It has taken more than two decades, dozens of debates and years of disagreement, but politicians finally reached what was widely recognised as a ‘compromise’ on reform.
If all goes to plan, when Islanders go to the polls in May 2022 they will vote to elect 12 parish Constables and 37 Deputies in nine super-constituencies.
Parishes such as St Ouen, St Mary and St Peter will be grouped together into one district, while St Saviour will vote as one district for the first time in years and St Helier will be split into three in a move which will ensure that votes cast in the parish will be on an equal footing to those made elsewhere in the Island.
Under the current system, when population is taken into account, St Helier is underrepresented with a few hundred people able to elect a Deputy in a rural parish, while the number required to secure a seat in town is usually much higher.
The role of Senator – with a whole-Island mandate – will no longer exist.
It took three days of debate, including the consideration of seven amendments – just one of which was adopted – for Members to reach a decision.
And, even then, it was not always an easy sell for Deputy Russell Labey, the chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee, who brought the proposed changes to the House.
But in the end Members approved the proposition 31 votes to 16 – well above the majority of 25 votes in favour required to make changes to the system.
Following the vote, Deputy Labey thanked all those who had worked towards getting it approved, including his committee, and added: ‘It is a historic day.’
He had earlier accused previous Assemblies for ‘fluffing and ducking’ the matter of reform for years, and said: ‘We have waited enough.’
Speaking during the debate, Deputy John Young also said the House was on the ‘threshold of historic change’, while Deputy Geoff Southern – one of the longest serving States Members – described it as potentially one of the best days in the Assembly of his career.
And Deputy Steve Ahier said: ‘This is a momentous moment in Jersey politics which we should all be proud to be a part of.’
The decision was also made exactly 20 years to the week that the Clothier review which first proposed overhauling the system was published.
District 1: St Helier South – 4 Members
District 2: St Helier Central – 5 Members
District 3: St Helier North – 4 Members
District 4: St Saviour – 5 Members
District 5: St Clement – 4 Members
District 6: St Brelade – 4 Members
District 7: St Mary, St Ouen and St Peter – 4 Members
District 8: St John, St Lawrence and Trinity – 4 Members
District 9: Grouville and St Martin – 3
Plus 12 parish Constables