The Queen as head of state appoints the Lieutenant Governor, who serves as the Queen's representative and as commander of the Armed Forces, for such a term as she pleases. The Lieutenant Governor serves a ceremonial role and may attend and address the States Assembly, but usually does so only on taking and leaving office.
The legislative power of the Bailiwick rests with the Assembly of the States, of which the Bailiff is the President, or presiding officer. However, the Bailiff may cast no vote except for the casting, or tie-breaking, vote. In the absence of the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff or an individual chosen by the Assembly presides.
The Assembly's voting members comprise Senators, Deputies, and Connétables. Twelve Senators are chosen by the whole Bailiwick for six-year terms; terms are staggered so that six senators are chosen every three years. Additionally, twenty-nine Deputies are elected for a three-year term by single- or multi-member electoral districts. Finally, each of the Bailiwick's twelve parishes elects one Connétable. The Connétable is actually the head of the parish who sits ex-officio in the Assembly; he is not directly elected to the Assembly. Connétables also serve three-year terms.
In addition to voting members, the Assembly also includes three members who may speak but not vote. The Attorney General and Solicitor General are appointed by the Queen as officers of the state and serve in the Assembly ex-officio. They may address the Assembly on matters of legal interpretation. Also, the Dean of Jersey, the senior Jersey clergyman of the Church of England, has a seat in the Assembly ex-officio, and may address the Assembly on any issue. He also acts as chaplain of the States, conducting the opening prayers in French at every sitting.
A 2005 law known as the States of Jersey Law outlines the constitution of the States and the general procedures of the new ministerial government.
The Assembly's passage of a law is generally not subject to any veto. The law is submitted to the Queen, and has no effect until her consent is obtained.
A piece of legislation passed by the States is known in English simply as a 'Law', and in French as a Loi, not as an 'Act' as in the UK. An Act or Acte of the States is an administrative enactment and may be in the nature of secondary legislation.
The legislature derives its name from the estates (French: états) of the Crown (represented by the Bailiff and Jurats), the Church (the rectors of the Parishes) and the people (represented by the Connétables) from whom the assembly was originally summoned.
Jersey's political history begins as part of the Duchy of Normandy. However when the King of France stripped King John I of England of the title, Duke of Normandy, the people of Jersey and the other Channel Islands rebelled against the French King maintaining the sovereignty of the 'rightful' Duke.
In 1259 Henry III signed the Treaty of Paris resigning his claim to the Duchy of Normandy except the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands were not absorbed into the Kingdom of England but two offices were appointed; Warden (now Lieutenant Governor) and Bailiff.
Originally the Royal Court had legislative power but in the sixteenth century a legislative assembly within the Royal Court was convened. In the early seventeenth century separate minutes of the States of Jersey were first recorded.
When the monarchy was restored, King Charles II who had escaped to Jersey on his way to exile in France rewarded Jersey with the power to levy customs duties. This power, exercised by the Assembly of Governor, Bailiff and Jurats, was finally taken over by the States of Jersey in 1921, thereby enabling the States to control the budget independently of the Lieutenant Governor.
The States voted on 6 November 1856 to adopt a law to add 14 Deputies to the assembly to counterbalance the mismatch of population and voting power between town and country. The first Deputies were elected 12 January 1857.
The first election by secret ballot was held December 1 1891.
Until the constitutional reforms brought in in the 1940s to begin to separate legislature and judiciary, Jurats were the senior politicians, elected for life by islandwide suffrage, and were the presidents of committees and sat in the Royal Court to preside over cases. In 1948 the Jurats were replaced in the legislature by directly-elected Senators, who at first were elected for mandates of 9 years (subsequently reduced to 6 years).
The rectors were also removed from the States in 1948 (with the exception of the Dean as Rector of St. Helier, who remained but lost his vote), and replaced by an increased number of Deputies.
In 1953 the States of Jersey signed up to the European Convention of Human Rights as a territory for which the United Kingdom manages the external affairs. In 1974 Jersey became a member of the European Customs Union but did not take up full membership of the EU.
The urban-rural cleavage which successive reforms have attempted to address remains. The less populated rural parishes enjoy an electoral advantage over the densely populated urban parishes due to the inequity of the distribution of seats when compared to population.
The speaker of the States Assembly is the Bailiff, who is also the President of the Royal Court. The gradual paring away of the Bailiff's powers in the legislature continues and in 2005 the Bailiff lost his casting vote in the event of a tie.
A report produced under the chairmanship of Sir Cecil Clothier proposed a range of administrative reforms aimed at improving the machinery of government, including ending the distinction between Senators and Deputies, the removal of the Constables from the States and the removal of the Bailiff. However aspects of the report, especially concerning the rôle of Connétable, met with intense opposition at public meetings in the parishes. The ministerial system has been introduced in an amended form to that proposed by Clothier.
The States sat in the Royal Court until 1887 when the States Chamber was constructed adjacent to the Royal Court. The chamber is in Jacobean style, with the benches arranged in horseshoe form around the twin seats of the Bailiff and Lieutenant Governor. The Bailiff's seat is raised slightly higher than that of the Lieutenant Governor to demonstrate his precedence.
Senators sit to the left of the bailiff, then the Connétables, and then the Deputies filling up the benches to the right.
The raw feed of the States members talking is provided by the States of Jersey and goes through a desk in the BBC Radio Jersey Studio in the States Chamber where it is mixed by the States Reporter on duty that day.
The States output also includes Question Time which is also available on demand from bbc.co.uk/jersey split into the two separate sessions.