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FOCUS: Meet your new Council of Ministers...

FOCUS: Meet your new Council of Ministers...

Monday 11 July 2022

FOCUS: Meet your new Council of Ministers...

Monday 11 July 2022


Deputy Kristina Moore has secured her full preferred slate of Ministers - with only one position facing competition.

It is the first gender-balanced Council of Ministers since Ministerial government was introduced in Jersey.

In a special States Assembly meeting on Monday, each candidate was officially nominated by Deputy Moore.

They then gave a speech outlining their priorities and faced a round of questioning from States Members.

Here's what each new Minister had to say...

Treasury Minister

Ian Gorst.jpg

In a speech to the States Assembly this morning, Deputy Gorst pledged to:

  • produce a 'mini budget' to deal with the cost of living crisis before the winter;
  • reduce the marginal rate by 1%;
  • increase the 15% minimum affordable homes on all Jersey Development Company projects;
  • implement the Living Wage by 2026; and
  • fight not to increase GST.

Deputy Gorst, who was previously Chief Minister and Minister for External Relations and Financial Services in the previous Council of Ministers, also confirmed he will be retaining responsibility for Financial Services.

Elsewhere in his speech, he described Government spending as having risen to an "unsustainable" level.

He commented: "Borrowing has been driven up too high. Value for money must be the watchword and borrowing limited."

Education Minister

Inna Gardiner.jpg

Inna Gardiner said that ensuring schools and their headteachers have sufficient funding would be a key priority.

Deputy Gardiner explained that she was not privy to the current school funding formula but would like to review it to ensure all needs are met, with a view to having an updated one in place, if necessary, by September 2023.

She also said she hoped to be able to bring a review of the island's education estate to the States Assembly in September and debate its results, and consult on the current 14+ transfer system.

She did not rule out future gain-sharing agreements to secure pay rises for teachers and education staff, but pledged to work "collaboratively" with unions and apply "pressure" to Treasury, the Chief Minister and States Employment Board to recognise their "hard work".

Economic Development Minister

kirsten morel

Former Scrutineer and Assistant Economic Development Minister Deputy Kirsten Morel has been appointed unopposed.

The new Minister said that dealing with skills and staff shortages and arresting the two-decade-long decline in productivity was a key priority. 

Deputy Morel said it was his medium- to long-term aim to “decouple” population growth and economic growth. However, he said that, in the short term, he would review the work licensing system, including the nine-month permission, to help alleviate current pressures.

Other priorities included developing links with France, which he explained in French following a question in Jersey’s traditional parliamentary language by Deputy Montford Tadier.

He also said he would endeavour to remove the bureaucracy around the implementation of regulations, and free up commercial land, potentially around La Collette, to reduce rents. 

The minister committed to a review of the Jersey Aircraft Registry and to introduce an appeals process for con-funded payroll scheme.

Environment Minister

Jonathan Renouf.jpg

States Assembly newcomer Deputy Jonathan Renouf spoke of a "green wave" which can "sweep through and invigorate every aspect of the island’s economy – from tourism, to farming and finance".

Among his priorities, he said, would be protecting rare species and vulnerable habitats, as well as green spaces and parks in St. Helier, and preventing "ugliness" in the public realm. He also said he supported efforts to encourage active travel and protect the coastline - in particular the Coastal National Park - from development.

He described himself as standing on a platform of "sensible environmentalism", and aim to balance the need for housing with environmental considerations in a data-driven way. He noted that there were anecdotal reports of the island's population having fallen, whereas the Bridging Island Plan had been based on an assumption of 800 newcomers per year, and said he wished for a new assessment of housing need.

Deputy Renouf said he was "reluctant" to lower fuel tax, but said that he would be able to support it in order to help islanders with the cost of living provided the measure was "time-limited".

While he said he would need more data before being able to approve or reject the idea of a landlord licensing scheme, he said he would be in favour of "some form" of registration scheme.

External Relations Minister

Philip Ozouf.jpg

Deputy Philip Ozouf, who was not opposed for the role, was appointed.

The St. Saviour representative said that Members should be under no illusion that the next four years would be an “immense challenge”, with Brexit still unfinished, recent political change in the UK and France, having to tackle climate change and rising commodity prices caused by the war in Ukraine.

He stressed that the role was different to others on the Council in that its main focus was to collaborate with other ministers on the non-domestic elements of their duties within a clear framework that had been established when Deputy Bailhache was minister.

He said he fully supported the transfer of financial services’ matter from External Relations to the Treasury.

The Deputy, who referred to his experience of dealing with international matters over two decades of political life, said he was particularly keen to engage with the Jersey diaspora living across the globe, although he said an early priority would be a detailed analysis of where these people were and how they could contribute.

He recognised that Jersey was represented internationally by the UK and needed to rely on the significant resources of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office but, he added, “Jersey’s voice still needs to be heard”. 

Referring to improving relations with France, he said: “There is no doubt that Brexit caused all sorts of issues. I cannot tell exactly what the prescription is for the problem because we first need to diagnose it. 

“And that will be though dialogue at a regional and national level, and through the ambassadorial service in London.”

Home Affairs Minister

Helen_Miles_-_Candidate_for_Deputy_of_St_Brelade.jpg

Deputy Helen Miles, who was not opposed for the role, was appointed.

Deputy Helen Miles listed her long experience of working with the uniformed services in Jersey, including being a Customs Officer and devising strategy and policy, including when Deputy Moore was Home Affairs Minister.

She said she would always fight the corner of the services within her remit and was against any integration. She also supported the Probation Service remaining under the Royal Court, reversing an effort by previous ministers to bring it under Home Affairs.

Her priorities, said the St. Brelade Deputy, would be to push as much resource as possible to the front line and reverse funding cuts, particularly in the Fire and Ambulance services. 

Deputy Miles also promised a more community-based approach, including bringing back forms of the 'Building A Safer Society' and 'Prison? Me? No Way!' initiatives.   

She would also explore bringing in legislation to introduce no-fault divorces. However, the Deputy did not say she would support any relaxation of the rules around cannabis without first drawing up strategies around early intervention, substance misuse or substance use.

She also supported a review of the 20-year-old Firearms Law, exploring ways for French day-trippers to travel with a Carte d’Identitie instead of a passport, and liaising with the UK in order to lengthen the nine-month work visa.

Housing Minister

David Warr.jpg

Deputy David Warr has now been appointed. He was not challenged for the role.

She said that the lack of data around housing need was “embarrassing” and one of his first jobs was to gather information before making any decisions. 

He said that, out of the 4,000 empty properties identified in the 2021 Census, he had been told that 75% were legitimately empty, meaning that 1,000 could be available for housing. 

Similarly, more than 10,500 homes had one of more spare bedrooms and if 10% were freed up, that would create another 1,000 homes, he added.

Deputy Warr said he would be carrying out a review of the Government’s relationship with ‘delivery partners’, principally Andium Homes and the Jersey Development Company. 

He said: “Housing is an existential problem for this Island. If we get the policies wrong, we directly affect people's health; our economy; our quality of life and our children's future.

“Something has gone terribly wrong. My job is to find out what it is and with the help of this House to fix it. This Government is going to be single minded in delivering solutions for the people of Jersey.”

Facing questions, he said that a statement in his manifesto saying that he was “fundamentally against any form of rent control on the private sector” had been “over the top” and he was now in favour of introducing a rent tribunal, although it would be a “sticking plaster”.

He said the island was in “catch-up mode” in the supply of homes, having failed to meet the build targets of 800 homes per year, so the cost of home was unlikely to fall in the short-to-medium term.

He was also in favour of new regulations of both tenants and landlords, and more shared equity and other support schemes.

Infrastructure Minister

Tom Binet.jpg

Deputy Tom Binet, who was unopposed, has been appointed.

Deputy Binet said, when it came to transport, his instinct was to be more radical than his predecessor in devising policies to wrestle more islanders from their cars; although he admitted that he too had, until recently, been guilty of using his car when greener options were available.

Although he told Members that he still had a lot to learn about his brief, he would not be keen on a casino at Fort Regent and he would, in principle, support an extension of both mains drains and the mains water supply.

However, Deputy Binet’s views on the new hospital were clearer, and he was sure that the island needed to find a more affordable alternative to the £804m proposed plan.

He said he was also keen on greater electrification of transport, which potentially could be encouraged by a tax on higher polluting vehicles, and a comprehensive review of the publicly-owned property portfolio in order to create more sites for housing.

Health Minister

wilson-howell.jpg

Chief Minister Kristina Moore put forward former NHS worker Karen Wilson as her preferred candidate. Former dentist Andy Howell challenged the role, but she was not successful.

Deputy Wilson was appointed with 27 votes in her favour, with nine Members supporting Deputy Howell. 12 Members abstained, including the 10 Members of Reform.

Deputy Wilson began her speech by tackling some critical comments made on social media over the weekend head on.

She said: “One of the wonderful things about Jersey is that it extends a welcoming hand to people from all around the world and encourages them to participate in its ancient and venerable democracy.

“But it’s not been all plain sailing. Before I was thinking of standing in this election I spoke to a number of Deputies who warned me that I could expect relentless abuse from the trolls on social media.

“And judging by events over the weekend, they haven’t disappointed. One of first their concerns - a concerted campaign no less - appears to be questions over my residency.

“Previous queries raised with the Greffe and the Jersey Electoral Commission have been answered and confirm I have been here for the requisite amount of time.”

She added: “Over the last few days I’ve also been accused of being a failed NHS clone brought to Jersey by malevolent forces in order to mutilate our health service on the procrustean bed of utterly unsuitable NHS bureaucracy.

”Sir, nothing can be further than the truth. What I have learned being here before, during, and after the pandemic is that Jersey is different.

“We have a unique health services which has its own outstanding strengths and particular problems. My job if elected will be to build on these strengths and find the very best solutions to problems wherever they may be.”

Deputy Wilson said her priorities would be:

  • the opening of Clinique Pinel;
  • the new hospital review already proposed by Deputy Moore;
  • pausing the Jersey Care Model;
  • launching a new Health Strategy designed to improve public health;
  • a public involvement strategy; 
  • securing immediate workforce supply solutions for the housing and licensing of healthcare staff; 
  • setting out direction for health and social care over the winter period;
  • a digital health agenda.

International Development Minister

Carolyn Labey.jpg

Deputy Carolyn Labey, who previously held the role, has been appointed.

No one opposed her.

Deputy Labey said her programme would continue to specialise in three three thematic areas: dairy, financial services for poor countries, and responding to global crises, such as the war in Ukraine.

She said that Jersey Overseas Aid would support the island in developing its offering of sustainable finance, impact investment and philanthropy.

She would also push up the percentage of aid relative to GVA, expand opportunities for islanders to get involved in international aid, such as developing bursaries and the current two-year work placement for junior professionals with UN.

She said: "In appointing an International Development Minister, Jersey sends a powerful signal internationally, that we are serious about our commitment to others and being a good global citizen.

"It demonstrates that as a jurisdiction conducting business on the International stage, that we are also prepared to meet our International obligations, particularly salient as we ourselves received Overseas Aid within living memory.

"Jersey’s long term future depends on our reputation, on the international links we forge with Institutions like the UN and on our identity beyond being a blue-chip offshore finance centre. Our aid programme helps millions of the poorest people every year, but it also helps us.

"Secondly, having the post of International Development Minister helps improve the effectiveness of our aid. We can coordinate better with target countries, we can pick up the phone to decision-makers and we can have a genuine influence on developing countries’ and international organisations’ policies."

Social Security Minister

millar.jpeg

Former Viscount Deputy Elaine Millar was unopposed and subsequently appointed.

Deputy Millar said: “If appointed as Minister for Social Security, I will support Customer and Local Services in their ongoing work to ensure that Islanders can access the help they need, including by payment of benefits at times of crisis in their life or simply to meet the increasing cost of day to day living.  

“We need to keep our benefits and the criteria under which they can be claimed under review, particularly if the economy contracts, as is being forecast in the UK and elsewhere.”

“We must work on getting claims processed faster so that money reaches people’s pockets quickly.”

She added: “It would be a bold and possibly optimistic ambition to say that we should aim to eradicate the need for foodbanks in Jersey – but it is an ambition I believe we should adopt and we should work with the charities who provide foodbanks to find alternative solutions.  

“During our hustings, we were told by the outgoing Chief Minister that there was money in the budget to provide hot meals for every child and that would be rolled out on a phased basis from this year.  

“I’d like to see that roll-out happening in the fastest possible timescale. No child in Jersey should be going without food and we must work to alleviate child poverty in the Island.”

Deputy Millar also said she would like to review the way her department communicated with people, and she would investigate using the Health Insurance Fund to pay for an affordable critical illness scheme for small businesses and the self-employed.

Who is left to be appointed?

Tomorrow, the States Assembly will be asked to elect the individuals who will lead reviews into the Government's work.

Chairs of the following need to be appointed:

  • the Privileges and Procedures Committee, which oversees the running of the States Assembly and electoral matters;
  • the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises Government spending
  • the Planning Committee; and
  • the following Scrutiny panels:
    • Corporate Services, which covers how Government is run and interacts with islanders
    • Economic and International Affairs
    • Children, Education and Home Affairs
    • Environment, Housing and Infrastructure
    • Health and Social Security.

Ministers will not be allowed to hold these roles.

More to follow...

READ MORE...

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Comments

Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Dave Mathews on
With Ozouf and Gorst back in their seats. Anybody thinking of leaving Jersey may as well carry on.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Gorst hopefully will be ok, but just amazes me how a coffee man gets housing,a greenie gets planning, what do they know about these positions, what are their credentials? By Christmas we will know where we are in this Island with these new politicians .I'm sure Reform are sharpening their blades.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
IF Ian Gorst can keep to these promises, and kerb Government spending, Jersey still has a hope to prosper ~ really hope he can push such changes through.
Posted by Jon Jon on
I really hope they produce the goods but nearly debating if it was ok to remove your jacket because it’s hot shows how childish really this lot behave!
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