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Rules boss "can see merit" in speech time limits

Rules boss

Thursday 14 November 2019

Rules boss "can see merit" in speech time limits

Thursday 14 November 2019

States members who lack the self-discipline to keep their speeches focussed and concise could be cut short if Guernsey follows Jersey's lead.

Jersey's government voted this week to limit their speaking time during debates to a maximum of 15 minutes following a number of meetings which over-ran the two days put aside for debate.

Under these successful proposals, members will only have longer to speak if proposing or summing up a motion, or if the presiding officer uses their discretion to permit extra time. 

Asked whether Guernsey's States could do likewise, States' Assembly & Constitution Committee President Neil Inder said the idea was worth considering before the term is out. 

"The Committee is aware of the changes in Jersey but hasn’t discussed the issue in any great detail - we’ve been busy elsewhere," he said. 

"Speaking personally, I can see merit in a speech time limits. Observationally I’ve noted that a minority of members don’t always have the self-discipline to write short and to-the-point speeches; but everyone has their own style of presentation and other members have lower tolerance levels.


Pictured: SACC's time and limited staff resources have been focussed mainly on organising next year's first island-wide election.  

"The States Assembly and Constitution Committee is obliged to come back to the States with a ‘wash up’ policy letter on the rules and that would be the time for the committee to consider the topic. Other committee members may have a different view of course, as might the States as a body."

Committee Member Peter Ferbrache went further, suggesting that time limits of 10-minutes should be imposed, save for the proposer of a policy letter or requete.

Our government has struggled to complete its schedule of business several times this term, with items having to be moved to the following meeting even after debates have been lengthened into the evening. 

The vote to approve the funds for a one-school-over-two-sites model of education took place at around 19:00 on a Friday evening, with three absent from the crucial decision due to other commitments or responsibilities, and others having to reschedule engagements at late notice. 

Many propositions earmarked for that same meeting were deferred to the next, as was the case again last week when the Budget debate ran for four days, meaning the entire States meeting that was scheduled to follow it had to be broken up and added to future sittings. 

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