Judgment time for Clothier

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From ex-Deputy Don Filleul

SUFFICIENT time has passed for us to make judgements on the success or otherwise of the Clothier-flavoured updating of the machinery of our government and I look forward keenly to the forthcoming States debate.

Hopefully the self-interest which consumed the original discussion will not bring about another stalemate. Here is my own up- dated suggestion.

The removal of Senators and Constables, as originally proposed by Clothier, remains the best start for effectively updating the administration.

Adding just 12 to the remaining membership provides, in my view, an adequate representation to enable good and balanced administration, the number 41 being easily achieved by adding an additional Deputy to each parish.

I can see no reason why Constables should not be eligible to contest that extra seat, if they and their electorate so desire.

There appears to be a consensus that the Constables should remain in the States and this would be an elegant solution, providing as it does for those not interested in politics to reject nomination and concentrate on parochial affairs.

I have never been entirely happy with Scrutiny, which enables a second look at proposals, but has no teeth. Ex-Senator Walker asked us to see Scrutiny as a ‘critical friend’ and then moaned like Hades when some scrutineers strongly opposed his plans.

While I accept that there have been improvements in this session, it seems to me that there is room for a more effective structure, without promoting party politics, for which there still seems to be no appetite in Jersey.

A mistake of some magnitude was made when Senator Syvret persuaded the States that the Chief Minister should not solely appoint his Council of Ministers and opened selection to the States, in the oft-abused name of ‘democracy’.

Clothier expected the Chief Minister to appoint a government he could lead and we should return to this. A better amendment for Senator Syvret, surely, would have been to propose the election of the Chairman of Scrutineers and give him a similar right to appoint his group of Scrutiny chairmen.

The result would be a debating Chamber with clearly defined responsibilities and duties, having an appointed body to govern, and a similar group to question and amend. They might, with advantage, select specific Members to shadow the more important ministries.

There is time for another amendment to create this structure, which with confidence I submit as a desirable modification effectively to marshal the resources of our elected Assembly. I hope someone takes it up. Please!

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