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Four deputies to review the States

Four deputies to review the States

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Four deputies to review the States

Tuesday 14 December 2021

A group of four politicians this week holds its first meeting to discuss whether changes are needed to Guernsey's system of government.

Deputies Heidi Soulsby and Jonathan Le Tocq (of the Policy & Resources Committee) and Carl Meerveld and Liam McKenna (of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee) are carrying out the work. They will sit as a sub-committee of the Policy & Resources Committee.

They hope that any proposals they put forward to change the system of government will go to the States for debate by March 2023. The changes themselves would most likely take effect when the next States start their term of office in June or July 2025.

The States' Assembly & Constitution Committee was initially invited to send only one member to the sub-committee alongside Deputies Soulsby and Le Tocq. But the Policy & Resources Committee later agreed to its request for a second seat.

Deputy Meerveld, the President of the States' Assembly & Constitution Committee, told his members at their last meeting that he and Deputy McKenna would "report back to the Committee in due course...the first meeting of the sub-committee is likely to be laying the groundwork and discussing deliverables". 

Deputy Soulsby will chair the sub-committee. The four deputies on the sub-committee expect to be joined by a member who is not an elected deputy but he or she has not yet been appointed. The sub-committee's terms of reference have not yet been circulated to other States' members. Once they have been, they will also be published.

Inside States Chamber

Pictured: Government is currently dispersed among the committees and members of the States' Assembly, but a majority of the members of the Policy & Resources Committee have previously supported or indicated their support for concentrating more of the powers of government in a smaller council of ministers or cabinet. 

Yesterday, the Policy & Resources Committee said "this is part of the work that falls under the Reshaping Government priority of the Government Work Plan". Speaking about the intention to publish proposals for change by March 2023, the Committee said: "It is important to note that it will be actively seeking opportunities for 'quick wins' ahead of this timescale".

The last major review of Guernsey's system of government took place between 2012 and 2016 and led to the adoption of the current system in May 2016. The last major review before that one took place between 1998 and 2004 and led to changes to the system in May 2004.

The reforms of 2004 and 2016 were substantial but within the island's historic committee system of government.

However, a majority of the members of the current Policy & Resources Committee - including its President, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, and Deputies Mark Helyar and Jonathan Le Tocq - have previously supported or indicated their support for replacing the committee system with a cabinet or ministerial system in which more of the executive functions or powers of government would rest with a much smaller number of elected members. 

Within the States, the review which starts this week is widely expected to lead to another debate about whether to maintain a committee system or replace it with a cabinet or ministerial system following similar States' debates in 2002, 2010 and 2014. 

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