States Assembly September 22, 23, 24 and 25 2020
22nd September 2020
The States Assembly met on 22 September 2020 for its first hybrid meeting of the Assembly, with a number of Members attending in person while others joined via a video link. This allowed the Members to adhere to Government guidelines relating to physical distancing and number of people allowed at a 'gathering'.
At the beginning of the sitting, Members marked the life of former States Assembly member, Mac Pollard, with a one-minute silence.
The Assembly began the sitting with 2 hours of questions.
The details of all submitted questions can be found in the order paper HERE
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Richard Renouf answered several questions relating to whether singing and live music can be re-introduced to the Island. Deputy Louise Doublet highlighted studies that show the health benefits of singing and asked the Minister to make this a priority for school aged children.
Deputy Inna Gardiner asked why it appears that karaoke is allowed when other live music is not. The Minister advised he would like to follow up with the Deputy on this and advised that guidance was being created and that it weighed up the benefits of singing against the threat to health.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Kevin Lewis was asked about parking arrangements for pregnant women. The deputy advised there is and always has been an informal arrangement that pregnant women can use child and parent spaces. Deputies Louise Doublet and Jess Perchard asked that the Minister communicate this to the public as they both stated it was largely unknown. The Minister said anyone who needs to make this arrangement can call or visit the parking office.
Deputy Graham Truscott asked if, given the upcoming flu season and the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, face coverings will be made mandatory in indoor spaces.
The Health Minister, Richard Renouf, said that this is in the legislative programme. He added that in order to make this a Law it will need to come before the Assembly but the advice remains that the wearing of masks remains strongly recommended at this time.
Deputy Montfort Tadier then asked a question in French the translation of which was "Is it government policy to seek expressions of interest from non-British European individuals or companies when it comes to consultancy work, where off-Island expertise is deemed necessary; and if not, why not?"
The Chief Minister answered in French and said "The government expression of interest process is open and advertised on public platforms e.g. websites and therefore neither actively encourages nor discourages bids for consultancy from non-British European Entities, as they are accessible to all. Requests for proposal or invitations to tender for larger assignments where appropriate are published on the Channel Islands Portal which is openly available to everyone. Larger tenders that are published on the portal are also published via the Official Journal of the European Union to ensure that organisations who may want to work in Jersey or expand their geographic reach are able to also bid. Smaller, usually one person, requests will be sourced from a selection of resourcing/head hunting firms, many of whom have international reach and advertise opportunities on open platforms."
The Assembly then moved onto Questions without Notice, where The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lyndon Farnham and the Minister for the Environment, John Young then faced 15 minutes of Questions without Notice.
Deputy of St Martin, Steve Luce asked the Minister for the Environment about opportunities for Islanders to increase the amount of sustainable energy they can produce on site? The Minister for the Environment said the process of the Carbon Neutral policy and the work related to that does address this but that he hoped for more opportunities for solar panels on commercial buildings and people's roofs.
Deputy Montford Tadier then made his proposal to remove the British Citizenship requirements for States Assembly candidates. Several amendments were made to the Deputy's proposal, all of which were accepted. As amended, the proposal would allow members of the EU and other Commonwealth countries, as well as British and Irish citizens, to stand for election in the States Assembly if they have been resident in Jersey for 5 years and hold the "entitled for work" status. Part of the proposal states that Jersey born candidates do not need to have been resident in the Island prior to an election.
READ THE AMENDED PROPOSAL
Constable of St Peter, Richard Vibert spoke in support of the proposal, stating that in his Parish he has worked with a wide variety of people from many nationalities and believes diversity in the Assembly is equally important. Deputy Russell Labey also spoke in support of the proposal and said that the diversity of the Island should be reflected in the Assembly.
John Le Bailly, Constable of St Mary, spoke against the proposal and said he would be appalled if anyone who is not British could be elected and allowed to change the laws of Jersey.
Deputy Inna Gardiner suggested that a Jersey Citizenship should be created. Senator Sam Mézec said that someone's national background is not a sign of their character and hoped that Members would support this proposal.
Senator Ian Gorst spoke on the proposal and the amendment he proposed which would change the requirements from anyone being able to become a member to those from EU or Commonwealth countries. He asked Members to think about the way in which this small change can deliver change for the better in the future and vote for the proposal.
Deputy Louise Doublet spoke in support of the proposal and said that the only test on candidates should be the election. Deputy Kirsten Morel called on Members to reject the proposal, stating that the amendments "made a hash" of the original proposal.
The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré, stated he would not be supporting the proposal while Deputy Judy Martin said this proposal is really about inclusion and diversity and that she would be support it. The Constable of St John, Chris Taylor said he didn't think being a British Citizen in order to stand in the Assembly was "not too much to ask"
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part A of the proposal to remove the requirement of British Citizenship to stand for the Assembly and replace it with citizenship of Britain, Ireland, EU or Commonwealth countries.
23 FOR vs 24 AGAINST - 1 ABSTENTION
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part B of the proposal which means that candidates for the States Assembly should have lived in Jersey for 5 years and hold an 'entitled for work' status to stand for election.
22 FOR vs 20 AGAINST - 1 ABSTENTION
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part C of Deputy Tadier's amended citizenship proposal which would allow Jersey-born candidates who have not been resident I the Island to stand for election.
16 FOR vs 29 AGAINST - 1 ABSTENTION
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part D of the proposal to bring the legislation forward to bring part B into law.
23 FOR vs 20 AGAINST
The next proposal was the use of MOBILE SPEED CAMERAS
The Constable of St John, Chris Taylor, proposed that the Honorary police should be able to use unattended mobile speed cameras, that the information from these cameras can be used as evidence, and that anyone who is caught travelling more than 30mph over the speed limit should face tougher sentences.
READ THE PROPOSAL
The Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman spoke on the proposal and said he would support the proposal.
Several members, including Deputy John Young and Constable John Le Bailly referenced the need for independent cameras due to social media being used to share the location of speed checks and this resulting in very few people being caught.
The Constable of St Ouen, Richard Buchanan spoke in support of Part A of the proposal which would allow Honorary police to use mobile speed cameras. He referenced complaints of noise and the potential for a serious accident caused by the people who are travelling at high speeds, often at night.
Constable Mike Jackson asked for a 'reference back' on the proposal and stated that the detail of the proposition is missing. He stated this had been been shown by the many questions posed by Members to the Attorney General, Mark Temple. Deputy Kirsten Morel seconded the call for the reference back and added the cost of the cameras was missing from the proposal, along with the administrative costs of dealing with the data they would create. Deputy Gregory Guida spoke against this while the Constable of St Martin, Karen Stone, and Deputy Rob Ward also called for the reference back.
Minister for Home Affairs, Len Norman said he did not support that call for the reference back because the proposal was in principle only and it was fundamentally asking to improve road safety. A vote was taken on the request fom a reference back and was REJECTED.
Deputy of Trinity, Hugh Raymond encouraged Members to vote for the proposal so they can tackle the issue of speeding. Deputy Rowland Huelin said he would support the proposal and get the process underway to address the issue.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part A of the proposal which would allow the Honorary police to use unattended mobile speed cameras.
31 FOR vs 10 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part B of the proposal to allow the data captured by these speed cameras to be used as evidence in criminal cases
24 FOR vs 19 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part C of the proposal which would have introduced tougher sentences for anyone caught speeding more than 30mph over the limit
19 FOR vs 24 AGAINST
STATEMENT FROM THE CHIEF MINISTER
On Thursday 24 September, the Chief Minister John Le Fondré made a statement about keeping Jersey safe in relation to COVID-19. He announced that a new package of preventative measures will be introduced to keep cases low and stop any cases becoming clusters. This includes an increase in local testing capacity through the on-island facility. The deployment of a mobile app connected to the test, track and trace system and a new public awareness campaign about the availability of the flu vaccine, and when it is developed, the COVID-19 vaccine. He added, that where possible, the UK will be broken down into smaller regional classifications.
He also stated that one additional measure which will be proposed to the Assembly is the wider use of masks and face coverings in indoor public spaces, such as supermarkets, shops, library and other spaces.
READ THE STATEMENT
The Members then continued the debate on the ESTABLISHMENT OF A DIGITAL REGISTER OF ALL COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES
Deputy Mike Higgins made the proposal at the end of the day on Wednesday, asking members to consider asking the Council of Ministers to create a digital register of all commercial and residential properties with the aim of helping policy creation. The proposal also asked that the Jersey Financial Services Commission manage this list on behalf of the States of Jersey and that the list be created by the end of 2021.
READ THE PROPOSAL
Members began the debate on Wednesday and continued into Thursday.
Many members spoke in support of Deputy Higgins' proposal, including Deputy Rowland Huelin and Deputy Richard Renouf. Senator Sam Mézec spoke about many of the Island's properties being owned by overseas landlords and how this register would provide transparency around this.
Deputy Montfort Tadier also spoke in support of the proposal and said that the there is a larger housing issue in the Island and many people cannot save for deposits while renting. He added the proposed register would help members to understand the property market and help address the housing issue in the Island.
Deputy Mike Higgins responded to many of the comments from Members who spoke against part B o the proposal which asked that the register not be managed by the Jersey Financial Services Commission. He said that the Government's IT systems are archaic and that due to the nature of their work, the Jersey Financial Services Commission must have the most secure systems. He added this was the reasoning behind suggesting they manage the register as he wanted the data of the register to be stored securely.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part A of Deputy Mike Higgins' proposal asking the Council of Ministers to create a digital register of properties with the aim of helping policy creation.
33 FOR vs 5 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to REJECT part B of Deputy Mike Higgins' proposal asking that the register be managed on behalf of the States of Jersey by the Jersey Financial Services Commission.
12 FOR vs 27 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part C of Deputy Mike Higgins' proposal to ask that this register be established no later than the end of 2021 was ADOPTED
31 FOR vs 7 AGAINST
Deputy John Young then presented his proposal asking Members to back a MINISTERIAL GOVERNMET REVIEW
The proposal asked that a review of the workings and structure of the Ministerial Government.
READ THE PROPOSAL
Deputy Jess Perchard spoke in support of the proposal as it brings together the concerns of many. Senator Kristina Moore spoke about the Ministerial system and said it had it's benefits as well as its issues.
Deputy Kirsten Morel said that he didn't feel he could support the proposal as it was asking for a review instead of action. He stated he believed the answers could come from States Members instead of spending money on this review. Deputy Judy Martin also spoke against this for the same reasons stated by Deputy Morel.
Senator Sam Mézec said he believed Deputy Young had diagnosed the correct problem but "prescribed the wrong medicine" and said that the Government system is poisonous as it does not allow action to be taken. He cited personal experience of a civil servant attempting to over-rule the decisions of Ministers.
Deputy Geoff Southern spoke about the benefits of party-political systems in making effective decisions.
Constable John Le Bailly said that he did not believe the Island was big enough for party political systems. Senator Lyndon Farnham said he would not be supporting the proposal and will instead continue to follow the mantra of working together to make the current system work as best it can.
Deputy John Young responded to those Members who had suggested during the debate that the solution was to carry out the review internally and stated that there had been "13 or 14" proposals to make changes in recent years.
The States Members voted to REJECT Deputy Young's proposal to hold a review of the Ministerial Government.
6 FOR vs 34 AGAINST - 2 ABSTENTIONS
Deputy Carolyn Labey then proposed her FORESHORE: POLICY FOR ALLEGED ENCROACHMENT PAYMENTS
The proposal asked that all charges being made to Islanders for encroaching on land known as 'foreshore' are stopped until a revised policy has been approved by the Assembly. The proposal also asked that the new policy should be brought forward for debate by January 2021 and should include a map to establish land ownership. Deputy Labey's proposal asks the Minister for Infrastructure to ensure anyone who has been fined and had complaints upheld have their money returned until a clear policy has been agreed. Finally, the proposal asks that the Department for Infrastructure publishes by the end of 2020, a map of all public accesses, footpaths and rights of way to the foreshore.
READ THE PROPOSAL
Deputy Kevin Lewis then proposed his amendment to Deputy Labey's proposal. He proposed that no further transactions can take place which involve any potential foreshore land until a revised policy related to the foreshore can be brought forward for debate. His proposal asked this happen by January 2021 and that after a revised policy is agreed, the Minister stated he will revisit complaints related to foreshore charges and consider refunding the difference in cost if the new policy had been in place when the fines were made. Finally, the Minister proposed a map of all public accesses, footpaths and rights of way to the foreshore be published by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
READ THE PROPOSAL
Deputy Lewis asked Deputy Labey to withdraw her proposal due the fact the new foreshore policy is being lodged on 3rd November and stated it was illogical and a bad use of States Members time to debate the proposal at this time.
Many States Members posed questions to the Attorney General, Mark Temple regarding the distinctions around the high tide mark and many other details relating to the proposal.
Deputy Richard Renouf said that if Members are seeking legal certainty on this issue, he wasn't sure if it that was possible given the complexity of the issue.
Deputy Kevin Lewis responded to the Members comments and queries and then the Assembly voted on each part of the proposal separately.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part A of Deputy Kevin Lewis' proposal that no further land transactions should take place between the public and third parties of the relevant land until a new foreshore policy has been created.
25 FOR vs 10 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part B of Deputy Kevin Lewis' amendment to the foreshore proposal that the new foreshore policy should be brought forward to the Assembly for debate by January 2021.
27 FOR vs 13 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part C of Deputy Kevin Lewis' amendment to the foreshore proposal stating that after a revised foreshore policy is agreed any findings of previous complaints will be reconsidered taking the new policy into account.
33 FOR vs 8 AGAINST
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT part D of Deputy Kevin Lewis' amendment to the foreshore proposal to publish a map of all public accesses, footpaths and rights of way to the foreshore by the end of Q1 of 2021.
27 FOR vs 14 AGAINST
Members then moved onto debating the proposal as amended.
Deputy Montfort Tadier spoke and asked where the lawyers were in this issue and felt that some of the challenges the proposal has had to address could have been avoided. Senator Lyndon Farnham spoke and said that while his heart may have been with Deputy Labey's proposal, his head chose to vote in favour of the Minister for Infrastructures proposed amendments.
Deputy Kevin Lewis spoke on some of the comments made during the debate that implied Islanders were being pursued for these payments and stated that only 2 members of staff deal with them as part of a bigger role. He added that he will be voting against his own amended proposal as it risks damaging the revised policy proposal coming in November and could affect current negotiations taking place in regarding to these encroachments.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the amended foreshore proposal.
28 FOR vs 13 AGAINST
Deputy Russell Labey then presented the proposal to change the STATES SITTINGS TO A THREE-WEEK CYCLE for a trial period.
Deputy Labey accepted 2 amendments to the proposal, one from Deputy Inna Gardiner and Deputy Jeremy Maçon.
The proposal suggested that the States Assembly meet once every three weeks for a trial period throughout 2021. Deputy Gardiner's amendment added that written questions no longer be limited to the Assembly and can be asked any time. Deputy Maçon, meanwhile, asked that the period of Questions Without Notice be extended by 20 minutes of the Assembly and that the Chief Minister face 15 minutes of questions at each sitting.
READ THE PROPOSAL
When presenting the proposal, Deputy Labey said that Members would be sitting for the same number of days under this new trial. He added that in between the Assembly Members are busy but being busy is not enough.
Deputy Inna Gardiner said she supported the proposal as she felt that knowing they would be in the Assembly for a longer period of time across sitting week would allow Members more time to hold surgeries, meet with constituents and carry out important scrutiny work.
Deputy Kevin Pamplin spoke against the proposal and said that he felt with the uncertainty posed by COVID and the winter ahead he didn't think moving to a 3-week cycle was a good idea. He also spoke about the public perception of this move following the introduction of new technology to have debates during COVID.
Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke and said there is no doubt in his mind that the quality of debate decreases with fatigue over a weeklong sitting and therefore said he would not be supporting the proposal.
Deputy Geoff Southern suggested that the limit to questions be removed entirely. Deputy Mary Le Hegarat spoke against the proposal on the basis of the length of the sittings if they go to a 3-week cycle.
Deputy Judy Martin responded to those Members who had raised concerns around being tired and said they should "man up". Deputy Rob Ward raised that this language and sentiment was from another time.
Deputy Rowland Huelin spoke and highlighted to members that proposal was only for a trial.
The Chief Minister, John Le Fondré said that due to the fact this was for a trial period he would support the proposal. Senator Farnham said the same but added that he would do so reluctantly.
Deputy Richard Renouf said this change could lead to more effective scrutiny panels and a Parliament and would support it for the trial.
The States Assembly voted to ADOPT the proposal to move the States Assembly to a 3-week cycle for a trial period.
25 FOR vs 19 AGAINST
When arranging public business for the coming sittings, the States Assembly voted to hold an in-committee debate on the petition lodged by a member of the public to write off income tax liability for the previous year.
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