‘Press briefings cannot replace parliament’

‘PARLIAMENT cannot be replaced by press briefings’, States members were told when Mark Dorey called for the exit plan from the coronavirus lockdown to be debated.

Deputy Mark Dorey. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28300281)
Deputy Mark Dorey. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28300281)

Two amendments from Deputy Dorey, seconded by Deputy Peter Ferbrache, wanted a meeting to be called for Wednesday at which the exit framework could be discussed and ‘noted’, and for a further meeting on 19 August to debate the situation at that time.

They were placed when members were due to discuss a report from the States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee on the future schedule of States meetings.

A third amendment came from Deputy Heidi Soulsby, who wanted a meeting to be convened for either 17 June or 15 July to debate the topic.

Health & Social Care member Deputy Emilie McSwiggan pointed out that members had had opportunities to debate procedures when the Civil Contingencies Authority went to the Assembly to review the emergency regulations on three occasions.

But Scrutiny Management Committee president Deputy Chris Green said that discussing these regulations was not the same as discussing the overall framework and he would support the two Dorey amendments.

He had given a lot of thought to Scrutiny’s involvement and the idea of holding public hearings where it could ‘add value’.

A ‘democratic deficit’ was how Deputy Charles Parkinson described the situation, and he said lawyers had contacted him, concerned about the exit plans.

‘There is a political aspect that needs to be heard,’ said Deputy Peter Roffey, but he did not think next week was the time.

Deputy McSwiggan suggested it could be discussed by the States ‘in committee’, which would allow non-States members to be present and answer questions.

Deputy Lester Queripel said he had felt disenfranchised, and despite making suggestions to the CCA about the island’s economic recovery had not been told if they had been discussed.

Some members had conflated the exit framework with the recovery strategy, said Deputy Dawn Tindall, pointing out that the latter did not exist yet and was being slated for debate in July.

But she thought it could be ready for June, and could then be discussed at that meeting alongside the exit framework.

CCA chairman Deputy Gavin St Pier urged members not to approve a meeting next week because there was ‘far more important work’ to be done towards implementing phase four of the move out of lockdown.

But the Dorey/Ferbrache amendments were both approved – one by 23 votes to 16 and the second by 23 vote to 12, with four abstentions.

However, when it came to voting on the amendment as a proposition, it was rejected – with both those who placed it also voting against

Deputy Soulsby’s amendment, for Policy & Resources to bring a recovery plan to the Assembly on 17 June, was approved unanimously and went on to pass as an amended proposition.

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