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Will Members approve an overhaul of government?

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AN overhaul of the way the civil service is run, changes to criminal procedures and improvements to maternity provisions are among the propositions due to be debated in a States sitting that could run for the whole of this week.

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In recent weeks Members have been criticised for leaving so many major propositions until the final two sittings of the current Assembly’s term and the House is now facing a rush to get through all remaining business before May’s election.

And in order to give themselves the best chance of getting through the packed agenda, Members will sit from 2.45 pm on Monday and could continue for the entire week, with further reserve dates scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday next week.

One of the main items on the agenda is an overhaul of ministerial government and the civil service brought by Chief Minister Ian Gorst.

His proposals would scrap collective responsibility, but give the Chief Minister the power to reshuffle his cabinet, move money between departments without prior agreement from the relevant ministers and create new ministries.

They would also put more responsibility for the civil service in the hands of the States new chief executive, Charlie Parker.

Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore has brought two proposals – one which would radically alter the way trials are held and the other which would make major changes to the Island’s sexual offences laws.

The changes to the Criminal Procedures Law would, if approved, prevent rapists and child abusers from cross-examining their victims in court and would expand the pool of people who could be called on for jury service. Meanwhile, under proposed new sexual offences legislation, more offences would be classed as rape, with increased maximum sentences for those convicted.

Members are due to debate new ‘family-friendly’ laws as well. Social Security Minister Susie Pinel has unveiled plans which would, if approved by the States, treble the minimum amount of paid maternity leave from two to six weeks and give both parents up to six months off work each by September.

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The Social Security Minister has also brought forward plans to update the discrimination law to improve protection for disabled people.

The dispute between the RNLI and the former St Helier crew is also likely to be a key talking point during the sitting.

Members are due to debate whether they should formally support the newly formed Jersey Lifeboat Association, which intends to set up an independent sea rescue service. They are also due to decide whether to launch a committee of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the breakdown of the relationship between the RNLI and its St Helier volunteers.

A total of 11 written and 13 oral questions have been lodged. External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache and Senator Gorst are due to face questions without notice.

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