Guernsey Press

Green for go? Not these papers

WOULD standards of debate – and prospects of action – in the States benefit from the introduction of ‘green paper’ debates? The States Assembly and Constitution Committee believes that it might. But history tends to debunk its prospects.


Sacc president Carl Meerveld thinks that committees should submit major policy ideas in two stages – initially as a green paper for consultation, and later as a white paper with firm proposals, having reflected on views expressed from the first debate.

In part it is hoped that collaborative policy-making will reduce the prospects of long-considered policy proposals being trashed by individual deputies’ half-baked amendments concocted over a lunch break. While that is a genuine frustration, that wish is unlikely to succeed.

A green paper is an invitation to talk, with no end goal. Experience shows that the public only tend to become engaged, and States members respond to this, when there’s a proposal on the table that really matters to them, not over vague conversations about shaping futures.

Even worse is the habit the States pursued at one time in agreeing policy in principle while pledging to consider funding at a later date.

Deputies too will remember their last experience of dabbling with a green paper in the opening round of the GST debate.

It didn’t help to focus minds in any productive way then, and it’s unlikely to do so in the future.