States Assembly 30th June & 1st July 2020
2nd July 2020
The States Assembly held a virtual sitting on Tuesday 30th June and Wednesday 1st July 2020.
Deputy Kevin Pamplin was nominated to to become a member of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel. This nomination was seconded and Deputy Pamplin was welcomed to the panel. Deputy Pamplin spoke to state that he had always planned to return to this panel and highlighted how happy he was that this had happened.
The Deputy of St. John, Trevor Pointon asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf if people who experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms early on in the pandemic will be invited to undergo antibody testing?
The Health Minister, Richard Renouf said that the Government's approach continues to be ensuring control of the virus in a safe and sustainable way that prevents the most harm. He added that the results of the tests that have been carried out are being analysed. He followed up by stating that details relating to testing programmes will be announced in July. The Health Minister also stated that research shows that antibody testing doesn't prove immunity from COVID-19.
Deputy Kirsten Morel asked the Minister for Education, Tracey Vallois, given the abrupt disruption to the social, physical and mental development of our Island's children caused by the closing of schools due to Covid-19, will the Minister confirm that there will be provision for all schoolchildren to attend clubs and activities during the summer holidays and what investment, if any, is the Government of Jersey making in those clubs and activities?
The Minister for Education, Tracey Vallois said there are 1500 places across 29 activity clubs for children over summer and that there is sufficient capacity in the private sector as well as the Youth Service to support vulnerable children. She added that some schools are looking into additional Education provisions during the summer holidays, as well as home learning.
Deputy Geoff Southern asked the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré to assure Members that there will be no cuts to front line services resulting from reductions in staff numbers, or otherwise, when devising the Economic Recovery plan to replace the 2020 Government Plan?
The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré responded and said that he and his team will do everything they can to support frontline services. He went on to explain that a thorough plan, including a timeline, will be laid out in the next Government Plan.
Simon Crowcroft, the Constable of St. Helier asked the Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis to explain what progress, if any, is being made with re-purposing the site of the former police station, given the need for more space for Rouge Bouillon School and the lack of public amenity space and residents' parking in that part of St. Helier?
The Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis said that the COVID-19 virus had put a halt to this. He did however say that sums of money have been made available for completing a review of requirements for the site. He added that the proposals will be made available to the Parish as soon as possible, hopefully within 2020.
Questions Without Notice
The Minister for Social Security, Judy Martin and the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré faced 15 minutes of questions each from States Assembly Members.
The Minister for Social Security was first to take questions.
Constable of St Saviours, Sadie Rennard, asked the Minister convictions do not need to be stated through the back to work scheme? Judy Martin, the Social Security Minister responded by stating that individual employers may have different data protection safeguards and that there are a range of past convictions that may still enable suitability to the workplace, however she did commit to looking at this.
The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré then took questions.
Deputy Kevin Pamplin asked the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré if he was able to back up his claim and provide evidence that, if we do not open our borders now, we will "lose Easy Jet" and other airlines?
The Chief Minister stated that he can confirm absolutely that his view is that if there are delays with opening the borders that we will potentially lose links to the island. Additionally, he stated that he cannot provide evidence as it is not the way it works. There have been many verbal communications between ports and operators in the Island who have advised us of the probability of actions by airlines and the risk of a permanent damage to connectivity to the island.
Deputy Montfort Tadier asked the Chief Minister if there had been any consideration about testing people for COVID-19 before point of entry? The Chief Minister responded by explaining that practicalities need to be considered. He stated that logistically, testing people's temperatures on arrival does not always work as some people could "cheat the system" by taking medication that would affect the result. He stated that, alternatively, appropriate certificates from people stating they have been tested within 72 hours would be accepted. The Chief Minister ended by ensuring that the plan is to keep improving on the testing process to make it even more efficient.
Questions Without Notice
Then there was up to one hour of Questions Without Notice, where any Minister could be questioned on any subject within the official responsibility of the Government of Jersey.
Deputy Geoff Southern asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf, if he would reassure members that there will be no reduction in front line health services as a result of any staff cuts included in the economic recovery plan.
The Health Minister replied stating that the Government is considering the recovery plan and the decisions that need to be made in relation to the 2021 Government Plan. The Minister said that he wishes to retain frontline health services and could deliver these services more efficiently and differently. He ended his response by mentioning that there is a continued need for high quality service but that this must be delivered in a financially stable way.
Senator Kristina Moore asked the Chief Minister, John Le Fondré to comment on a previous statement suggesting that he doesn't have a strategy for dealing with an eventual second wave of COVID-19, the Senator also asked when a strategy for dealing with a potential second wave will be developed and if he would follow the same strategy used during the first experience?
The Chief Minister responded by stating that there is planning for a potential increase of cases that might occur in winter months, but the strategy of 'supress, contain and delay' would probably remain the same. He also added that that the Emergencies Council are meeting in the week of 20th July and he will bring forward items needed to help identify lessons learned and what needs to be considered for change and review. He finished by stating that further planning will take place over the summer months using learnings from the Southern hemisphere as they go through their winter months.
The Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft asked the Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis to trial an alternative bus stop for the number 19 while Broad Street is closed.
The Minister for Infrastructure highlighted that the idea has been put forward to Liberty Bus but also pointed out that there are some issues with the Constables proposal.
The Minister for Children and Housing, Sam Mézec then presented a statement regarding Children's Day.
He said, the focus of Children's Day 2020, in schools and nurseries, is centred around regeneration and growth. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the arrangements for the inaugural Children's Day, this year, have had to be scaled back but that all schools & nurseries have been invited to choose a tree, which will be planted in their grounds, to celebrate and mark Jersey's first Children's Day on 3rd July. Children & young people have also been invited to take part in a creative tree project to celebrate childhood."
Deputy Montfort Tadier asked if the Minister had considered making future Children's Days a public holiday in Jersey so that families, especially those with multiple jobs, could spend some time with their children on that day?
The Minister for Children and Housing, Sam Mézec said that he believes it would be a good opportunity, but that he has no intention of dictating the terms of which Children's Day becomes a part of Jersey's calendar. He added that the Citizen's Panel think having children in school provides a place for them to learn and enjoy Children's Day.
Deputy Mike Higgins asked the Minister if he thought it was right that certain civil servants involved in the cover up of child abuse are still employed by the States?
The Children's Minister asked Deputy Higgins if he could follow up with him in private so he can learn who he is referring to, and that anyone who has made mistakes in the past, intentional and unintentional ought to be addressed.
The States Assembly then moved onto Public Business:
JERSEY OVERSEAS AID COMMISSION: RE-APPOINTMENT OF COMMISSIONER
Minister for International Development
The Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey then proposed the re-appointment of a commissioner to the Jersey Overseas Aid Board for a further three years.
Constable of St Ouen, Richard Buchanan endorsed the proposition and supported the re-appointment.
Read the proposal HERE
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the proposal.
43 FOR vs 0 AGAINST
PROPOSED AIRPORT REDEVELOPMENT: REVIEW
Deputy Russell Labey proposed that a review of scale, detail and viability of the Jersey Airport redevelopment scheme was carried out in light of the changed aviation landscape following COVID-19. The proposal also asked for a commitment to be sought from Ports of Jersey to pause any demolition of the 1937 Terminal building until the review is carried out and that consideration be given to keeping and incorporating the original arrivals terminal. Finally, the proposal asked the Minister for the Environment, John Young to instigate a review of the permit that granted permission to demolish the terminal.
Read the proposal HERE
Deputy Susie Pinel spoke on the proposal and said the redevelopment is going ahead due to necessary safety improvements and that the 1937 building must be removed to ensure the safety of the airport. The Deputy also said one of the key aims is to future-proof the airport, as it enables the Island to continue to attract and support new aircrafts and a good passenger experience. She urged members to reject the proposition.
Constable of St Peter, Richard Vibert spoke against the proposal and said he felt "it is wrong as Politicians, to impose our will" on Ports of Jersey. He added that he should be able to offer passengers the experience that they deserve. He added that he believed we are several decades too late to save the actual 1937 building.
Deputy Montfort Tadier stated that heritage protection must be taken seriously as it is crucial to our economy and quality of life in the Island. He expressed his support for the proposal and asked Members to do the same.
Senator Sarah Ferguson said she was greatly in favour of Deputy Russell Labey's proposal and felt that the amount of traffic at the airport is insufficient to justify the redevelopment fee.
Senator Lyndon Farnham spoke to remind Members that the key driver behind the redevelopment was safety. He added that the 1937 building is an iconic piece of history however, he could not accept the risk it poses to passenger safety at the airport.
Chief Minister, John Le Fondré said that he has great sentiment for the 1937 building, like many others, however, he felt it was a very slippery slope if the safety implications were ignored.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT Deputy Russell Labey's proposal to review the airport redevelopment scheme.
25 FOR vs 19 AGAINST vs 1 ABSTENTION
On 1st July 2020 The States Assembly met again to continue the debate.
SAFER TRAVEL PERIOD POLICY
The Council of Ministers accepted Deputy Rob Ward's amendment to their Safer Travel Period policy, which added the requirement for anyone entering Jersey to engage with the contact tracing team on a daily basis for a period of 14 days.
Read the proposal HERE
Senator Ian Gorst then presented the Safer Travel Period policy to the Assembly, which, if approved would commence from Friday 3rd July 2020. The proposal stated that anyone that would be travelling to Jersey must comply with either the requirements of border testing or self-isolate for the timeframe specified in relation to the latest medical advice. The proposed policy also outlined the need for co-ordination with other relevant jurisdictions regarding pre-travel testing. It also asked the Council of Ministers to also present a report to the Assembly before any further changes can be made to the policy. Additionally, the proposal requested that the Council of Ministers provide regular and timely information to States Members on the operation of the safer travel period, including the border testing and contact tracing programmes.
Read the proposal HERE
A SAFER TRAVEL PERIOD: STATES ASSEMBLY APPROVAL - SECOND AMENDMENT
Amendments to the Council of Ministers' proposal were lodged by the Scrutiny Liaison Committee and presented to the Assembly by Scrutiny Chair, Senator Kristina Moore. The proposed changes included the start date changing to Friday 10th July. The proposal also asked that anyone entering Jersey must either participate and comply with the border testing programme and self-isolate until a negative test result is received, or self-isolate in line with the latest medical advice. In addition the proposed amendments asked that any future changes to the policy must be lodged at least 1 week before debate. Finally, the amendment requested that the Council of Ministers publish and maintain a list of countries designated as safe for travel including information on R numbers, testing regimes and provide regular updates to States Members on the safer travel period and test results.
Read the proposal HERE
The debate followed and many members chose to speak on both the proposed amendments and the proposition as a whole during the debate.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman called the proposal a "wrecking amendment" and stated that ferries and airlines are ready to go. He also said that if the amendments were adopted it would leave the advice from the medical experts in tatters, he ended by stating "We must vote against it."
Deputy Montfort Tadier supported the amendment as did Deputy Geoff Southern, who stated he believed it would safeguard our tourism. Deputy Lindsay Ash also supported, in particular, the part of the proposition which would delay travel recommencing until 10th July. He stated, "Many are urging let's go, but we need to balance that and think about people's health."
Deputy Jess Perchard urged members to vote for the options which would cause least overall harm. She added she felt a second lockdown, if required, would be bad for wellbeing and economy and that borders must be opened sensibly.
Deputy Mary Le Hegarat was among many members to speak against the amendment but also raised concerns about how the reopening of the border was handled. She stated that her stance to reopen was related to those businesses and individuals who would be adversely affected by a further delay. Constable Simon Crowcroft asked Members to reject the amendments and let the Island 'get back to business', while Deputy Graham Truscott highlighted that it was important for wellbeing of the Island as a whole to open the borders. He recommended members support the proposition and reject the amendment.
Deputy Inna Gardiner stated that she was in support of opening the borders, but that it must be done in a safe way. She referenced the danger of assuming people will follow guidance around self-isolation. A number of other members including Senator Sam Mézec, Deputy Kevin Pamplin, and Senator Sarah Ferguson highlighted the importance of stringent tracking and tracing, and spoke of the need to balance the reopening of the borders with the concerns of the health of Islanders.
Constable Sadie Rennard argued to delay the opening of the borders and stated she would like to give residents time to enjoy the Island and feel safe for a while.
Constable Chris Taylor, Deputy Rowland Huelin and Deputy Mike Higgins urged members to follow the medical advice and reject the proposed delay to reopen the borders.
Constable of St Brelade, Mike Jackson spoke about the need for a robust testing regime, especially at the harbours, which he believed had yet to be achieved. He suggested the vote be taken on each part of the proposal separately and reminded Members to "think of health before wealth."
Deputy of St Mary, David Johnson stated that he made no recommendations to support or reject the amendment.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf recognised the "legitimate concerns" of Members and that he and they all, want reassurance that they are taking the path with the least risk for Jersey and Islanders. He added "It is my overriding responsibility to make sure the Island is healthy and not at increased risk, I would not support the Government's proposition if I thought this was the case." Citing the medical recommendations from STAC he added that he saw no reason to delay travel and said that, in fact, waiting and delaying causes more risk to the Island with the potential threat of losing travel links.
Deputy Susie Pinel spoke, emphasising the Health Minister's points while other Members, such as Constable Richard Buchanan, Senator Lyndon Farnham and Senator Ian Gorst also referenced the need to follow the medical advice received with Senator Gorst saying, "it is now proportionate to give Islanders some of their freedom back."
On this topic, The Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that medical advice had been followed all the way through the Coronavirus pandemic and that should continue. He added that 3 months of lockdown had created years of economic hardship.
Deputy Gregory Guida spoke about the impact on travel and tourism and said this time was a window of opportunity to get some businesses out of a black hole and allow people to travel and see family. He said that the amendment, as well intentioned as it was, destroys the ability to open our borders while there are the lowest cases around the world.
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part 1of the amendment to change the Safer Travel Policy start date to 10th July 2020.
15 POUR vs 29 CONTRE vs 1 ABSTENSION
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part 2 of the amendment which would make changes to self-isolation requirements and onward travel provisions.
18 POUR vs 29 CONTRE
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part 3 of the amendment that would require all future changes to the Safer Travel Period policy to be lodged at least 1 week before debate.
22 POUR vs 26 CONTRE
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part 4 of the amendment relating to the provision of details such as countries designated safe for travel, R numbers, test results and more.
ADOPTED 41 POUR vs 05 CONTRE
Before moving onto the final item, some States Members wished to adjourn and return the following day, however the States Assembly voted to continue the debate into the evening.
A SAFER TRAVEL PERIOD: STATES ASSEMBLY APPROVAL
Read the proposal HERE
Moving onto the debate of the original proposal, Deputy Lindsay Ash urged members to pull together and support the proposal.
Deputy John Young said he could not support a proposal he believed to be unsafe.
Deputy Kevin Pamplin stated he believed this was the most critical moment of the continuing pandemic on the Island and warned of the dangers of pre-symptomatic transmission and A-symptomatic transmission.
Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke of his worries regarding the economic consequences if Islanders fear the virus is returning. He stated that if there is another spike the cause will be known and if it does not go well, he expects resignations.
Deputy Jess Perchard spoke about her serious concerns of the mental health of vulnerable Islanders, citing some emails and stories she had received from constituents. She also stated that she felt Scrutiny were put in an impossible position when looking at the policy ,due to the perception given to the public that the borders would be reopening on 3rd July.
Constable St Mary, John Le Bailly spoke of his Parishioner's worries, and that he understood the need for economic recovery but asked at what cost. He added he believed we should not open borders until locals do not need to social distance and that lives are worth more than money. He ended by suggesting the States Assembly delay the proposition until proper safeguards are in place.
Senator Tracey Vallois stated that the community may feel anxious and concerned around this and that the States Assembly must provide reassurance to the public. She stated she would support the proposition.
Deputy Montfort Tadier spoke for 50 minutes on the proposed travel policy and stated that his concern regarding opening the borders on 3rd July is that there's not enough time to ascertain the natural state of the virus within the Island after reaching 0 known cases.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the Safer Travel Period policy
34 FOR vs 10 AGAINST
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