With the half-term break almost over it’s back to business on Tuesday for Jersey’s States.
Amongst the issues they'll be debating are if there should be a referendum on whether to stick with ministerial government; and should the law be changed so Islanders can cast their vote at any polling station rather than having to go to the district where they live. A debate on the future of the Bailiff – a subject they’ve postponed at least twice this year - and which was scheduled for this sitting has put off until the following.
Whether the Bailiff should be both speaker of the States and the Island’s top judge is a debate that comes round every few years, and one in which the arguments are well rehearsed. Those who want to split the role say there’s a conflict of interest and that the dual role is untenable in the modern world. Those who want to keep things as they are dismiss the conflict of interest claim, say things work well, and that there is no guarantee any changes would be for the better.
The proposition is being brought by St Brelade Deputy Montfort Tadier. Although he has considerable support – including backing from a number of eminent independents who’ve carried out reviews of Jersey’s system of government – it’s doubtful he’ll be successful. But,when it's finally discussed it’s likely to be a lively debate and the vote could be closer than some are predicting.
Staying with Jersey’s system of government, Deputy Judy Martin wants the public to have a say on whether the Island should continue with the ministerial system it’s had for the past 13 years, or should return to the earlier committee system. She’s asking States members to give the go ahead for a referendum which would be held in 2018 at the same time as the General Election. She wants a simple yes/no question: “Do you think Jersey should continue with a Ministerial Government?” Again, it seems unlikely she’ll win members over.
And Deputy Sam Mezec is hoping he can make voting easier for Islanders. He wants the States to agree to a system of polling cards so people could vote at any polling station. He says the current system is bizarre whereby “residents of Hue Court (in St. Helier No2) live just metres away from the Town Hall, the polling station for St. Helier No1, yet have to travel all the way to Springfield Stadium to vote, despite the fact they actually live closer to the polling station for St. Helier No1 than virtually everyone who lives in St. Helier No1.”
Again, although most members agree with him in principle, it’s likely they’ll also think it’s impractical, and can’t be done in time for the next General Election, and will vote against him.
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