States online meeting blocked by its own rules

THE States meeting that was due to start on Wednesday has been postponed in light of the latest lockdown.

Deputy Yvonne Burford wants the States meet online this week after Wednesday's debate was postponed. (29159889)
Deputy Yvonne Burford wants the States meet online this week after Wednesday's debate was postponed. (29159889)

There is no power at this stage to convene the States of Deliberation as a remote meeting.

In March last year the States sat at a socially distanced meeting in St James. Meetings after that were held remotely via MS Teams before sitting resumed in the chamber from 24 June.

States Greffier Simon Ross said that had been done as a temporary measure and the Civil Contingency Authority would need to legislate before it could happen again.

'In terms of technology and rules of procedure we simply need to adapt what we used in March last year when we had to start from scratch,' he said. 'The only difference is that we now have 19 new members who will have to familiarise themselves with the system.'

This week's meeting was expected to be a short and conclude in one day.

Some have questioned why if businesses have moved swiftly to work from home the States has not.

'I emailed first thing this morning requesting that States meeting goes ahead on Wednesday as planned,' said Deputy Yvonne Burford.

'We cannot expect the community to work from home and fail to do it ourselves. Expecting a response later today.'

Unless things change, all business for this week's meeting will be treated as if it is being deferred to the States’ meeting scheduled for 24 February. In the absence of the States approving the schedule for future States’ business for the February eeting, the Presiding Officer will be sympathetic to Committees’ requests to include further items for debate that the Policy & Resources Committee could have incorporated into its Schedule for approval this week.

Depending on how the current situation develops, the Civil Contingencies Authority might consider it appropriate to pass further Emergency Regulations enabling the States of Deliberation to meet as a virtual assembly using MS Teams (and empowering the States’ Assembly and Constitution Committee to make appropriate revised Rules of Procedure), in which case it is highly likely that a practice session will be held to ensure that members, particularly those who have not experienced it before, can familiarise themselves with these processes sufficiently well in advance of 24 February.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News