Members of the States
The membership of the States is set out in Article 2 of the States of Jersey Law 2005 as follows:
- the Bailiff (who is president)
- His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor
- 8 Senators
- 12 parish Connétables
- 29 Deputies
- the Dean of Jersey, HM Attorney General and HM Solicitor General
The position of Senator was created in 1948. Until 2011, 12 Senators were elected on an Island-wide basis for a term of office of 6 years, with 6 Senators being elected every 3 years.
The number of Senators has now been reduced to 8 and all 8 are elected for the same term of office as all Connétables and Deputies.
12 parish Connétables
The Connétable (or Constable) is the head of a parish. Connétables are Members of the States by virtue of their office and are elected for a period of 4 years. The Connétables have been Members of the States from the earliest record of States meetings, being one of the 3 estates (‘Etats’) making up the States Assembly.
The office of Deputy has been in existence for nearly 150 years, since 1856. There are 29 Deputies who each represent a parish or, in the case of larger parishes, an electoral district within a parish. Deputies serve for a term of 4 years.
Only the 49 elected Members of the States have a vote.
The Lieutenant-Governor is the representative of Her Majesty The Queen in Jersey. As a Member of the States he has the right to attend and speak but traditionally will only speak twice during his 5 year term of office – on his arrival and on his departure. The Lieutenant-Governor has no right to vote.
The Dean of Jersey
The Dean of Jersey is the head of the Anglican Church in Jersey and chaplain to the Assembly. He has the right to speak but not to vote, although by convention he often only speaks on matters that directly affect the Church, or on moral issues.
Attorney General and Solicitor General
The Attorney General and the Solicitor General (‘the Law Officers’) are appointed by the Crown. They are Members of the States by virtue of their office and are legal advisers to the Assembly. They have a right to speak but not to vote. They do not generally speak on political matters other than those in which they have a direct official interest. Any Member may request a Law Officer to give legal advice on a matter before the Assembly.
Officers of the States
The officers of the States are the Greffier of the States, who is the Clerk of the States, the Deputy Greffier (Clerk Assistant) and the Viscount, who is the Executive Officer of the States.
Attending meetings of the States
States Members are required to attend all meetings of the States unless they are ‘malade’ (ill) or ‘absent de l’Île’ (out of the Island on States business) or excused attendance on the basis of a prior engagement, for example, a hospital appointment. If they are not present during roll call and have no valid excuse for their absence they are marked ‘en défaut’ and, upon their arrival that same day in the Chamber, cannot participate in debates or vote until the ‘défaut’ has been raised by agreement of the Assembly.
The States normally meet fortnightly on Tuesdays and continue on Wednesdays and Thursdays and other days, if necessary, to deal with large volumes of business. In recent years there have been between 50 and 60 meeting days each year and attending meetings of the States must take priority over other duties for Members.
Work outside the Chamber
Members may be appointed as a Minister or Assistant Minister or as a Chairman or Member of a Scrutiny Panel. This will involve attending a number of meetings and panel hearings. Members may join other bodies such as the Privileges and Procedures Committee, which oversees the work of the States Assembly; the Public Accounts Committee, which monitors public spending; the Planning Committee, which determines planning applications; and the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission, which distributes funding to overseas charities. Members may also be invited to sit on a number of working parties.
Members of the States will often be contacted by members of the public who are looking for help with particular matters. The person concerned may be seeking advice or assistance and Members of the States will spend time dealing with such enquiries.
The 12 Parish Connétables have responsibilities in their parish which will occupy a considerable amount of their time. Parish Deputies will also often become involved in matters relating to the parish they represent and may need to attend Parish Assemblies and other meetings.
Members need to prepare for debates in the States and will receive a large volume of documentation before each meeting. Members need to research the matters under discussion to decide whether they will support or oppose the matter.
Members will also pursue political matters in which they have a particular interest. A Member may, for example, have a special interest in the environment, tourism, agriculture and so on and will use various methods in an attempt to influence policy on these issues. They may hold public meetings or meetings with interest groups; they may deal with the local media to raise awareness of their views; or they may lodge a proposition for debate in the States.