Key population debate delayed until next year

A KEY debate on Jersey’s population policy has been delayed until January, despite the States voting to require ministers to ensure it is brought to the House this year.

Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin said the debate would now be held a month later
Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin said the debate would now be held a month later

After ‘careful consideration’, Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin said the long-awaited debate on a common population policy, which was expected to take place in December, would now be held a month later as the proposed Government Plan, scheduled for the same meeting, ‘is likely to occupy the entirety of that sitting’.

The policy is still due to be lodged in December, and Deputy Huelin said that he anticipated the debate would be held on the States sitting beginning on Tuesday 18 January.

Deputy Huelin, who holds political responsibility for population, was responding to a letter from the Migration and Population Review Panel, which had pushed for a debate before the end of the year and sought clarification from the government.

An amendment, lodged by Deputy Jess Perchard and approved by the States Assembly last October, said the Council of Ministers ‘should deliver a Common Population Policy to the Assembly to be debated before 31 December 2021’.

In his letter, Deputy Huelin said he shared panel chairman Senator Steve Pallett’s ‘view that the policy should be an evolving document and something which Islanders and businesses can both understand and work with, in the face of these multiple challenges’.

A consultation on the policy produced more than 1,700 responses and ‘well over’ 5,000 comments, according to the letter.

In a Scrutiny hearing earlier this year, the assistant minister admitted that information from the 2021 census would not be available in time to shape the Island’s common population policy.

During an earlier in-committee States debate, he said it would not be possible to deliver a ‘meaningful population policy’ without that data.

Speaking during the June Scrutiny hearing, Deputy Huelin said: ‘I have reviewed that and I think it is really important that we deliver a population policy with whatever we have at our disposal by the end of the year.’

Every householder was required to fill out the census by March this year.

The information aims to provide the government with an accurate view of the number of people in Jersey, in order to shape services, including schools, healthcare and transport.

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