Composition and Election of the States: proposed changes
This paper provides an overview of the above proposition (P.139/2020), and the seven amendments to the proposition that are due to be debated by the States Assembly on 1 December 2020.
Both P.139/2020 and the amendments seek to change the number of elected members of the Assembly and the way in which this elected membership is chosen by the public.
Who are the current elected members of the States?
As set out in the
States of Jersey Law 2005, the States Assembly comprises the following elected members:
- 8 Senators
- 12 Connétables
- 29 Deputies
Senators are elected on an Island-wide mandate and Connétables are elected from the 12 Parishes. Deputies are elected from 17 districts derived from Parish boundaries. Parishes with larger populations (such as St Helier and St Brelade) are divided into more than one district; whereas Parishes with smaller populations are represented by a single Deputy. The districts and the distribution of Deputies to those districts are set out in Schedule 1 to the States of Jersey Law 2005.
What does P.139/2020 aim to do?
P.139/2020 has been lodged by the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC). PPC has proposed to replace the current elected membership and to establish a States Assembly of 49 members. 37 of these members would be elected from nine districts, each of which would return a number of representatives based upon the voting population of that district. The existing 12 Connétables would bring the total to 49. If P.139/2020 were adopted unamended, the position of Senator and the Island-wide mandate would be abolished.
The proposition also seeks the establishment of an Independent Boundaries Commission to ensure that the number of elected members chosen by each of the nine new electoral districts remains consistent with the size of the district’s population. PPC’s proposals reference the electoral reform recommendations detailed within the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Election Observers’ Mission to Jersey report.
All of the changes proposed by P.139/2020 would be put in place for the 2022 elections.
What do the amendments to P.139/2020 aim to do?
Seven amendments have been put forward to P.139/2020. Five of these amendments offer different proposals for the size and make-up of the States Assembly to what has been put forward in P.139/2020. Table 1 provides a summary of each of these five amendments.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon – P.139/2020 Amd. – the First Amendment
- Deputy Maçon has proposed to remove the Connétables and Senators from the States Assembly and to increase the number of States members to 52 (using the same nine districts proposed in P.139/2020).
Connétable Len Norman – P.139/2020 Amd.(2) – the Second Amendment
- Connétable Norman has proposed to remove the Connétables and Senators from the States Assembly and to keep the number of elected members at 49, using different districts from those proposed in P.139/2020. The Connétable’s amendment is based upon the recommendations of the Clothier Report.
Senator Lyndon Farnham – P.139/2020 Amd.(5) – the Fifth Amendment
- Senator Farnham has proposed to reduce the number of States members to 48. He seeks to retain the Senators and the Connétables and to reduce the number of Deputies to 28, who would be elected from six large districts. These districts are different from those proposed in P.139/2020. Senator Farnham has also sought to remove the requirement for an Independent Boundaries Commission to be established.
Deputy Mike Higgins – P.139/2020 Amd.(6) – the Sixth Amendment
Senator John Le Fondré – P.139/2020 Amd.(7) – the Seventh Amendment
- Senator Le Fondré has proposed to increase the number of States members to 53. The existing eight Senators and 12 Connétables would be retained; the number of Deputies would be increased to 33 on the basis of existing electoral districts, but with additional Deputies being elected from some of those existing districts. One additional Deputy would be given to the districts of St. Brelade No. 2, St. Helier No. 1, St. Helier Nos. 3/4 and to the Parish of St. Clement. Instead an Independent Boundaries Commission, Senator Le Fondré has proposed a mechanism for the boundaries of districts within Parishes to be reviewed.
The remaining two amendments to do not seek to change the proposals for the size and make-up of the States Assembly – of
Connétable Karen Shenton-Stone – P.139/2020 Amd.(3) – the Third Amendment
- Connétable Shenton-Stone seeks the inclusion of an additional paragraph in the proposition to allow for the choice of ‘None of the Above’ in any election where the number of candidates does not exceed the number of seats available.
Connétable John Le Maistre – P.139/2020 Amd.(4) – the Fourth Amendment
- Connétable Le Maistre has proposed that any changes agreed by the States Assembly to the size and composition of the Assembly should not take effect unless ratified by public majority in a referendum.
Neither P.139/2020, nor any of the amendments that have been put forward, seek to amend the non-elected membership of the States Assembly.
|Total number of elected representatives||49||52||49||48||49||53|
|Number of voting districts (for Deputies / Representatives)||9||9||14||6||9||17|
|Implement a Boundaries Commission (Yes/No)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
Table 1: Relevant changes [excepting Amd (3) and Amd (4)]
How does P.139/2020 compare to previous proposals?
This briefing paper does not aim to explore or explain the history of electoral reform propositions in Jersey. A number of proposals have been put forward and considered by the States Assembly over the last 20 years. However, the most immediate pertinent examples are noted below by way of comparison to those which the Assembly is now going to debate.
Most recently, the Assembly considered ‘Electoral Reform 2020’ (P.126/2019) that had been lodged by PPC.
P.126/2019 proposed establishing a States Assembly of 46 Members, elected from 9 districts and, whilst retaining the role of Connétable, removing the right of Connétables to vote in the Assembly. P.126/2019 also stated that a referendum would be required for the changes to become effective.
Paragraph (a) of P.126/2020 was adopted and, in doing so, the States Assembly agreed that –
fair representation and equality in voting weight and power across the whole population should be the basis for any reform of the composition and election of the State.
This remains an agreed principle and it has informed the progress of subsequent propositions and amendments.
The other paragraphs of P.126/2020 were rejected by 26 votes to 20.
P.126/2019 was followed by ‘Reform of the Composition of the States Assembly’ (P.7/2020) that was put forward by Senator Ian Gorst. Senator Gorst proposed the same structure as now appears in P.139/2020, albeit with slightly different weighting to the number of Deputies per district. P.7/2020 was subsequently withdrawn and not debated by the Assembly.