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POLITICS DISASSEMBLED: Will ministers get a mauling over rugby funding?

POLITICS DISASSEMBLED: Will ministers get a mauling over rugby funding?

Monday 02 October 2023

POLITICS DISASSEMBLED: Will ministers get a mauling over rugby funding?

Monday 02 October 2023


What was looking like a relatively short and placid tri-weekly States sitting might be enlivened tomorrow with echoes of Harold Macmillan’s famous words: “Events, dear boy, events”.

On Thursday, news broke that Jersey’s professional rugby club had ceased trading and would very likely go into liquidation.

The Championship champions were not only a source of great pride but also the physical embodiment of a small island punching above its weight.

The Chief Minister was regularly seen on the sidelines, and many a potential wealthy newcomer was invited to watch a game.

After a weekend of finger-pointing as to what might have happened, Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel will be giving an official statement tomorrow – no doubt attempting the clarify the details around how, when and why the Government gave the Reds a £370,000 grant over the summer, and why its financial support ended thereIt's the first time we'll have heard from the Minister on the matter, with his Assistant, Deputy Lucy Stephenson, having fronted the all media questions since the news broke.

Members will have the opportunity to drill into the detail of what Government did – or didn't do – for 15 minutes after that statement, and they will have another opportunity to broach the subject during the Chief Minister’s ‘Questions without Notice’, which will also last a quarter-of-an-hour.

There will be a third opportunity during oral questions, with Deputy Raluca Kovacs asking Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel if “clubs that represent the island on a high level are awarded the same level of funding as Jersey Reds, and will he further provide a breakdown of what the £370,000 provided to Jersey Reds was intended for?”

In the hot seat...

FRESH OUT OF CONFERENCE: In addition to Chief Minister Kristina Moore, Deputy Ian Gorst will also be facing Questions Without Notice in his capacity as Assistant Minister for External Relations. 

Both will be hotfooting it back from the Tory Party Conference in Manchester, where they’ve been photographed with various UK ministers who we should probably know the names of.

WAITING AND WAITING AND WAITING TIMES: Health Minister Karen Wilson is also facing 15 minutes of questions, with backbenchers possibly keen to find out about efforts to reduce Hospital waiting times and her level of support for the ‘New Healthcare Facilities Programme’. On the theme of waiting... also potentially making it into Ministerial questions will be today's news that proposals for assisted dying – originally promised for the end of this year – have been pushed back by around four months.

The big questions

CREDIT CRUNCHING? Credit where credit is due… or not, as the case is for many islanders who have been unable to sign up to a credit card or extend their existing one. 

The cause of the problem has been credit-checking agencies being unable to access official databases in Jersey; therefore, not knowing if someone has a history of bad debt.

The Assembly is being asked to support a tweak to a 2012 law to allow these companies to access the island's official Register of Names and Addresses. 

SUPPORTING ISLANDERS: The other ‘Public Business’ on the agenda includes introducing statutory leave entitlement for parents who suffer the death of a child, and extending the eligibility for the Cold Weather Bonus, which is being proposed by Deputy Beatriz Porée.

JAMS AND PLANTS: In a parliamentary equivalent of launching a cross-border excursion, oral questions include St Helier Deputy Tom Coles asking about air quality and traffic monitoring around the Enid Quénault Health and Wellbeing Centre in St Brelade, and St Brelade Constable Mike Jackson asking about the state of the planters in the middle of Victoria Avenue.

WATERFRONT WOE: Following last Wednesday’s rejection of plans for nearly 1,000 new homes on the Waterfront, Deputy Sam Mézec is asking the Chief Minister if the Jersey Development Company is fit for purpose.

SHOOTING THE...: The Reform leader is also asking Treasury Minister for more details of the 'liquid waste charge' – fondly referred to by some as a 'toilet tax' – which is proposed, in principle, in the recently published Government Plan. It's not the first time bringing in a 'polluter pays' charge to help the island meet its sewage infrastructure upgrade costs – the idea was thrown out two governments ago – but our drains are continuing to creak, with no alternative solution having been found...

Gossip 

WHERE ARE THE BIG IDEAS? With this relatively light Public Business agenda, backbenchers might be keen to ask where the Government’s 'Big Ideas' are. The eagerly anticipated Future Economy Programme – which will set out how Jersey will reverse decades of poor productivity and flatlining growth – was due out last month, yet October has arrived without a hint of when it will be released.

Other strategies, from dementia to the future of the town markets, appear to have failed to meet their deadlines. With a key hospital debate already promised for next summer, Members will be keen to avoid a legislative logjam at the end of this political term.

Between now and Christmas, however, backbenchers will be diving into the detail of the Government Plan and proposing amendments, if they feel them necessary.

Penny for your thoughts

Got any States Assembly gossip to fill our News team's appetites? Or want to suggest any other areas of political life you'd like disassembled? Let us know! Email us HERE or slide into our DMs on Twitter.

Follow the action  

Read the full order paper for tomorrow's States Assembly meeting HERE.

If you want to watch the action unfold live in the States Chamber, you can do so from 09:30 tomorrow HERE.

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