‘We must not pass Ministers’ document’

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He says that approving the Strategic Plan – which he criticises for containing no costings, alternatives, risk analysis, timeframes or detail – would give too much licence to the Council of Ministers, as it is not specific about future policy and could make the role of the Assembly redundant.

Senator Shenton says that instead of treating the 42-page document as a standard States debate, he wants Members to be able to speak as many times as they want on the subject, and to close the debate without a vote.

The plan was drawn up by the Council of Ministers and will be debated on 6 June.

It sets out a framework for all States policy leading up to 2011 including sections on the economy, environment and social inclusion.

Senator Shenton has lodged a proposition calling for an in-committee debate, which would not take effect in time for this year’s plan.

He said: ‘The problem is that approval of the Strategic Plan in accordance with current legislation gives ministers the power to implement far-reaching policies on the basis that it was approved “”through the Strategic Plan””.

‘This will eliminate the need to debate policy in the House, it will eliminate the need for the ministers to get feedback from the public.

‘At worst, it could make the States Assembly somewhat obsolete.

‘My hope is that as a House we do not pass it.

At the moment I cannot support it.

It is not a proper document, it is just advertising.’ His proposal would force changes to the States of Jersey Law and Standing Orders.

Senator Shenton said that an in-committee debate would be a useful exercise both for States Members and the Council of Ministers.

He said: ‘Members can speak more than once, so it is possible to ask questions and then make further comment once they have the answer, and it allows for the full airing of a matter.

The Council of Ministers would be able to gauge Members’ opinions about proposals and possibly amend them afterwards.

‘No decisions are taken, and any individual policy would need to come back to the States for a debate as a report and proposition.

‘The reason for this change is that the strategic policy document should be seen more as a manifesto for the Council of Ministers rather than a serious policy document that requires the approval of the States Assembly.

As such I believe that it will be very dangerous, and undemocratic to formally approve this document as required under the current law.’

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