States of Jersey to get new look

All households in Jersey are to receive a copy of suggested reforms to the island’s legislative body, the States of Jersey. All comments on the report must be submitted by 23 November. There will also be public meetings in each of the island’s 12 parishes (the administrative units into which the island is divided) between 6-15 November.

The report includes proposals for a decrease in the number of States’ members from 51 to 42, abolishing the position of senator and creating six constituencies (instead of the present 12), each with seven members. It also calls for a referendum to be held on whether or not the 12 parish connétables (the elected administrative heads of each parish in the island) should be ex-officio States members.

The proposed reforms also recommend that all elections to the States should be held on the same day throughout the island every four years. Since 2011 the three categories of States members – deputies, senators and connétables – have been elected for a three year term. The report also suggests considering a transferable voting system.

At present the States of Jersey is made up of 10 senators elected on an island-wide basis, 29 deputies elected in single or multi-seat constituencies and 12 connétables elected by each parish.

If no agreement is reached on this latest attempt at reform – and several have been put forward in recent years with varying degrees of success – then by 2014 the total number of States members will decrease in any case by two senators to a total of 49 members.

The function of the States of Jersey is to pass legislation and scrutinise the council of ministers, the island’s executive body. There is only one legislative chamber.

The proposals have been put forward by an electoral commission made up of three politicians and three members of the public, headed by Sir Philip Bailhache, one-time bailiff of the island (chief justice) and now a senator and assistant minister to the chief minister of the island.

A final report will be submitted by the commission in December.