The ‘public business’ drought continues at today's States sitting, with proposals from ministers conspicuous by their absence yet again.
In fairness to Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, he was rather hoping that his plan to introduce a licensing scheme for rented dwellings would be debated, along with its 10 amendments.
But the Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel, which has lodged nine of them, are not quite happy that all of their proposed changes align, so the contentious proposal – which has attracted the ire of the Jersey Landlords’ Association – will be debated at the next sitting in three weeks’ time.
Despite this weighty debate being removed, a proposal by St Brelade Deputy Moz Scott is likely to prompt a lot of speeches.
HERE WE GO AGAIN: Most Members will tell you of their distaste at debates about internal reform of the States Assembly.
“Islanders don’t want us droning on about ourselves when there are so many more important issues to address,” they say.
However, like a child glaring into the cookie jar, politicians can’t help licking their lips, lifting the lid and succumbing to sweet temptation.
After a few months’ pause – when electoral districts, the island-wide mandate and ex-officio membership were barely uttered – the issue is back on the agenda, thanks to the Scrutiny panel head.
Deputy Scott thinks that Senators should come back at the next election, and there should be a corresponding reduction in the number of Deputies.
The Privileges and Procedures Committee, which oversees States business and would have to implement any reforms, has published its own comments on the Deputy’s proposal.
Showing a decisiveness that cuts to the very heart of the issue, it writes: “The Committee has mixed views on this, therefore is neutral in its stance on the proposals contained in this proposition.”
FARMING AND FISHING FUNDING: The only other weighty piece of public business, which again comes from a backbencher, is a call from Deputy Steve Luce to increase funding for agriculture and fishing.
He originally wanted it to follow funding for heritage and arts – in that it would be a guaranteed 1% of total States revenue expenditure – but the Council of Ministers has proposed a compromise with its own amendment.
This would more than double funding through existing support schemes to at least £6.7m next year, which would increase by RPI(X) for each remaining year of the Government Plan, until and including 2027.
It is not yet known in Deputy Luce will accept this update but, if he does, the debate may be short, although it will be a good opportunity for any Member who supports farming and fishing to state that on the record.
Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet is one of three ministers facing Questions Without Notice this week. With Storm Ciarán battering the island and his vicious tornadic offspring ripping through the eastern parishes, the minister is likely to be quizzed on how well was Jersey prepared and how the clean-up is going.
Chief Minister Kristina Moore might also face storm-related questions, with other topics which may crop up including the refused Les Sablons development in Broad Street, the Middle East crisis and teachers’ pay talks.
International Development Minister Carolyn Labey could also be asked about what support the Island is giving to those affected by the bloodshed in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Earlier this month, the leader of the Island’s Jewish congregation said that it is “not the correct time” for Jersey Overseas Aid to donate money to the people of Gaza, claiming that the funds will be diverted to Hamas.
His claim was refuted by Deputy Labey on behalf of the JOA, who cited “robust controls” in place to ensure aid went to intended beneficiaries.
Oral questions are, as usual, dominated by members of the ‘unofficial opposition’ Reform party, and Deputy Max Andrews.
Topics include whether companies helping people to find jobs in Jersey from Africa are vetted, how ministers’ conflict of interests are managed, and, someone ironically, whether there is any guidance for the asking of oral questions.
Written question topics include waiting lists for ophthalmic interventions, the Cabinet Office budget and the Liberty Bus Avanchicard unlimited annual pass.
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Read the full order paper for tomorrow's States Assembly meeting HERE.
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