Independent body to decide States pay

A NEW independent body will be established to review politicians’ pay following approval by the States Assembly.

States members in the States Chamber. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31033461)
States members in the States Chamber. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31033461)

However, calls to repeal a law which requires all Members to be paid the same amount were rejected.

The States Members’ Remuneration Review Body currently sets pay levels but, following a vote in the States yesterday, a new body will be formed and tasked with assessing remuneration. The proposition states that the level of remuneration ‘should reflect the central importance of elected and accountable people’s representatives in the democratic system and the responsibilities and workload associated with the roles they perform’. It also says that States Members’ pay should ‘be sufficient to ensure that representatives can enjoy a reasonable standard of living as a result of their position’ and should be set at a level to attract people from ‘all walks of life’.

The majority of the proposition – brought by the Privileges and Procedures Committee – was passed. However, the clause which would have allowed Members who take senior positions within the Assembly – such as ministerial or Scrutiny chair roles – to be paid more was defeated.

Introducing the proposition, PPC chairwoman Deputy Carina Alves said the new system would have an independent reviewer. She said an expert – Dr Hannah White – was commissioned by her committee to review the process for Members’ pay. In her report, Dr White recommended an independent reviewer, and said Jersey was the only jurisdiction where Members could potentially change their own pay by bringing a proposition on the matter, and that this should be removed.

Senator Sam Mézec called the current system ‘broken’ during a debate on Wednesday, and said the proposition was ‘necessary’.

Constable Karen Shenton-Stone disagreed with differential pay, arguing: ‘The Assembly is a body of equals.’

She said Members having different pay was ‘arbitrary and divisive’.

Members adjourned on Wednesday to continue debating the proposition on Thursday morning.

Under the terms of the proposition, the new regulator would be ‘under a duty’ to consult Members and the Treasury Minister ‘on the economic and fiscal situation in Jersey and to take this into account in making decisions and recommendations on remuneration’. The reviewer’s determinations would take effect automatically and not be debated in the Assembly.

The first review of Members’ pay is due to take place in 2022.

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