This is a small but strong team of 4 staff which performs a range of activities.
They provide professional clerking support to the Council of Ministers, certain committees appointed by the States and a number of other bodies. This includes reviewing and printing agendas, providing any procedural advice either in advance of, or at, the meeting, attendance at meetings, and preparation of a robust record of decisions made at the meeting after consulting all relevant documents and legislation.
The clerks serve as liaison officers to departments, and will provide advice in relation to the work of the States Assembly as required. They regularly research archived minutes and the Official Report (‘Hansard’) on behalf of departments, and are sometimes requested to research current minutes and other documents where the department cannot locate required information.
Ministerial decisions (MDs) are reviewed by the States Greffe in a 2 stage process to mirror the checking process of minutes. The clerks carry out the first level of the quality assurance service, mainly to identify matters required for presentation / notification or lodging in the States. While it remains the responsibility of the originating department, there are a number of checks that the clerk will need to make and to give advice upon. The second stage of the process is that the Deputy Greffier (or in her absence, the Greffier or Assistant Greffier) will review every decision and comment to maintain some consistency across States’ departments.
The ministerial decisions process using Livelink allows departmental staff to prepare decisions in draft in advance of the time that a decision needs to be made. It also allows the quality assurance process to take place, and then for the decision to be placed before the Minister or Assistant Minister in an orderly fashion. All decisions are checked by the States Greffe within 24 hours, and usually within half a day.
Official Report (‘Hansard’)
Since the change to the ministerial machinery of government, the number of States’ meetings days has increased. This has had a corresponding impact on the clerks, led by the senior committee clerk, who read the transcripts on their return from the transcribers and check the drafts, carrying out any necessary light editing. The clerks can provide individual States members with an unedited version of the transcript on request if required. This usually arrives 5 working days after the meeting.
The role of Scrutiny assumes a particular importance under ministerial government, as it is seen as the counterbalance and it holds government accountable on matters of policy, draft policy, draft legislation and implementation. The Scrutiny officers work alongside panel members in managing the overall Scrutiny process.
Officers provide a professional co-ordinating, support and research service to Scrutiny panels, offering advice as necessary. This includes preparation for, and management of, reviews by undertaking research; requesting and analysing written evidence; organising hearings, meetings and visits; and drafting briefing material and reports. Officers support meetings of a Scrutiny panel by preparing the agenda, and liaising effectively with the chairman and other members concerning the panel’s business. Scrutiny officers carry out research on matters which are under current review.
Scrutiny officers manage the preparation and attendance of witnesses and the media, and are responsible for the effective administration of public hearings and subsequent outcomes such as transcriptions, calls for further evidence and loading appropriate information onto the website. Officers also manage the production of an evidence-based draft report for consideration by the panel, interpreting the panel’s key findings. Further information relating to the Scrutiny section can be found on the Scrutiny website.
States Assembly Information Centre
The States Assembly Information Centre (which was previously known as the ‘States Bookshop’) provides designated display areas for the work of the States Assembly, Scrutiny, the Public Accounts Committee, Comptroller and Auditor General, as well as information about the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie and various initiatives such as the Jersey Youth Assembly and primary school visits to the Chamber.
Whilst some displays are static, several – particularly those relating to the work of the States Assembly – are updated on an almost daily basis so that the information on display is current, relevant and engages the public’s interest. Staff members are also involved in the primary school visits to the States Chamber, helping to record each meeting and helping children performing the role of usher for the Assembly in delivering notes around the Chamber.
A range of States Assembly souvenirs are on sale in the centre so that visitors can buy a memento of their visit to the States Chamber. The range includes:
- a silk tie featuring the States crest design
- pens, pencils and bookmarks
- a silk scarf – featuring the parochial crest design contained in the stained glass window just outside the entrance to the States Chamber, usually only seen by States Members and staff
- a set of coasters using the same crest design described above
The publications editor is responsible for ensuring that the following publications are accurate, complete and formatted correctly before being published:
- the production of new propositions for lodging
- amendments to lodged propositions
- comments for presentation to the States in relation to lodged propositions or amendments
- reports presented to the States in the ‘R.’ series
- laws registered in the Royal Court following adoption by the States Assembly and sanction by Her Majesty’s Privy Council
- Regulations and Orders (Orders and Bye-laws made by Ministers; Rules made by the Courts; Regulations, Acts and Amendments to Standing Orders adopted by the States)
- items of UK subordinate legislation extended to Jersey by registration in the Royal Court
The Registry section provides an organised and thorough archive of information relating to the work of the States Assembly (and its committees and panels), ministerial departments and Scrutiny. The Registry section also has responsibility for keeping and archiving signed copies of all ministerial decisions and relevant attachments. The section also uploads Part ‘A’ (public) ministerial decisions onto the States of Jersey website where they can be accessed by the public. This particular aspect of the Registry section’s responsibilities has grown since 2007 and now equates to about a fifth of their overall workload.
Although the demise of the committee system saw a reduction in the number of agendas produced by the Reprographics section, there are still sizeable Council of Ministers, Planning Applications Panel and Privileges and Procedures Committee agendas printed on a fortnightly basis, as well as the various papers for all of the other boards and panels serviced by the clerks’ section.
The Reprographics section produces a large number of documents for other departments, particularly some extremely confidential matters such as the papers for Royal Court trials and reports reviewing the operation or actions of a department. The section is also responsible for printing States employees’ business cards and Scrutiny reports, but the work of the States Assembly continues to provide the bulk of the workload. The reprographics assistant is also responsible for compiling the log notes of each States meeting and providing CD copies of the meetings to members and the public when required.