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Meeting minutes approval and comfort breaks (FOI)

Meeting minutes approval and comfort breaks (FOI)

Produced by the States Greffe
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 09 June 2021.
Prepared internally, no external costs.

Request

In respect of formal meetings, which are arranged by Government, attended by a Minister (or Ministers) and where the minutes are produced by a clerk from the States Greffe, I would like to know the following:

A

How soon after the minutes have been circulated by the States Greffe are they formally approved?

B

Are breaks factored in to the meetings to allow the clerk (who presumably can't wander in and out of the meeting) to take comfort and refreshment breaks?

i) if yes, with what frequency?

ii) if no, why not?

Please provide separate details for each body or Committee, including (but no limited to) Council of Ministers, Competent Authorities, States Employment Board.

Response

A

It is estimated that to answer the request in full would require more than 12½ hours of work.

Regulation 2(1) of the Freedom of Information (Costs) Jersey Regulations 2014 allows a scheduled public authority to refuse a request for information where the estimated cost of dealing with the request would exceed the specified amount of the cost limit of £500. This is the estimated cost of one person spending 12½ working hours in determining whether the department holds the information, and then locating, retrieving and extracting the information. To answer this question in full would take more than 12½ hours of work to calculate how soon after the distribution of minutes by the States Greffe each set of minutes was approved by the body in question; a full answer cannot therefore be provided.

Procedurally, there is currently no set time period in which minutes must be approved once they have been circulated by the States Greffe to the body concerned (and the officers who support that body). Once distributed by the States Greffe, the minutes are usually included on the next agenda of the body in question in order that the minutes can be approved. The time required for approval can vary from body to body and can be influenced by various factors (including the frequency and length of meetings, decisions taken by the body to defer items and queries about the minutes). A project is underway between the States Greffe and the Ministerial Support Unit whereby Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will be introduced, as part of which expectations will be established regarding the timescales involved in processing minutes (and, in relation to Part 2 of this request, the taking of breaks during meetings).

The States Greffe has on file information in respect of the States Employment Board (SEB) that was collated in response to a request from the Comptroller and Auditor General and which shows (for a period in November and December 2020) the time for the minutes taken during this period to be approved once they had been circulated by the States Greffe:

Meeting minutes approval times

B

No specific breaks are currently factored into the meetings, but generally (at the discretion of whoever is chairing the meeting), pauses in meetings take place for comfort breaks and / or lunch, particularly if the meeting in question runs over and lasts longer than initially expected.

Article applied

Article 16 A scheduled public authority may refuse to supply information if cost excessive

(1) A scheduled public authority that has been requested to supply information may refuse to supply the information if it estimates that the cost of doing so would exceed an amount determined in the manner prescribed by Regulations.

Regulation 2 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Costs) (Jersey) Regulations 2014 allows an authority to refuse a request for information where the estimated cost of dealing with the request would exceed the specified amount of the cost limit of £500. This is the estimated cost of one person spending 12.5 working hours in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

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