This glossary includes the definitions of some key words and phrases associated with the States Assembly and Jersey elections. Take a look and learn some of the unique words officially used by Jersey’s elected parliament.
- Absent de I’Île
- A States Member is registered ‘absent de I’Île’ by the Greffier of the States during roll call if they are away from the Island on States Business so cannot attend a States Meeting.
- If States Members wish to neither vote for (pour) or against (contre) a proposition, they can abstain (vote neither for nor against).
- The States Assembly typically adjourns (breaks) at 5:30pm on a States Meeting day or continuation day. The midday adjournment usually occurs between 12:45pm and 2:15pm.
- States Members can lodge amendments (changes) to propositions. Amendments are debated after the relevant proposition has been proposed and are voted on before the original proposition. If the amendment is approved, the original proposition will be debated and voted on as amended. States Members can also propose amendments to amendments.
- States Members are responsible for appointing the Chief Minister, Council of Ministers and Committee and Panel Members. The Chief Minister is appointed at the first States Meeting following a General Election, the remaining Council of Ministers at the second meeting, and Panel and Committee Members at the second and third meeting. Any changes to Ministerial responsibilities, or Committee and Panel membership throughout a States session will occur at the beginning of a States Meeting after the Assembly has dealt with lodged propositions. Find out more about the appointment process here.
- Formally known as the Non-Executive, Backbencher is a term often used to describe States Members who do not hold Ministerial roles (i.e. represent Jersey’s Government and are part of the Council of Ministers).
- Bailiff of Jersey
- Appointed by the crown, the Bailiff of Jersey is the President of the States and is responsible for the orderly conduct of the States Assembly. He has the right of speech but cannot vote. Find out more about the Bailiff here.
- Bailiff’s Gallery
- Special visitors of the Bailiff can sit and watch States Meetings from the Bailiff’s Gallery.
- A by-election is an election that takes place in between general elections to fill a vacant seat in the States Assembly if a States Member resigns, dies or becomes ineligible to fulfil their role. The by-election to choose a replacement is held in the affected constituency.
- Call for evidence
- Part of Scrutiny’s process of gathering information for a review is to launch a call for evidence. This is where Scrutiny Panels and Committees ask members of the public and organisations to submit their views on a particular topic and use then this evidence to inform their review.
- Until recently, due to COVID-19, all States Meetings took place in the States Chamber, which opened 21 June 1887. The Chamber is overlooked by a public gallery, where members of the public can view States Meetings live. Watch our virtual tour of the States Chamber here.
- Chief Minister
- The Chief Minister is the head of the Government of Jersey and a member of the States Assembly. Before the first States Meeting following a General Election, States Members nominate which Member they wish to be the Chief Minister and vote on this during the first States Meeting. Find out more here.
- Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel
- This Panel scrutinises policy and legislation arising from the work of the Minister for Children and Education and the Minister for Home Affairs. Find out more about this Panel’s current work here.
- Comité des Connétables
- The Comité des Connétables brings together the Connétables (or Constables) of Jersey’s 12 Parishes who meet regularly to discuss Parish-related matters.
- There are 12 Connétables (also known as Constables) elected to the States Assembly, each of whom are the Head of one of the Island’s 12 Parishes. As elected States Members, Connétables have the right to vote in the States Assembly.
- A constituency is the specific geographical area that is represented by a States Member in the States Assembly. People who live in a States Members constituency are known as their constituents. With the 2022 General Election, there will be nine constituencies (or electoral districts). The number of Deputies that represent constituents varies with each constituency, although each Parish (which is either part of a constituency, split into separate constituencies, or comprises a single constituency) is represented by a single Connétable. You can find out more about the changes to constituencies here.
- Contre is French for ‘against’. If a States Member votes contre, they have voted against the proposition.
- Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel
- This Panel scrutinises draft policies, legislation or matters of public importance relating to the work of the Chief Minister (excluding financial services) and the Minister for Treasury and Resources. Find out more about this Panel’s current work here.
- Council of Ministers
- The Council of Ministers are elected at the second States Meeting following a General Election by the elected States Members. Whilst the Council of Ministers are all elected States Members, they represent Jersey’s Government. Find out more about the Council of Ministers here.
- Dean of Jersey
- The Dean is the head of the Anglican Church in Jersey and chaplain to the Assembly. He has the right to speak but not to vote, although by convention only speaks on matters that directly affect the Church, or on moral issues.
- A formal discussion on a particular proposition which takes place during a States Meeting, in the States Chamber. States Members take it in turn to put forward opposing arguments before the matter is put to a vote. Debates take place during the section of States Meetings listed on the Order Paper as ‘public business’.
- There are currently 29 Deputies elected to the States Assembly, who either represent a Parish or, in the case of larger Parishes, represent an electoral district within a Parish. As of 22 June 2022, the number of Deputies will increase to 37 and will be elected from nine new districts. As elected members, Deputies have the right to vote in the States Assembly.
- Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel
- This Panel scrutinises policy and legislation related to financial services, external relations and economic and international development. It focuses mainly on the work of the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, the Minister for External Relations and the Minister for International Development. Find out more about this Panel’s current work here.
- Electoral district
- From 2022, 37 Deputies will be elected to represent one of nine electoral districts consisting of either a single Parish, multiple Parishes combined, or (in the case of St. Helier) part of a Parish. The number of Deputies to represent each district will vary from three to five, depending on the district. Find out more here.
- The electorate encompasses everyone who is entitled to vote. In Jersey, you are eligible to vote if you have registered. To do so you need to have lived in Jersey for two years; or for six months, plus a period that totals five years, and are 16 years of age or older. Register to vote here.
- En repose
- French for ‘at rest’. Previously referred to as ‘purdah’, en repose is used to describe the pre-election period in which the States Assembly does not meet and States Members cannot lodge propositions (unless viewed as urgent by the Bailiff). Ahead of Jersey’s next General Election on 22 June 2022, en repose will begin on 9 May 2022, a week before nominations for election candidates are announced on 18 May 2022.
- Environment, Housing and Infrastructure Scrutiny Panel
- This Panel scrutinises matters relating to Environment, Housing and Infrastructure. It reviews polices and legislation put forward by the Minister for the Environment, Minister for Housing and Communities, and the Minister for Infrastructure, as well as matters of public importance. Find out more about this Panel’s current work here.
- En défaut
- If a States Member is not present and does not have a valid reason for their absence, they are marked ‘en défaut’ (in default). If a Member arrives to the Chamber later the same day, they cannot join the debate or register their vote until another Member requests that the Assembly ‘raise the défaut’.
- A States Member is marked ‘excusé ’ (excused) from a States Meeting during the Greffier’s roll call if they have a valid reason for being absent (e.g. a hospital appointment).
- Faites l’appel S’il vous plait
- The Bailiff says this to the Greffier at the start of a States Meeting to signal that they should to begin the roll call.
- When a States Member strategically adds to their speech to prolong the debate and the vote.
- Foot stamping
- A long-standing tradition within the Assembly is the foot-stamp. Instead of clapping, Members stamp their feet to congratulate someone or to welcome someone into the meeting ‘in the customary manner’.
- French was the only official language of the States Assembly until 1900, after which English was also allowed. Now most States business takes place in English, but French may still be used, as well as Jerrais – which became the third official language in 2019. French is still used for certain parts of each meeting: the roll call, prayers and voting.
- General Election
- General Elections take place in Jersey every four years. The next one will take place on 22 June 2022. Find out more about voting and standing for election next year.
- Greffier of the States
- The Greffier of the States acts as clerk to the States Assembly and leads the States Greffe. The Greffier provides advice and support to States Members and departments relating to the business and procedures of the States Assembly. Find out more about the Greffier’s role here.
- Guillotine motion
- The ‘guillotine motion’ is when a States Member who has not yet spoken during a debate proposes to close the debate if it has lasted for over an hour. This Member must give at least 30 minutes notice to the Assembly before they make the proposal, which is then put to a vote.
- A full transcript of a States Meeting, which is uploaded to the States Assembly website within 10 days of a meeting.
- Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel
- This Panel reviews matters relating to the Minister for Health and Social Services and the Minister for Social Security. It scrutinises draft legislation, polices, and other matters of public importance. Find out more about the Panel’s current work here.
- Her Majesty’s (HM) Attorney General
- Appointed by the Crown, the Attorney General is a member of the States and a legal advisor to the Assembly. They have the right to speak but not to vote.
- Her Majesty’s (HM) HM Solicitor General
- Like the Attorney General, the Solicitor General is appointed by the Crown, a member of the States and a legal advisor to the Assembly. They have the right to speak but not to vote.
- A husting is a meeting at which candidates standing for election typically deliver a speech about their policies and answer Islanders’ questions. Jersey’s first online hustings for the role of Connétable of St. Clement took place on 22 July 2022 and can be viewed here.
- In-committee debate
- Unlike a typical States Meeting debate, during an in-committee debate, a States Member may speak more than once and the matter being discussed is not voted on.
- Judicial Greffe
- The Judicial Greffe, led by the Judicial Greffier, provide support to ensure the effective operation of Jersey courts and tribunals. During election time they are responsible for the management of the polling process: from the provision of pre-poll and postal voting facilities, to supporting the Jurats in running the polling stations on election day and overseeing recounts.
- Elected by an electoral college to the Royal Court, Jurats are voluntary lay people who decide issues of fact in criminal and civil trials. During an election, Jurats oversee polling and declare the results.
- Law Drafting Office
- The Law Drafting Office is a team of lawyers, aided by administrative support, who specialise in turning polices into legislation (Laws, Regulations and Orders), and preparing amendments to legislation.
- Law Officers’ Department
- The Law Officers’ Department provides legal advice to the Government, the Crown and the States Assembly – the department encompasses the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.
- The representative of Her Majesty The Queen in Jersey. As a member of the States Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor has the right to attend and speak but traditionally will only speak twice during their five-year term of office – on arrival and on departure. They have no right to vote.
- Lodging period
- Propositions must undergo a minimum lodging period before they can be debated in the States Assembly. The minimum lodging period can vary between two weeks to 12 weeks depending on the proposition, the full details of which can be found on number 26 of the Standing Orders. The lodging period begins when a proposition is lodged (i.e. published and made public) by the States Greffe. Only when the required lodging period has expired can the proposition be debated, unless the Assembly agrees to reduce the minimum lodging period because it is in the public interest to debate the matter sooner.
- A States Member will be marked ‘malade’ during roll call if they cannot attend the meeting due to illness.
- States Members who do not hold Ministerial roles (i.e. represent the Government). Also known informally as backbenchers.
- Order Paper
- The Order Paper is published several days before each States Meeting and outlines the full agenda for the Meeting. A consolidated or supplementary Order Paper is published just before the Meeting, giving details of any late items or other changes. You can find the Order Paper for each States Meeting here.
- Jersey is divided into 12 Parishes. A Parish is a corporate body separate from its Parishioners. The governmental body for the Parish is the Parish Assembly and the Head of the Parish is the Connétable. You can find out more about your Parish here.
- Anyone who is a Jersey resident and over the age of 16 can submit a petition to the States Assembly. Petitions must call for a specific action from Ministers or the States Assembly in relation to an issue that the States Assembly is responsible for. When approved by the States Greffe, all petitions are publicised on the States Assembly social media channels. If a petition receives over 1,000 signatures, the relevant Minister will issue a response. If it receives over 5,000, the petition will be debated in the States Assembly. Find out more about petitions here and submit your petition here.
- French for ‘for’. If a States Member votes pour, they have voted in favour of the proposition.
- The Dean of Jersey leads the prayers at the start of each States Meeting, after the roll call. The prayers are spoken in French, ending with the Lord’s prayer.
- At least half (25) of the States Members must be ‘present(e)’ (present) during the roll call for the Assembly to be able to conduct States business. If less than half are present at any point during the meeting, the Bailiff will declare that the Assembly has become ‘inquorate’ and pause the meeting until enough Members return to the Chamber.
- Any draft law or regulation is proposed, debated, and voted on in three stages. The principles of the law, i.e. the general concept of the law, are voted on first. Find out more about the principles here.
- Private hearing
- Scrutiny Panels and Committees can hold private hearings as well as public ones. A private hearing is held when a Panel wishes to receive evidence of a sensitive or confidential nature, or in which a witness wishes to remain anonymous.
- Privileges and Procedures Committee
- The Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) is responsible for the procedures of the States Assembly, members’ facilities, and members’ code of conduct.
- A proposition (or projet) is a debate topic. It should aim to encourage debate on an issue and present a potential solution, which leads to a clear decision and ministerial action.
- Public Accounts Committee
- The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) receives reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General and reports any significant issues to the States Assembly. PAC also assesses whether public funds have been applied for their intended purpose. Find out more about the Committee’s current work here.
- Public business
- The period during States Meetings when propositions are debated and decisions are made.
- Public gallery
- The public gallery surrounds the States Chamber and is where members of the public can sit to watch States Meetings. It can seat around 50 people at one time.
- Public hearing
- Scrutiny Panels and Committees hold public hearings to question a witness on a particular topic, which any member of the public is welcome to attend and observe. Quarterly hearings are held every few months, when Ministers are held to account on a range of issues relevant to their role. Review hearings are used to gather evidence for Scrutiny reviews. Links to watch public hearings live are posted on the States Assembly social media channels, and recordings can be watched back here.
- Question time
- Question time takes place at the Start of a States Meeting, following any announcements by the Presiding Officer or appointments. It encompasses questions with notice, urgent questions (if any) and questions without notice.
- Questions without notice
- Questions without notice follow questions with notice. This question period is allocated 45 minutes, divided into three 15-minute periods. Two Ministers answer questions for 15 minutes each, followed by another 15 minutes of questioning the Chief Minister.
- Questions with notice
- Non-executive States Members ask Ministers or Scrutiny Panel Chairs questions with notice and questions without notice at each States Meeting before public business (i.e. debates), on any matter relating to their Ministerial responsibilities. Questions with notice last for up to two hours and 20 minutes and can be found ahead of each meeting in the Order Paper. Extra ‘supplementary’ questions can follow questions, without notice.
- Regulations are a formal type of secondary legislation which are made by the States and must be lodged for debate by the Assembly. Find out more about how new regulations are made here.
- At the end of a Scrutiny review, Scrutiny Panels and the Public Accounts Committee publish reports of their findings and recommendations. The Council of Minister must consider these findings and recommendations and publish a report about what they will do in response.
- Scrutiny carry out reviews of government policies, legislation, and public services by gathering and examining evidence from stakeholders (including Government and members of the public). Review topics usually include new policies and laws, topical issues in Jersey, or any issues of public interest. See what reviews are currently being undertaken by Scrutiny by clicking on the individual Panel and Committee pages here.
- Review Panel
- Review Panels are established to review particular proposals, issues or projects. They are made up of Non-Executive States Members. Find out more about current review Panels here.
- Roll call
- At the beginning of a States Meeting, the Greffier calls the roll of Members in order of seniority, who respond in French. Find out more here.
- Royal Mace
- Made of 11 pieces of silver gilt, the Royal Mace is carried before the Bailiff at States Meetings and sittings of the Royal Court. It was gifted to the Bailiff by King Charles II and symbolises Jersey’s ancient links with the Crown. Find out more about the Royal Mace here.
- Scrutiny Panels and the Public Accounts Committee work on behalf of the States Assembly to examine the work of Government and hold Ministers to account.
- Second reading
- Following the debate on the principles of a draft law, States Members go through the second reading (i.e. the actual wording of the law). During this stage, they may vote on individual articles or regulations separately, together in portions, or as a whole (en bloc). At this stage, any amendments will be proposed. Find out more about how laws and regulations are made here.
- There are eight Senators in the States Assembly, who are elected on an Island-wide basis. In April 2021, the States Assembly voted to approve electoral reform which will remove the role of the Senator from the States Assembly in June 2022.
- Standing Orders
- A comprehensive set of rules that govern the way the States Assembly conducts its business, which can be found here.
- States Assembly
- The States Assembly is Jersey’s Elected Parliament. It is responsible for making new laws and regulations, approving the amount of public money to be spent and the amount of tax to be raised. Find out more about the States Assembly here.
- States Greffe
- Led by the Greffier of the States, the States Greffe provides support and advice to the States Assembly and Scrutiny.
- States Member
- There are 54 members of the States Assembly, but only the 49 elected members (Senators, Connétables and Deputies) have the right to vote.
- A supplementary question is an extra question asked without prior notice and which relates to the Minister’s answer to their previous oral question with notice.
- Swearing in
- After an individual is elected as a member of the States Assembly, they must be officially sworn-in to office as a States Member at the Royal Court.
- Third reading
- The final stage of voting for laws or regulations. At this point States Members decide if they wish to approve the proposed law in its final state with any adopted amendments.
- Urgent question
- A member can, no more than 30 minutes before the start of a States Meeting, request the Bailiff for permission to ask an urgent question which must be regarded as of ‘urgent character’ and relate to a matter of public importance.
- The Usher is the first to speak at a States Meeting. He announces ‘The Bailiff’ when the Bailiff enters the Chamber at which point everyone present will stand and only sit when the Bailiff is seated. The Usher also can deliver messages from one States Member to another during a meeting, however, can only do so using the corridors and doors surrounding the Chamber.
- Vingtaines are subdivisions of Parishes in Jersey. Following the changes to constituencies to come into place in 2022, the electoral districts of St. Helier South, St. Helier Central and St. Helier North are each subdivided further into two or three vingtaines. These changes mean that each District will have a more equal number of people per Deputy than previously.
- Vote of no confidence
- A vote of no confidence (VONC) in the Chief Minister can be proposed by another States Member during the four-year political term. If the majority of States Members vote against the VONC, the Chief Minister will remain in post. If the majority vote in favour, the Council of Ministers ‘fall’ from power – though will remain in post until a new Chief Minister and Council of Ministers has been appointed. Find out more about the VONC process here.
- Voting (Elections)
- If you have lived in Jersey for two years, or for six months plus a period that totals five years and are at least 16 years of age, you can vote in Jersey’s General Election. Find out more here.
- Voting (States Meetings)
- States Members can vote either by standing vote or by electronic vote. During an electronic vote, the Greffier opens the voting system and Members press one of three buttons: either ‘P’ (pour) in favour of the matter, ‘C’ (contre) against the proposition, or A (abstain) to record their abstention. The Bailiff then asks the Greffier to close the vote and announces the result. Whilst the States Assembly is meeting virtually, Members must record their vote via an online voting link. A record of all States Members’ votes can be found here.
- Written question
- States Members can submit written questions to Ministers. Written questions must be answered within a week of being received and published. Both written questions and answers are shared on the ‘News’ section of the States Assembly website each week.
- Youth Assembly
- The Jersey Youth Assembly is held once a year and brings together year 12 and 13 students together to spend an afternoon in the States Chamber asking Ministers questions and debating propositions on topics of their choosing.
- Youth Parliament
- Jersey Youth Parliament is an Island wide forum for young people to discuss current issues in the States Assembly that affect them. It consists of 40 young people, aged between 12 and 18, who present their work to States Members, engage in Scrutiny’s work and compile reports to share with Ministers. Find out more about Jersey Youth Parliament and how you can get involved here.