20 January 2014
Following a constructive dialogue between Senator Ian Gorst and Deputy Rob Duhamel, the Chief Minister has decided to withdraw the proposition seeking the dismissal of the Planning and Environment Minister.
Deputy Duhamel has apologised for not disclosing information to the Chief Minister and for not clarifying the background to meeting a potential applicant without officers being present. He has confirmed that the relevant protocols will be followed strictly in future regarding meetings with existing and potential planning applicants.
The Chief Minister has accepted these assurances and has expressed his regret regarding the recent escalation of events which led to the decision of the majority of the Council of Ministers to support the proposition for dismissal.
Senator Gorst and Deputy Duhamel have agreed that, while the move to Ministerial government has brought many benefits, there are some aspects of the current system that are not always conducive to good government and which are in need of improvement. Following last year's Machinery of Government Review, the Privileges and Procedures Committee is currently preparing amendments to the States of Jersey Law to create a more effective structure, which, if agreed by the States Assembly in the spring, will clarify that the Council of Ministers should work to the principle of collective responsibility and will bring about a more effective Ministerial Code.
Until the new structure is in place, the Chief Minister and Planning and Environment Minister have committed to work together in a constructive manner within the current legal framework in order to serve the best interests of the Island.
Work in partnership
They have agreed to work in partnership in order to:
review the relevant protocols so as to clarify the correct balance between privacy and disclosure in relation to planning information
decide what future role, if any, the Planning and Environment Minister should have in the initial determination of individual applications and whether changes are needed to the planning law
work with the Council of Ministers to develop an updated Ministerial Code in anticipation of the principle of collective responsibility and other machinery of government improvements being adopted by the Assembly
consider the interaction between the introduction of collective responsibility and the responsibilities of the Planning and Environment Minister under the Planning Law
While this work is underway, the Planning and Environment Minister has confirmed that he will restrict his involvement in individual planning applications to those where it is absolutely necessary, having regard for existing procedures and the proposed amendments to the law to introduce a new planning appeals process, and that he will explain clearly to fellow Ministers if he is unable to engage in a discussion due to conflicts with his official responsibilities under the Planning Law.
Positive and constructive work
The Chief Minister has welcomed these confirmations and has committed to seek to ensure that the Planning and Environment Minister can work in a positive and constructive manner within the Council of Ministers through better dialogue and mutual understanding between all Ministers.