Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Coming up in the States


 "The Panel has established that this draft legislation was intended to fill a narrow gap, which had been identified when there had been a false application for a passport in 1994. The then Attorney General decided not to proceed with a prosecution but suggested that, although not a priority and when the opportunity arose, a Law similar to Guernsey's legislation should be introduced."

Currently, a false application would come under more general law of fraud, so there was not a gap in the law, but this will make prosecutions simpler as a specific Statutory offense has occurred.Incidentally, Guernsey has had the offense since the 1970s.

After Scrutiny met with Senator Le Marquand, an amendment was also lodged by the Minister to the law.

In particular, the term "police officer" was narrowly defined to mean a member of the States of Jersey Police alone, and has now been adjusted to include members of the Honorary Police. This is quite a significant change, because as it stood, the law would have also been changing the definition of "police officer" to exclude the honorary police. One cannot help wondering if the law had in fact been modelled closely on the Guernsey model - where there are no honorary police - and rather too slavishly followed that. I don't cite conspiracy, though some may!

The words  "or recklessly" have also been removed, so that someone who knew a person for the requisite amount of time, and was asked to be a counter-signatory for a passport application would not also be guilty of making a false statement by taking the applicant's statements at face value. So it increases the protection of third parties, who may be innocent dupes.


This, lodged by the Constable of Grouville, John le Maistre, asks for "the Ministers for Education, Sport and Culture, Transport and Technical Services, Planning and Environment and Treasury and Resources to take the necessary steps together -

(a) to provide 'drop-off' and 'pick-up' facilities at Grouville School and to provide parking for at least 60 cars for parents and guardians of children who attend the School, in addition to any parking provision that currently exists; and

(b) to make every effort to complete this work within 9 months from the date this proposition is adopted.
Current plans by TTS to provide an extra  23 spaces, and as the Constable points out - "This provides nowhere near enough extra spaces to make any real difference"

This has long been a problem, and accidents are waiting to happen. This proposition is a fine extension of what can be done to what would make a significant difference, and it is also good that a timetable has been set in the second part of the proposition, to ensure that it takes place on time.

Lack of a clear timetable can cause delays, and I wish that more States propositions gave a timetable for work to be completed. Even if it is amended, the success of the project can be judged on how much it has been delayed.


This is Deputy Sam Mezec's proposition:

"to agree, in principle, that the Chief Minister should no longer be elected by members of the States, but should instead be selected through an Island-wide vote of registered electors from candidates proposed by members of the States after each general election"

The Islandwide election of Chief Minister has always been problematic insofar as a Chief Minister could be elected who would not command the assent of the House. Sam Mezec's proposition counters this by the following procedures and caveats:

1. The general election to the States of Jersey occurs as normal.
2. Once members are elected, their first job at a specially convened States Sitting will be to formally nominate their preferred candidates for Chief Minister.
3. An Island-wide campaign commences, culminating in a public vote 4 weeks after the general election.

He notes that:

"The number of nominations required to get on the ballot should be significant, so that only candidates are put forward that can command the confidence of the States Assembly. States Members should also be able to nominate more than once, so that there is less chance of there being only one nominated candidate who wins by default."

This would, in many ways, be a "presidential style" election, and the reason it is being brought at this time is because Senator Gorst's proposition, also coming up, gives the Chief Minister very wide ranging, and some would say, "Presidential" powers.

This would enable the Chief Minister  to hire, fire, reshuffle, create Ministries if desired, and reallocate Ministerial responsibilities, with little or no need to consult the States Assembly over those changes.

Deputy Mezec's proposition seeks to balance that by having the Chief Minister not only command the support of his or her colleagues, but also command Island wide support.

It is a good counterbalance, but I personally would prefer it if the Chief Minister did not have such draconian powers. In a small jurisdiction, shifts increasing the power and patronage of the executive are always dangerous, and if there is a balance to be struck between greater efficiency, and consensus, I would prefer the edge to be given to consensus politics.

It may seem plodding at times, and frustrating, but consensus politics is not mediocre, except in the sense of the "aurea mediocritas", the golden mean of Horace. Ministerial government has created an executive and a class of political outsiders, I believe that anything which widens that gap, and makes it a yawning chasm is bad for Jersey.

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