States Assembly 16th June 2020
16th June 2020
The States Assembly held a virtual sitting on Tuesday 16th June 2020.
Topics tackled during oral questions included the provision of mains water across the island, Jersey’s history in relation to slavery, IT for islanders in response to COVID-19 and potential budget cuts.
Deputy Carina Alves asked the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré what consideration, if any, was given to sending texts out in different languages in order to ensure that all sectors of the Island’s community were made aware of the support and information available to them during the Covid-19 crisis?
The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré said that consideration had been given to this, however doing this would have meant each Islander would have been sent 5 messages on each occasion which was deemed to be excessive and reduce the effectiveness of these messages. He added that telecoms companies do not keep record of nationality and therefor languages spoken on its database of users.
The Connétable of St. Martin, Karen Stone asked the Chief Minister to advise what consideration, if any, has been given to establishing a public working group dedicated to improving the public’s knowledge and understanding of Jersey’s history in general, including Jersey’s historical links to slavery and colonialism?
The Deputy of Grouville, Carolyn Labey answered this question and stated she believes the public should have better understanding of events that shaped us. Deputy Labey stated that last October a policy development board was created to look into “What makes us Jersey?” Key recommendations of report are due to be published this summer and these include the opportunity for children and newcomers to the Island to learn about our history, which will include elements of slavery and colonialism.
Deputy Kirsten Morel asked the Chief Minister John Le Fondré if the Council of Ministers had decided upon any level of cuts to Departmental budgets following the Covid-19 crisis; and if so, what is it?
The Chief Minister stated that there are no specific targets at this stage, but he added he is hoping to identify options for balance, like zero based budgeting, which will look at demands and the experiences of departments through COVID-19. He also added that scenario modelling would be used to identify potential cuts.
Deputy Carina Alves asked how many complaints, if any, have there been regarding a lack of adherence to the COVID-19 Regulations on workplace restrictions, both in respect of construction sites and other workplaces?
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf said there has been a total of 265 complaints, 225 directly to the Gov.je email address and 40 to Health and Safety. He added that building control received another 9 enquiries but that to date, no permits have been taken away. He said that most of the complaints have been about lack of distancing in hospitality and retail, and that these issues have been followed up by Environmental Health officers. To rectify issues the Officers are following an ‘Engage, educate and encourage’ protocol as opposed to punishment.
The Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey and The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman faced 15 minutes of questions each from States Assembly Members.
The Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey answered Deputy Steve Ahier’s question on the impact COVID-19 has had on Jersey overseas projects and community work projects?
The Minister stated that one of the biggest projects, which involved 30 people going to Lebanon, has had to be postponed until next year. She added her department was due to send a team to Nepal in November, but they are now waiting for Government travel advice both locally and internationally.
In answer to a follow up question from Deputy Ahier about opportunities provided by Jersey Overseas Aid for Islanders.
The Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey, stated that opportunities of internships, bursaries and the Jersey International Development network as well as The Community Work Project are all open to Islanders.
Deputy Rowland Huelin asked how when so many Islanders are facing hardship can the Minister justify an overseas aid budget?
The Minister stated that Jersey is a wealthy, developed jurisdiction who made an agreement to help the world’s poorest. She went on to say that as an international player, it is important for Jersey to take on these responsibilities. She added that the Island has a moral duty as well because over 2 billion people around the world lack access to sanitation, and 5 million children around the world die before the age of 5 and we should play our part to help those in need.
The Home Affairs Minister, Len Norman then took questions from the States Assembly.
The Deputy of St Martin, Steve Luce asked the Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman if he would reassure the Assembly that he is committed to the fire and rescue service and the continued provision of the rescue boat?
The Minister for Home Affairs has said he thinks that the facility boat is one of the ‘jewels in our crown’ but added “one can’t get too emotional and dramatic about it.” The Minister also said the rescue boat is the only vessel that can deploy in a matter of minutes whenever needed and that it can get to places others cannot. He added the service costs £19,000 a year, it is not likely we can get it cheaper, and that the boat is secure.
Deputy Kirsten Morel asked if the Minister for Home Affairs is satisfied that police complaints are being heard appropriately and processed in a proper way?
The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman referred to the police complaints report and stated it is very positive. He added he is satisfied that the complaints against police are handled in a fair and proper manner.
Deputy Mike Higgins followed up to this question and asked what changes are you going to make to the police complaints system?
Len Norman, the Minister for Home affairs said that a number of changes will be proposed to the States Assembly later this year. He said some of these changes would give the Police Complaints system the right to employ their own legal advice and their own investigators if they think it is appropriate.
Questions Without Notice to any Minister
Deputy Graham Truscott asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf if he believes the wearing of face masks in public places should be compulsory. The Minister said current advice is to "strongly recommend" the wearing of face masks, especially in enclosed spaces.
Deputy Mary Le Hegarat asked The Minister for Children and Housing, Sam Mézec how long the support being provided by the Jersey Shelter Trust is available? The Minister, Sam Mézec said that he is not currently aware of any deadline for this support to end to those in need and that his officers are in touch with the Trust on a daily basis to monitor this.
Deputy Graham Truscott asked what the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture what the next steps are for the Hospital Project?
The Minister for Economic Development, Lydnon Farnham said that the next steps are to share the shortlist of sites. He added that despite COVID-19, the sharing of this list of sites with the States Assembly is still on schedule for July - following some more detailed site evaluation work.
Deputy Trevor Pointon asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf why the stroke rehabilitation centre has been closed? The Health Minister said this was in response to COVID-19 but work has been done for patients in urgent need in their home.
The States Assembly then moved onto Public Business:
DRAFT TAXATION (IMPLEMENTATION) (INTERNATIONAL TAX COMPLIANCE) (MANDATORY DISCLOSURE RULES FOR CRS AVOIDANCE ARRANGEMENTS AND OPAQUE OFFSHORE STRUCTURES) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS
The Minister for External Relations, Ian Gorst proposed regulations which would introduce Mandatory Disclosure Rules (MDR). If these regulations were adopted the proposed changes would require the relevant parties to provide the Comptroller of Revenue with information on tax avoidance arrangements and opaque offshore structures. The proposed changes would also mean that information relating to users resident in other jurisdictions would be exchanged with the tax authority of that jurisdiction in accordance with the terms of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the Minister for External Relations, Ian Gorst’s Draft Taxation regulations proposal in the first reading.
The Scrutiny Panel called this in for review and the proposal will return for debate in the Second Reading to the Assembly on 8th September.
DRAFT AIR NAVIGATION (RULES OF THE AIR) (AMENDMENT NO. 2) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS
The Minister for External Relations, Ian Gorst also proposed an Amendment to the Air Navigation Regulations. The amendment would ensure Jersey’s regulations remain in line with the Standardised European Rules of the Air. Additionally, if adopted, the proposed changes would expand the definition of ‘safety-sensitive personnel’ to include staff such as fire fighters and maintenance workers.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT The Minister for External Relations, Ian Gorst’s proposed amendment to the Air Navigation Regulations.
PUTTING JERSEY BUSINESSES FIRST
Deputy Kirsten Morel accepted the Council of Minister’s amendment to his, ‘Putting Jersey Businesses First’ proposal.
The proposal asked that the Government commit to maximising the goods and services bought from On-Island suppliers where it is legal and practical to do so. The proposal also asked that the Minister for Treasury and Resources, Susie Pinel review and amend the Government’s ‘procurement evaluation criteria’ to better promote Jersey’s economic, social and environmental well-being. Additionally, the proposal also asks the Minister for Treasury and Resources to update the amended procurement policies and evaluation criteria, by 31st August 2020 with any future amendments to be published on the Gov.je site. As part of this proposal, the Minister for Treasury and Resources was also asked to present an annual procurement report to the States Assembly detailing expenditure by the States of Jersey of the top 100 Suppliers by value across goods and services by 31st March 2021. The final part of the proposal asked the Minister for Economic Development, Lyndon Farnham to use ‘supply-use tables’ to help build evidence for use in the Future Economy Programme.
Deputy Susie Pinel spoke in support of this proposal as did Deputy Jeremy Maçon, he did however highlight that there are forces outside of the States at work regarding procurement processes. Deputy John Young also spoke in support of this proposal and stated he felt the need for a comprehensive economic model.
The Constable of St Brelade, Mike Jackson said he believes upskilling local workers to help the local economy is also key.
The Minister for Economic Development, Lyndon Farnham spoke in support of the proposal and also detailed the information about supply use tables.
Constable Chris Taylor spoke about the need for local purchases and stated “everyone should try and buy what they can locally”. He added he strongly supports the proposition and encouraged other members to do so.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Deputy Kirsten Morel’s amended Putting Jersey Businesses First proposal
REGULATION OF COVID-19 TESTING UNDERTAKEN BY PRIVATE ENTITIES (P.62/2020): AMENDMENT (P.62/2020 AMD.)
Deputy Kirsten Morel then proposed that regulations be developed that ‘govern the quality and supply’ of COVID-19 tests by private entities. The proposal asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf to lodge this draft legislation by 1st July 2020 for debate in the States Assembly by 14th July.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf stated that he had been very happy to work with Deputy Morel on this proposition. He urged Members to support the proposal. Senator Lyndon Farnham also spoke in support of the proposition.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Deputy Kirsten Morel’s amended proposal introduce regulations for COVID-19 tests by private entities.
DRAFT EMPLOYMENT (AMENDMENT NO. 11) (JERSEY) LAW 2020 (APPOINTED DAY) ACT
The Minister for Social Security, Judy Martin then proposed changes to the Employment Law to incorporate the Family Friendly legislation by 28th June 2020. Specifics of the changes included, but were not limited to, 52 weeks of parental leave (combining maternity, adoption and parental leave) for all parents, time off for appointments and breastfeeding rights.
Deputy Rowland Huelin and Constable Mike Jackson both stated they would not support the proposition at this time, owing to the economic challenges faced by many businesses in Jersey following Coronavirus.
Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke and said he felt The Minister for Social Security’s attitude was concerning and encouraged her to engage in consultation and to hear other’s views. He asked the Minister to please engage in ‘proper, decent and dignified consultations’ going forward.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon, Deputy Louise Doublet, Senator Sam Mézec and Senator Lyndon Farnham all spoke in support of this. Deputy Scott Wickenden and Deputy Rob Ward both voiced their shock that some Members were trying to further delay this legislation that has already been agreed on by the Assembly.
Deputy Steve Luce said he was disappointed by the response from some Members and would like to think the Assembly would be more supportive of local businesses and the impact that COVID-19 has had on them. He added he is supportive of the Family Friendly Legislation but not at this time.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the Minister for Social Security, Judy Martin’s proposal to introduce Family Friendly legislation by 28th June 2020
36 FOR vs 2 AGAINST - 3 ABSTENTIONS
BANNING THE SALE OF SINGLE-USE CARRIER BAGS
Deputy Inna Gardiner then proposed that the sale of single-use carrier bags be banned in Jersey. The proposal outlined several options for the Members to vote on, including banning the sale of single use paper bags and a minimum cost for a bag for life. The proposal also proposed that legislation is introduced to ensure environmental charities receive the money from the sale of bags for life.
Deputy Inna Gardiner withdrew part D of her proposal which asked that profits raised through the sale of plastic carrier bags would go to local environmental charities and that this would be monitored and enforced.
The Minister for the Environment, Deputy John Young gave Deputy Gardiner ‘full marks’ for her ‘focused’ proposal which tackles plastic pollution. He added he felt this was a very workable proposal that moves the Island towards achieving legislation by 2021.
Deputy Montfort Tadier congratulated Deputy Inna Gardiner on her proposition but stated he needed further convincing regarding the banning of the sale of single paper bags.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis spoke in support of banning the sale of plastic carrier bags and the minimum price for a bag for life. He asked that Members support these parts of the proposal and that the banning of the sale of paper bags should be the next step after these are taken.
Constables Chris Johnson and Mike Jackson both congratulated and supported Deputy Inna Gardiner on her proposition. Constable Jackson asked for reassurance that local suppliers of any types of bags will be consulted and not negatively impacted if this proposal was adopted.
Constable Richard Buchanan said in his opinion plastic is the scourge of the modern world and any reduction of plastic is a positive. He did however raise concerns over the banning of paper bags as they are a better alternative.
In summing up, Deputy Inna Gardiner stated the banning of the sale of paper bags was to help with the shift to a ‘bring your own bag’ mindset.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Part A of Deputy Inna Gardiner’s proposal which would ban the sale of single use plastic bags by all retailers in Jersey.
RESULT: 41 FOR vs 0 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Part B of Deputy Inna Gardiner’s proposal which would ban the sale of single use paper bags by all retailers in Jersey.
RESULT: 23 FOR vs 18 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Part C of Deputy Inna Gardiner’s proposal
which set a minimum price for Bags of Life.
RESULT: 37 FOR vs 2 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Part E of Deputy Inna Gardiner’s proposal that asked the Council of Ministers to bring forward draft legislation by February 2021 to give effect to the banning of the sale of single use carrier bags.
RESULT: 40 FOR vs 0 AGAINST
DRAFT COVID-19 (CIVIL PARTNERSHIP AND MARRIAGE NO. 2) (JERSEY) REGULATIONS
The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman then proposed Amendments to the Draft Civil Partnership and Marriage regulations. If approved the temporary changes would enable marriages and civil partnerships to restart in a safe way while the Island is still responding to COVID-19. As part of the proposed changes, any couples wishing to be married would have to comply with guidance relating to their ceremony, including temporarily suspending the right for people to freely attend weddings or civil partnership ceremonies. The proposed changes would also mean lawful objections could be made to any marriage or civil partnerships through the telephone. The proposal also gave registrars the power to stop proceedings if they are not in line with the regulations. The proposal also outlined rules for the hospitality sector the rules for approval of locations.
Very little debate occurred on this proposal and it quickly went to a vote.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman’s proposal.
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