States of Guernsey

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The States of Guernsey refers to the island’s government, comprising:

  • States of Deliberation – the parliamentary assembly that makes island’s laws
  • States of Election – the body that elects island’s Jurats
  • Policy Council
  • States Committees
  • Civil Service – the body of employees that implement States policies and deliver services to the island
  • The Bailiff and the First Minister

The States work with the Royal Court, which enforces the laws, and the Douzaines of each parish, who are responsible for Parish Administration.

Further details on the current operations of Guernsey's Government can be found in Darryl Ogier's The Government and Law of Guernsey (2005).[1]

States of Deliberation

It is this parliamentary assembly, consisting of the Deputies, as the islanders’ elected representatives, that is usually referred to as ‘the States’.

It is responsible for debates, making policies, passing laws and raising taxes.

The Presiding Officer attends to moderate the meeting, but has no casting vote. The Crown Officers attend in an advisory capacity to answer legal or constitutional questions. The Lieutenant Governor normally attends, but has no vote and rarely addresses the assembly.

States of Election

Although it’s role has evolved over the centuries, the States of Election now only meets to elect Jurats of the Royal Court. It is composed of the following:

Representation & Elections

Elections for People’s Deputies take place every 4 years, and anyone over the age of 18 who has been on the Electoral Roll for two years is eligible to vote.

States Meetings

The States of Deliberation normally meets twelve times a year. The agenda and papers are collectively known as Billet d’Etat. The Actes des Etats provides a record of the laws passed, and the Receuil d'Ordonnances records other ordinances, decisions and resolutions made by the assembly.

Policy Council

The Policy Council is responsible for Guernsey's constitutional and external affairs, developing strategic and corporate policy and coordinating States business. It also examines proposals and Reports placed before the States of Deliberation by Departments and Non States Bodies. It is directly responsible for:

  • Strategic & Corporate Policy
  • Constitutional & External Affairs
  • Emergency Powers Authority
  • Island Archives
  • Co-ordinating States Business
  • Human Resources

States Committees

Current committees (2012) are:

  • Legislation Select Committee
  • Public Accounts Committee
  • Scrutiny Committee
  • States Assembly & Constitution Committee
  • Inheritance Law Review Committee
  • Parochial Ecclesiastical Rates Review Committee
  • Public Sector Remuneration Committee

Civil Service

work in progress

Civil Service Departments

  • Commerce & Employment
  • Culture & Leisure
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health & Social Services
  • Home
  • Housing
  • Public Services
  • Treasury & Resources

History & Development

Whilst the States was first referred to by name (Les Etats) in 1538, there is evidence that an elected body was already in existence in 1441. However, it was not to acquire full law-making powers until the mid-nineteenth century.

Development 1700-1948

work in progress[2]

1948 Reform Law

Following the Liberation of the island from German Occupation, a wide-ranging review of the islands’ constitution was carried out, resulting in 1948 Reform Law, which resulted in increased democratic representation: Jurats and Rectors were no longer part of the States of Deliberation. To replace them, twelve Conseillers were created with a six year term of office, elected by the States of Election.

2003 Machinery of Government Reform

work in progress[3]

References and Further Reading

  1. Ogier, Darryl, The Government and Law of Guernsey, States of Guernsey, 2005
  2. Hocart, Richard, An Island Assembly: the development of the States of Guernsey 1700-1949, Guernsey, 1988
  3. Le Pelley, Tom, Changes to the Machinery of Government in Guernsey, Review of the Guernsey Society, Autumn 2003


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