A bid to create an elected 'speaker' to preside over the States Assembly, without getting rid of the Bailiff, has been voted down in a clear defeat for the Chief Minister.
The proposals by Senator John Le Fondré aimed to close the age-old debate about whether the Bailiff is capable of being fully impartial to preside over political proceedings.
The issue hinges on whether two aspects of the Bailiff’s role – that of the island’s Chief Justice and President of the States – present a potential conflict of interest.
The Chief Minister's plan, which came after politicians decided that any changes to the Bailiff's role would only be made if politicians were given the mandate by a public referendum, aimed to create a "compromise" on the divisive issue that would satisfy those who wish to replace him with an elected 'speaker', as well as those who do not support disrupting tradition.
His proposals, which echoed suggestions made by the current Bailiff Sir William Bailhache in a letter circulated to all States Members which called for a “softer solution", would have seen a politician chosen to preside over States sittings - but only when the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff are unavailable.
Pictured: The debate over the Bailiff's separation of powers has returned to the Chamber time and again.
The Chief Minister said that any change to the historic role of the Bailiff should be through “an evolutionary approach” rather than a revolution that would “cast down nearly 800 years of island history, possibly on the balance of one or two votes and potentially without any recourse to the public.”
He hoped that his suggestion would appeal to those who were supportive of the principles behind the Bailiff’s proposal, but felt that someone “more senior” should facilitate political debate in the Assembly.
Although the issue has been discussed in many different ways by the States Assembly, the Chief Minister’s approach did not win the support of his fellow Members with the proposition being defeated by 31 votes against to 16 in favour.
Pictured: The new bid was defeated.
Those voting in favour of the Chief Minister proposal were: Senators John Le Fondré, Lyndon Farnham and Sarah Ferguson, Constables Richard Buchanan, Mike Jackson, John Le Bailly, Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard, Karen Shenton-Stone, Chris Taylor and Richard Vibert, and Deputies Gregory Guida, Carolyn Labey, Kevin Lewis, Steve Luce, Jeremy Maçon, Hugh Raymond and Judy Martin.
Those voting against were: Senator Sam Mézec, Kristina Moore, Steve Pallett and Tracey Vallois, Constables Simon Crowcroft, John Le Maistre, Philip Le Sueur, Deidre Mezbourian and Len Norman, and Deputies Steve Ahier, Carina Alves, Lindsay Ash, Louise Doublet, Inna Gardiner, Mike Higgins, Rowland Huelin, Russell Labey, Mary Le Hegarat, Kirsten Morel, Kevin Pamplin, Jess Perchard, Susie Pinel, Trevor Pointon, Richard Renouf, Geoff Southern, Montfort Tadier, Graham Truscott, Rob Ward, Scott Wickenden and John Young.
1/3 @DeputyTadier tells the #StatesAssembly that @John_Le_Fondre's proposition is a compromise to appeal to those for & against the role of Bailiff. He says he won't vote for the proposition as he believes it's dishonest to vote for something that isn't open & transparent.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
2/3. @DeputyTadier says if the #StatesAssembly is going to make a change to the role of Presiding Officer, they should do it because they agree it's right & not attempt to do it by a “form of evolution”.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
3/3 @DeputyTadier says many believe "evolution is better than revolution" as change won't happen in #JerseyCI through revolution. He believes this is why this proposition re electing a Speaker from #StatesAssembly members has been proposed as is.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
Constable Shenton-Stone says that appointing an elected member as Speaker "removes a voice & a vote." She says that an elected member might seek to sway the vote which calls into qu the impartiality of the role. She says she supports the role of Bailiff.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
Senator Sam Mézec says there is a lack of separation between the legislature (#StatesAssembly/parliament) & judiciary (court). He speaks of an "undemocratic and unhealthy overlap" which has been criticised by a number of constitutional experts.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
Senator Sam Mézec tells the #StatesAssembly about how the same element of Sark's constitution was challenged in the UK Court of Appeal. They said Sark's set-up was not compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights & as a result, split the parliament from the judiciary.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
1/2. Senator @John_Le_Fondre says that the role of Bailiff represents a symbol of #JerseyCI's ancient links with the Crown since the first Bailiff was appointed in 1277. He says the role links with Jersey's history & culture, and doesn't mean Jersey is living in the dark ages.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
2/2. @John_Le_Fondre says we should be proud of our differences where they work, and that the role of Bailiff is a function that works very ably & is served well by the impartiality of the people who preside over this #StatesAssembly.— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) July 2, 2019
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