The Government will have to bring forward a detailed population policy by the end of 2021, following a backbencher's successful push for a deadline.
Only four States Members voted against the proposals brought forward by Deputy Jess Perchard, with 40 supporting them.
The debate came days after the Government released a Migration Policy providing for nine-month, four-year, 10-year and long-term permissions instead of a Population Policy, which they said wouldn't be decided until 2022.
Pictured: The proposals were brought forward by Deputy Jess Perchard.
In her proposition, Deputy Perchard aimed to speed up the process by requesting the Council of Ministers deliver a Common Population Policy to be debated by the Assembly before the end of 2021.
She added that such policy should “inform and underpin the planning assumptions in future Island Plans” with population targets matched in both documents.
The majority of her proposition, she explained at the beginning of the debate, “focused on obtaining data to be included in forthcoming population policy."
In the development of the policy, the Deputy also requested that “a representative and proportional sample of the island’s population” be consulted on its views regarding a sustainable population size.
Finally, she asked that the Migration Policy demonstrate “reasonable and thorough consideration” of a net-zero inward migration policy and provide a rationale and data for not proposing such policy.
Pictured: Deputy Perchard said her proposals aimed to “obtain data to be included in forthcoming population policy”.
Presenting her proposition, she said that failing to obtain the requested was the reason why Jersey hadn’t been able to get to grips with a population policy.
Her proposition was challenged by the Chief Minister, Senator Le Fondré, who aimed to instead propose an “interim” Population Policy.
Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin said that while he would love to support Deputy Perchard’s request – “the island wants it, the Assembly wants it, and, yes, it’s long overdue” – he didn’t believe it could be done in the suggested timeline and that it would be “irresponsible” to ask that.
The Amendment was rejected with 24 votes ‘contre’ and 19 ‘pour’.
Several members applauded the St. Saviour Deputy for her proposals. Deputy Kirsten Morel described the proposition as an “incredibly well-researched proposition”, adding it was “demanded by the island’s population."
He said it would ensure the Government had to deliver a population policy, noting that it was sad “a non-executive member of the States has to bring to their attention what is probably the most important issue on the electorate’s mind."
Senator Kristina Moore said the proposition was “an excellent example of how a backbencher can help achieve the Common Strategic Policy” that all the States Assembly has agreed to.
“Shame on the Government for trying to dodge the bullet and seeking to put forward an interim population policy,” she added, reminding her colleagues of how many electoral speeches had called for a population policy.
Pictured: Several members noted the policy was long over-due.
Deputy Mike Higgins urged the Government to “stop digging a hole” and embrace the proposition, reminding the issue of population controls had been “top of the agenda for everyone in the island” for the 12 years he had been in the Assembly.
“This issue has to be addressed by this Parliament,” he said, arguing that it couldn’t be kicked down the road anymore.
Deputy Steve Luce also supported the proposition, noting that one would hope that any policy would contain the data requested by Deputy Perchard.
Deputy John Young, the Environment Minister, urged Members to support the proposals saying it set the “methodology and approach to allow us to make the choices on the fundamental policy issues that have faced the island for as long as can remember."
He described the methodology outlined as “truly visionary”, saying it would be a “fantastic tool” for future communities to make choices about the desired size of the population.
Deputy Montfort Tadier noted it was an “universal plan” that not only addressed population but also education, health, environment and social factors.
Describing the current system as a “pyramid scheme”, he said: “We have to decide whether we have an economy who works for the community or a community who works for the economy.”
Delighted the Assembly has voted to approve my proposition to bring a Population Policy by Dec 2021 & to include much needed data to inform how projected growth will impact health, environment, infrastructure, education, housing needs over a 50 yr period. https://t.co/fCo1sr9mp6— JessPerchard (@JessePerchard) November 4, 2020
Concluding the debate, Deputy Perchard said she was grateful to States Members for not digressing on what is a “very emotive issue."
Referring to the comments made minutes before by Grouville Deputy Carolyn Labey, she said the word "vision" was exactly what the data would push the Government to achieve.
"We desperately need to know what the vision is for the population of Jersey and its future and of course an integral part of creating a vision is knowing where we are and collecting the data on where we are and projecting forward ideas of where we want to be."
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