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Politics of Jersey

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Title: Politics of Jersey  
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Politics of Jersey

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Jersey

Politics of the Bailiwick of Jersey takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitution.

As one of the Crown Dependencies, Jersey is autonomous and self-governing, with its own independent legal, administrative and fiscal systems.[1]

The legislature is the Assembly of the States of Jersey.

Executive powers are mainly exercised by a Chief Minister and nine ministers, known collectively as the Council of Ministers. Other executive powers are exercised by the Connétable and Parish Assembly in each of the twelve parishes.

The Crown

The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of head of state and the Bailiff is the civic head. Both are appointed by the Crown. Here the holders of the offices in 2011 are seen processing alongside on Liberation Day

Elizabeth II's traditional title as Head of State is Duke of Normandy.[2] "The Crown" is defined by the Law Officers of the Crown as the "Crown in right of Jersey".[3] The Queen's representative and adviser in the island is the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. He is a point of contact between Jersey ministers and the United Kingdom government and carries out executive functions in relation to immigration control, deportation, naturalisation and the issue of passports.[4] Since 2011, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor has been Sir John McColl.

The Crown (not the government or parliament of Jersey) appoints the Lieutenant Governor, the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff, Attorney General and Solicitor General. In practice, the process of appointment involves a panel in Jersey which select a preferred candidate whose name is communicated to the UK Ministry of Justice for approval before a formal recommendation is made to the Queen.

Constitution

Jersey has an unwritten constitution arising from the Treaty of Paris (1259). When Henry III and the King of France came to terms over the Duchy of Normandy, all lands except the Channel Islands recognised the suzerainty of the King of France. The Channel Islands however were never absorbed into the Kingdom of England by any Act of Union and exist as "peculiars of the Crown".

Campaigns for constitutional reform during the 19th century successfully called for: the replacement of lay Jurats with professional judges in the Royal Court to decide questions of law; the establishment of a Police Court (later known as the Magistrate's Court); the creation of a Petty Debts Court; a professional, salaried police force for St Helier in addition to the Honorary Police; and the reform of "archaic procedure of the Royal Court for criminal trials".[5] In 1845, the elected office of deputy was created though this did little to redress the disparity of representation between the rural and urban parishes: in 1854 St Helier contained over half of the island's population, yet was able to elect only three out of the 14 deputies.[6]

Two significant constitutional reforms took place during the 20th century. In 1946, the States of Jersey drew up plans for change following the German Occupation, which were examined by a Committee of the Privy Council.[7] No change was made to the functions of the Bailiff. The twelve Jurats were removed from the assembly of the States of Jersey and replaced by twelve senators elected on an island-wide basis who would have no judicial functions. The twelve Rectors also lost their place in the States assembly. No reforms were made to the role of the Deputies in the assembly. The second major reforms took place in December 2005, when the States of Jersey Law 2005 came into force. This created a system of ministerial government to replace the previous committee-based administration.[8]

Legislation relating to the organisation of government includes:

  • States of Jersey Law 2005[9]
  • Administrative Decisions (Review)(Jersey) Law 1982[10]
  • Loi (1804) au sujet des assemblées paroissiales[11]
  • Loi (1905) au sujet des assemblées paroissiales[12]
  • Bailiff of Jersey (Vacancy in Office) Law 1959[13]
  • European Communities (Jersey) Law 1973[14]
  • Loi (1853) au sujet des centeniers et officiers de police[15]
  • Centeniers (Terms of Office) (Jersey) Law 2007[16]
  • Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000[17]
  • Judicial and Legislative Functions (Separation) (Jersey) Law 1951[18]
  • Parish of St. Helier (Qualifications for Office) (Jersey) Law 1976[19]
  • Police Force (Jersey) Law 1974[20]
  • Prison (Jersey) Law 1957[21]
  • Public Elections (Jersey) Law 2002[22]
  • Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005[23]
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Jersey) Law 2005[24]
  • Royal Court (Jersey) Law 1948[25]
  • Règlements Provisoires[26]

Constitutional reforms continue to be debated in the island.

In 2009, the States assembly rejected proposals by the Privileges and Procedures Committee to simplify the electoral system by keeping the 12 Connétables and introducing 37 deputies elected to six "super-constituencies".[27]

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