very good, we are going to build lots of housing; however, what about school facilities?  What about these facilities?”  But primarily, as Deputy Ward has brought forward today, is: “What about facilities for the people that are living within that area?”  Now, I think it is right and proper that if we are going to build housing, and there is a lot of housing, that we build more than a room within that facility, and we have a reasonable facility for the youth but also as well, of course, during the course of the day those facilities could be used for other groups as well.  Senator Mézec mentioned La Pouquelaye.  La Pouquelaye is a good site; however, it is in need of significant repair but there is also a continued use of that facility and it is becoming finite.  I know for a fact that one of the groups that uses that facility is being asked to look somewhere else.  So, when we are considering whether we do or do not put this on top of our priorities, we do need to make sure that we are building the right things in the right places.  I certainly will be supporting Deputy Ward’s proposition today and rejecting that put by the Council of Ministers because I do think that we do need to have a facility in the area or close proximity of Ann Court and Millennium.  Thank you.

3.11.10Senator T.A. Vallois:

Before we continue, can I ask whether the Assembly would be agreed to withdraw the amendment of the Council of Ministers?  [Approbation]

The Deputy Bailiff:

Well I get the impression from the foot-stamping that there are not going to be any difficulties.  So you wish to withdraw the Council of Ministers’ amendment?

Senator T.A. Vallois:

Yes, but if I can also just answer some of the comments, if possible, because we have had a good debate and I think it is important that we give some guarantee to Members in terms of this particular position.  But I am happy to come back on Deputy Ward’s amendment if that is more appropriate.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Well, it seems to me that would be more appropriate.  If you are going to withdraw, then the debate on this should come to an end but Deputy Ward’s, the debate is still open on his amendment.  If you have things that are relevant to that, you can say them then, Senator.

Senator T.A. Vallois:

Okay, thank you.

3.12Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): second amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(2)) - resumption

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, then that is withdrawn and we come back to the debate on Deputy Ward’s amendment.  Does anyone wish to speak on the amendment? 

3.12.1Senator T.A. Vallois:

I think it is appropriate for me to state, we have just had a discussion about the debate that has been going on, and what we tried to achieve here as a Council of Ministers was looking at ensuring that the whole of housing developments recognised a need in terms of youth facilities for the whole of St. Helier, not just the north.  We absolutely recognise the need, I certainly recognise the need as the Minister for Education.  This has been going on for an extremely long time.  As Assistant Minister for Education in 2011, I remember visiting the Le Seelleur building with the then Minister for Education about turning it into a community facility.  It would have been absolutely the perfect place to have it in terms of producing the Millennium Park following that.  It would have been the perfect place, absolutely, but this has been going on for a long time.  In terms of the former Minister for Education which has been referred to, Deputy Reed, I would like to just withdraw the comments that there was no commitment there because the facilitation of producing St. James Centre was done during that time.  The Sounds workshop at the time was absolutely awful in terms of facility provision for the Youth Service.  So there have been things done but it just has not been done as quickly as I think we would all desire and so I thought it was important for me to respond in that vein.  The Council of Ministers recognise the comments that all Members have made today in terms of the need, in particular for the north of St. Helier.  As a former Deputy of St. Saviour No. 2 who used to spend her childhood walking through the north of St. Helier, going into town and out of town, I absolutely recognise the need for this.  We have lost Aquila Youth Club, we have lost Seaton Youth Club, I am aware of our Youth Service requiring and needing the appropriate facilities to support our youth.  They do a fantastic job in terms of inclusion and support around all the needs of our children from every area within our Island.  So I throw completely my 100 per cent support behind Deputy Ward and I look forward to working with him to ensure that we find the appropriate space.

3.12.2Deputy G.P. Southern:

It is nice to have sensible decisions arrived at one way or another.  I say a “sensible decision” and I focus specifically on the placement of this facility.  Go to the north of Millennium Park, look at the streets: 2-up 2-down, 2-up 2-down, 2-up 2-down.  No front gardens, on the street.  The flats that are going to be built there are all going to be exactly that: flats.  Lots of them; again, no space.  The breathing space, the only breathing space, the green space, is Millennium Park.  But we see, and it will be, the hundreds of extra young people, certainly hundreds of families of young people, in that area.  What are they going to do?  Go and hang around in the park?  No, let us get this facility; it is specifically chosen for the very right reasons that that is where the people are.  That is where the kids are and that is where it is most useful.  So a wise decision to take on this particular area; it happens to be my district but that is neither here nor there.  The park, while it is good, is not enough.

3.12.3Deputy K.F. Morel:

Yes, to pick up on what Deputy Southern was saying and also Deputy ... Senator Vallois - my apologies, I am getting people’s titles wrong today - the north of town is an incredibly child and young person-unfriendly area.  I think sometimes, as Senator Vallois pointed out, improvements have been made to youth facilities in the north of St. Helier but they have taken a long time.  The problem there is we only ever get one childhood, so the long time that started 10, 20 years ago, entire generations of children have basically passed through without access to decent youth facilities.  I used to live up in Almorah Crescent, in the very short period of my life when I did not live in St. Lawrence, and you walked up Midvale Road and you see the height of the exhaust pipes from cars and where young children are walking, if they are being pushed in their buggies, their heads are the same height as the exhaust pipes on those cars.  You look at teenagers and where they are having to hang out, it is either Springfield Garage or it is various other street corners.  There is nowhere for them to go.  Yes, we have a park but Senator Mézec was absolutely right, it serves certain purposes, it does not serve all purposes and certainly in the rain it is absolutely useless.  So, when I first encountered Deputy Ward’s amendment, I was, as some people suggested, a bit concerned and I did express this to Deputy Ward that it was not strategic enough.  But we have gone through those arguments and I am persuaded that we do need to specify the north of town because, as Senator Vallois said, things have taken time and we have not seen enough improvement to that part of St. Helier.  It is probably the most densely populated part of the entire Island.  Probably more people live in that part of this Island than anywhere else and yet those children - there may be parts of St. Saviour which are more densely populated; I do not know - but those children, they have to look after themselves.  We are storing up problems if we do not give them these facilities.  So, just to bring it very quickly, I do urge you all to support this proposition and make sure that the Strategic Plan does highlight the need for these services in the north of St. Helier.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on Deputy Ward to respond.

3.12.4Deputy R.J. Ward:

First of all, I would like to thank the Council of Ministers for withdrawing the amendment of the amendment.  I think it is a very forthright thing to do and I much appreciate that.  Any comments I made regards previous developments, I really did not mean it that way, but I speak with passion and sometimes perhaps too much, although I am not so sure.  I am very, very pleased that we have had this debate, and it is a genuine debate, and we have made valid points across the Chamber about the importance.  I want to take this opportunity as a sum up, so to speak, to really point out the work the Youth Service and those people who work with the young people on our Island.  [Approbation]  Because the impact they have on changing lives and ensuring that people do not end up going down the wrong paths and, therefore, if you want to be utterly economic about it, saving us thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds and the right sort of futures for these young people should not be underestimated.  I hope that today that we do vote for a specific facility which is so needed in the north of St. Helier so that we can let the Youth Service do their work, and the other groups do their work, and really impact upon communities that desperately need it and improve the lives of those people.  I would like to add that it does not stop other areas being developed.  Indeed, I would suggest that [Interruption] it provides a blueprint.  If I can use one scientific term before I go, this is a catalyst for future developments of youth facilities and community facilities because when we get our communities together across the age ranges, our society improves.  People have better lives and that benefits everybody.  I urge you to vote for this proposition and I thank you for your debate.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 43

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.13.Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.) - as amended

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now come to the first amendment which is that of Deputy Tadier.  My understanding, Chief Minister, is this is accepted by the Council of Ministers if the Council of Ministers’ own amendment is accepted.

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Yes, Sir.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Deputy Tadier, I understand from the running order you accept the amendment of the Council of Ministers and it seems to me, given that that is a relatively small change in the words, it might be appropriate to take your amendment as read with the amendment of the Council of Ministers.  Would that be acceptable to you?

Deputy M. Tadier:

Yes, I am very happy with that if Members also are.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Yes, of course, if any Member does not want that to happen then we will deal with it in a more formal way.

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet of St. Saviour:

Does that mean we can speak or ...

The Deputy Bailiff:

Yes.  It means Deputy Tadier will still propose his amendment but it would be proposed as amended by the words in the Council of Ministers’ amendment.  So there will not be the opportunity to challenge the Council of Ministers’ amendment; that will be taken as accepted by Deputy Tadier.  Very well, I ask the Greffier to read Deputy Tadier’s proposition, as amended by the Council of Ministers.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “except that on page 20 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (Section 6: Common themes), in the paragraph headed “We will work in partnership with Parishes, churches, community groups, the third sector, volunteers, businesses and key stakeholders” after the word “churches” to insert the words “faith groups”, and after the word “businesses” to insert the words “trade unions”.

3.13.1Deputy M. Tadier:

I think words are important and it was clearly important to the Council of Ministers that the word “churches” be specified, which is perfectly fine and understandable if that is something which they wanted to be included.  I had some early concerns which I did raise with the Council at the time.  There was a point at which Assistant Ministers were consulted and my concern was always that it was superfluous or rather that it also had the potential to omit other key stakeholders in our community who are religious groups.  So, for example, in our constituency of St. Brelade No. 2, we have a very active synagogue.  We know that nowadays in St. Helier there is also a mosque and there are clearly going to be more religions out there than just churches which tend to focus on the Christian tradition and perhaps also on the Church of England because we know that that is already captured by the Parishes.  So I was quite happy that faith groups should also be included and I do not have a problem with churches being singled out because I think the argument can and maybe will be made that obviously churches have a longstanding tradition and current input into policy making in the Island just as any other civic groups do have.  I am also pleased that the words “trade unions” have been specified as well.

[15:00]

It is perhaps quite topical at the moment that perhaps in our deliberations it is important to make sure that all groups are recognised, especially the ones which do tend to have already established roots and mechanisms for engaging with government.  So I am pleased that we are able to include trade unions, churches and faith groups within the ambit of those who we will be consulting with more generally.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well, you move the amendment then, Deputy Tadier?  Is it seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment?

3.13.2Deputy L.M.C. Doublet:

I want to thank Deputy Tadier for bringing this amendment because we have been talking about equality increasingly more in this Assembly but we rarely talk about balancing the rights of the religious with non-religious.  I really think it is quite interesting that churches were singled out and now faith groups and, of course, it is absolutely right that we consult with churches and faith groups and they represent their congregations very effectively.  Indeed, faith groups have been the dominant social group for centuries but if we look at the makeup of our society today and the recent statistics, around 40 per cent of adults in Jersey have no religion at all and among the younger age groups up to age 34, the majority of that group have no religion.  So I wanted to take the opportunity while we are talking about stakeholders to highlight a newly-formed group on the Island, one of the aims of which is to advocate for the beliefs of the non-religious.  The Channel Islands Humanists was established a few months ago and is in contact with hundreds of members locally but represents and advocates for the large proportion of Islanders who are non-religious and therefore do not have faith groups to make representation on their behalf.  Channel Islands Humanists is a branch of Humanists U.K. and has the full support of this wider organisation which in turn is informed by input from hundreds of the U.K.’s most prominent philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers and experts.  Humanists U.K. serve the non-religious across Great Britain by campaigning on key issues and making submissions to consultations and government departments.  Indeed, in Westminster there is a group of 100 M.P.s (Members of Parliament) who are part of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, so the non-religious are well represented in the U.K. and I would like to see the same in Jersey.  I know our Chief Minister has had experience of communicating with the Channel Islands Humanists in his former role as chair of the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel and I hope that he found them helpful and constructive in forming policy at that point.  Channel Islands Humanists are very keen to constructively engage alongside other stakeholders.  I would seek a commitment today from the Chief Minister that he will recognise the importance of secular belief groups such as the Channel Islands Humanists and add them to his list of stakeholders and indeed encourage his fellow Ministers to do the same.  I would be grateful if the Chief Minister could respond to this before the debate closes on this amendment.

3.13.3Senator S.Y. Mézec:

Just very briefly, and also speaking as a non-religious person myself, I think it is very important that we recognise the role of all faith groups in Jersey because they do play an incredibly important part, in particular looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  I know many of the church groups that I have interacted with in St. Helier have done very great work supporting people; providing debt management courses, is something I know I am aware of; being involved in food banks and that sort of thing, but I would also point out the very, I think, impressive role that the Catholic Church played in helping Jersey’s Muslim community establish itself before they were able to set up their own mosque.  I think it is important to recognise that, because it feeds into our common theme of nurturing and promoting diversity in Jersey, so I think that is important to do.  On the inclusion of trade unions, a quick declaration, I am a member of Unite the Union but I think that it is right that the role of trade unions in our society is recognised and governments should, I believe, interact with them much more often than it has done in years gone by to learn about what government can be doing to respond to the struggles or the needs of ordinary working people.  Trade unions do have excellent expertise when it comes to identifying some of the problems that people have at work that would not necessarily be recognised by the industry leaders who are speaking from the other end there in many ways.  It is right that we go and speak to industry leaders to find out the issues industries face but it is also right that we speak to workers’ representatives to understand some of these issues that directly affects the lives of people who often do not have the means to speak out for themselves.  Obviously this is going to be very topical in the coming months but I think not just when it is related to the public sector pay negotiations but more broadly in terms of improving the standard of living. I think we should be engaging with trade unions much more often.

3.13.4Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Just briefly, to pick up on a couple of points that were made.  We thought we would address some of the concerns by including the expression “key stakeholders” on the end of the groups of people we are looking to engage with.  I hope that addresses some of the comments made by Deputy Doublet as well.

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet:

Can I clarify?  So is that a commitment to work with Channel Island Humanists as part of the key stakeholders?

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

Where appropriate, yes.  I will put it again, there are going to be different groups at differing times, is what I am trying to say.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on this amendment?  I call on Deputy Tadier to respond.

3.13.5Deputy M. Tadier:

If I can thank those who have spoken.  I think to sum up, is just to say that nobody in our society, no one group has the monopoly on policies or ideas.  I think it is important, clearly, and this may just be a truism or slightly pithy but it is worth saying nonetheless, that it is important to listen to all groups and not to come with any prejudices about what they might be saying, so to look at what the substance is of what they are saying rather than saying: “Oh, well, why are they saying it?” or: “They would say that anyway.”  As a trade unionist myself or somebody who at least has some buy-in to that kind of philosophy, we often get tempted to look at history and say: “Well if it was not for the trade unionists we would not have a minimum wage, we would not have a maximum-hour working week and all these hard-won ideals that are now currently the mainstream.  I think that is essentially true but it also is true that if it was not for the collaboration between certain religious groups like, for example, the Quakers or the Methodists or the Rowntree Foundation working together for often progressive causes, that all this would not have been made.  It is also important to recognise that we should not treat these groups as homogenous so when we get lobbied, for example, over same-sex marriage, it was quite clear to note that we did get some very strong lobbying from one side of the religious spectrum, if you like, saying: “You could not possibly do this” but there was also strong leadership shown from across the religious spectrum, not just the Christian spectrum, saying: “There are strong reasons why we must do this as an Island and as a Government because it is the right thing to do.”  I think when we listen to that plurality in our society that is when we are strongest.  So I am very pleased that the Council of Ministers have come around to the fact that it is quite possible and appropriate in some cases to single out certain areas that need special highlighting but to make sure that where there are groups, and if those groups are the Humanists, for example ... and the key thing here I think is when individuals with a sole voice or a single voice do not feel as if they are empowered or likely to be heard, it is important that they do feel that they can come together with like-minded individuals and have their voices heard whether they are of a faith group, a civil action group or of a non-faith group.  So I maintain the amendment and ask for the appel.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 41

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.14Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018): eleventh amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(11))

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now come to amendment 11 which is the amendment of the Connétable of St. Helier.  I ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “except that on page 20 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (“6 Common themes”), in the section headed “We will work in partnership with Parishes, churches, community groups, the third sector, volunteers, businesses and key stakeholders”, at the end of the list of bullet points, to insert a new bullet point worded as follows: “Working to achieve fairness in the delivery of services to the public which does not disadvantage St. Helier ratepayers when compared with the ratepayers of other Parishes”.

The Deputy Bailiff:

My understanding is this amendment is also accepted by the Council of Ministers, in which case, the Connétable of St. Helier.

3.14.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

Yes, I am very pleased that it has been accepted and I thank the Chief Minister for that.  I do not know if I ought to let on that it was not going to be accepted.  I must say, I took the Chief Minister aside and I pointed out to him that it was in the last Strategic Plan and it was approved.  So that raised a very interesting question: what happens to all the promises in the last Strategic Plan when we adopt the new one?  Do they fall away?  I thought the safest thing was to make sure it was in the new Strategic Plan, as I have explained in my report.  The fact that it was going to be omitted or opposed did give me some concern.  Obviously, the composition of the Council of Ministers has changed since the one Senator Gorst had all those years ago.  But what I will say in support of the Council of Ministers’ position which they have changed is this, that I have never had so many phone calls from a Chief Minister as I have had from the present one.  In the last few weeks while we have been looking at the Common Strategic Policy and the Budget, he has rung me up to talk about things.  I find that refreshing because I have served under a number of Chief Ministers and before that Presidents of Policy and Resources Committee and I have never known this level of engagement and consultation and I think it is welcome.  [Approbation]  I have to say that mitigates or perhaps removes the danger I might have of being somewhat cynical in proposing this amendment because nothing happened in the last 3½ years.  The unfairness that the ratepayers of the capital have to bear these extra costs that no other ratepayers do, or if they do they bear them to a lesser extent, that unfairness was never looked at.  But I am more hopeful than I was 3½ years ago, I believe that it will be looked at and the fact that it is in the policy, I think, makes that even more sure.  I am not going to open it up any further than that.  There will of course be some Members who do not get it, who still do not get it, and I will be happy to deal with them if they express that.  I will deal with their queries, I will deal with their misunderstandings if they raise them during this debate, but as I say I welcome the new approach by the Chief Minister.  I welcome his engagement and I thank him for accepting the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded [Seconded]?  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment?  Those in favour of adopting the amendment kindly show.  The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 41

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.15Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): sixth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(6))

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now come to amendment (6), which is that of Deputy Wickenden and I ask the Greffier to read the amendment. 

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words: “Appendix to this Proposition”, insert the words: “, except that on page 22 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22, under the section heading: ‘4 Ongoing Initiatives’, in the paragraph headed: ‘A States Assembly and Council of Ministers that works together for the common good’, after the words: ‘States Members;’ insert the words: ‘the way in which we engage the Public in the work of the States Assembly;’.”

The Deputy Bailiff:

According to the running order this too is accepted by the Council of Ministers?  Yes.

3.15.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

I have just added this small amendment in.  I do not think there needs to be much about it.  It is in the ongoing initiatives and it is about public engagement.  One of the things we have got to do in this Island is try to get people more engaged in what we do in the Assembly and get their opinions, things like e-petitioning is a good start that we have done, but it needs to be in the Strategic Plan.  I do not need to say any more than that, and I propose my amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is it seconded [Seconded]?  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment?

[15:15]

3.15.2Deputy M. Tadier:

Simple, and effective, hopefully.  I would like to know what the Deputy thinks about the possibility of having an elected Speaker in the States Assembly as a way of engaging with the public about the work that is done by the States Assembly and Members might think: “Why on earth is he trying to shoehorn this in to a debate about the Common Strategic Policy?”  Well, it is because, of course, Deputy Wickenden is specifically talking about how we engage with the public.  I know he is one of the Members, and hopefully he is not the only one… we should all be concerned about voter engagement and voter turnout, not just voter engagement but public engagement, because most people in Jersey are non-voters.  In most Parliaments it is the role of the elected Speaker of the Assembly to actively engage and to do outreach work with schools, with civic groups and to go there and be a champion for the Assembly.  One of the ways that we can do this, which I wholeheartedly support, and that is why I will be voting for Deputy Wickenden’s amendment, is to continue the work and the fight for us as an Assembly to be able to have the maturity and, I think, the word “self-loathing” was used in a different debate about the Islington left, but I would hope at some point that we could stop being a self-loathing Assembly and start to accept the fact that we have got the ability to make our own decisions and to choose who our Speaker from our number should be, because that is the democratic norm.  One of the benefits of that is that we can have a Speaker who can go out in Jersey and beyond to represent the Assembly.  That is notwithstanding, Sir, this is not a slight at you and I know that you will not see that, but I think it is a political decision that needs to be made, that hopefully can be made in this Assembly, and it goes hand in hand with what is being asked by Deputy Wickenden, is what my belief is.

3.15.3The Connétable of St. Helier:

I am delighted to follow Deputy Tadier into this area.  I was going to bring it up under my amendment where I am looking for the reform of Jersey’s Legislature, but I think he has done very well to shoehorn it into this amendment and having recently returned from my first British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly visit to Westminster, where we were welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons, I absolutely agree with him that the role of the elected Speaker is important and it is something that we need to sort out.  There was a bit of a sigh on this side of the Assembly when Deputy Tadier got up to speak.  I think it was more the subject of his speech than the fact that he got up to speak, because there is certainly a feeling, I think perhaps among the majority of the Connétables, that we should not be discussing these matters.  It is electoral reform and we should not be discussing whether we need an elected Speaker or not.  It is for that reason that when I saw the Common Strategic Policy in draft completely independently of Deputy Wickenden I was sorry to see no reference to electoral reform in this document.  How can it be not right up there at the top of our priority list?  We may be right in thinking that the majority of Islanders have not much interest in these matters, but we know, because we do this for a living, how important it is that Parliament in Jersey is run on proper, modern, democratic lines and that is why it is important that we have this debate.  It is important that the work carries on in the next 4 years and that we give every encouragement to the Privileges and Procedures Committee, on which I sit happily, to bring forward these reforms, because we need to drag ourselves into this century and this is, I think, one way that we can do it.  I welcome the amendment and fully support it. 

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on Deputy Wickenden to respond.

3.15.4Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

I was almost going to end my proposition opening there by saying: “and I look forward to the inevitable speech by Deputy Tadier” but in amendment number 11 he did not make a speech for the very first time in this sitting, so I did not think I needed to, but thank you for your question there.  I have got another amendment coming up that talks about electoral reform and the importance of it.  In this I am talking about public engagement, but I am going to say now, in pre-emption of the question that will come during the electoral reform, I am the vice-chairman of P.P.C.  We are looking at the electoral reform.  We are doing reviews, and I will not speak about anything that may pre-empt what is going to happen in P.P.C. right now, so I will not answer the question on the elected Speaker because it would put me in a wrong position in my work as P.P.C.  But I carry on and I hope that will not stop Deputy Tadier or my Constable from voting in favour of this very good amendment, and I propose the amendment and ask for the appel.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  The Greffier has opened the voting.

POUR: 41

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.16Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10))

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now come to amendment number 10 which is an amendment of the Connétable of St. Helier and I ask the Greffier to read the amendment.

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

After the words “Appendix to this Proposition” insert the words “, except that on page 22 of the Appendix to the Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (“4 Ongoing initiatives”), in the section headed “A States Assembly and Council of Ministers that works together for the common good”, after the words “consultation with the States Assembly”, to insert a new paragraph worded as follows: “We will work to achieve voter equity and the reform of Jersey’s legislature”.”

3.16.1The Connétable of St. Helier:

I was just getting warmed up on Deputy Wickenden’s amendment and I note that there is an amendment to mine, which I really have to allude to, which is to replace the phrase “voter equity” with “fairer representation”.  Now, call me a pedant, but I think there is a difference between “fair representation” or “voter equity” and “fairer representation” because “fairer” of course is where we are now in a gerrymandered system, to something less gerrymandered.  It is not voter equity; it may not be voter equity.  It may be just a slight improvement.  If I could just be permitted to talk a little bit about gerrymandering, because I know that last time I asked the Chief Minister, I think it was when he was standing for office and I asked him what he thought about the fact that we have a gerrymandered system in Jersey, and he did not like the term and he said: “We are not gerrymandered.”  According to my research the word “gerrymander” is a portmanteau word and it is made up of 2 parts, as they normally are: Gerry, who was the Governor of Massachusetts in 1812 who withdrew the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to favour his party.  Unfortunately when it was withdrawn it looked like the mythological salamander and so the word “gerrymandering” was born.  It is, of course, to manipulate the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favour one party or class.  A further piece of information, gerrymandering is most common in countries where elected politicians are responsible for defining constituency boundaries, which is what we do, or do not do, I should say, because we have had a number of attempts to achieve voter equity.  That is where everybody’s vote has the same power at the ballot box.  We have had a number of attempts to get away from the fact that in Grouville the single Deputy represents a similar number of people to St. Lawrence, where there are 2, or when the Constable of St. Mary votes he or she - it used to be she and now it is he - is giving voice to a far fewer number of electors than when I press my button to vote.  So voter equity is important.  By refusing to alter our electoral boundaries so that we have the same number of electors in every constituency we have effectively gerrymandered our electoral system.  That is why I believe that voter equity is important and that is why I am not really happy to have it watered-down.  I think that we should determine today, or during this debate if it goes on to tomorrow, it may get people going, that we will tackle this in the next 4 years and the Council of Ministers will make it an absolute priority that we will be, like our sister Island of Guernsey, able to say that we have voter equity and everybody has the same power at the ballot box, regardless of where they live.  I maintain the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]

3.17Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)) – amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)Amd.)

The Deputy Bailiff:

Now there is an amendment to the amendment brought by the Council of Ministers and so I would ask the Greffier to read the amendment

The Deputy Greffier of the States:

In the first paragraph, substitute the words “We will work to achieve voter equity and the reform of Jersey’s legislature” with the words “We support the work of P.P.C. in working towards an electoral system that provides a fairer representation to voters across the Island”

3.17.1Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré (The Chief Minister):

I will address a couple of the further comments that I will deal with at the end of my speech because I think it is probably easier but obviously I want to thank him for bringing his original amendment and again for highlighting the need for continued focus on the reforms to increase both equity and engagement.  We, as the Council of Ministers, understand his passion.  No one could be ignorant of that, I would say, and we understand his underlying intentions in bringing the amendment.  However, and bear in mind as well that obviously achieving an implementation of an electoral system across the board will be a concern for Members, any commitment to electoral reform must surely acknowledge the role of the Privileges and Procedures Committee who are appointed by this Assembly to lead on such issues and which I would hope the Connétable, as a former chair, would acknowledge.  Now, we also emphasise, obviously, the C.S.P. is a strategic document.  It is meant to be a high-level document mainly for the Government.  It is meant to provide a foundation for the formation of government policy and to act as a touchstone for the work of the Council of Ministers.  Therefore not only I, but the majority of the Council of Ministers, do not believe it would be appropriate for the Executive, for the Government, to propose changes to the structure of this Assembly or the electoral process.  That should be a matter for the designated bodies of this Assembly.  That designated body is P.P.C.  To be honest, I think you would be open to quite significant criticism if the Government laid in front of this Assembly the proposals for changes to the system.  I think that would give rise to the criticism, potentially, of a gerrymandered system.  The issue around whether one is going to achieve a fair or fairer, well, I am not going to argue on those words too much because I am sure there are enough English teachers in here or teachers who will pick me up on the words I use.  The point being, is one going to achieve an absolutely fair system?  I suspect there will be winners and losers, whatever comes through, whereas could you achieve a fairer system and therefore an improvement?  The conclusion was hopefully yes.  I think that is the summary.  I am not entirely sure about the references to Guernsey, I cannot remember the numbers they have included, I think it is 38, looking at the Members around me, so an election of 38 Senators is going to be somewhat interesting, I suspect, in terms of the logistics and I will watch with interest.  I am not entirely sure if that is the best analogy we have.  What we can say, and I can say from bitter experience as I have said, I think, I was going to say “the only” but I am going to be cautious and say “one of the only” Members who has achieved any reforms in this Assembly in terms of electoral process.  That was effectively setting the foundation for having all elections on the same day, and I cannot remember how many years ago that was.  So we are not anti-reform, but that did take quite some time to come through, and there have been consequences as a result as well.  So we know from bitter experience, those of us who have been in the Assembly before, that changes to the election system are not easy, they are usually contentious and they take a lot of time to sort out.  But very clearly there is a passion and that we may see later today.  There is passion, there are views, all sorts of arguments that will come out on that front.  Is that something that the Government should be doing, or is that something that the Privileges and Procedures Committee should do?  We were very firmly of the view that it should be the latter, because that is the role of the designated body, and that is why we are saying we support the work of the P.P.C. in working towards, and I think that we thought that was the appropriate wording to use in the context of the rights and privileges, for want of a better expression, of this Assembly.  It is P.P.C. and it is their responsibility to bring things forward to Members.  That is why we put the amendment that way round.  I hope Members will support that view, but we will listen with interest.

[15:30]

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is the amendment seconded?  [Seconded]

3.17.2The Connétable of St. Helier:

I shook my head because I thought I caught your eye and you would think I was seconding it.  I take the Chief Minister’s point, that it is P.P.C. who has got to do this work, but the Council of Ministers’ amendment could have read: “We will support the work of P.P.C. in working towards voter equity in Jersey” and because they have equivocated, that is why I am not accepting the amendment.  Of course it would be P.P.C. who does the work, but it is not a matter of who does it.  It is a matter of what you believe in, and what I wanted the Council of Ministers to indicate was that they believe in voter equity.  Now, the Chief Minister has said that it is difficult, it is contentious, it is slow, we may not get there, and I would say aim high, Chief Minister.  Aim for the summit.  Let us say that we can achieve voter equity in 4 years’ time, and if we have not, then of course at least we can say we tried but if we only aim halfway up the mountain then perhaps we will only get a quarter of the way up.  I do not want to split hairs.  I think that the amendment is unnecessary.  Who does not believe in voter equity?  It is a bit like saying: “Who does not believe in democracy?”  They are quite closely linked, and I would urge Members to reject the amendment and to let us all, whether we are in P.P.C. or not, set our sights on the summit of achieving this basic democratic goal, particularly as we move next year to celebrate the centenary of female suffrage in Jersey.  These things matter.  They mattered to Jersey people a century ago when women were given the right to vote, and they matter to people today, particularly when they vote in some parts of the Island, they know that their vote does not count as much as it does if they lived somewhere else, and that has got to be wrong, and it is a matter of fundamental belief, which I think we should all endorse.  I recommend that we oppose the amendment.

3.17.3Deputy M. Tadier:

I heard a rumour once that this was a debating chamber, but maybe I was mistaken, but I stand at least to give some support to what the Constable of St. Helier is trying to do, because this is a long-fought battle and I am not a St. Helier Deputy, I am a St. Brelade Deputy.  Mathematically and statistically we are lucky; we are one of the few Parishes that have exactly the right amount of representation.  We have 4 Members out of an Assembly of 49, which is exactly what we should have, given our population.  That is not the case for St. Clement.  St. Clement is the smallest Parish in the Island geographically, but it only has 2 Deputies.  It has only got 3 representatives.  St. Brelade has got 4, yet you are bigger than us, St. Clement.  What is all that about?  How do these representatives of St. Clement go back to their constituents every election time with that on their conscience and how do they vote for a system of inequality, when their constituents and their parishioners are under-represented in this Assembly?  How do the 10 St. Helier Deputies do that?  Well, they do not, because every time something comes up most of the St. Helier Deputies vote for greater representation and greater fairness, and unless we are going to set our sights on the principle, and this is a high-level document, this is about principles and aspirations.  We do not say: “Let us give a reasonable or adequate education to our children”.  I am presuming it says that we will provide excellence for our students and we will strive for excellence in every part of public life that we are aiming for.  It does not mean that we will achieve it every time, but unless you aim for it you are not going to get it.  I am sorry, I had to pop out for a comfort break, so I do not know if anyone has already quoted from Animal Farm yet, but we know the quote I am going to say, which is: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” and in Animal Farm at least the aspiration started off correct, and then they decided that they were better off walking around on 2 feet rather than 4 and that there was something to be said for inequality after all.  When it comes to representation in our Island, we know that the most beloved position - and I cannot fully understand it - is that of Senator.  I think part of the reason is that people know that wherever you live in the Island, this is of course not a debate about electoral reform but it does touch on it, people like the system because they understand it and there is an equality of representation, even if the voting mechanism arguably leaves a lot to be desired.  They know that you get one vote, or you get 8 votes and the people that you vote for, the one who gets the most will get in and it does not matter where you live in the Island, if you live in St. Helier No. 2 next to the Town Park, or if you live in the sparsely populated area in one of the cueillettes of St. Ouen you still get the same vote.  It is equal, and that is before we get into the gerrymander system that has become Deputies and Constables, which is historic and it is traditional; I accept that, but it is not fair.  So we need to aspire to a principle and that aspiration has to be voter equality, if not for the fact that it is a good thing to do and it is democratic, but because it is what is expected of us internationally.  If we want to continue to be upstanding members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie and the British-Irish Council, all these international bodies that are democratic organisations, we need to start aspiring to the correct principles.  So let us go with what the Constable of St. Helier put down.  He knows why he chose those words.  They are the correct words to aspire to, not some watered-down version that the Council of Ministers is putting forward.

3.17.4Senator S.W. Pallett:

It is absolutely right that the role of P.P.C. is acknowledged within the process.  Absolutely, and the Constable of St. Helier realises that.  We are not suggesting, or I do not think he is suggesting, that Government proposes any changes.  Clearly that is not correct.  It is the role of the P.P.C. to do that, but Government supporting work to achieve voter equity is something I think we should be supporting.  Improvement might not be enough.  To meet international standards I think significant change is going to be required.  We all know what true voter equity might mean and the public have only recently voted in a referendum to retain the Constables in this Assembly, but it should not stop this Assembly having the aim of true voter equity.  We must all believe, and I cannot believe there is anybody in here that does not believe in voter equity.  If not, you would really have to ask why some of us are here.  We have dodged making significant changes towards voter equity almost every time an opportunity has come along.  My guess is that we are likely to do it again, but let us at least start at the point where we believe in it, we support it, we work towards it, we are prepared to be bold, and not just, and I do not point my finger at any one particular individual, think about our own self-preservation.  I cannot support the Council of Ministers’ amendment and I urge democratic Members to support the Constable of St. Helier’s amendment to this Common Strategic Policy.

3.17.5Deputy K.F. Morel:

I am in the rather unusual position, perhaps, of feeling that neither of these amendments really hit the mark.  They both have failings, but speaking specifically to this amendment to the amendment, it is too open.  It does ask only for some work towards.  It does not ask for a final goal, and unfortunately it was suggested in an earlier speech that voter equity is some sort of ideal, something which could perhaps not be attained.  That is not correct.  Voter equity is something that is easily proven, is mathematically proven.  You have it, or you do not have it.  This amendment speaks as though it is something you can sort of have.  It is not something you can sort of have.  The words “working towards” as I have said, you move an inch and you have achieved that goal, you have worked towards it.  “Providing a fairer representation”, it is fair or it is not fair?  If it is only a little bit fairer again you have moved an inch and you have not got there, and for those reasons I think unfortunately this amendment does not stand up.  It does not mean anything and it certainly will not achieve anything, so I suggest as well that this amendment be rejected.

3.17.6Deputy R.J. Ward:

May I just point out, it strikes me that the amendment from the Council of Ministers is included in the Constable of St. Helier’s amendment because it simply says: “We will work to achieve voter equity and reform of Jersey’s Legislature”, difficult to say.  Whatever work the P.P.C. does is absolutely fine.  It can continue.  It can be adopted.  It can be used and the outcome will be the same.  I think the amendment to the amendment is absolutely unnecessary in this case, because the work is going on and it will just support the amendment from the Constable of St. Helier. 

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak?  I call on the Chief Minister to respond.

3.17.7Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

I have to say that was certainly a shorter debate than I was expecting in the context of today.  I take some of the points that were made.  I think it is arguing a little bit around words, but also around what one is committing to.  The difference, I would suggest, if we are looking at voter equity at the extreme end of the argument, is that probably means, as I think the Connétable alluded to, that all Members become Senators, we remove all Parish representation and that is probably a fair representation.  The alternative is that you work within the existing system and you improve matters so that you have better representation and that will be fairer, recognising that there will continue to be anomalies as population changes within the different Parishes and Districts that we have, and it ties down to how strong we are around things like the Parish system, about Island tradition and all that sort of stuff.  I have heard those arguments a huge number of times over my 13 years now in this Assembly.  As we keep going it really comes down to the view as to the Council of Ministers very much felt it was the work of the P.P.C. to work on that basis and to improve the system, and that is the fairer representation.  It is semantics, but we felt it rather important that Government itself should not be doing that, but that the Government should be supporting the P.P.C.  That is what we are intending to do and I make the amendment.  The appel, please.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel has been called for and I invite Members to return to their seats.  I will ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 22

 

CONTRE: 18

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

 

3.18Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): tenth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(10)) - as amended

The Deputy Bailiff:

Very well.  We now return to the debate on the Connétable of St. Helier’s amendment as amended by the Council of Ministers.  Does any Member wish to speak on that amendment?

3.18.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

In speaking in support of this amendment, I think that if you cannot honestly say and mean the phrase: “Every voter should have an equal vote” without finding weird caveats or clutching at straws then you are not a democrat, and it is as simple as that.  This matters and it is really basic stuff.  Countless people have fought and died for our right to vote.  One hundred years ago women were getting tubes stuffed down their throats with gruel poured into them in prison and were dying of it because voting matters.  I think that it is absolutely outrageous and frankly embarrassing that in 2018 we still have this gerrymandered undemocratic electoral system.  I know that some people feel uncomfortable when myself or the Constable of St. Helier use the word “gerrymander” but it is the appropriate word to use in this context.  It may not be gerrymandered by design but it is certainly gerrymandered by negligence for the fact that it has not been reformed since 1948 and the reason that it has not been reformed is because successive States Assemblies have not been able to put aside their self-interest to vote to abolish their constituencies and replace it with something that is fairer, that will be more reflective of what the population wants.  I find that just so embarrassing, that previous iterations of this Assembly have not been able to grasp that.  I have voted to abolish my constituency at every opportunity I have been given and I will continue to do so.  I am the Senator who will vote to abolish Senators if it is being replaced by something fairer.

[15:45]

I hope that many of the newer Members of the Assembly will take on that view, that it is the public’s say in our democratic system that matters, not protecting our own privileged position.  That is the problem, that privilege tends to perpetuate privilege and we have got to try to defeat that.  Just one basic statistic here.  St. Mary has one States Member for every 800 people.  St. Helier has one for every 3,000 people.  By no stretch of the English language can that be described as democratic or representative.  It is no wonder that voter turnout in St. Helier is lower than the rest of the Island, and this is the analogy I always use.  Would you continue to go and watch your football team play if they were only allowed to play with 7 players on the pitch, while every other team was allowed to continue with 11?  Of course you would not.  You would stop going because you know they were going to lose every time.  You would not bother engaging with the system if that is how it was.  It is not right that depending on where you live in the Island the value of your vote is different.  It is undemocratic, it is wrong and it has got to change.  I think in many ways it is deeper than just that principle, because we can come up with systems that have equal votes but they may still end up being dysfunctional.  We could adopt the soon to be Guernsey system of everybody elected in one constituency, and good luck with that.  I will be watching and probably laughing in 2020 seeing how they manage there.  It is simply unmanageable.  We could move to having 49 single seat constituencies and then watch as half of the membership of this Assembly is elected uncontested in rotten boroughs, which is what would inevitably happen and it would deprive voters of having a genuine choice at the ballot box.  There is no reason why we cannot have a completely fair electoral system and maintain the Parishes as the basis for doing that.  The 2013 Electoral Commission showed that that is completely possible.  You do it with a sensible amalgamation of Parishes together into Districts, or in St. Helier’s case cutting it in half because it is the biggest Parish by some distance in the Island.  That would be in line with the Venice Commission, which is the code of good practice that we are meant to look to, to help guide us to make sure that we have equal votes.  Just remember what it is called, it is called a code of good practice, which means if you are in breach of it you have bad practice.  Some say that the Venice Commission gives permission to have over-representation for some Parishes because it has a clause in it that talks about tradition and old boundaries.  I am sorry, but it does not.  That is not how the Venice Commission works at all.  It says: “The maximum deviation from the average should be 15 per cent and only in exceptional circumstances should you breach that” whereas a voter in a Constable election in St. Mary has a vote that is 20 times as much as a vote in St. Helier.  That is not catered for in the Venice Commission.  It is simply wrong to say otherwise.  I worry what message this sends out to the rest of the world, where we have an overcomplicated system that people are pushed further and further away from.  I will say more on this in the debate coming up on Deputy Wickenden’s amendment, but the work that has been done in recent elections to try to re-engage with the public, the work that has been done to get the hustings put online, the information that has been posted to voters’ homes, undertaken by the Greffe, has been absolutely fantastic but it has had absolutely no effect whatsoever.  Election turnout in the last election was 1 per cent higher than in 2014; 1 per cent, despite everything else that is going on.  The message that we should surely take from that is that it is not working.  We have got to do something different and in supporting this amendment and hopefully when the time comes supporting a proposition for electoral reform that may well see our constituencies changed or abolished but replaced with something fairer would send out that message to the public that their vote does matter, it is worth engaging with the system and they will get the Government that they deserve as a result of it.  Anything less than that is not democratic and I think that we embarrass ourselves by coming up with all sorts of convoluted excuses for why the current system should remain when frankly it is a shambolic mess.  I support this amendment.

3.18.2Deputy M. Tadier:

I think you can tell people how they can vote and you can tell them where and you can tell them if they are eligible to vote, but you cannot tell them why to vote.  You have to give people a reason to vote, and I think Senator Mezec’s analogy there, about the football team, is quite correct.  For too long people in Jersey, depending on where they have lived, have seen a system that is rigged against them.  They cannot structure Government.  There is no way of them voting in a certain way to achieve which Government they get.  That is just the way that we work in Jersey, but on top of that there is a lack of representation for certain areas.  So part of me is disappointed that we could not agree on what should be the universal aspiration to have equity at the very heart of our electoral system.  I remember when I was actively campaigning as part of Option A and Option A was to divide the Island up into 6 along Parish boundaries, so you amalgamate Parishes, there was no suggestion of dividing Parishes up and then putting half of a Parish with another Parish, et cetera.  All the Parishes maintained their parochial integrity.  Compromise had already started there.  The sensible way would not have been to do that.  The sensible, mathematical way to do it would have been to divide the Island up into whatever denomination you wanted to and then do it mathematically and then have a boundary commission that looked at it independently periodically to make sure that it worked.  The compromise has been made because we recognised, and whoever was designing this recognised, that Parishes form an integral part of the material of Island life but of course they put another 2 options on the table with it.  They put an Option B that said: “Let us have the same but with fewer Deputies and 12 Parish Constables” that produced a worse distribution of representation.  It got quite a lot of support from some Members in this Assembly who actively campaigned for that.  It was an interesting campaign.  The first few weeks of it, it seemed pretty neck and neck.  People understood the argument, we need a fair system, and it was only in the last few days when I was out in King Street I actively heard people say to me ... I was saying: “Well, you have got to support Option A, it is the only one that is sensible, it is the one that gives voter equity” and I remember a young person, probably my age or younger, said: “But I do not want equity.  I do not think St. Helier should have equal representation” and then that is when the penny dropped.  There are people out there who do not believe in voter equity in the same way that people do not believe in reducing income and equality.  They think it is okay to have the situation where part of the Island, if you are rural, you should have an advantage, you should have more representation in the democratic Parliament of your Island because presumably you are better.  If you live in the country you have probably worked harder, you can afford a better house, you have got more space, you appreciate the country, you must be somehow materially better, maybe morally or ethically better than those who live in the crammed urban or suburban areas.  I hope that is not how people felt, but that young person who came to me on that day had no qualms about perpetuating and even exacerbating a system that was already broken and highly inequitable.  No debate would be complete without a reference to Glencoe, so just like when you go up to Glencoe and you get 2 lots, they both look identical, you cannot really tell them apart and the auctioneer says: “Come on, who wants to bid on this one?  This is an excellent vacuum cleaner” and it goes and then you realise: “Oh, I have missed my chance for that.  Somebody else has bought it” and he says: “Do not worry about that because the next one is even better.  If you can bid for this one, it has got some advantages to the other one.  That was a couple of years older.  This vacuum cleaner has got bells and whistles on it” not necessarily literally, so let us look for the silver lining in the Council of Ministers’ amendment.  The advantage that it has is that it does not just talk about equity in the purely mathematical term, and I hope that remains at the forefront of the deliberations of the Assembly and the P.P.C.  It also talks about fair representation.  The reason that voter equity on its own is not satisfactory is that I or any of us could design a system that gives perfect mathematical voter equity.  Let us take an example where you divide the Island up into 6 and you have 7 representatives per District.  The way in which you choose those representatives is by rolling some dice.  You roll the dice and then you decide who your elected Members are.  That is perfectly equitable but it is not fair because it is not an accurate way of reflecting the will of the people.  I think we can all agree on that, it is perfectly equitable, but it is not democratic because it does not reflect the will of the people.  It would probably produce equal or possibly better results but that is irrelevant.  It may not.  The purpose of the election is obviously first of all to choose who is in your Assembly and, second of all, who forms your Government, but there has to be some kind of democratic mandate about that.  What we have been silent on virtually up until now is our electoral system, the voting system, and this is something that the Electoral Commission back in 2011 - it has been a while, 2013 - talked about.  They said: “You need to look at your voting system.  You need to look at the alternative vote and you need to look at the single transferable vote.  Whatever system you have, we recommend changing that” so we know, for example, I do not want to labour it too much, but why not, we are talking about electoral reform.  If you have a single seat constituency and you have 4 people vying for that seat, you know that it is not a mathematically sound way to choose the winner of that election by using first past the post, because you cannot guarantee that the person who wins that seat has the backing of all of the people or the majority of the people in that constituency.  It will probably be that they have the backing of 35 per cent of people in that constituency, and you have no way of knowing how the other 65 per cent would vote if they had a yes or no choice against that individual.  That is why we do not use that system ourselves in the Assembly.  We do not choose our Chief Minister like that.  So if you have 3 or 4 candidates for Chief Minister you will not use first past the post.  You will have a round system or you could alternatively have the alternative vote.  It would achieve exactly the same result and it would make sure that whoever the Chief Minister is has the backing of the majority of the Assembly.  We use a system for voting in our public elections, which we would not even use ourselves as an Assembly, so the voting system that we have out there is completely unfit for purpose.  I encourage the new Members, if they have not done so already, to go back and read the Electoral Commission.  I think it was Dr. Andrew Renwick who spoke about that and chose why it is demonstrably unsound, especially when you are voting for multiple seats, when you are choosing 8 Senators, it is completely unsound to have a first past the post system where the votes can be swung towards a large minority voting group.  I just want to put that point on the table.  We do not want to get completely obsessed with voter equity.  It is a necessary condition for fair elections but it is not a sufficient condition.  We need to have a proper and fit for purpose voting system.  When we have electronic voting, i.e. electronic voting either in the polling stations, which should be entirely feasible now  There is no reason why we could not do it next year.  When we have it online - that is a big if - there are still security issues, but we should be looking at both of those issues about fair methods for elections and choosing choices as well as equity.  If there is to be a positive point here, at least the word “fair” is more comprehensive than the word “equitable”, so let us work towards both of those principles as we work.  I would specifically direct those remarks to the P.P.C.

3.18.3The Connétable of St. Saviour:

I would just like to make a historical observation here.  Yes, the ladies did get the vote 100 years ago, thank goodness, but it was nothing to do with equality.  The reason they were suppressed in the first place, it was men did not want to have women anywhere near the voting system.  The men were the ones who ordered them to be force-fed, rather than make martyrs out of them when they did not eat.  It has always been a suppressing by men, nothing to do with the area you were in and where you were standing and how many votes in the equality.  It was men that did not want the women in the States or in the Government, wherever they are, and 100 years on, we still have a slight problem with you men, because you do not want us to be able to have our own money.  The tax system still needs to be done.  [Approbation]  It has got nothing to do with voter equality and: “Let us have the same amount of representation in each area”, it is you men who do not want to share.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Could I just mention, this has been of course an extremely interesting debate up until now, but it is straying quite far from the Connétable of St. Helier’s amendment, as amended by the Council of Ministers, which is simply to work towards an electoral system that provides a fair representation to voters across the Island.  Perhaps if Members could keep that in mind when they consider their next intervention. 

3.18.4Connétable J. Le Bailly of St. Mary:

I just felt I should say something because of the polls at St. Mary.  There is an old saying: “You cannot drag a horse to water.”

[16:00]

In St. Mary, we do not drag them at all, they just come of their own free will.  It seems that St. Helier have trouble catching them.  I do believe in voter equity, but I do not believe we can achieve that unless we have a mandatory vote.  If we have mandatory voting, then we might be able to achieve equality, but I will leave that to P.P.C.

3.18.5Connétable J.E. Le Maistre of Grouville:

Senator Pallett mentioned the referendum, and of course in referenda everybody’s vote is equal.  St. Helier had an opportunity in 2014 to get rid of the Constables.  It was a reasonable turnout by Jersey standards, 38 per cent, and the result was 15,000 votes to retain the Constables and 9,000 for them not to be retained.  My own Parish, which I think the Constable of St. Helier mentioned, is under-represented.  They voted - I have got it noted down, let me just look it up - over 2 to one to retain Constables, despite them being under-represented.  I have got a real problem with trying to sort this problem out, because we cannot have voter equity and me to vote along the way that my parishioners want me to, so I do not really see how we can get full voter equity if we retain the Constables.  As I say, the referendum was quite clear.  Even St. Helier, which did vote to remove the Constables, there was only 22 votes in it, and one of those was the Constable himself, who campaigned to remove the Constables.  I understand he did it on principle and I respect him for that, but the next Constable might appreciate why it is important that Constables are in the States, to protect the parochial system, which is so cherished, certainly by my parishioners and I think most Islanders.  I think I just cannot go along with this amendment.

3.18.6Deputy L.B.E. Ash of St. Clement:

First, I do take issue with Senator Mézec’s football analogy about not supporting a team with the full 11 men.  I have supported Millwall for 40 years and we very rarely end up with 11 men.  For those of you who read the Commonwealth report when they observed our last election - and a lot of you will not, it was a thick document; I did read it - it could be summarised really into about 2 sentences: we are all very nice people in Jersey; we ran a very fair, decent election, but our system is absolute rubbish.  That is what we must address as soon as possible.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The Connétable of St. Lawrence’s light is on, but clearly not.  Does any other Member wish to speak on the amendment?  I call on the Connétable of St. Helier to respond.

3.18.7The Connétable of St. Helier:

There have been times when I have brought propositions to the Assembly and have been defeated and propositions which I have cared about a lot where I have simply tried to withdraw them, and if that has not worked, I have voted against my own amendments.  I certainly did consider that when this amendment of mine was to some extent neutered by the Council of Ministers, albeit quite a close vote.  But to return to the analogy I offered the Chief Minister, if we cannot aim at the summit, then maybe we should aim at base camp, and that is at least better than making no progress towards the mountain at all.  I would just like in closing to correct the Chief Minister, who said that he thought the only way we could achieve voter equity was by having an Assembly made up of Senators.  Guernsey - although they have, bizarrely, voted in a referendum and referenda always are bizarre, are they not - they currently have a system which achieves voter equity.  They have, I think I am right in saying, 6 districts with 7 Deputies in each, so they have it and they have had it for a long time.  Why they felt they needed to tinker with it, I am not sure, but it is perfectly possible, as Members will know, who have been in the Assembly for any length of time, to divide up the Island as far as voting goes into equally-sized districts so that everybody has the same power at the ballot box.  I simply hope that my amendment, as amended by the Council of Ministers, is strong enough.  It does after all talk about a fairer representation, which is better than the current system, and I hope that it is strong enough to support P.P.C. in the next 4 years to achieve this very basic democratic principle.  I maintain the amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 32

 

CONTRE: 6

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.19Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018–22 (P.110/2018): fifth amendment (P.110/2018 Amd.(5))

The Deputy Bailiff:

The last of the amendments to be considered is amendment 5, the other amendment by Deputy Wickenden, and I wonder if we can allow that to be taken as read.  Do Members agree that may be taken as read?  This is accepted by the Council of Ministers, I believe.  Very well.  Yes, Deputy Wickenden.

3.19.1Deputy S.M. Wickenden:

This is just an amendment into what is the ongoing initiative and just making sure it continues along within our Strategic Plan.  It talks about an electoral system which encourages voter turnout.  Now, we have gone through an awful lot of this in the previous amendment, I think, about the electoral system, the lack of turnout, the terrible turnout that we have in the Island.  It is about meeting international best standards and making sure that our electoral observers come back and review our next election.  As I say, I think that we have covered an awful lot of what this is about in the last amendment and I do not think there is very much more to add, because it is on a very similar par in the way of making a better election, better turnout and making sure we meet the best standards.  With that, I propose my amendment.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Is it seconded?  [Seconded]  Does any Member wish to speak on the amendment?  Those in favour of adopting the amendment, kindly show.  The appel is called for.  I invite Members to return to their seats.  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 35

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

3.20Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22 (P.110/2018) - as amended

The Deputy Bailiff:

We now return to the debate on the main proposition as amended and I ask if any Members wish to speak on that proposition. 

3.20.1Senator S.Y. Mézec:

I think it has potentially happened before, where we have a very long debate on an important subject - I cannot remember if it was the last Strategic Plan or perhaps a previous Budget or M.T.F.P. - where we go through all these amendments and nobody has anything left to say for their final debate, but I think it is worth making a few points on this Strategic Policy.  The first point that I will make is that I voted against the previous Strategic Plan and I am going to be voting in favour of this one and I will be doing so very enthusiastically.  I think that this is a very good Strategic Policy document to guide this new Government’s work over the next few years.  Believe me, when it comes to the work of Jersey Governments, I am someone you have to work very hard to impress me.  I think that the 5 priorities that this Council of Ministers have chosen are the right priorities for Jersey right now and I think that the new Chief Minister has to be congratulated for the way that he has managed to put together a Council of Ministers that is very diverse in its political outlook, which I think is working very cohesively.  From time to time when Members within that Government may have disagreements, I have not felt any toxicity around that in the way that we certainly did feel at times over recent years.  I had it put to me in an interview earlier today: “Why is putting children first at the top of this?  Surely that is something that goes without needing to be said?”  I think that I look forward to the day where it does become a subject that does not need to be said because it is so ingrained in our culture.  I just want to remind Members the reason that we are putting children first at the top of our list of priorities for this Strategic Plan is because of the failures that have led up to this point.  We have 2 comprehensive reports on Jersey’s Children’s Services, one looking at the state of them today and one looking at the state of them over previous decades that have shown that countless children in Jersey have been failed by our Island over the years.  That is something that we can never ever get complacent about again in future and must make sure we learn the lessons from it and make this an Island where every single child and young person can thrive, particularly those who are most vulnerable.  I think that it is a very good thing that there has been such unanimous support from the Government to put this at the top of our list of priorities.  That I think shows that there are early signs that the problem that our Island has faced over those decades is slowly but surely going away.  I certainly hope in 4 years’ time we can look back and be able the trace the improvements we will have made, because the people that we are trying to protect with this policy deserve it.  The other priority that I am very pleased about that is included in this document, and we certainly fought to make sure that it was included, was the priority to reduce income inequality and improve the standard of living.  In the manifesto that myself and my colleagues stood on, this was our number one commitment.  I think that it is important, because it is quite specific in terms of how we will measure it.  It is about income inequality and improving the standard of living.  Both of those can be measured economically.  It is not something that I think we will be able to get away with tokenistic statements about inclusion or the Happiness Index or whatever way you might like to measure it.  I want to see Jersey in 4 years’ time to be a fairer and less unequal society than it is today.  I think this is so important, because over the last decade Jersey has been going in the wrong direction in terms of the standard of living that ordinary people can enjoy here.  Yes, we have a high starting point, because Jersey is such a great Island with a great natural environment, great business infrastructure and everything that goes with it.  But in the last 10 years, the richest people in Jersey, those earning above £1 million a year, has quadrupled, where in the same period of time poverty has increased.  In that same period of time, the relative standard of living has been completely frozen as well.  I ask the question: how long can that go on for?  How long can we survive as a community, as an economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer?  There will come a point where we just will not be able to function anymore, where the number of people who have to receive support from the States and who are not able to spend their money in the economy will be so large and the number of people who own so much and who do not spend that money in the local economy is so great that we simply will not be able to deliver for the people we represent.  That trend has absolutely got to be reversed.  I think that this Government making it one of its top priorities is symbolic of the fact that certainly the new Chief Minister and others recognise that this is a trend that has got to be reversed.  I am very pleased, after our election campaign, that we were able to secure this as one of the top priorities for this Government.  Just speaking not as a Minister now, but speaking as the chairman of Reform Jersey, we spent a lot of the last 4 years since our formation doing what we should have done, which was to try to be as responsible in opposition as possible, to try to shine a light on the mistakes that were being made at the time and try our best to propose alternatives.  When you do that, you inevitably can get characterised by onlookers as not being constructive, as shouting from the sidelines rather than being prepared to make a difference.  I always felt that that was a mischaracterisation of what we were trying to do.  I am very proud that under the leadership of the new Chief Minister we, as a party, have an opportunity to show what we are capable of in Government to make a positive difference for those who we represent and also to work with those who we do not necessarily have much politically in common with, but who have the same aspiration of seeing this be a fairer Island, where people can live happy lives.

[16:15]

I am very proud that we have been able to be put in this situation.  I am very grateful to those who we work with, who have been very kind to us in that position, and I hope that we can reciprocate that back to them.  I am very excited in this new dawn of Jersey politics of doing things very differently to how they have been done in the past few years.  I hope this is a success, I am absolutely certain it will be a success, and I am very proud to be voting for this Strategic Policy that we have contributed to, where I have not done so in the past.  I also urge Members to support this plan for Jersey.

3.20.2Deputy J.H. Young:

I will be very brief.  There are a couple of things that I want to say about this plan, because I have got great confidence in it.  Though a returning Member for a second term into the States, I have been in public service for many years and a States watcher, if you like, and this is the first time I think that we have seen in the top-level Government priorities the environment of this beautiful Island achieving the recognition of its importance to all of our community and indeed our economy.  I think that carries a number of implications with it.  The history has been that the Island has previously passed not as powerful and important a document as this, but things like environmental charters and others back in the 1990s, indeed setting up an Environment Department.  I believe it has never been given the resources it deserves and I am delighted that I think largely as a result of the public views expressed of the importance of it and also Members of this Assembly and colleagues in the Council of Ministers who shared that view, and I am grateful for it.  But my 2 notes of caution - and they have to be recognised - is that there are bound to be conflicting objectives within this document which will have to be ironed-out, which in my view requires choices.  It will require choices of this Assembly, because the position is that we have an Island life, an increasing amount of activity and development on all our activities, increasing population, all of which impacts on our environment.  Our community expects that to stay a special place, in fact demands that it stay so and that we can serve it and look after it, but at the same time, our community expects us to have all the amenities and the infrastructure we need to sustain the current level of lifestyles that the States has.  I think that is an ongoing expectation.  I think that really sums up the issue of sustainability.  What I would want this Island to do, I would be arguing for, is to try to find, as I wrote in a recent article for the J.E.P. (Jersey Evening Post), that point - I hate to use the word “balance” but I cannot find any other better word - between the competing objectives and where we can set ourselves so that our Island is in a decent state for future generations, my children, my grandchildren and so on.  Those choices have to be recognised, because there are competing objectives.  The other one is that we will go through a process of formulating a Strategic Plan now on the amendment plan.  I have to say the amendments have improved this in the former and congratulations to all those Members that brought amendments.  We have got a great plan, but we have to go through this process of allocating resource and priorities in this plan for 2022.  The environment is starting from the point where the current spending on environment in this Island is not even 1 per cent, it is about 0.6 per cent of States spending goes on environment.  Therefore it is one of the reasons we are going to debate shortly the Budget, it is one of the reasons why I launched the issue of environmental taxes and charges, and I am delighted the Minister for Treasury and Resources has taken on board that in what we are about to discuss later on this week, because I know that there is going to be so many competing demands for resources: Education, Health Service.  I ask myself: “How can this Island run and succeed with all the pressures on our Health Service in the future when our average tax, effective rate of tax, is 13 per cent, when the U.K. maximum rate is 45 per cent?”  I think in France the effective rate of tax is top 50s or maybe 60s, I do not know, though I am sure Deputy Guida will know and put me right.  But nonetheless, it illustrates the principle, though I think that is just one example.  Just look at Education.  If we are truly to deliver all the vision that Members have expressed, I believe we are going to have to revisit some financial sacred cows that the history has been that this Assembly has run away from, because people want to get re-elected, because the public will not or has not been willing to face that reality.  You cannot have everything for nothing; you have to make choices.  Nonetheless, we have got a journey starting now and I made those comments to just put them in Members’ minds to think about how we are going to do that, because that material is going to come here.  In my view, I think we need to make sure we keep the public on board with us and our staff on board with us as well to help us in that journey.  If we get it right, then we truly have in this plan a foundation, not just for the next 4 years, for this term, but successive terms in the future of the Island, so I think this is a pretty great day.

3.20.3Deputy J.H. Perchard of St. Saviour:

Overall, I think we have got a very exciting and very well put together Strategic Policy in front of us.  I will be supporting it.  It would be remiss of me and a little unfair on other Members if I were not to express my disappointment at the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel amendment not being taken on board.  I think it is helpful perhaps to just explain that the reason why we opted for a strategic priority rather than a theme is purely because, as part of strategy, inevitably it is important to reflect on risk and the risks of not having diversity in a measurable way in society is well-documented.  I think it is just helpful to clarify for the Assembly that for us, a strategic priority incorporates the reflection and measuring of risk which is acknowledged on kind of a very broad scale, beyond Jersey, to be a very real problem when you have a lack of diversity.  That was the primary reason, but I do appreciate the commitment to the theme of diversity inclusion and will certainly be urging the Chief Minister and the rest of the Assembly to reflect on the risks that are posed to us currently by not being diverse in a lot of different spheres.  I implore him and others to look at the well-documented research that demonstrates the risks that we are currently facing due to lack of diversity.  I do welcome the commitment in the proposed change as a theme.

3.20.4Deputy R.J. Renouf of St. Ouen:

I would like to reflect upon some of the words of Senator Mézec and concur with him when he spoke about a diverse group of people, the elected Ministers, working together and thinking strategically about how this Island should move forward in the next 4 years.  I was pleased to be part of that process and indeed found it enjoyable to find common cause with so many of us around that table.  I commend this plan.  I believe it is something that is good strategically and is the right vision for the Island going forward.  Of course my immediate interest would be in the physical and mental health and the well-being of citizens in the Island and how we must think differently about we treat physical health, so we do not wait anymore until people get ill and then think about what we can do, but we think so much more about prevention and we invest in preventive services.  When people do fall ill, then we wrap care around them as an individual.  Instead of asking them to go here, there and everything, we focus on their needs and ensure that we can address where they are and what they need.  I am pleased as well that the Strategic Policy refers to the delivery of care to patients in a new hospital.  Of course we have agreed to put mental health on a parity with physical health, vitally important, and as with physical health, we must think about preventative health, so ensuring that people have resilience to meet the challenges faced in our society.  We see so many people coming forward with problems caused as a result of workplace stress and there is no doubt that there are some high-value industries in Jersey, but they do create stress very often among people and we must find a means of addressing that, not hiding it under the carpet anymore and encouraging all employers to monitor their employees, to understand more about workplace stress.  Where people are not able to cope, we must have the means of addressing that early and not allow the escalation of need and the massive problems we have seen recently.  Then within the mental health picture, we must also recognise the increasing numbers of our population who will suffer from dementia issues in the years to come.  Dementia need not be debilitating.  It is a disease that will occur, but we can give a good quality of life to people who suffer from it and slow up its progress so that those people can go on to that journey, but still be supported and have the very best of care.  I am pleased in developing the Strategic Policy that the Government was able to recognise well-being as a concept, the conditions which allow people to feel that they are supported and they are content living in this community.  We recognise that things such as the standard of housing that people enjoy, the income opportunities that are available or the inequalities that they might suffer contribute to a sense of a lack of well-being if they are not able to enjoy the same opportunities as others.  Together within the Strategic Plan we recognise that so much contributes to people’s well-being.  It is not just feeling well in terms of health, but it is feeling supported by Government, feeling that Government is able to provide a good home, good employment and a fair society.  I believe our Strategic Plan points to all of that and I look forward to working as part of this Government in future to pursue this plan and I hope Members will give it their full support.  [Approbation]

3.20.5Deputy M.R. Higgins:

I would just like to say first of all that I shall be supporting the Strategic Plan that has been agreed by the States.  One area I did not agree with, but on the whole, I fully endorse it.  What I am pleased about is the fact that we have a diverse Council of Ministers, it is the fact that we have people from all shades of opinion in the Council of Ministers.  I happen to believe that is better than the Council of Ministers that we have had in the past, which seemed to be very much ... I cannot say bipartisan, because we are not a bipartisan sort of Chamber, but they certainly had very rigid views and would not take on board what others had to say.  I will say again in the Assembly what I have been saying to people outside.  I really have been encouraged by this particular Assembly.  The people who are in this Assembly at this time I believe care, really care about what is going on and want to see change in this Island.

[16:30]

Because of that I feel very optimistic about the future, so to all those who have come in the Assembly, you have brought a breath of fresh air and I shall support this policy.

3.20.6Senator K.L. Moore:

It is often difficult to be excited by a Strategic Plan.  They are often accused of being motherhood and apple pie and this plan is no different to many others really.  There are of course some pockets of really positive things and some inarguable points that it would be difficult to vote against.  I think what I feel more than anything is a sense of relief, a sense of relief that this Council of Ministers has made its first step into Government and set out what its vision is.  That provides us, as Back-Benchers, with something with which to hold the Government to account and we most certainly will do that as we move forward in our work.  This document will be often referred to.  We shall not let the Council of Ministers forget the terms that they have signed themselves up to and the vision that they have set for the Island for the next 3½ years.  What I would like to say though is during the course of today, as we have listened to so many amendments being made and largely adopted, although I must of course remind everybody of my great disappointment that the important issue of diversity and inclusion has been relegated to the second tier as a common theme.  I do think that is a very sad statement from this Assembly and I think it is most regrettable.  I thank those who did vote in support of that amendment from Corporate Services.  But my pervading sense is that on some items it was quite clear that there had been an element of a lack of thought and engagement in developing this Strategic Plan.  It dawned on me that in the past, as a Back-Bencher and then as a Minister, this process of developing a Strategic Plan had included Back-Benchers.  That is something that has not occurred on this particular occasion.  For a Government who apparently prides itself on its transparency and openness, I would remind them that it does appear to some that that transparency and openness is only if those people belong to a certain club and it most certainly does not happen to those who do not belong to that club.  I do think it is important to raise that point and I look forward to engaging with the Council of Ministers and ensuring that they provide upon their vision in the years that come.  One speaker - I recall not who - mentioned that it is important to drag this Assembly into the 21st century.  I most certainly hope that it will.  I have my concerns, given some of the votes, that that is not the intention, but most certainly from the Back-Benchers it will be that reassurance and that challenge that we do move into the 21st century, because of course it is now well-advanced.  What I think the public really do want from us though is to see leadership and action.  I hope that now this important step is passed that we will see both leadership and action in the years to come.

3.20.7Deputy M. Tadier:

I am pleased to follow on from that, because one of the big boxes I have on my scribbled-down notes is that I think we are in a period here where there is a great window of opportunity.  There seems to be a dynamism and a goodwill in the Assembly that certainly I have never experienced in the last 10 years.  I was particularly pleased to hear from my colleague on the left, the Minister for Planning and Environment - if it is still called that; we will call him the Minister for the Environment - good old Deputy Young, as I like to call him, if you will excuse the oxymoron.  Yes, I think he is somebody who has got a lot of passion and dynamism, so I think he is an asset to the ministerial benches.  In the other box that I have got here is that we have to think big during this Council of Ministers and during this Assembly in the next 4 years, because the aspiration that we have here needs to be put into action.  I think that as we look over the next few years, there is clearly going to be some significant challenges and periods of great change.  I am not going to talk about this extensively, but the part about the sustainable, vibrant economy and the skilled local workforce for the future I think is key, because in many ways, the younger generation are already far ahead, if you like, in terms of the technology and the norms that they have already absorbed and the way that they see the world is completely different to those who would be making policy for them or even teaching them, so there is a sense in which we are to be taught by them and not the other way around.  We have to be aware of that.  I am drawn to the quote which talks about: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”  That is why it is so important and commendable that we have children and we have education, life-long learning, hopefully, and skills at the very heart of our Strategic Plan, but not just about learning and skills, we also need to give children the ability to be able to think and to unlearn.  Good luck to them.  It is a brave new world I think that they are facing.  It is completely different to the one that I and certainly the older generation grew up in, where there was much more certainty, much more stability, there were jobs for life and we knew what was coming around the corner.  We do not what is coming around politically, of course, and the “B” word is ever-present on our radios and on T.V.s (televisions) at the moment.  But nonetheless, I think that is why it is even more important that we build resilience into our community.  That is why, speaking from a ministerial point of view, if I may for a moment, I think it is really key that one of the 6 common themes that is outlined is the ability to enable Islanders to lead active lives and benefit from the arts, culture and heritage.  We have heard it from the Minister for Health and Social Services that mental health needs to be put on an equal footing with physical health.  You need both of those.  If we do not have our health, then we have very little, and we know that mental health issues in particular can affect people right across the board.  In fact, it is no different to physical health in that respect.  Indeed, mental health can often be affected by the stresses of work across the different socioeconomic classes.  But that is why I think there is an opportunity here to look at the issues strategically and that is why it is going to be important to work with the Minister for Planning, to work with the Minister for Sports, to work with the Minister for Health and Housing, because we have got to make sure we get all the pieces on the chessboard in the correct place.  We cannot have another 4 years where you have a complete shambles that we have seen in the last Government with the hospital, for example.  That is the one issue that the public are constantly asking about and it is the one issue ... everyone has got an opinion on it, of course, but that is because there has been a lack of leadership and I think people vastly are saying: “Just get on with it.”  I think they will be doing the same when it comes to Fort Regent.  If we are to resolve the chronic shortage of housing issues that we have, we cannot allow things like Ann Court to drag on.  We have to make decisions, because if we make a delay in something like Fort Regent, that has a consequence.  It means that we do not know where the sporting facilities are going to go.  If we do not develop Fort Regent - and one idea of course is for a university to be put up there - that would have a consequence.  If you decide that you want to go down a university route in Jersey, that has a consequence for meaning that you can make the Island more vibrant, there will be more young people retained in Jersey, but there will also be more young people brought to Jersey who may stay on, but they will be contributing not just economically and academically, they will be contributing to the arts and culture sector, to the sports sector in Jersey, which is something that is obviously very close to my heart politically.  If we are going to aspire to make St. Helier... and invest in it and oblige more people to live in St. Helier, because there is nowhere else for them to live unless we proliferate into the countryside, then we should also aspire to make St. Helier truly great.  That is why I am also pleased to see that there is a reference to Jersey’s international profile and to developing its personality.  It must be the case that while Jersey is a very successful finance centre, it must be seen as more than just being a finance centre.  I would like people to think about Jersey and say: “Jersey, is that not the place where you are really culturally rich?  Is Jersey not the place where Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore came from?  Is that not the place where Gerald Durrell stems from and he lived for a period?  You have still got that great Jersey Zoo, have you not?” or: “Is that not the place where Victor Hugo wrote some of his works when he was in exile in the Channel Islands?” or: “Was that not the place where Marx and Engles used to drink and stay in St. Aubin?  I am sure I visited the memorial that you have got for them, those great thinkers, just outside the Parish Hall next to the Trafalgar pub.”  It could be like that.  They could say: “Is Jersey not the place where you have got that great sports festival, the triathlon which draws so many people?  Is it not the place where the Branchage Film Festival happens every year and it draws thousands of people to enjoy the culture that you have, along with your great opera house, your arts centre and all the good work that is being done by Jersey Heritage and ArtHouse, that dynamic place?  Do you not have a new state-of-the-art facility on the Esplanade for people to go and watch theatre and go and see pieces of art and to see exhibitions and installations down there, which ties in with your very successful financial industry and your new university that you have got?  Oh, and that development, that brilliant social housing development that you have got, which is really environmentally sustainable and sound, up at the old Highlands site?”  All things like that, this is entirely achievable, but it needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly.  I would like to think that these great words that are being put down on paper can come to fruition in short order, but we must not be scared about making bold decisions which are of course sustainable, which are financially prudent.  But at the end of the day, if we want to be punching above our weight, as we do already in some areas, I think that we need to match the aspiration with those ends.  It will cost money.  At the end of the day, we are not talking about the Budget yet, so I will keep some of my powder dry on that for now, but Deputy Young again was correct.  You cannot go on with a low tax, low-spend system and you have to ask who does low tax ultimately benefit?  Because we are here to spend money for the public and to invest in the public realm and the money that we spend in Jersey will ultimately stay in Jersey hopefully and provide benefit to those individuals so that they can aspire educationally, culturally and to live physical, mentally healthy and worthwhile lives.

3.20.8Senator T.A. Vallois:

I am glad to follow the last speech.  The reason why I say that is because education was mentioned many times.  When this Common Strategic Plan was actually lodged.  I was approached by a couple of colleagues and I will not differ between whether they are Back-Benchers or whether they are a Member of the Council of Ministers because I see you all equally, and I was asked why education was not put as a main priority within this.  My very reasoning behind this is because it is core to everything that we do and I fundamentally believe that.  It fits through all of the themes, all of the priorities which are within this Common Strategic Policy.  Most notably, of course is the putting children first.  Early years places a role within that.  Of course now we have a newly constituted Minister for Children, which we have worked to discuss how we modernise our legislation around our children, what our Education Law looks like, what the day care of children looks like and, fundamentally what the Children’s Law looks like, ensuring that we do bring the States into the 21st century.  In terms of modernising that legislation, there will be big decisions and big discussions to be had around what our education looks like moving forward, and not just for the next 4 years but for the long term, looking 20 to 30 years at the very least.  In terms of the mental and physical health, the importance of having early intervention and early help but also the means to support and assist where needed in a timely manner, education engages with almost every single child in this Island in some shape or form, whether that is through nursery, through primary, through secondary or our young people that go into sixth form and further education and higher education, we have some form of engagement with those children.  Even more so through the Youth Service, which has been clearly expanded upon within the amendments today on our Common Strategic Policy, and the Youth Service is an absolute vital part of our community and the way that our Island supports young people and children.  The mental health, in particular, we need to do so much better at and ensure that we can achieve supporting people, not just children and young people but adults as well, in identifying ways to support them moving forward, identifying the sources of these issues and creating an environment and a community which supports each other, which recognises differences, which accepts differences and is willing to move forward with that recognition in mind and the support that is needed.

[16:45]

With regards to skills, the skilled local workforce, another one of our priorities within this Common Strategic Policy, we have a job of work to do in recognising our vocational provision in the Island needs to be on par with what academics are seen as.  Myself and my Assistant Minister, Deputy Maçon, are 100 per cent focused and willing to ensure that going forward academics and vocational are seen equally, not separately or differently because this is vital moving forward in terms of the changes in education and, quite rightly what Deputy Tadier said, children see their future very differently, they are willing to adapt, they are willing to change, they are willing to understand the world in a different way than I think many of us are.  We need to recognise that and adapt with them.  The skilled local workforce is also highly important with any future population policy.  I have stated this not just as a Minister but when I was standing for Senator.  With regards to population policy, if we are to have forms of caps, if we are to have forms of permits, we need to recognise we need to grow our own, support our own in terms of the Island, the economy, make sure we are diverse enough and recognise succession planning to ensure that we can sustain that into the future.  Income equality and standard of living, another priority of ours.  We need to recognise the importance of our responsibilities as not just a Council of Ministers but a States Assembly, ultimately it is this States Assembly that approves the Common Strategic Policy, ultimately it is this States Assembly that approves what will come forward in the government financial plan.  There is an issue about direct and indirect funding.  It is not just about where we take from or where we put it or where we push around the edges, or what it looks like but we have a fundamental issue within our system where previously, historically - and it is a legacy issue - to solve a problem we adapt a programme, we attach it to something else and we hope that it works.  I do not think that is feasible or sustainable for us going forward.  We need to have a real conversation on how that direct or indirect funding works.  An example I give of that is an example in terms of early years and the childcare tax allowance that we have, and the very many different pots that we have in terms of support, in terms of direct funding.  We need to recognise that in terms of outcomes for families and how our Island can move forward and ensure comparability in terms of standard of living.  Also the fact that everyone has an opportunity and education can absolutely help in terms of improving those circumstances and assisting in improving those opportunities as long as we provide the flexibility in the system to enable those opportunities to exist.  The last priority that we have on here is with regards to environment.  I only have to mention World Children’s Day on 20th November where myself, the Minister for Children, the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Infrastructure were invited to d’Auvergne School to listen to children about how the environment affects their rights and what they would like to see in terms of sustainable transport, in terms of quality of air, in terms of public buses for primary schools.  There was a lot of feedback which we are hoping to receive from the Children’s Commissioner, who I also have to thank for supporting education in terms of rights respecting schools.  You look at the children today and their views in terms of eco-active and environment, and I know personally as a parent what that can do in terms of changing your behaviour.  The children pushing that change in behaviour for protecting and supporting the environment and I think it is absolutely vital.  I thank every single Member that has contributed to the Common Strategic Policy, I thank Deputy Ward for both of these amendments.  I look forward to a productive working relationship with the Scrutiny Panel going forward and hope that I can keep to my commitments that I have made today, especially with regards to school funding and ensure that at the end of this term many of the foundations are in place but also that we have completed a great deal to support the public that we serve.

3.20.9Senator L.J. Farnham:

Just briefly.  I am very pleased to have participated with the new Government and States Members in this plan.  The saying is that the enemy of a good plan is a dream of a perfect plan.  This is not perfect but I think it is very, very good.  It is very good because everybody has worked together in a pragmatic way to deliver it.  I know Senator Moore is disappointed.  The proposition put forward by her panel was good and I am pleased it is one of the themes of the plan.  Diversity in the modern society is something that we all have to embrace.  To echo the words of Deputy Higgins, this is the best Assembly.  I feel more comfortable in this Assembly than I have in any other one of the 5 previous Assemblies that I have worked with.  There can be no more clubs or cliques or inner circles now; we have to work together.  We must not succumb to temptation to criticise without understanding or tolerating others’ views because that only seeks to serve our own agendas and not the Island.  I think we are all of that opinion and I feel honoured to be part of this Assembly.  The economy, I am pleased to say as Minister for Economic Development, is a big part of this plan and at the heart of that is the aim to improve productivity.  That is about doing more for less.  That is about conserving our precious resources and ensuring we can deliver a strong economy without it having an unsustainable long-term impact on our population.  That is my priority in working with my 2 Assistant Ministers for Economic Development who have proved very capable and very supportive.  I want to assure Members that we will be working hard to deliver our brief as part of this plan.

3.20.10Deputy K.F. Morel:

I would like to thank Deputy Higgins and Senator Farnham for their kind words, on behalf of all new Members in this Assembly, but you are absolutely right, certainly on my part, I am trying to approach this in very much a non-partisan - because I have no party to be partisan to - collaborative and instructive way.  To do that and to make this Common Strategic Policy come alive we need to move into the future.  We need for Jersey to create its own future, one that is supported by pride in our own unique culture, as Deputy Tadier was suggesting.  That future is going to bring many challenges, some of which we are already aware of, Brexit, technological automation, geo-political changes, to name a few.  If Jersey is to succeed in this 21st century then it will be because we, as Islanders, are deciding our own future.  It will not be M.P.s from Westminster or local council employees.  But to achieve that we need strong, decisive, political leadership to make this Common Strategic Policy come alive.  We need the energy and dynamism of the Council of Ministers that sets its own policy and challenges officers to deliver their policies as they envisaged, as the Ministers want it.  I hope this Common Strategic Policy turns out to achieve its full potential and does not stay as bland words on the page, because that, unfortunately, is easily what strategic policies can become.  It is has taken 5 months for this Council to take its first step, as Senator Moore has suggested.  Thank goodness it will only take 5 minutes to take the next step with the Budget that lies before us.  Personally, I will fully support the Common Strategic Policy but more so I will support a Council of Ministers that delivers and makes a positive difference to this Island.  To see whether they can do this, only time will tell but I personally very much look forward to that.

3.20.11Deputy C.F. Labey of Grouville:

I am quite excited about this Strategic Plan because I think it encapsulates all kinds of views from a broad political spectrum.  By making 5 priorities, 2 of which are to create a vibrant economy and enhancing our international profile and promoting our Island identity, I think is really exciting because this is the first Strategic Plan that has ever acknowledged international identity and has ever acknowledged Jersey Overseas Aid before.  Certainly with the work that we are doing, the outward facing Island identity work with the Jersey cow, with Durrell and with our financial infrastructure, I think this is a really good opportunity where we could, as I keep on saying, change the narrative of the Island.  We have the financial infrastructure here, we have the skills and with the international development work we can start to join the dots and turn the Island into a centre of philanthropy.  That is certainly what I am working very hard to do.  It is a shame that Senator Moore sees a theme as a relegation because I certainly do not.  Among our themes we have the arts, culture, heritage, Parishes, promoting Jersey’s international profile and I certainly do not see that as any form of relegation.  I am going to be working hard, along with Senator Gorst, on external relations.  We both have very different parts to play but it is still outward facing and promoting the Island.  I am absolutely delighted, another first, it is the first time the environment has been put in as a priority in the Strategic Plan.

3.20.12Senator S.W. Pallett:

Having been fortunate enough to be involved in the health and well-being strand of this particular Strategic Plan, it would not come as any surprise to people that I will talk a little bit about the elements of the plan.  Jersey’s population has increased by nearly 12,000 people in the last 10 years.  Like many parts of the U.K., our population is also ageing.  I know it is not a word everybody likes to use, but it is true; 14,000 Islanders are currently aged 65 or over and by 2035 this is going to almost double.  Older residents will thus be an increasing proportion of the population in the coming years, placing greater pressure on our key service providers such as health.  A key challenge is the degree to which States will need to invest in social care and health interventions to ensure that residents remain independent for as long as possible.  This is in the context of the fact that a person over the age of 65 typically uses 4 times more healthcare resource than an average adult.  In 2017, 8 out of 10 adults in Jersey rated their health as either good or very good and that is an excellent statistic, while just over one quarter, 27 per cent, reported having a longstanding illness, disability or infirmity.  Of the Islanders with a longstanding illness, almost half say it affects their day-to-day activities a little.  That is a quite a staggering statistic.  Our ageing population and an increasing proportion of longstanding illness, disability and infirmity among the over-65s presents a long-term challenge.  Health and physical activity interventions are needed to ensure that residents are as fit, healthy and independent for as long as possible.  For those of you that do not know, 5 sessions of moderate intensity activity of at least 30 minutes a week is what we should be doing.  I am not sure how many people in here are doing that but they should be.  Fifty-two per cent of adults report activity levels which meet or exceed the recommended level.  Let us hope that is most of us here.  Seventy per cent of adults report they wished to do more exercise or physical activity than they currently do and that is going to again put a stretch on what we provide.  I hope I am not included in this but 40 per cent of men are overweight and one quarter of women.  Well done the women.  Twelve per cent of men were at least obese, and I am not going to mention the women’s figures because they are not quite as good, but nevertheless those are things we all need to work on.

[17:00]

There are 6 common themes in the Council’s work and I want to just touch on a couple of them in regards to physical and mental well-being.  One of them is to enable Islanders to lead more active lives.  To do that I think we need to provide decent facilities for people to do that in.  To do that we need to test supply and demand for facilities and really understand what we need.  In regards to that, we need to have a strategic concept of all facilities, both indoor and outdoor, and we need to have a vision and ambition for this Island.  We need to understand what facilities we have, their condition, usage and availability, and, it has already been mentioned, that will include Fort Regent.  We need to know the current and future demand for facilities based on population growth and increased levels of participation.  We need to identify key challenges that the States faces with regards to its leisure provision, because it is not just about sports provision, it is providing facilities that all age demographics can access and keep fit and active within.  We also need to consider strategy development and approaches to improving our service delivery within the facilities that we currently operate.  Another one of the common themes is making St. Helier a more desirable place to live, work, do business and visit.  I have mentioned it previously but I will mention it again, making sure when we are planning any type of planning application or developments within St. Helier, it is absolutely vital that we ensure that we have enough amenity space for people to meet, socialise, play in, especially children.  I know we have already mentioned youth clubs but it is important.  Again, I will mention the north part of the St. Helier, it is important that that part of St. Helier has … I know it has the Town Park and I know it is going to be extended but we really have to be on the ball to make sure we provide facilities for young people within that area.  Improving transport infrastructure and links.  Again, I think this links into north of town but also links into all parts of St. Helier and all parts of the Island in regards to we do need greater walking and cycling routes.  We need an eastern cycle network.  We cannot get away with not doing that, we need to do that and it needs to be our priority.  One of the others is preparing for Islanders living longer.  That is going to mean support through people’s old age in their own homes, keeping an older generation physically and, more importantly, mentally active and well.  Is that not something that we all want?  It must be something that we all want as we grow older or we want for relatives and friends.  The States must consider the social return on investment it will gain from improving facility stock and related services.  Jersey ranks in the top 10 per cent of countries in the world for life expectancy but we can do better.  Jersey has some outstanding schools where results compare with the best in the U.K.  However, since 2009 academic performance has plateaued with some children not fulfilling their full potential.  We need to improve on that.  Jersey has enjoyed the benefits of a high performing economy for many years and, as a result, Government has been able to build up a financial reserve to fund services and infrastructure developments.  We touched earlier on today about the use of government funding and money that is available, and we are going to have to think very carefully over the next few days about how best to use that money to ensure that, from my perspective, we keep our population fit and healthy.  St. Helier will carry on being the engine room of Jersey’s economy and we need to make sure that St. Helier is a pleasant place to live, work and be active in.  I just want to finish with a few other points.  I think there is a clear imperative to improve the quality of life for Jersey residents, to get the inactive active and to encourage and enable residents to be physically active for as long as possible so that they remain fit and healthy.  A key driver for this is that the more active residents are the fewer health-related interventions they require as they live longer, thus reducing the burden on our Island’s healthcare fund.  It is therefore important that the States ensures that residents have a core range of high quality built and natural environments in which to be physically active.  That is not going to come at zero cost.  We are going to have to invest in these types of facilities and there is going to be some really hard choices to make, but we have to make a choice, I think, now about what we do in terms of health prevention.  If we keep kicking the health prevention can down the road we are just going to keep building and building up more cost, 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line.  It is therefore important that the States ensures that residents, like I say, have a core range of high quality built and natural environments.  This not only includes high quality leisure centres, and as much as I think we have a good range of leisure facilities at the moment they are becoming dated, they need a great deal of maintenance and I will be producing a sports report very soon that will clearly identify some of the issues that we are going to face.  Importantly, we also need outdoor sport venues but in saying that I think we have a quite incredible natural environment in this Island that we can use to our benefit and we should be encouraging more and more people to use that in regards to keeping fit and active.  It is important that services are as efficient and effective as possible.  I will be working like everybody else to make sure any elements of government that I am involved with are as efficient as possible and that they deliver maximum outcomes.  The States does not - and I have already touched on this - have an infinite budget and there are increasing pressures on our limited resources, therefore sport and particular physical activity needs to play its part in adopting appropriate business practice to maximise income where appropriate and operate facilities as effectively as possible.  It is also clear though that high quality well-programmed sports facilities contribute to creating a sense of place and enhance overall satisfaction levels about the communities in which Jersey people reside.  The wider benefits derived from having a more active population extends beyond the sports field and into educational attainment, productivity, obesity levels and cost to health services.  It is the key to Jersey as it embarks on its future through to 2040 and beyond.  It has been my first opportunity to be part of producing a Strategic Plan, I found it particularly interesting to do and although I have not had a lot of input in other parts of the plan, I really recommend this Common Strategic Policy to every Member.  I will just say on the health and well-being side, it is a can we have kicked down the road far too long and this time we have to take it seriously.  Please vote for this but remember it does not come at zero cost.

3.20.13Deputy G.P. Southern:

I will be brief.  It was 2 Strategic Plans ago, if my memory serves me right, when I tried to get the relatively mild phrase: “We will work towards a fairer society” into the Strategic Plan.  This was fiercely opposed by the then Council of Ministers.  They would not have this at all and we did not get it.  So I look at priority 5: “We will reduce income inequality and improve the standard of living.”  Now, that is a proper statement and if we can do that then we will be doing what is right for our constituents.  As good old Deputy Young has said already, this does not come without a cost.  Low tax, low spend is no longer an option.  Why?  Because the spend is inevitably, day in, day out, going up.  We are living longer, living healthier lives, and the ageing population with its increased demands on health, et cetera, is growing.  I look down this page and I see, while not all the phrases are how I would put it, we have the phrases in there and we see, for example: “We will need to consider the fiscal strategy and the fiscal framework need refreshing in particular.”  That is, taxes are going to have to change.  The big issue in this coming 3, 4 years is going to be around taxes.  It then goes on to say: “Having a job and a reliable income is important for people’s well-being and contributes to the Island’s economy, but not everyone can get a suitable job and some workers find the wages from their full-time job are not enough to meet their living costs.”  What we are talking about there is in-work poverty.  Simply what you earn you cannot live on.  That is one thing that we need to do something about.  That requires not just a taxation model, it requires a benefits model, it requires looking at the minimum wage, it requires growing the living wage.  We have fallen behind even the U.K. with the living wage so we have to do something to meet that.  Others do not have the security of a permanent contract or fixed hours every week.  I will be returning to this over the coming years but just imagine that, week on week when you do not know what you are taking home, do not know what your budget is.  How difficult is that?  The latest Rowntree survey about in-work poverty suggested that was going up enormously in the U.K., I wonder whether that is happening here.  But we will reduce income inequality and improve the standard living is a far better marker than what we did not get 8 years ago now.

3.20.14Connétable R.A. Buchanan of St. Ouen:

Sorry, Members will have to excuse my bad cough.  That is no excuse for turning the microphone off, though, I have to say.  Firstly, I would just like to congratulate Deputy Tadier on the references he has managed to include in his speeches, I listed Orwell, Glencoe and basketball, quite an achievement I thought.  I have worked with the Council of Ministers on this strategy and it has been a fascinating process for somebody who has not in been in the States before.  I have never worked with such a group of disparate individuals who have managed to work so hard to produce a common policy and it has been a sincere pleasure to work with everyone, because at the start of the process I really did not believe we were going to do it.  I have worked with closer groups of individuals and not achieved it.  It may be blowing smoke up a certain part of their anatomy but anyway it was pleasure.  So to more serious matters in my mind, we have made very little reference to the finance industry and I think it is a mistake to think that Jersey’s finance industry is going to carry on a serene glide towards the future.  That is not the case, sadly.  Yesterday we had a visit from 2 U.K. M.P.s who would love to disrupt our Island, who would love to see us move to something that we are not so keen to move to as quickly as they would like and have the ability to disrupt our constitution and force a crisis on to us.  That is one of the many changes we face.  There are others.  We have the fifth E.U. Money Laundering Directive coming along, we have Brexit - if I can mention that word because I will probably get ejected from this Chamber if I mention it too many times and I am worried seeing Deputy Tadier nod because he will probably be the one that does it.  There are also a number of other external money laundering reviews coming along, as well as the substance issues we are going to be addressing shortly.  I think what I am trying to say is that we should not think that our finance industry is going to continue unhindered and continue to provide us with the money that we need to fund all the worthy projects that we have talked about today.  Without our support and nurturing that is not going to be the case.  Which sort of brings me to the nub of my point, although we have been talking about taxation and the need to increase taxation, I think it is quite simple from my point of view, if we are going to do that we need to, before we do it, consult with the finance industry and make sure that we take the finance industry with us.  Because if we do not, I can assure you from having sat on the other side of the desk, it will move out of this Island quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” 

[17:15]

We will be left with a lot of wishes and no money to fund it.  On that happy note, I will sit down again.

3.20.15The Connétable of St. Helier:

There have been times during the debate on the main speech when it has been in danger of turning into the Christmas speeches, a bit ahead of time.  I know I am guilty of that myself because I was certainly being very nice to the Chief Minister earlier on in the debate.  There are a number of things that I wanted to refer to.  First of all, Senator Moore’s disappointment that diversity did not make it into the top tier.  I think that was partly because her panel were not quick enough on their buttons to have the debate on the amendment and so it went straight to a standing vote.  More seriously, I am not sure that common theme status is so bad, after all St. Helier is now common theme status, having been in the top tier for the last Strategic Plan and that did not do us much good.  I heard someone talking about States rates but, of course, that was something I had to bring myself as an amendment.  What I am saying is I think whether you are on the top tier or a common theme, it does not matter so much, or to put it another way, it is not the plan, it is the people.  It is the people in the Council of Ministers that are going to make the difference.  I was particularly pleased when Senator Vallois was speaking about education and she made a link which the Environment Scrutiny Panel last time around tried to put into the plan.  We said that the top of list for education should be environmental awareness.  I do not think that made the slightest difference in the last 4 years, but what I do think will make a difference is that Senator Vallois and the Minister for the Environment have been up to d’Auvergne School, I think it was, and have discussed with the students their environmental objectives.  That is where it is going to make a difference.  We are at one end of the plan, we are at the beginning of the plan and there has been some very positive even Deputy Higgins was positive, I have never heard him positive about a Strategic Plan before.  It is easy to be positive at this end of the process.  Perhaps when we get stuck into the Budget the tone will change.  I do share the optimism of the Assembly and I think it is good that we do have the right people sitting around the Council of Minister’s table and we have clear commitments.  We have had some really important commitments made today that things will be dealt and new initiatives will be brought forward.  A couple I want to mention.  Tourism, I was waiting for the Minister - he called himself the Minister for Economic Development, I am afraid he did not get the tourism in - to use the tourism word in his speech.  I am not going to go on about it but I do harp back to the days I used to look over there and the person we used to call Johnny Blue Eyes - not many Members will know who I am referring to.  We used to have a President of the Tourism Committee and whenever anything was brought to the States I remember as a young Deputy marvelling at the way Senator Rothwell would stand up and put the tourism case.  I am still not convinced that we do not need a Member in this Assembly who really pushes the boat out for tourism, because it is such an important part of what Jersey does and what Jersey can be.

Deputy M. Tadier:

Would the Constable give way?  He might literally have to push the boat out if we are not careful.  I should not say that.

The Deputy Bailiff:

I am not sure stopping for a joke is within Standing Orders.

The Connétable of St. Helier:

Moving on, there are a number of other things.  I was most impressed by Senator Mézec’s speech, both on the plan as amended but particularly on the amendment that I brought that was defeated.  He really spelt out the problem that we are going to have as an Island if we do not sort out our democracy.  I am looking forward on P.P.C. to printing out his comments and starting work on achieving this.  It is absolutely vital not only for the democratic rights of Islanders but for our international reputation that we get this right in the next 4 years.  I also agree with Members who have spoken about the environment having a particularly good place in the policy because last time around, as I say, as a Scrutiny Panel we had to add it in.  I suppose that is a problem with amendments that you add in, they do not always have the same attraction as the ones that the Council of Ministers thought up themselves.  I am really delighted to see in the environmental … particularly when we come to transport which has not been discussed today the way I thought it might be, perhaps people have got tired of talking about transport, it never seems to make any difference.  But what it says under environment is that we will produce an ambitious sustainable transport plan, including external links.  It is that word “ambitious” that I think is quite exciting.  We know from the last 4 years, 3½ years, that the Island failed to meet any of targets in terms of sustainable transport.  It was a disaster.  The Minister of the renamed department is not here at the moment but the department that used to be called public services has never delivered a sustainable transport policy that is worth the paper it is written on.  I do look forward to the Minister of the Environment working with his colleagues in the newly titled department … you can see why they do not change the signs anymore because this department changes its name every 3½ years, there is just no point.  I am really confident that the Minister of the Environment is going to work with Deputy Lewis and come up with a sustainable transport plan where we measure our success against baseline figures.  We have to see in the next few years an improvement in our sustainable transport practices.  He also mentions in that section recycling.  Again, that has not had much discussion today, it is quite a worrying bullet point.  It says that we will review options for a co-ordinated and consistent Island-wide recycling programme, bearing in mind that not every Parish is doing it yet, that clearly is something that is going to have to be grappled with and the Constables are going to have to look very hard at how we recycle and whether the Parishes can work better together and more consistently.  Just one other matter I wanted to come on to.  Members will know that that I did table an amendment to the C.S.P. particularly in relation to our international reputation, our interest in philanthropy, as the Deputy of Grouville says, which would introduce the possibility of accepting a small number or an appropriate number of refugees into the Island.  This has had a good deal of public discussion.  I must say that I have been heartened by the number of people who have contacted me to say that they support it and that they would like, if possible, to take a child refugee into their home.  That has been very encouraging.  The reason I withdrew the amendment, as Members will know but perhaps not everyone listening will know, is because I received, as has become typical of the Chief Minister, a very clear assurance that he was already looking at the matter and he will be coming back in the spring with whatever proposals are feasible.  I think that is very encouraging and I look forward to hearing what he going to come up with.  That concludes my remarks on the plan.  I just wanted to say to Deputy Ward of St. Helier that he turned over the Council of Ministers, he was the only person that did, in the sense that his amendment was opposed but he got the support of the Assembly and the Council of Ministers.  That is a really important step that we are going to have a youth facility in the north of St. Helier in the next few years.  That is certainly going to set some people to work, I am sure.  It is a very important part of the improvement of St. Helier that we do have the young people’s facilities built.  I take my hat off to him as my Deputy who represents me in St. Helier and I look forward to seeing that delivered.

The Deputy Bailiff:

Does any other Member wish to speak on the main proposition?  I call on the Chief Minister to respond.

3.20.16Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré:

I will keep it reasonably brief, you will be delighted to know, Members.  I want to thank everybody who have generally contributed in a very positive and productive way to this debate.  I will just pick up … I am not going to cover particularly all the remarks that have been made but I do just want to thank the remarks that have been made about the diversity of the Council of Ministers.  That was the intention, that we do have a different range of views around the table.  Just to be clear before anybody jumps on things that I am sure will happen even tomorrow or over the next days, we know there will be disagreements in the Council of Ministers on particular matters.  We know that.  The key for all of that is that we respect our different views.  There will be passion, there will be arguments, no question, but provided we can keep it respectful and professional hopefully it will work well as a team.  That is the point.  If we can compromise and agree, that is fine.  There will be times when we agree to disagree.  I believe that is actually called democracy.  That is the intention of how this Council of Ministers is likely to work.  Let us go back to the actual debate, and I hope Members will agree that, having adopted the various amendments that we have adopted, we are in a position to pass this Common Strategic Policy and set a meaningful and aspirational - you cannot be a politician and not use the word “aspirational” somewhere in a speech - agenda for the Government across the next 4 years.  It is an agenda that will make a tangible difference to the lives of all Islanders, especially those who are most vulnerable.  We have produced a plan that puts the needs of our Island’s children first and foremost, a plan that places much needed focus on the mental, physical and emotional health of Islanders of all ages.  There will be a number of us that picked that up as a priority at the very least during the elections.  Certainly it is one of my election commitments.  One that will put patients, families and carers at the heart of our health system and tackle loneliness and social exclusion experienced by older people and disabled Islanders.  A plan that means we will have the economic framework to face the rigours of Brexit while developing our international profile and one where there are fundamental issues of income inequality.  It is a plan that will protect our most valuable asset, the Island’s natural environment.  So I believe the 5 priorities we have set out will lead to a stronger, safer, healthier and more self-confident Jersey.  Five priorities that give this Government a clear focus for the next 4 years for all Islanders and for the future of Jersey.  I ask Members to show that they share in that vision and to vote in favour of this Common Strategic Policy.  I call for the appel.

The Deputy Bailiff:

The appel is called for.  Any Members not in the Chamber, would they please return to their seats?  I ask the Greffier to open the voting.

POUR: 46

 

CONTRE: 0

 

ABSTAIN: 0

Senator I.J. Gorst

 

 

 

 

Senator L.J. Farnham

 

 

 

 

Senator S.C. Ferguson

 

 

 

 

Senator J.A.N. Le Fondré

 

 

 

 

Senator T.A. Vallois

 

 

 

 

Senator K.L. Moore

 

 

 

 

Senator S.W. Pallett

 

 

 

 

Senator S.Y. Mézec

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Helier

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Clement

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Lawrence

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Saviour

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Brelade

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. John

 

 

 

 

Connétable of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Connétable of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.A. Martin (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.P. Southern (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Grouville

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.C. Lewis (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M. Tadier (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Higgins (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.J. Pinel (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Martin

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Ouen

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.M.C. Doublet (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Wickenden (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Mary

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.J. Truscott (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Young (B)

 

 

 

 

Deputy L.B.E. Ash (C)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.F. Morel (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy G.C.U. Guida (L)

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. Peter

 

 

 

 

Deputy of Trinity

 

 

 

 

Deputy of St. John

 

 

 

 

Deputy M.R. Le Hegarat (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy S.M. Ahier (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy J.H. Perchard (S)

 

 

 

 

Deputy R.J. Ward (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy C.S. Alves (H)

 

 

 

 

Deputy K.G. Pamplin (S)

 

 

 

 

 

[Approbation]  

Senator L.J. Farnham:

May I propose the adjournment, Sir?

The Deputy Bailiff:

The adjournment is proposed.  Very well, the States stands adjourned until 9.30 tomorrow morning.

ADJOURNMENT

[17:27]

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