Deputy Russell Labey, who chairs the Privileges and Procedures Committee, said the dual role of the Bailiff is ‘already under consideration’ for his committee and that it ‘seems sensible’ for any changes to the office of Bailiff to be made when Sir William Bailhache retires next year.
And Senator Kristina Moore – a former Home Affairs Minister – said she thought that such a move could even save the courts system money at a time when it needs more resources.
This week it was announced that Sir William’s resignation had been accepted by the Queen. He is due to leave office on 12 October 2019.
During his tenure calls for the Bailiff to be replaced in the States Chamber with an elected speaker have intensified, although a planned referendum on the issue was scrapped earlier this year.
Deputy Labey said: ‘The matter is already under consideration because of the fact that we have a live proposition approved by the States before the election, subject to a referendum.
‘The new Assembly voted against holding the referendum. It seems to me that the majority of the new Assembly is against holding a referendum on this issue.
‘I have always been uncomfortable with changing the Bailiff’s role mid-term. It is like changing someone’s terms and conditions on their employment.
‘The time to look at the issue and test the Assembly is in the interregnum between Bailiffs.
‘Sir William has graciously given us a year’s notice so it does force the issue.’
It is likely that any changes to the role of the Bailiff would be brought to the Assembly by PPC, which is responsible for the
procedures of the States Assembly.
Senator Moore said that the announcement of Sir William’s retirement meant the issue should now be seriously considered once again.
She said: ‘Like every role, the Bailiff’s has evolved over time and it is one that is now very precious and the role in the States and in the courts is very different to what it once was. Court business is much greater than it has been in the past, as is the States business, and I can completely understand that some people want to see the Bailiff retained as chief citizen.
‘But it is time to look at it and the States have agreed it is time to look at an elected speaker.’
She added that the courts are ‘always saying they need more money’ and questioned how much was spent on commissioners who may not be required as much if the Bailiff were able to concentrate on the court role.