Bailiff urges Members to clear agenda by dropping proposals
STATES Members have been asked to withdraw some propositions until after the election, as the number lodged in recent weeks has resulted in the ‘most extreme example’ of a crowded agenda the Bailiff says has seen in 18 years in the Assembly.
With just two States sittings left before the May election, Members face a packed schedule, with suggestions that the next sitting may have to run into a second week and politicians may be needed to sit until 9 pm each night to get through the proposals in time.
The Bailiff, Sir William Bailhache, has now urged Members to prioritise their proposals and allow some less important legislative changes to be debated after the May general election.
Among the topics scheduled for debate are plans to overhaul the way in which the public sector is run, a rewriting of the sexual offence laws and plans to fund university education for Islanders with a household income under £110,000.
Sir William said the Assembly was facing a ‘very large number of pieces of primary and secondary legislation’ and Members were not realistically going to be able to clear all matters before Senatorial nominations night on Tuesday 10 April.
He said: ‘What I was going to suggest to ministers was that between now and the next sitting they look very hard at whether it is necessary urgently to bring that particular piece of legislation forward.
‘If the legislation has been drafted, it can be picked up by the next government and brought forward, and if no one wants to pick it up, then probably it is not a very good idea to pass it anyway.
‘Those comments go not just to ministers but also private Members. We all know there is an election coming up and we all know that it is helpful to have a discussion about important points of policy so that the electorate will know what has been proposed.
‘The idea that anyone is going to be giving much consideration to what may be very important propositions at 8 o’clock at night is, honestly, fanciful.’
He added: ‘I have to say this is the most extreme example that I have come across in my 18 years in the States of a crowded agenda and it is not good for the making of law.’
The last States sitting of the current Assembly is scheduled for Tuesday 10 April, although the States have taken the unusual step of sitting on the Monday to try to enable the Assembly to finish as much business as possible before the Senatorial nominations night.
Privileges and Procedures Committee chairman Constable Len Norman also asked ministers to cut some proposals and allow them to be taken after the election.
Chief Minister Ian Gorst admitted that the Council of Ministers would need to have a ‘ruthless prioritisation’ and that some pieces of legislation would have to fall on the next Assembly to deal with.