Presenting a petition to the States
How do I present a petition to the States?
Members of the public can ask a member of the States to present a petition to the States on their behalf. A petition to the States must relate to a matter for which the States are responsible and is usually directed at a particular minister. A petition could, for example, relate to:
- a proposed new housing development for which the Minister for the Environment will need to give permission
- the lack of a pavement along a stretch of public road maintained by the Minister for Infrastructure
- a request for improved health services in Jersey to treat a particular illness
A petition cannot be presented to the States if it relates to a matter for which the States are not responsible, for example the upkeep of a parish road or the prices charged by a private company.
Every petition must show who is responsible for collating it. This may be one person, a group of people, or an organisation such as a charity or a residents’ association.
What should a petition contain?
A petition must set out both the background to the issue concerned and the action or remedy being sought. For example the background might be:
“There is currently no pavement on La Grande Route de Guernesey, St Mary, between its junction with La Rue d’Aurigny and Le Chemin de Sercq, which means that pedestrians are placed at considerable risk along this stretch of road, with one child being injured in a road traffic accident in June 2006.”
The action or remedy sought might then be:
“The Minister for Infrastructure is requested to take the necessary steps to establish a pavement on La Grande Route de Guernesey, St Mary, between its junction with La Rue d’Aurigny and Le Chemin de Sercq to improve safety for pedestrians in this area.”
What should I ask a States member to do to help?
All petitions must be presented to the States by a member of the States and it is best to make contact with a States member before finalising the wording of the petition and collecting signatures. The member will then usually contact the States Greffe to make sure that the proposed wording is appropriate and that the petition is set out correctly.
Any member of the States is able to present a petition and it may be appropriate to contact the Connétable or Deputy of the parish concerned or, alternatively, to contact a States member who is known to have a particular interest in the subject matter concerned.
Every petition must include at least one signature and large petitions on controversial issues may attract many hundreds or even thousands of signatures.
Each person signing a petition must write his or her name and address clearly and enter his or her signature alongside. The address given must be sufficient to confirm the identity of the person signing and should be a complete postal address. It is not enough to insert a telephone number, postcode or email address instead of a full postal address. If the petitioner is a body corporate then the body’s common seal must be affixed to the petition instead of a signature.
It is important to note that the details of the petition must be reproduced at the top of every sheet to be signed (if there is more than one sheet). Any sheet of signatures without the full details of the background and the action or remedy at the top will not be valid.
How do I submit my petition to the States?
Once the people responsible for the petition have finished collecting signatures the petition can be presented to the States.
The petition must be submitted to the States Greffe by the member of the States concerned at least 4 clear days before the day on which it is to be presented. For example, if it is to be presented on a Tuesday it must be given to the States Greffe on Thursday so that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be counted as the 4 clear days. Staff from the States Greffe are then required to count the number of people who have signed the petition. Anyone who has not entered their full name, address and signature will not be counted in the total.
What happens next?
The petition will be presented to the States during a States meeting (normally a Tuesday). The petitioners are welcome to sit in the public gallery of the States Chamber to witness the presentation of the petition to the States.
The presiding officer will announce that a petition is to be presented and the member concerned will pass the petition to the usher who will then hand it to the Greffier. The member concerned is able to make a brief statement about the petition but no further debate or comment is allowed.
In addition to presenting the petition, the member concerned must lodge a proposition relating to the action or remedy sought in the petition so that the matter can be debated by the States at a later date.
The petition must be referred to the Minister or Ministers who have responsibility for the issues concerned and the Minister(s) must then present a report to the States on the petition within 8 weeks. Once the report is presented to the States a debate can take place and the States can vote on whether or not to support the proposed action sought in the petition.
Download an example of a petition (size 26kb)