Reform of the States of Jersey has been one of the hottest issues in the island for the last few years.
Various propositions have been put forward for debate, consultation and vote in and outside the States Chamber.
On Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 May 2007 the States voted on the latest round of propositions put forward by Deputy Southern, Deputy Fondre and Senator Shenton.
The core debate was over the proposals made by Privileges and Procedures committee a few weeks ago.
The proposals take Senator Ben Shenton’s original proposals as their base but instead of call for a general election day and a four year term of office they would see an election period with eight Senators, 37 Deputies and twelve Constables.
Senator Ben Shenton told us before the debate "What I want to try and achieve is a four year term of office with a general election so we can really get the razzmatazz going, get people involved so they can feel like they can really make a change.
"I think you will get a much better turnout and get more people involved, it will be much easier to explain to people that this is Jersey, we have local elections, we have them every four years and everyone gets elected."
The debate on reform of the States became a sequence of defeats.
One of the things the original consultation paper called for was a referendum on States reform to give the public a chance to have their say.
That proposal, to have a referendum on the future make up of the States, was defeated 14 votes to 37.
The Privileges and Procedures Committee’s amendments to Senator Shenton’s proposals were defeated which left Senator Shenton’s original proposals in tact.
However, the vote on Senator Shenton’s original proposals were thrown out by the States as well.
Other amendments by Deputy Geoff Southern and Deputy Alan Breckon also failed to gain support.
Deputy Southern’s amendments called for the abolition of the right of the Constables to be members of the States by virtue of their office.
Deputy Southern’s proposals for States reform were rejected by 45 votes to four.
In his summing up, Deputy Geoff Southern made the tongue in cheek point that ability not tradition should determine whether Constables sit in the States.
Deputy Geoff Southern told the States "the day when the average age on those benches is, let us say 29 and the average IQ is 157 will be a day I would love to see."
General Election Day
|Voters in polling booths on election day|
Deputy John le Fondre brought a proposition to that house calling for a single election day with all States members elected at the same time. This was lost 42 votes to eight.
The Deputy also wanted politicians to have to choose whether they would stand as a Senator, Deputy or a Constable.
Senator Phillip Ozouf said this would be unworkable.
Senator Ozouf said "It will be a complete car crash of an election, it just will not work.
"Members of the public will not know who standing for which office - there may well be a slate of probably something like 20 people standing with an individual elector having to choose from 12 people."
Senators, Deputy’s and then Constables
Deputy Alan Breckon lodged an amendment asking for Senators and Deputies to be elected on the same day and Constables in a second election shortly thereafter. This was defeated 13 votes to 36.
The only reform
The only proposition for reform that was accepted by States members was a limit on election expenses in Jersey.
The States agreed to set a cap on how much election candidates can spend during a campaign.
Over to You
Callers to the BBC Jersey phone-in and people commenting on bbc.co.uk/jersey have said they’re not surprised at the lack of reform but are disappointed.
One caller to the BBC Jersey Phone-in was so disillusioned with the States of Jersey’s ability to reform themselves he was calling for a revolution.
|Who Really Cares?|
Si said "We stand no chance of getting any change at all in the States of Jersey and the way they're elected while the current lot are in.
"Unfortunately without reform we stand very little chance of getting the current lot out so we're in a catch 22 situation.
"Fortunately I have the solution. Revolution - the people of Jersey need to unite and force the States to reform themselves in whatever way necessary using whatever means necessary."
Here is another comment, this time from Michael "The States astound me. A few years ago, they voted (generally) in favour of the Clothier reforms.
"Today (Tuesday), they indicated that they didn't want to make any changes. Reform without any change seems to be a good motto for them. No wonder the population has lost confidence in the States."
Do you agree with the comments above? Is reform really necessary, are the States right to leave things as they are or should more be done to change the make-up of the islands parliament?
The Privileges and Procedures Committee will have to come back to the States with more proposals.
What would you like to see in those proposals? Were the States right in rejecting a call for a referendum or would you have liked to have a direct say on reform?