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Chief Minister's Bailiff 'compromise' defeated

Chief Minister's Bailiff 'compromise' defeated

Wednesday 03 July 2019

Chief Minister's Bailiff 'compromise' defeated

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.

IN TWEETS: The ‘compromise’ Bailiff role debate as it unfolded…

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Posted by John Henwood on
It wasn't really the Chief Minister's Proposition, he was merely putting forward what the Bailiff himself had suggested, which was virtually nothing more than the status quo. Many will remember the then senior sitting States member, Jean Le Maistre, presiding over the Assembly when the Bailiff, his Deputy and the Greffier were all unavailable. The sky didn't fall in and the House continued to conduct it's affairs properly. So, nothing new in what the Bailiff or Chief Minister had to offer on the subject. The CM called for evolution rather than revolution: it does not seem to me that to be trying to resolve an issue that has been running since 1946 and was given fresh impetus by Clothier in 2000 and subsequently by Lord Carswell and the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry (all of whom indicated quite strongly that a change in the Bailiff's role was required) amounts to a revolution.
One hopes the majority of the Assembly will recognise that continued foot dragging in this matter will eventually damage Jersey's reputation and our claim to be a modern democracy.
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