The Assistant Chief Minister has admitted it's unlikely a new population policy can be delivered before the end-of-2021 deadline set by States Members.
The concession from Deputy Rowland Huelin, who has political responsibility for delivering the policy, came during a Scrutiny hearing in which he also noted that migration plans would likely be voted on without a population policy in place, and that the population policy itself would likely be created without 2021 census data.
When questioned by Senator Steve Pallett if he was optimistic the policy would be completed before the current States Assembly’s time is up, Deputy Huelin’s response was a blunt admission that he didn’t think enough comprehensive work will have been done on time.
Pictured: 2016 projections from Statistics Jersey predict that if the net population increased by 1,000 a year, by 2035 the population would be 128,800 people.
“The answer to that is no - however, we’ve been asked to deliver it, and my biggest fear is it will be a compromised solution and which will not stack up to the heavy scrutiny it should do and deserves to do,” Deputy Huelin explained.
Summarising his concerns, he added: “Yes, I do fear with all the other major issues going on in the island going that we might not be able to do it as well as we’d like and as well as the island would want us to do.”
The Scrutiny panel hearing also highlighted that it was unlikely the upcoming census would factor into such a policy being drafted either.
“The census will obviously take place in March, and the initial results will not be available until very much towards the end of the year,” stated Sue Duhamel, the Head of Policy, Strategic Policy, Planning and Performance.
Pictured: Though the Government have published plans to tighten migration control, they have not produced a population policy to accompany it yet.
The Policy Head added: “The headline number for the census figure will be around the end of the year, and population policy may have taken place just before or just after that number’s released.
“So in reality the population policy that’s being developed this year will not rely on needing a census number, it will have to be done knowing it hasn’t got a census number because even if we get a number before the debate, we won’t get the number before the proposition is lodged.”
On the policy currently in development, Deputy Huelin said he was “working very closely with the officers at the moment to put a compressed timescale plan in order to get a proposition policy lodged by late October – if it’s going to be debated in 2021.”
Sharing his view that “very little has changed over the last 5 or 10 years” in regards to policy, he noted: “The same questions are still being asked and the same issues are still outstanding, and so I’m working on ways not to reinvent the wheel, but also make sure that nothing that has materially changed isn’t included in our deliberations.
“I have got some ideas in order to, shall we say, shortcut without compromising the process but they’re still in draft mode.”
Pictured: Assistant Chief Minister Deputy Rowland Huelin said he had taken some ways to “shortcut” the process of creating a population policy.
When asked when the Panel would be presented these ideas, Deputy Huelin said that “the answer to that is imminent.”
The admissions come after a vote in November, where 40 States members backed a proposition for a full population policy to be delivered before the States Assembly by the end of 2021.
Though at the time the Chief Minister argued there should be an interim population policy, this was shot down by States Members, who argued putting off the population policy was not a feasible option.
In particular, Chief Scrutineer Senator Kristina Moore criticised the way in which the policy had previously been delayed, stating: “Shame on the Government for trying to dodge the bullet and seeking to put forward an interim population policy.”
Despite the lack of a current population policy, a proposition suggesting new migration controls is currently scheduled to take place in March.
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.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.