Guernsey Press

Deputy leads move to save Bailiff’s role in Assembly

Deputy Liam McKenna has led a move which he hopes will save the Bailiff’s role in the States Assembly.

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Deputy Liam McKenna. (33402159)

He claimed that a requete due to be debated next week was a ‘Trojan horse’ which, if approved, would make it easier for some deputies to move on to their real aim of replacing the Bailiff with an elected speaker.

He submitted an amendment yesterday which would water down proposals in the requete led by Gavin St Pier.

Deputy McKenna’s amendment would remove a direction in the requete for the Assembly to be given priority use of the Royal Court and its neighbouring library and replace it with an alternative direction for a report on space and facilities for States members.

‘I believe the requete is a Trojan horse. The original requete aimed to replace the Bailiff as the Presiding Officer, but they have shelved it, at least for the time being.

‘I fear the Greeks even when bearing gifts,’ said Deputy McKenna.

The requete led by Deputy St Pier also calls for an investigation into creating a special purpose parliamentary body to oversee the States as a parliament.

Supporters of the requete would like to see greater separation between the Assembly and the judiciary. They cite Latimer House principles of the Commonwealth in support of their cause.

Deputy McKenna would like the Assembly to put the brakes on such moves and show its support for the Bailiff to continue as Presiding Officer.

‘I believe our Bailiff, Sir Richard McMahon, is the ideal leader and speaker of the States Assembly. His knowledge is rivalled only by Jessica Roland, our Deputy Bailiff,’ said Deputy McKenna.

‘The requete to introduce Latimer House principles has lofty goals [but] there is no off-the-shelf government.

‘Constitutions develop over time within the context of tradition and culture. International standards can be useful guardrails for democratic institutions [but] they must not override our Guernsey traditions and culture.

‘Should we really be discussing this in the States Assembly when our community is staring at becoming generation rent and with all the problems in health and social care and the cost of living going up and up?’

Deputy McKenna also said the courts needed as much space as possible.

He thanked Deputy David De Lisle for seconding his amendment and former Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rowland for his ‘wise counsel’ on the matter.