Proposals will go ahead to allow deputies to participate from home when the States meet next Wednesday despite public health guidance to work from home coming to an end 48 hours earlier.
Rule changes to allow another hybrid meeting on 26 January were submitted by the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee a few days before the Civil Contingencies Authority announced that guidance to work from home would be scrapped from 24 January.
The Committee said yesterday that it would not withdraw its proposals to enable deputies to stay at home for the meeting if they wish. But it hopes next Wednesday's meeting will be the last in hybrid form and that deputies will be required to attend future meetings in person in the Royal Court.
“I have been warned that some members will be speaking against the proposals. I will vote in favour, but I share the reservations some members will express about drifting into hybrid meetings permanently,” said Deputy Carl Meerveld, President of the Committee.
“I am hoping this will be our last hybrid meeting potentially and that we will not go back to them. Hybrid meetings offer the worst of both worlds in my opinion.”
Pictured: The President of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee, Deputy Carl Meerveld, top left, says his members are unanimously opposed to deputies taking part in States' meetings online but think plans should be maintained to hold a hybrid meeting next week.
The States’ senior committee, Policy & Resources, has previously argued that hybrid meetings and members taking part remotely “can and should be part of a new normal going forward”.
Although the Policy & Resources Committee and some other deputies normally loyal to it are believed still to be in favour of making hybrid meetings permanent, Deputy Meerveld is confident that his Committee’s opposition to hybrid meetings is shared by a majority of States’ members.
“I don’t think there is an appetite in the Assembly to make it a permanent installation,” said Deputy Meerveld.
“There was a suggestion before Christmas that we should look at hybrid meetings as a potential permanent installation. The general feedback I have received from members about hybrid meetings is that it has been quite a negative experience. It hasn’t worked flawlessly. It has had issue and people see that it would have issues going forward.”
Deputy Meerveld said that he would “fight quite strongly” against any attempt to allow members permanently to participate in States’ meetings remotely from home or any location other than the Royal Court.
“I believe the Assembly needs to meet in one place together as a group. Or, as we did with the initial covid outbreak, on Teams. But it needs to be one or the other – all remote or preferably all physically present.”
Pictured: The Policy & Resources Committee has suggested that hybrid States' meetings - where members are allowed to log on online and take part remotely - should be allowed to continue.
Earlier this week, a former President of the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee, Deputy Neil Inder, said that he would oppose the proposal for another hybrid meeting next week because “the end of covid as a pandemic is nigh” and the States “need to set a positive example”.
Deputy Victoria Oliver responded to Deputy Inder’s comments by saying that circumstances remained “very tough” for many families currently experiencing covid and enforced isolation.
I am having to be in isolation, because of kids testing positive. Believe me Neil it might be coming to an end but for all the 1000 of families that are in isolation it’s real tough and some will not being paid their proper wage. It’s been a very tough week.— Victoria Oliver (@victoria1oliver) January 17, 2022
At yesterday’s meeting of the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee, Deputy Lester Queripel, a member of the Committee, asked his President, Deputy Meerveld, not to get drawn into a debate about the future of hybrid meetings when the States start their meeting next week with a debate about whether that meeting only should be held in hybrid form.
“I request that you do not go into all that in the debate,” said Deputy Queripel.
“It’s not about the future…it’s only about the January meeting…it’s as simple as that.”
Deputy Meerveld said that his opening speech on the Committee's proposals would stick to the narrow question of whether Wednesday's meeting should be held in hybrid form, but that he may need to address the issue more generally in his closing speech if other members used their speeches to widen the debate.