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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

"Foreign Ministers Role Is Pointless"

Calls for Foreign Minister to be elected not appointed

There are calls for the role of Foreign Minister to be made by election rather than appointment by the Chief Minister.

A group of States Members have written an open Letter to Senator Terry Le Sueur expressing their concerns.

Senator Freddie Cohen, who holds the role, is actually appointed as Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, with special responsibility for External Affairs.

He has announced he is stepping down before the next election in October.

But whilst Ministers, including the Chief Minister, are elected by the States Assembly, Assistant Ministers are not.

In the letter the Members Deputies Montfort Tadier, Roy Le Hérrissier, Trevor Pitman, Shona Pitman and Senator Alan Breckon told the Chief Minister:

They say: "What we have seen here is essentially undemocratic. We have a de facto Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is travelling all over the world to represent Jersey, and States Members, however neither the public nor States Members have had any say in his selection.

"We have not even ascertained whether there is any desire or need for a Foreign Affairs Minister, let alone who should fill this role. We know that there is already widespread concern that the public cannot vote directly for Chief Minister. Now we have a situation where that same Chief Minister has created a new role without consulting States Members, or the public."

In response, Chief Minister Terry Le Sueur, wrote to the Ministers, arguing that the position of Foreign Minister does not, in fact, exist.

He said: "Whilst I note the concerns of you and your four colleagues, can I point out that there is no such post as a Foreign Minister, or Minister for Foreign Affairs, in the States at present.

"What does exist and has existed throughout Ministerial Government, is a post as Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister. Part of the duties of such an Assistant Minister, both in this Council of Ministers and the previous one, has been to help in the field of external relations, which is one of the core responsibilities of the Chief Minister's Department.

"Whilst previously the focus may have been more on our European neighbours, the decision last year, as a result of the new U.K. Coalition Government policy, to scale down the role of the Ministry of Justice has brought about a need for significant strengthening, both at political and officer level, of contact with that Government in its many facets. That caused me to review the role of my Assistant Ministers and to replace one of those with a person dedicated to external relations who I thought, and still believe, was admirably suited to the task."

"He does, however, remain (merely) an Assistant Minister, and I agree that to escalate the post to that of Minister would indeed require a States decision. Political responsibility for all aspects of the Chief Minister's Department rests with the Chief Minister."


  1. We have been told that Jersey cannot appoint a Minister for Children because the number of ministers is defined by law.
    Yet, as if by magic, Ozouf & Le Sueur invented this job for Cohen as a surrogate Minister to represent the finance sector all over the world.
    Tom Gruchy says

  2. Magic indeed TG - in fact 'just like that' as Tommy Cooper would have said.