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.
Billet d’Etat XIX – 18 October 2017 (read it online here)
Part One: Legislation Laid Before the States
The items in this section are statutory instruments (orders and regulations) which are agreed and put into action by individual Committees of the States, in line with their powers and duties. The States do not have to approve these (they are in force from the moment the relevant Committee decides) but we do have the power to annul a statutory instrument if we don’t agree with it. This would be quite an unusual move. There won’t be any debate about these items unless there is a motion to annul one of them.
There are eight statutory instruments. Three of them create regulations under the new Population Management law: one setting out the employment data that must be kept by employers and self-employed people, and two setting permit application fees. Two relate to the Animal Welfare law – updating various requirements in relation to hunting or killing certain animals, and to the way that certain animals are kept. Of the remaining statutory instruments, one adds certain information-gathering provisions to the Beneficial Ownership law; one amends the provisions of the Companies Law relating to auditors; and one updates sanctions relating to North Korea.
Part Two: Other Business
Under our Liquor Licensing laws, premises which sell alcohol (bars and restaurants, hotels, clubs and the like) are generally allowed to do so from 10am (or noon on Sundays) until quarter to one the following morning. On Christmas Day and Good Friday, this is much more restricted: alcohol can only sold in two 3.5 hour slots, from 11am to 2.30pm and from 7pm to 10.30pm.
This short policy letter proposes to remove the Christmas and Good Friday restrictions. Good Friday will be treated like a Sunday, so licensed premises can sell alcohol from noon until 12.45am. On Christmas Day, alcohol will be able to be sold from 11am until 12.45 the next morning.
This amendment to the Income Tax (Guernsey) (Employees Tax Instalment Scheme) Regulations, 2007 will allow the Income Tax Office to issue coding notices electronically, including by publishing them on the States website. The policy letter suggests that, in the first instance, this will be confined to the coding notice for people who only claim their personal tax allowance (i.e. those who aren’t entitled to other forms of tax relief), saving about £5,000 a year.
In February 2016, the States agreed that Trading Standards law should be drafted to ensure that consumers in Guernsey have the same standard of protection as consumers in other similar places, including Jersey and the UK, and to ensure that traders have certainty and clarity about the standards they need to meet. It was agreed that the law would include general civil rights and obligations for consumers and traders; protection from unfair commercial practices and from unfair contract terms; cancellation rights and safety requirements; and responsibilities for traders to provide consumer information and to mark prices clearly.
At the time, the States also agreed an amendment which directed that more work should be done on protecting consumers from misleading offers, sales and price comparisons.
This policy letter is in response to that amendment. It sets out a number of examples which, in the opinion of the Committee for Home Affairs, show that issues relating to offers, sales and price comparisons will be fully dealt with under the main Trading Standards law, and there is no need to develop separate proposals. This seems reasonable, although the amendment was probably not wasted, as it caused the Committee to think through this area of consumer protection thoroughly. We will of course have another opportunity to check whether the requirements of the amendment have been fulfilled, when the law is drafted and presented to the States for approval.