States Assembly Sitting Summary 6 October 2020

States Chamber in Jersey Channel Islands

6th October 2020

The States Assembly began its hybrid sitting today – this is when some States Members join via Office 365, and others are present in the States Chamber.

Oral questions

Deputy Kevin Pamplin asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, for an update on the progress of the Mental Health Improvement Board. The Deputy also asked which proposed mental health service improvements are outstanding in terms of delivery. The Assistant Minister for Health and Social Services, Senator Steve Pallett, responded saying that the Mental Health Improvement Board has continued to meet and hold reviews throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the Improvement Plan has always been intended to be a live document and is RAG rated to show progress. Senator Pallett discussed the achievements to date relating to mental illness in Jersey, such as the opening of the Listening Lounge, the review of Talking Therapies, and the upgrade of La Chasse.

Deputy Geoff Southern asked the Minister for Social Security, Deputy Judy Martin, to explain the rationale behind deferring the implementation of the Care Needs at Home project by one year. This is in light of the continuing commitments to increase care at home, which is contained in the Jersey Care Model. The Minister responded, saying she has not announced any plans to defer the Care Needs at Home project by one year. 

Deputy Kirsten Morel asked the Minister for Education, Senator Tracy Vallois, what steps her department is taking to discourage the use of cars for the transport of pupils to and from school, and to encourage cycling. The Minister responded saying that encouragement of cycling and other non-motorised options also relies on others, such as the Infrastructure Department. She went on to say that the Cycling Proficiency Scheme is offered to year 6 pupils and that Jersey Sport recently trained and employed staff to employ ‘bike ability’ to all schools. The Minister also said that an annual campaign to encourage children and parents to walk to school takes place, and that a ‘Walking Bus’ scheme is being considered. Finally, the Minister confirmed that a Sustainability Officer is due to be employed to implement the Sustainable Transport Policy.

Deputy Rob Ward asked the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, what level of Children’s Right Impact Assessment (CRIA), if any, has been carried out regarding the forthcoming Government Plan. The Chief Minister responded, saying that a CRIA has not been included in the Government Plan, but that a legal framework will be developed in 2021. He added that the Government of Jersey is committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child legislation.

Deputy Geoff Southern asked the Minister for Social Security, Deputy Judy Martin, to provide States Members with details of the proposed review of how the minimum wage is agreed. The Minister responded saying she has not announced a review of how the minimum wage is agreed, and that now is not the right rime to do so due to the recent States Assembly debate on the matter.

Questions Without Notice

The Minister for Children and Housing, Senator Sam Mézec and the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondé, faced Questions Without Notice from States Members today (QWN). QWN are when Ministers have not been given prior awareness of what they will be asked. You can catch up on QWN and the rest of today’s debate by visiting the States Assembly website, here.

Urgent Question

Deputy Kevin Pamplin asked the Minister for Educaton, Senator Vallois, about ongoing support for Islanders studying at university in light of COVID-19. The Assistant Minister for Education, Deputy Jeremy Macon, responded saying that in the past week a group has been set-up to monitor and respond to the situation as it develops. He advised that students should use the welfare and support available from their own institituions and universities, and that the Jersey Youth Service Team can also take calls to help where they can. The Education Minister has written to counterparts in England, Scotland, Wales and Notherthn Ireland and made it clear she will do her best to make sure students can return to Jersey.


The Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, made a statement about the ‘Our Hospital ‘ project. He announced that the Our Hospital Political Oversight Group and the Council of Ministers have determined to recommend that Overdale is approved as the preferred site for Jersey’s new hospital, and advised that a proposition would be lodged today (6 October 2020) to reflect that decision.

Senator Farnham explained why Overdale has been chosen, citing:

  • that it is sufficient in size, scope, and has flexibility in design & future-proofing; 
  • that it allows the project to be delivered within the anticipated timescale;
  • that the acquisition of private property and impact on nearby residents is limited;
  • that access challenges can be overcome;
  • that it is more financially viable when compared with People’s Park;
  • and that it saves the green spaces of People’s Park and Victoria Park.

The Senator went on to say, “If approved, Overdale Hospital will be set in an elevated, peaceful location and natural environment, close to town, with incredible sea views, offering individual recovery rooms alongside state-of-the-art and flexible, modern medical facilities and technology. The patient experience will be paramount, meaning we will be able to attract the very best in healthcare professionals providing the highest standards of care for future generations.”


Public business

Drinks Promotions

Deputy Lindsay Ash proposed permitting bars, pubs and restaurants to offer drinks promotions until 31 December 2021. This is in light of the effects of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.

The States Assembly voted to APPROVE parts a) and c) of Deputy Lindsay Ash’s proposition, but REJECT part b). This means that bars, pubs and restaurants are permitted to offer drinks promotions until 31 December 2021, and amendments to the law will be brought forward to establish a framework whereby licensing policy decisions are made by the States Assembly. However, a review of Island-wide pricing of alcohol, and in particular, current trading practise, will not be carried out.


Bus Service: revised ticket and fares policy

Deputy Montfort Tadier proposed changes to Liberty Bus tickets and fares.

The StatesAssembly voted to APPROVE parts a) and d) of Deputy Montfort Tadier's proposal regarding Liberty Bus tickets and fares. Parts a) and d) are to ensure that passengers can purchase a transfer ticket at the same price as a single ticket from 1 January 2021; and to report back to the Assembly by 31 Dec 2020 with progress.

However, the Assembly voted to REJECT parts b) and c), which were to ensure there was no difference in the price charged for a single ticket, regardless of whether passengers paid by cash, debit card or Avanchi Card; and to investigate the feasibility of allowing passengers to top up their Avanchi Card on buses.


7 October

Repair of the Steam Clock

Deputy Montfort Tadier withdrew his proposition to repair the Steam Clock in St Helier by 31 December 2020, after it didn’t work for a number of years. This is because the Steam Clock was recently fixed.

Time-limit on speeches

The Privileges and Procedures committee put forward a proposition to implement a 15-minute time-limit on all speeches during States Assembly debates. This was following the States Assembly voting in favour of the idea in 2019.

A timely debate ensured, with Members arguing that it would ensure States Members make clear and concise speeches, and don’t overrun, as well as those on the other side who said it impacts the freedom of speech and is undemocratic to place a time-limit on speeches.

The States Assembly voted to APPROVE the implementation of 15-minute time-limits on speeches during debates, with 25 voting FOR and 14 voting AGAINST.


Allow GP practices to open by law on a Sunday

Senator Lyndon Farnham brought forward a proposition to make it legal for GP surgeries to open on Sundays in order to facilitate the roll-out of the flue and COVID-19 vaccines. However, the Senator decided to withdraw the proposition following a last minute amendment from Scrutiny. The proposition will now be debated in a few weeks.


Incoming passengers from Green category areas: requirement to self-isolate

Another lengthy debate which saw Deputy Inna Gardiner put forward a proposition to make it mandatory for all incoming passengers to Jersey from Green category areas to self-isolate until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

The States Assembly voted to APPROVE the proposition, as amended by the Health Minister’s amendment. This means that all inbound passengers to Jersey from Green category areas must self-isolate until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. This will come into force at 23.59 on Monday 12 October 2020.


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