However, as Senator Ben Shenton and Senator Philip Ozouf have both said, too much talk is prejudicing the interests of good government and wasting a great deal of valuable time.
The rules governing conduct in the House already state that Members must refrain from repeating themselves when they speak. Equally, they must refrain from repeating points that have already been made by previous speakers. Brevity is also to be encouraged, as is adherence to the rules of logic.
Unfortunately, some of our elected representatives have a very loose understanding of what brevity might mean. Some also cannot resist hammering home what they believe to be vital points repeatedly – even though we are entitled to expect that anyone worthy of election to political office should be able to take an idea on board on hearing it just once.
More disturbingly, there are Members who clearly enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices. They must be reminded that they represent Islanders not for their own entertainment or to prove what
superb orators they are, but for the general benefit of the community.
With so much business now being packed into States sittings, waffle and time wasting are quite simply luxuries that cannot be afforded. As well as contributing towards inefficiency, the tendency towards long-windedness on the part of certain speakers means that some important matters are skated over too lightly or have to be put off for debate on some future occasion.
It is fortunate that the call for action on this front has been heeded by the present Privileges and Proceedings Committee, a body which seems to be taking its role as the quality control mechanism of the States very seriously. Under the leadership of the Constable of St Mary, Juliette Gallichan, the committee is looking at the possibility of limiting the length of individual speeches and whole debates.
Some will undoubtedly see any attempt to enforce such limits as interference in Members’ right to express their views as fully and freely as possible. In reality, limitations are vital if the processes of
Island democracy are not to grind to a halt.