F.J. (Bob) Hill, BEM, is Jersey born and educated at St Martin's Elementary School, left the Island and served for 31 years in the Metropolitan Police. He returned to Jersey in 1991 and in 1993 was elected Deputy of St Martin until 2011.
Tuesday 7 October 2014
Jersey's Elections (3) The "Yes Vote" ---The Myth Exposed.
Yes Campaign has posted the reasons for voting yes.
is my response
The loss of the
Constables will weaken opposition to the current proposals for a centralised
property tax. This proposal will cost Islanders more than the current rates
system, and be set by the Treasury Minister, not Parishioners.
A yes or no vote will
make no difference to what is only a proposal and thankfully is most unlikely to
get past the starting post.
Parish Rates have
remained steady for 10 years. Without an effective Parish Administration
bureaucracy will increase, stifling business in Jersey, and increasing the
burden on the individual Ratepayer.
A red herring. Parish Administration is good and the Connetables are to be complemented but there is no justification to claim that by voting No will lead to an increase in bureaucracy. Parish Rates is down to the effective Parish administration and from close scrutiny
by parishioners who have a direct say in parish expenditure at the annual rates
If the Constables
are removed from the States, they will either have to be paid by their Parishes
or not at all. This creates an imbalance and without pay the only people who
will stand will be those with the time and money to afford it. It also risks
destabilising the whole honorary system should one office holder receive
remuneration and the others not.
Voting No does remove
the right of Connetables sitting in the States only their automatic right. It
will be for the electorate to decide whether they think their Connetable is
worthy of a States seat.
The Connetable is head
of the HONORARY parish system where many parishioners give freely of their time.
Whilst some already receive an allowance from their Parish if they
feel they need to be paid for carrying out their duties then it will be for the
Parishioners to decide.
Ask yourself how
effective the administration of your Parish is compared with the States of
Jersey, and would you want to remove this efficiency from your Government and
The referendum is not
about parish efficiency
political role, the Constables can interact with Parishioners and work as part
of a support network. The loss of the Constables in the States will undoubtedly
lead to a significant weakening of the Parish system – as has been the case in Guernsey for many years.
Assemblies are poorly attended so there is very little interaction. Apart from
St Mary’s the other 11 Connetables have not had to contest an election yet not
one of them has organised a parish meeting to discuss the Referendum. Where is
Constables have been
identified as the future for ‘e-Government’ interaction as well as care and the
community. This cannot happen if they are not in the States Assembly.
Where is the evidence?
Most of the Connetables are yet to master the art of uploading their manifestos
on to the Vote.je website.
Through the Parish
Assembly, and being available at the Parish Hall, the Constable is uniquely
placed to be able to understand the concerns of their parishioners. These
concerns are taken to the States Assembly directly, through the political role
of the Constable. This cannot be replaced.
Again where is the
evidence to support this claim? There is however ample evidence to show how few
questions, propositions and amendments have been lodged by the Connetables. What
does not exist does not need to be replaced.
The Constables are
continually accountable to the Parishioners through the Parish Assembly as well
as the ballot box. No other type of States Member is. Parishioners, by the
ancient law of Requête can force a Parish Assembly to be called.
The outcome of the
Referendum will not change the present arrangement. Surely all elected members are
accountable at the ballot box.
Most Deputies do not
represent the Parishes in the States. Where is the evidence?
They are elected in their own districts, on the basis of their political views.
Each Parish, as a corporate body, is represented in the States by its Constable
similar to the way each Department is represented by its Minister.
I find the above to be
an odd claim. As a former Deputy I considered my self to be a representative of
my Parishioners in both Parish and Island affairs. I would have
thought that principle applied to my Connetable as well.
The removal of the
Constables has the potential to de-stabilise Jersey’s Government. The
Finance Industry requires confidence in government. Radical changes in the
structure of government could damage confidence at a time of economic
I can only repeat that
the Referendum is to seek the public’s views as to whether the Connetables
should have an automatic right to a seat. Removing the potential of the
Connetable’s block vote might concentrate the minds of the Council of Ministers
but that might be one of the positives from a No vote.
There is a
suggestion that Constables have a “block vote”. While they may vote the same
way, they do so as individuals bringing Parish concerns to the assembly.
Statistics show that Senators vote the same way as Constables do, but this goes
unremarked. It is worth noting that a Party System would be one in which Party
members had to vote the same way and take the agreed Party line. That would be
a real “block vote”.
The above claim is not
supported by the facts.
proven they are reforming States Members. They led the way towards a single
election day, a four year term and spring elections. They also removed their
own policing powers. Without them reform becomes more difficult to achieve.
Quite an audacious claims
where is the evidence to substantiate them? The policing powers were removed
thanks to continual pressure from back benches. It is worth noting that unlike the Deputies
and Senators Connetables are not subject to the States of Jersey Law nor do
they take the same oath.
The retention of the
Constables IS compliant with the Venice Commission, which makes allowances for
different jurisdictions: “The geographical criterion and administrative, or
possibly even historical, boundaries may be taken into consideration.” Our
Parish boundaries are both administrative and historical and thus meet these
The Venice Commission can be interpreted
as above but is hardly relevant to the Referendum. I am pretty confident that many Connetables would be elected if they stood shoulder to shoulder with other candidates and this would enhance their status. However voting yes will only perpetuate a system that is broken and will remain so for many years to come.