Final States sitting before recess

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NO States sittings are currently scheduled to take place over the summer recess, but emergency meetings could be called if a request is made by at least seven Members.

States sitting at Fort Regent Picture: JON GUEGAN. (28805608)

The final scheduled official sitting of the States before the summer recess was due to start this afternoon MON, with proceedings scheduled to recommence on 8 September.

The current Covid-19 crisis has seen a large number of ad-hoc emergency sittings held. However, meetings have been conducted remotely over the internet and, early on during lockdown, at Fort Regent, where better physical distancing was possible, rather than in the States Chamber.

Several format changes were also made, including the questions-without-notice period being extended to become an hour-long session where any minister could be quizzed, in an attempt to allow greater scrutiny of the government.

States Greffier Mark Egan confirmed that no sittings were currently scheduled for the summer break, but that they could be called. He added that current advice was for sittings to remain virtual.

‘Any group of seven States Members can request a States meeting whenever they wish, so it’s not possible to say there won’t be an ad-hoc meeting over the summer,’ he said.

‘The Privileges and Procedures Committee has taken advice from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee on physical meetings and been told that they are not advised [to meet in person] at the moment, because it advises against gatherings of more than 40 people. We will look again at this when the public health guidance changes.’

At the start of June, PPC chairman Deputy Russell Labey said that a return to physically distanced sittings at Fort Regent would be expensive and would mean some Members would still be unable to attend due to being classed as vulnerable.

Some backbenchers have pushed for a return to physical sittings sooner, such as Deputies Kirsten Morel and Mary Le Hegarat, who have pointed out that much interaction between Members is lost during virtual sittings.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath

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