So PPC have finally lodged the draft legislation to implement Option B into law in time for the next elections.
It is due to be debated in the States on the 16th July and can be read here -
There are a few important things to note.
Firstly, this proposed law does maintain the Troy Rule. The draft law specifically limits the number of ministers and assistant ministers to 18 so that they will continue to be a minority administration, capable of being defeated by a vote in the assembly. This was of fundamental importance and it is obviously very regrettable that PPC couldn't have made some statement about their intention to keep the Troy Rule before the referendum so we wouldn't have had to waste time debating whether it would stay or not and it wouldn't have put off some democrats from voting for Option A because of their fears about losing the Troy Rule.
However, the Troy Rule only really counts for anything in a chamber without the Constables. The purpose of the Troy Rule is to allow the executive to be held to account and to have to fight for every vote to be won. The Constables, more often than not, don't contribute at all to debates and just vote "pour" to whatever the Council of Ministers propose. Under Option B, the Constables will likely carry on not being ministers, meaning that close to half of the 24 members dedicated to scrutiny/ opposition/ backbench roles, are going to be of that category that is really least fit to be carrying out that role.
So fat lot of good that does us.
Secondly, the law is also specifically changing the Constables from being "ex officio" members of the States, to full members in their own right. This presumably fits in with the recommendation by the Electoral Commission that all States Members consider their primary duty to be as States Members rather than anything else.
However this change will only be de jure. De facto, Constables will still be elected to run their Parishes, and it will be their attitude to that that determines their electoral prospects and their Parishioners will carry on primarily judging them on that basis.
It is also a change that the other campaign groups totally failed to address in the big debate. In fact, I remember at the St Mary debate I pointed out this proposed change to the role of Constable, only to see at the back of the hall two Constables (Gallichan and Mezbourian) shaking their heads. I had to point out to them that I was simply reading from the report and they can't shake their heads as if it isn't a fact (but then again, facts weren't Option B's strong point).
It is a change that changes the nature of Constable and in my opinion totally undermines it. If they are full States Members, then they have to focus on that, rather than their Parishes. But then when they are in the States, the questions will still be there about their mandates and how they all have an equal vote to the Deputies who will be the real heavy weights, doing all the work and fighting much tougher elections. It will create a tension that will be bad for both the States and the Parishes.
Thirdly, the report alongside the draft law makes a lot of assumptions that I think are not safe to make.
The report says that because most voters backed either Options A or B, that is evidence that most voters wanted a smaller States Assembly.
Well, how can they be in the minds of those that voted and decide what they thought?
I know many people (and if I'm honest myself included) that voted for a reform option in spite of the fact that it would lead to fewer members. Many actually thought that 42 was too few, but that after a few years that would be realised and the number could be increased.
They were voting for reform because they agreed with the package of reforms on balance. Just because you vote for something, doesn't mean you unequivocally agree with all of it.
I simply make this point, because it isn't right to presume to know why people voted the way they did. False presumptions could lead to making mistakes in the future.
It's like those that say that the majority of those that voted wanted to keep the Constables in. Well how do they know that? Many people may have wanted to get rid of the Constables, but voted for Option C because they were adamant that we had to keep the Senators and thought it was worth paying that price. Or take for example Constable Norman who supported Option B, even though he doesn't believe the Constables should be in the States automatically, because he believes that should only be done if the Parishes are retained as the primary form of constituency (basically the Clothier reforms).
It is not safe to assume any particular fact when the question was on a package of reforms than people had to work out on balance what they liked.
So the new system will be voted in the States on the 16th July, but because it is a constitutional amendment, it will require a majority of all States Members to vote for it (not just a majority of States Members present for the debate). So that is 26 votes it needs. I can count 25 I think are likely to vote for it, so it's going to be close.
Senator Le Marquand said before the referendum that he would oppose Option B for the rest of his life. And in a bizarre change of tradition, that particular politician is sticking to his word! He has lodged this proposition which is due to be debated after the reform law -
Since it is debated after the reform law it is a total waste of time. But further to that, the report along side the proposition says nothing on the issue of Option B being an unfair system. Surely that is the whole point in rejecting Option B? Because it is unfair. The fact that it was endorsed by a tiny number of people is just ammunition in that argument, not the basis for it in itself.
Option B should be rejected on the basis that it is unfair, and I hope that the States see sense and make that point.
Frankly, the politicians we have that are wanting to make the States less accountable should be ashamed of themselves. This is the 21st Century and those wanting to run away from accountability and democracy should find other careers, because politics is about democracy and we need people that understand that simple point.