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08:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 09:29 UK

States Roundup: Tuesday 22 June

Terry Le Sueur

It seems that once every few months the States is asked to vote their confidence, or lack thereof, in one of their ministers.

On 22 June it was the turn of the chief minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, who survived.

Also, Deputy Sean Power resigned from the Planning Applications Panel, since he's been elected as Housing Minister at the last sitting.

Then, Senator Alan Brecon unexpectedly resigned from the Health, Social Security and Housing scrutiny panel.

He didn't say why at the time, and he still hasn't gone public on it. He apparently wrote to inform the Bailiff late last night.

Question time

Senator Ian Le Marquand

Several members are involved in a game with the Home Affairs minister where they continually ask a series of involved questions about issues he isn't prepared to go public about - such as the suspension of Graham Power as Police chief, the Wiltshire police report, etc.

He calls it Groundhog Day.

Deputy Trevor Pitman, for one, has asked a number of questions about the Wiltshire interim report, which apparently led to the suspension of Graham Power.

He doesn't believe it was ever a report, but a collection of notes. But he says, the person who wrote it is now under investigation for the contents. Again, Senator Ian Le Marqand says he will bring all the information forward about it as soon as he can.

Deputy Phil Rondel claimed that the rent paid for the bus station has doubled - from £50,000 to £100,000.

Other members seemed to have inside information about why the airport control tower wasn't opening on time.

Deputy Mike Higgins claimed that some of the equipment had failed tests three times, and he claims that one air traffic controller who had also failed several tests has been kept away from doing an active job because there were questions about his ability. The minister said he wouldn't comment about individual cases.

We heard about the scaffolding in front of St James Church, and the fact that it's much more expensive to repair the façade of the church than the rent the scaffolding to make it safe to the public.

It was also announced that the second person suspended from the hospital for more than a year, has just been allowed to return to work. His absence apparently cost the Health department more than £450,000.

States business

By the time the questions were all finished it was about 25 before the lunch break.

Senator Francis Le Gresley

Normally the first piece of business would be the vote of confidence in the Chief minister. But in this case Deputy Southern asked for some other debates to be taken first so he could make his first speech without being interrupted by the break.

His opening speech was nearly an hour long - so he would have been interrupted.

They voted in the changes proposed to the Mental Health law - raising the age of children under the law to 18 and changing some of the laws of guardianship.

We heard the new senator, Francis Le Gresley first speech - it wasn't a particularly rhetorical speech, but he just asked for a clarification on some of the legislation - something members do often in debates.

He got a very good response from other members - they usually will applaud a member's first speech.

He's only had one or two days' introduction to how the States works (compared with several weeks that new members usually get when they start in a group).

But he seemed to understand how everything works so far - better than some other members, who sometimes forget how to speak in the States.

Vote of confidence

Deputy Southern laid out his argument as one based on the cuts being proposed at the moment.

Although technically they're largely the initiative of the Treasury and Resources minister, every minister is required to come up with their own, and Deputy Southern said the chief minister should be held ultimately responsible.

Deputy Geoff Southern

He asked members if they were confident that there was a long term plan in the cuts, and if important services would be well-protected.

He said making cuts to public services in a recession is considered by eminent economists to be a big mistake.

And he said if the Chief Minister didn't provide proof that Jersey was about to enter a big economic comeback, the States should vote him out of his position.

But the Chief Minister said the best solution to the economic crisis was to take immediate action. He called the proposition misplaced and without merit.

It became, as confidence votes often do, a chance for members to air any and all grievances with the Chief Minister … from the suspension of senior civil servants to the incinerator exchange mistake.

But even members who agreed the chief minister isn't perfect, said they wouldn't go so far as to withdraw the confidence of the House.

Deputy Phil Rondel rubbed salt into Deputy Southern's wound after the election last week.

He said the public knew he was bringing forth a confidence vote and Deputy Southern's poor showing in the vote proved the public didn't agree.

The vast majority of members rejected the proposition, with only nine voting in favour, and 38 voting against. Nevertheless, the Chief Minister said he would take note of all their comments.


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