In early August, I asked Deputy Mary Lowe some questions about criminal justice policy. These followed her announcement in the States that the Committee for Home Affairs might need to look at alternative accommodation for prisoners, because the prison is getting too full.
After a couple of relatively quiet States Meetings, the July agenda is full of interesting business, with seven policy letters – including proposals for the future of air transport licensing, and the publication of the KPMG housing market report – and a requete on the future membership of the States' Trading Supervisory Board.
The States will meet twice in June, and both meetings are significant. The first meeting starts on 5 June with updates to the Policy and Resource Plan, and is followed by ordinary business of the States. The second meeting will begin on 26 June, with consideration of the States' Accounts. This update deals with the first of the two meetings.
It is amazing how much can change overnight. As a parliament, we've gone from squabbling over environmentally-friendly buses to intense debate on matters of life and death. The bid by seven States Members to introduce Assisted Dying in Guernsey started quietly: when the proposals were published, we had little media interest and only one or two letters from the public.
The March States Meeting, which begins on 21 March, is likely to be fairly short again, with only a couple of significant papers. There will be a general update on the work of the Committee for Economic Development (given by its President, Charles Parkinson) and an update from the States of Alderney (given by Alderney Rep Graham McKinley), which was deferred from the last meeting due to snow. The new President of the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture will give an update on that Committee's financial position, following warnings from the previous Committee that it was going to substantially overspend its budget.
I’m sorry I haven’t been writing many of these recently. A series of winter colds have eaten into my time, so I’ve had to focus mainly on Committee and sub-Committee work. Despite the snow today, I’m hoping this is a turning point! Here’s a short blog on this week’s States Meeting, in any case. Over the next couple of days, it’ll be followed by a couple of longer pieces on secondary education and assisted dying – two significant and controversial, if very different, policy areas, where I want to time to explain the decisions I’ve made and the positions I’ll be taking. I hope they will contribute to some interesting and worthwhile conversations …
After a quiet spell in the middle of the year, the States’ agendas for November through to January are much heavier, with the Budget just gone and important topics from the future of health and social care, to the shape of secondary and post-16 education, coming up soon. This meeting, the second one in November, will include lively debates on the future of Overseas Aid and the Population Management regime, as well as the election of another Jurat. The regular President’s update statement will be from the Committee for Environment & Infrastructure.
The agenda for the States Meeting on Wednesday 18 October is light even by the standards of the past year, and it is likely to be a very brief States Meeting, unless it is brightened up by a lively period of statements and questions at the start of the debate – which is certainly possible, as the President’s Statement this time will be from the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture.
The States Meeting starting on Wednesday 27 September is likely to be a fairly lively debate, particularly on the issues of College funding and the wall at L’Ancresse. In June, the States agreed that the Presidents of different Committees should take turns giving a general update at the start of each States Meeting: this time, it’s the turn of the President of the Committee for Economic Development, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, and the President of the Development and Planning Authority, Deputy John Gollop. This will provide an opportunity for questions and answers relating to any part of these Committees’ mandates, before we get stuck into the main agenda.
The States last met on Friday 30 June (although Committee meetings and parish work have continued throughout the summer). We reconvene on Wednesday 6 September, kicking off the second year of the 2016-2020 States’ term. The agenda for the first meeting is light, but a fairly wide range of policy papers have been lodged over the summer – including the headline-grabbing proposals on the funding of the private Colleges, and the future of the wall at L’Ancresse East – so future meetings will certainly be busier and more engaging.