Referendum “NO” campaign
“ Should the Constables remain as members of the States as an automatic right? ”
is the Referendum Question for 15 October 2014.
You are invited to answer yes or no. We say choose “NO”on the ballot paper.
The set question is not perfect. There is no scope to discuss many related issues – such as the under-representation of some Parishes in the States – but it is important that the voting public expresses the NO answer in favour of planned, future change.
12 non-elected Jurats and 12 Rectors used to serve in the States but they have been removed since 1948 (apart from the Dean) to be replaced by more democratically chosen and paid Senators (now 8) and Deputies (29).
This is all part of the inevitable process for change.
Yet the 12 Constables remain in the States although they are elected to serve their parishes where they must live (St Helier excepted). Traditionally they were male, honorary (unpaid) and only intended to represent voters at Parish level. Only a few men (no women) were entitled to vote for them and the role of the Constables was extended to the States simply because there were no others elected to represent the public.
Historically the system of government and administration of justice was so corrupt that it was overthrown on 28 September 1769 during Jersey’s very own peaceful “Revolution”.
The process of democratic change really started then and continues slowly now with this Referendum and the first ever General Election for States Members that is taking place on the same day.
The time has now come for the 12 Constables to return to their Parish duties.
Constables currently enjoy payment of about £46,000 per annum from taxpayers and are fighting to retain this – but it is unfair that taxpayers should pay whereas the Constables should be paid solely by the Parishioners who elect them through Parish rates.
Not paying the Constables to serve in the States could amount to a taxpayers’ saving of £600,000 per annum.
Constables could be paid according to the size of their Parish populations or the job could revert to an honorary role in some of the smaller “country” parishes.
If they wish to serve in the States too, Parish Constables should seek election as a Senator or Deputy and if necessary take the payment for each job.
Constables could also serve – in a voluntary capacity – on States’ Scrutiny Panels and Committees as consultants and such-like.
What if the public says NO…?
If Constables did not have an automatic seat in the States the whole Parish System could be reformed around an improved Committee of Constables that is open to the public and meets regularly to discuss matters submitted by Parishioners.
The scope of Parish responsibilities could be extended to include many matters that currently clog up the States Assembly.
Parish Halls could be expanded as centres of information or advice and be much more useful places for all residents and tourists alike…
Such matters and many more must be considered in due course but are not within the terms of reference of the Referendum Question as set. This allows only a single word answer. We say that must be NO.
The public are not robots and should be enabled to elect ALL their representatives in a democratic – not automatic – way.
Constables should NOT remain as Members of the States as an automatic right.
Who are We?
This Campaign – “Vote NO “ is organised by a group of residents concerned for democracy in Jersey. We are not fighting for our £46,000 salaries. We are not candidates in the current elections as Senators, Deputies or Constables.
We welcome support from anybody but we are not financed or sponsored by any political individuals, political parties or business interests.
Our resources are very limited but we consider it necessary to refute the claims of the all powerful Vote Yes campaigners and to help voters understand the issues raised by the Referendum Question.
We say, even if you are tired of hearing all the arguments, you must make the effort to answer “NO” with your X on 15 October.