Billet Blog: 26 September 2018

BLOG

26 September 2018

The States reconvene on September 26th, and once again the meeting starts with the election of a Jurat. This is an important role within Guernsey’s justice system and, as ever, it would be good to see a contested election with several good candidates – if this is something you’re interested in, please get in touch: I’d be glad to help you find out more. The agenda is relatively light, with several pieces of law to approve and three short policy letters, relating to regulation of the finance sector, minor changes to benefit rules, and dates of States Meetings for the final year of this term. Very few policy letters have so far come forward for October, either, so it looks like this autumn will be off to a more gradual start than most.

Billets d’Etat XX to XXII – 26 September 2018 (read them online here)

States of Election – Electing a Jurat

The States of Election will meet to elect a new Jurat. If anyone wishes to be considered for the role, nominations are open until Friday 7 September. You need to be nominated and seconded by members of the States of Election, which includes Deputies, Douzaine reps, other Jurats and members of the clergy. The best way to find out more about the role is to contact the Bailiff’s Secretary, who will put you in touch with a current Jurat for a chat.

Statements and Questions

There will be two general update statements, from the President of Policy and Resources and the President of Economic Development.

Elections and Appointments

The Administrative Decisions Review Board is a panel which serves a similar function to Judicial Review – it is an appeals process of last resort for people who are unhappy with their treatment by a public sector body, and who have exhausted all internal complaints process. The terms of the Chair and Deputy Chair have just expired, so we have to appoint another States Member (who has served at least three years) as Chair, and one of the Deans of the Douzaines as Deputy Chair.

We are also electing another member of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board (STSB), following the States’ decision in July to expand its membership to 3 States Members and 2 non-political members.

Additionally, we are asked to appoint Dominic Lazarus as Director of Civil Aviation for a five-year term, in a role that is shared with Jersey, and to appoint three non-executive directors of Guernsey Electricity.

Legislation

There are six statutory instruments to be noted by the States.

The first two relate to data protection: one directs the Data Protection Authority to work together with similar Authorities in other countries on data protection matters, where needed. I think this is fundamental to the ethos of the GDPR, which was intended to give protection to EU citizens against inappropriate processing of their personal data in other countries, as well as in their own. The second one sets out processes and fees for organisations registering with the Data Protection Authority here.

The second two are part of the process of introducing the new welfare benefit scheme, Income Support, which went live in July of this year. They include a three-year transition period in which the changes are phased in for people who’re worse off under the new scheme, to avoid them being hit with a substantial change in their financial circumstances all at once.

Of the remaining two statutory instruments, one updates charges for the various waste disposal sites around the island, and the other permits the three campaign groups to have access to copies of the Electoral Roll in the run-up to the October Referendum, in the same way as candidates would in the run-up to an Election.

There are also two pieces of law to be approved by the States. The first is the commencement ordinance for the Interpretation and Standard Provisions Law – the piece of law which explains how terms which are commonly used in Guernsey laws should be understood. If approved, the ordinance will make some minor amendments to that Law, and the Law itself will come into force from 1 October 2018 onwards, replacing the Interpretation (Guernsey) Law which dated from 1948.

The final item is an amendment to the Income Tax Law which would change certain tax rules in respect of settlors of trusts, in accordance with a decision the States’ made during the last Budget debate.

Propositions and Policy Letters

There are only three policy letters on the agenda for this Meeting. The first recommends changes to our Proceeds of Crime framework following a review of Guernsey’s approach to preventing money laundering and terrorist financing by MoneyVal and updated international standards issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The proposed changes would allow us to continue to demonstrate compliance with international requirements.

I have very little expertise in the area of financial services regulation, and would welcome insights from those who know it better. I would also welcome any reading and research you might wish to share on how the effectiveness of financial services regulation in preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism is tested and demonstrated.

The second sets the dates for States Meetings from September 2019 to May 2020 (the last meeting before the General Election), together with the rota of statements from Committee Presidents. It offers two options: a return to the three-weekly cycle of States Meetings that we had from 2016-2018, or a continuation of the cycle of monthly States Meetings that will start from this September, with built in fall-back dates if the Meetings overspill.

The Committee will be proposing a date for the 2020 General Election after the island-wide voting referendum in October this year, and they’ll recommend dates for the first few meetings of the new States at the same time. The final Policy & Resource Plan meetings will also be slotted in at that point.

The third policy letter proposes minor amendments to benefit rules in relation to pensions and death grants. At the moment, you are eligible for a full pension if you’ve paid contributions for 45 years. Pension age is being gradually increased from 65 to 70 over the next 30 years, meaning that people will be paying contributions for longer, but the Committee for Employment & Social Security is proposing that the contribution period for receiving a full pension should remain fixed at 45 years.

The Committee also proposes to change the rules on death grants – one-off payments usually used to help towards the costs of a funeral – so that they are available to the parents of still-born children. There are only a small number of still-births a year, but the way the law is currently written prevents parents from accessing the grant, which can be an added hardship for the family at a time of deep grief. The Ivy Trust brought this to the Committee’s attention earlier this year, and we have taken it to the States at the earliest opportunity.

Appendix Reports

There is just one appendix report: the annual report of the Channel Islands Competition Regulatory Authority (CICRA), providing an update on its work in both islands.

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