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New hospital and care inquiry set to dominate year’s first States sitting

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TWO topics that dominated politics last year – the new hospital and the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry – are likely to be at the forefront of the first States sitting of 2018.

The States Building

Among the debates scheduled for this week’s sitting, which is pencilled in to last three days, is the government’s response to the inquiry’s recommendations, with Members to be asked to back Chief Minister Ian Gorst’s action plan for implementing the panel’s findings.

The first of the inquiry’s eight recommendations has already been brought into force with the appointment of Deborah McMillan as the Island’s first Children’s Commissioner.

Included within the action plan to fulfil the other seven recommendations are proposals to launch a public consultation on whether to demolish Haut de la Garenne. The inquiry described the building as a ‘reminder of an unhappy past or shameful history’.

And while there are no scheduled debates on the new hospital, the rejection of the planning application last week will surely be a dominant topic during States question time. Health Minister Andrew Green is scheduled to face questions without notice alongside Senator Gorst.

Meanwhile, proposals to split JT into two companies are set to be debated. Senator Sarah Ferguson has called for the States-owned telecoms company to be restructured and divided into a retail and a wholesale/infrastructure body.

Members will also decide whether to extend the Millennium Town Park and give approval for an underground car park on the neighbouring Gas Works site.

A benefit paid to single parents which was scrapped by the States in 2015 could be reinstated if a proposition from the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel is approved.

Three years ago, politicians rejected an amendment to spending plans from Deputy Sam Mézec to retain the extra £40 a week paid to single parents rather than cut it to save money as ministers had proposed.

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Now the panel has called for that decision to be reversed, at an estimated cost of £2.3 million per year.

And, election law may be altered which would prevent non-British citizens from standing for Constable. Under current election laws, Senators and Deputies can be barred from office for a range of reasons, including if they are declared or become en désastre (bankrupt), if they are detained under mental health laws, or if they are convicted of a corruption offence.

However, the same rules do not apply to the Island’s 12 parish Constables.

If the proposals are approved, they would create the same barriers to holding the office of Constable that are faced by prospective Senators and Deputies – including the requirement that they must be British citizens. Deputy Montfort Tadier has lodged an amendment to block the changes.

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