Jackie Weaver and the now infamous Handforth Parish Council meeting were referenced in the States Assembly this morning, as two new Ministers were appointed to take responsibility for Housing and Communities, and Children and Education.
Deputy Russell Labey has been appointed as Minister for Housing and Communities, while Deputy Jeremy Maçon has been named Minister for Children and Education.
Both roles come as a result of restructure of the Ministerial portfolios following a decision from the Chief Minister to split up the role of Minister for Children and Housing.
The changes mean that the Education Minister will now have responsibility for children’s welfare, fostering and adoption, social work and mental health provision for young people, as well as educational matters.
Pictured: Deputy Maçon had been Acting Education Minister since Senator Tracey Vallois stepped down.
Opening a speech to the States Assembly this morning, Deputy Maçon, who was Acting Education Minister, referenced the now viral Handforth Parish Council meeting, as he explained that the new Ministerial roles are yet to be formalised.
The Chief Minister will need to make an Order, and bring it before the Assembly at least two weeks before it takes effect.
Deputy Maçon explained that his previous work as member, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Education Scrutiny Panel and his work as Assistant Minister showed his “dedication to this area of policy”.
He then went on to say the retraining strategy, which is part of the island’s recovery plan, would be one of his top priorities.
“As we all know, the pandemic has hit many young people hard and many will not have the same opportunity to have savings, or summer or weekend jobs that they might have had to put into their CVs,” the Minister said.
Video: Deputy Jeremy Maçon, the new Minister for Children and Education, mentioned Jackie Weaver in his speech.
“I have been there, I know when applying for jobs, you would be in that situation where if you don’t have the experience you can’t get a job but then no one is prepared to give you the experience.
“It seems to me we need to quickly develop schemes for internship, apprenticeship and training opportunities, even if only for a short period to both the private and public sector in order to support our young people in order to gain those skills of work and also being able to demonstrate that on their CVs which will open the road for their futures.”
Deputy Maçon, who is dyslexic and dyspraxic, also said he had a keen interest in the inclusion review, which he said would require “great attention” from him.
Pictured: Deputy Labey said he hadn't sought the position of Minister.
Meanwhile, Deputy Russell Labey was put forward for the role of Minister of Housing and Communities, which will involve oversight of the island’s housing provision and policy, as well as developing closer links with charities and departments that support the elderly, during tomorrow's States Assembly meeting.
“I am surprised to be in this position this morning,” Deputy Labey first said in his speech. “It’s not something I sought, I was very happy doing with what I was doing and the call came as a surprise at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon from the Chief Minister. I said ‘thank you’ and I will think about it.”
The St. Helier representative then said that during his first term as Deputy all he heard when the question of housing arose was “supply, supply, supply”.
“Of course, supply is actually critical, but it isn’t just supply alone, it is supply and assistance,” he added.
1/2 Whilst the Chief Minister has indicated his intention to change the role of Minister for Children & Housing Minister to Housing & Communities, and Minister for Education to Minister for Children & Education, these new positions have not been created yet.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) February 9, 2021
“And I began to think, if we can offer, and the housing market is such in Jersey that potential buyers need more assistance because they can’t shop around, c. So if we can combine supply with real assistance, do we dare to hope we might offer our young people the realistic opportunity to buy a home if that’s what they want to do?
Deputy Labey said he had been convinced to take on the role by Senator Lyndon Farnham, the Economic Development Minister, who told him “there’s an opportunity here, there’s some real work to do, I will help you."
However, he admitted he didn’t know much about the housing subject.
“I am very, very new to this, as Members know I have been busy with other stuff that I was doing, I was pleased to be doing them, I am proud of what I managed to achieve with my two committees so I am on a steep learning curve but I am prepared to learn, I learn quickly,” he said.
“I don’t have the answers yet, I am just formulating the questions.”
He said one of his priorities would be looking at developing “affordable home purchase products”.
Pictured: Deputy Labey assured he would not be giving up on the electoral reform.
As a result of Deputy Labey’s appointment, he will have to leave his role as Chair of the Planning Committee and Privilege and Procedures Committee. He has however asked the Chief Minister to retain an “executive member” role to continue his work on the electoral reform which he assured he would not be giving up.
The portfolios of Children and Housing Minister and Education Minister were previously held by Senator Sam Mézec and Senator Tracey Vallois respectively.
Senator Mézec stepped down last year in order to support the vote of no confidence in the Chief Minister.
Senator Vallois, meanwhile, resigned in January amid concerns about the return of children to school and not being listened to by colleagues and officers.
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