Date: 18th December 2010
The answer to the question is a resounding "no": the number of Senators should absolutely not be reduced from 12 to eight. We need a solid and substantial bloc of members whose mandate is Island-wide and whose vision and interest is both Island-wide and international where appropriate. 12 is the correct number. Eight is too few in comparison with the large number of Deputies, whose first priority is to their parishes or electoral districts. If the number of Deputies were also to be reduced by a third (which actually is quite an appealing prospect, but that is another matter) then this might make sense, but as things stand, it does not.
In addition, I am worried that those who are considering standing as Senator might well be deterred from doing so if this legislation is enacted. Let us say that a candidate is keen to serve the Island as Senator and is quite well known and respected generally, but not especially well-known in his or her Parish or electoral district, and/or not particularly interested in parking or zebra crossings or Parish matters generally. Let us then say that his or her being elected would, by reason of the reduction in the number of Senators, perforce entail dislodging a sitting Senator whom he or she has no wish to see removed from office. In those circumstances it would be perfectly understandable if the candidate in question decided not to stand as Senator. And in the circumstances I have outlined, he or she could not be expected to stand as Deputy, and probably would not get in anyway if he/she did. So dear old Jersey PLC loses another good candidate, another opportunity.
All in all, this is an ill-considered, inappropriate and potentially dangerous initiative. It is just plain wrong.