Friday, December 31, 2010

Facing It!

Facing what? that this blog is to all practical intents and purposes defunct, that's what.

None of the numerous people whom I invited to keep or start contributing, when we hived this off from the JDA have submitted anything since, and I already have a personal blog I sporadically use anyway for my own articles.

I am not going to delete this one, and, with 2011 being an election year, I might start getting some submissions yet. However, I cannot see where any new material would come from at present, so I am leaving it up merely as an archive of the live stuff there was in the past.

Thank you for having been readers, and for commenting, if you did.


David Rotherham

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

JRA Apology

Thank you to those who came to The Peirson tonight. We owe you all our apology for not considering that Deputy Power might be taken too ill to even cancel, and so not checking he was still coming 24 hours previously. We hope you enjoyed your social drink sufficiently to be a reasonable compensation for our failure to deliver the promised event.
David Rotherham

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2 Meetings

The Jersey Rights Association will have its AGM at the Peirson 7.30pm, Tuesday 23rd Nov, guests welcome, followed by a public talk by Deputy Sean Power on Housing Issues at 8.30. All welcome.

The Jersey Human Rights Group will hold its AGM at 5.30 on Mon 29th Nov. Meet in Royal Square beforehand for escorted access to States Building.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Word has reached me that personal opinions expressed by myself in my own name are being attributed by some to former colleagues in a party that none of us are in any more.
No postings on here, nor letters to the JEP, signed by myself alone have been anything other than my own individual work, not discussed with, let alone approved by any other person.
It is an injustice to blame anyone else for opinions of mine, when I have no idea whether they share or disagree with my view, and they may not have even seen my pieces. Conversely, I am nobody else's puppet or mouthpiece.
David Rotherham

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just an "Accident" of Timing, of Course.

Autumn: As work gets quieter for me and schoolwork ties up more of my family's time, I can soon spare some time for all these consultations we keep getting offered. And what do you know - I am too late for all the juicy ones I would have liked to have contributed to - Island Plan, Taxes, Crown Officers. I wonder; is Summer actually the best time for most people to examine these things, and my own life out of sync, or has there been a little sleight of hand to reduce the number of people inconveniencing the government with their opinions?
Any thoughts, anybody?
David Rotherham

Friday, August 27, 2010

Anyone for a Bring-A-Policy Party?

When I was a much younger man, I sometimes went to the kind of party where lots of young adults arrived bringing various kinds of alcohol, which went on the table for each to help themselves to whatever selection they fancied, from whatever had been brought.

The other day, suffering a less physical kind of hangover from too much time in a very different sort of party, I was musing on the contrast between the two meanings of the word. It suddenly occurred to me that the model of the Bring-A-Bottle drinks party could actually be viably applied to creating some kind of political coalition of independents in a culture of no conventional parties.

My idea was that politicians and potential candidates of broadly similar views pool their manifesto ideas. But, instead of a conventional party process of whittling down the differences to come up with a single party line for all to follow, each area of policy would have a series of numbered alternative manifesto proposals or positions, being all the items any of the participants submitted on that topic. Then, when all items were submitted and collated, each participant would select their own favourite item numbers, be they their own work or another's. The scheme collator could then paste the chosen items into a standard format with the candidate's personal details and colours.

The result would be a display of obvious unity and mutual assistance, and yet, importantly, nobody would be having to compromise any principles, nor sacrifice any independence, to toe a party line.

The next step will be to sound out possible invitees: Too few takers would mean too little substance to be worth the bother. But, what do our readers think? Would you be happier voting for somebody who has collaborated with others in developing their strongest possible manifesto, or somebody who has done all their own work, for better or worse? Comments, please.

David Rotherham

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nothing More To Say

As promised, we have now published our definitive statement on our departure. This press release, from 10pm, 15th August, is as much as we wish to say on the subject. Now we shall move on.
"In the light of the press release of Friday 13th August from the JDA Honorary President we believe it to be necessary to clarify the following:

Due to a growing difference of opinion between leading JDA members regarding issues of strategy and political direction all JDA Council Members and the party’s membership were contacted on the 11th August to advise them that JDA Deputy Chairman, David Rotherham, Deputies Trevor and Shona Pitman and Deputy Debbie De Sousa were resigning from the JDA as of this date.

Though this was a difficult and painful decision to make given the number of years of blood, sweat and tears that we have given to developing the JDA, we took this decision in the hope of preventing irreconcilable differences developing into, or being spun as an acrimonious public quarrel. To this regard we intended putting out only the briefest of statements to the media.

All four of us believe passionately that to ultimately bring about the change our island so desperately needs, we have to engage a wider cross-section of Jersey’s ordinary working people in line with our centre-left political principles; as opposed to allowing ourselves to be wrongly portrayed as representing the interests of only a certain section of society.

Unfortunately, even in the light of the Honorary President’s surprising press release we perceive this narrow base to be the current direction of the JDA pursued by a minority Council. This is simply not the political ideology that we signed up to when we joined, and is not what we have worked so hard for. It is also certainly not true of the diverse constituent base that Deputies S. Pitman, T. Pitman and De Sousa all work with on a day-to-day basis.

Nevertheless, though existing on a number of levels it is fair to say that these internal differences have been brought to a head by two key events. The first of these was the split decision to support the JDA standing a sitting States Member, Deputy Geoff Southern, in the recent Senatorial by-election; a decision driven through even though it was clearly apparent to a number of us that this would be a politically muddy campaign where a skewed and split vote was inevitable.

The second has been the recent press release and media interviews given by Deputy Southern regarding the union alternatives to the Council of Ministers proposals on taxation and cut backs. Whilst it must be reiterated here that we are all wholly committed to recognition of modern Trade Unions as an essential check and balance to ensure industrial best practice, the fact is that neither the proposals nor our stated collective support for them was discussed with or agreed with us or any other JDA Council Member beforehand. This we find wholly unacceptable.

Viewed in the current wider political perspective we have thus come to the conclusion that for the immediate future the best way forward to achieving positive change is via way of a political coalition with other similarly minded States Members; and, indeed, like-wise motivated individuals outside of the States - a coalition where all members are willing to sign up to, and work together to achieve a small number of clearly defined principles. Having already been involved in such initiatives this is what we will now be striving to do.

A constituted ‘party’ on the other hand, as put forward in the JDA Honorary President’s press release with people of both left and right political leanings brought and held together only by a desire for reform we simply do not believe can work and is something we will not be involved in. We nevertheless wish all our former colleagues in the JDA the best of luck in their endeavours for the future. Whilst we can no longer agree on the path forward we fully recognise that they too want only the best for the working people who are the backbone of Jersey’s success; and who, indeed, make Jersey the special place that it is.

We shall not be making any further comment.

David Rotherham (Deputy Chairman) Deputy Shona Pitman

Deputy Trevor Pitman Deputy Debbie De Sousa"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Package, Same Goods

As hinted at recently, the main author of this blog left the JDA today, and I am taking the blog with me. So, I have contrived something else to fit the initials JDACMB and renamed it. Without the JDA link, we can accept copy from anybody, if it is suitable. Breaking down the email to avoid spambots, I have an account at the "" domain of "yahoo" in the name of "cdrotherham", that you can send submissions to.
The comment policy will continue to be that, you may disagree with us, but you may not be grossly offensive.
We hope that you will continue to read.

David Rotherham

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reader Feedback Needed Urgently

As Ted and Geoff prepare their new team for their 2011 campaign, so some of the longer serving JDA Council Members will be standing down from it very shortly. Including most of the contributors to this blog.

So, we could go two ways, depending on public demand:

The default, if we don't get significant demand for the other option, will be to rebrand this blog, keeping these authors, and launch a new JDA Council blog, with a new URL, for the new Council.

The alternative is that the current authors simply walk away from this one, and our current readers go look for us elsewhere on the web. So this URL remains the JDA Council's.

Tell us now, if you care which we do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Outlined below is a written question (with answer) I asked at the last States sitting with regard to the ridiculously overdue ‘Napier Report’. The question is a straight-forward one and needs comparatively little explanation. I post it now only in the light of the latest saga encountered in trying to finally get the author’s long-overdue findings into the public arena.

As some readers will have heard by now this latest delay is being put down to the sending of official letters to a number of key players in the suspension of the former Chief Police Officer. These letters are known in the trade as ‘Scott letters’. When utilised they are meant to provide a last chance for any individual about to be criticised, and possibly even face disciplinary proceedings, as a result of aspects of their conduct to attempt to explain or justify this.

At least that is how it works in the UK. The process is not meant to be a means of manipulating the findings of a report in order that potentially embarrassing elements of those findings might then be watered down or be kept out of the public arena. Will this same above board process be carried out here in Jersey? Just consider the answer to my question below for a moment:

“it (the report) will be published in full.”

Even long overdue, a clearer promise one could surely not get, and I hope that it ultimately proves to be adhered to. However, whilst not only have politicians subsequently been unable to get an answer to the question of when exactly did the Chief Minister and the senior civil servant at his department receive a copy of the report, I also have it from a pretty reliable source that attempts will be made to keep certain key details likely to lead to disciplinary measures confidential.

And this simply can’t be right.

One good thing about having focussed so much on what was obviously a deeply flawed process surrounding the suspension of the Chief Police Officer as I did has been that – and in stark contrast to the Home Affairs |Minister’s temper tantrum in the States last month I can’t help but point out – I knew that I for one would not be eating the Minister’s much-vaunted ‘humble pie’. The process and its handling has, after all, been a total shambles. This is I’m afraid cold, hard fact no matter how much he might try to deny it.

Not least in the simultaneous use of material meant specifically for a full disciplinary procedure whilst all disciplinary measures were in fact unceremoniously dropped. Indeed, if one is to go by the inconsistent statements from the Home Affairs Minister between Scrutiny hearings and the States Assembly itself suggest most likely were never genuinely to be pursued at all?

Now, while I believe that all must be accountable for their actions if things don’t go as they should, criticism of the Chief Police Officer’s failings have been played out in full view of the public – some might say to overkill by certain sections of the media – yet this has been done, as I say, without the proper full and fair disciplinary process that both the individual at the centre of it all and we, the taxpaying public, should have been able to expect to be certain no stone was left unturned.

Could it really consequently be right if some of the equally significant failings – I can say no more than that right now – of some of those deeply involved in the very same process are allowed to be hidden away by means of a quickly cobbled together excuse of ‘confidentiality’; likewise the outcome of any resultant disciplinary action?

The answer has to be 100% that it is not. Neither will the presentation to politicians and the public of a report ‘redacted’ until it is only 30% of the original text; 10% of the overall material - thus removing the bulk substance of the issues at hand. Will such a ploy be attempted? With the Chief Minister apparently now back from a break it is high time he laid any such concerns to rest. Maybe he will even let us know if the now retired former Chief Police Officer got the offer of the Scott letter process…

Written Question to the Chief Minister 22nd July 2010

'Will the Chief Minister clarify the full reasons as to why the report into the issues surrounding the suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police - promised to the Assembly to be completed in six weeks - has instead not been completed prior to the announcement that all disciplinary measures were to be dropped; further still, when will this report be completed and made available in full to all States Members?'
The original timescale for the completion of the independent review into the suspension of the Chief Officer of Police was six weeks as stated in the Deputy’s question. Unfortunately, due to difficulties in arranging convenient dates for interviews and travel disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, it was not possible to complete the interview process with one of the key witnesses during the Mr Napier’s first visit to Jersey. A second visit had to be arranged to that suited both people.
All of the interviews were completed by 9th June 2010 and I am awaiting the final report. Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, Mr Napier was unable to complete his final report immediately after the interview process was complete.
I have been advised by Mr Napier, that he is currently writing his final report which should be completed by the end of July. Once the report has been issued and all parties concerned have had the opportunity to consider any findings, it will be published in full.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Wiltshire Report. And Yet Another Abuse of Process

Here are two self-explanatory open emails to Senators le Sueur and le Marquand, from Trevor and Shona Pitman. Even to the bitter end, any substantial fault there may or may not have been on Chief Constable Power's part continues to be overshadowed by ongoing abuses of process by the Home Affairs and Chief Minister's Departments.

"Dear Terry/Ian

Please could you tell us all, why the Wiltshire Report has been sent to the media (embargoed) before Members of Government. Please tell us why this happens so often - the COM are always telling us that 'it won't happen again', but it always does. It shows nothing but disrespect and contempt for your colleagues. Also, could you tell us if this is the full report.

Once again, a hugely important piece of information and States Members (or non-exec Members) are left out. Can we have some answers.


"Ian & Terry

Just to follow this up from Deputy Shona Pitman. Please could you tell us why you feel it acceptable or necessary that the Media should be given this document (much redacted of course) to go over for three days longer than States Members? That it is embargoed for reporting is irrelevant.

With several hundred pages wouldn't it be far better for all involved if the rest of us States Members were given time to digest this and come up with appropriately informed, searching questions for the presentation? Perhaps not, eh...

Could you also tell us all why I only found out about this issuing of the document through a media contact?

Could you also tell us why, even as a States Member, upon inquiry I was initially fobbed off that nobody knew if the media were getting copies - when it was quite clear from my earlier inquiries that ten lovely shiny new copies hot off the press had winged their way to the Chief Ministers Department this Friday afternoon?

Why I was eventually told by the Deputy CEO that it was simply all down to a problem with the printing, and you were hoping to send everything out but couldn't because of the rush with the Business Plan.

But then told I still couldn't - as a States Member - have one even if I drove down that minute and saved the taxpayer the postage? Where was the inconvenience - I could have picked mine up along with Channel, BBC, 103 and the JEP!

Finally, as per Shona's e-mail, please tell all of us, right, left, centre and greens amongst us - what kind of 'government' deems it correct or conducive to the development of 'inclusive' government to send out such a hugely important document to journalists before other elected members of that government?

Actually, don't bother answering the last one - I will do that for you. It is the kind of government that time and time again treats non-executive members with utter contempt; a COM so arrogant and bloated with self importance that it just doesn't care about acting in this fashion; it is the sort of COM for which the first priority is always to spin the angle they want the public to buy.

Out of interest will States Members also be issued with the full details of the complaint the IPCC instructed the MET to investigate reference alleged evidence and witnesses that the authors of the report would not incorporate? Having no axe to grind for anyone but purely being interested in fairness and transparency as I am I am certain you will make sure that this is done...

Just for the record, Ian made mention of people eating 'humble pie' in the States this week. Though I wasn't referred to as one of them, fact is that as I have focussed all my questions on the truly appalling handling of this incredibly flawed suspension process from start to finish - I have already been proven right a 100 times over. This latest shambles really puts the icing on the cake.

I now just can't wait to hear first-hand about the senior civil servant who wasn't involved in any way in receiving illegal police reports on the backgrounds of States Members...


Monday, July 5, 2010

They Missed A Trick - Let's Not Give It To Them

The Jersey Establishment missed a trick when they carried out their infamous cherry-pick of the Clothier proposals for government reform. Most of the political representation for a Jersey citizen is by the twelve Senators: You get one Connetable and one to three Deputies, depending where you live, and then at least three-quarters of your votes are for Senators. That is quite important, as it lets in a wider range of politicians. To be a Deputy, you have to find an electoral district where most of the voters agree with you, and no other candidate there does, or come through the middle of a split vote for like-minded candidates sharing the majority between them, for want of a party to organise such things. To be a Senator, it is usually enough to command a substantial minority around the island overall, without having to find a concentration of your potential supporters. From the voter's point of view, picking six at a time from a slate of candidates enables a degree of ticket-splitting, in which both some candidates focussing on economic issues and some on social issues can be chosen, with a view to electing a well-rounded and balanced government.

Now, given that there is an inbuilt conservative majority in almost every one of Jersey's constituencies, the right-wing could have further consolidated their hold on power by seizing on the Clothier Report's recommendation that the Senators and Connetables be replaced by Deputies, for a single type of member. Just think, no more maverick populists soaring to the top of the polls as everybody's fifth or sixth choice, just a collection of bland parish bigwigs toeing the establishment line.

The tiresome rigmarole of the recent by-election, so needlessly caused by a wilful breach of an erstwhile Senator's oath of office, has once again set people to wondering whether Senators are worth having. Even amongst the progressive wing, with the most to gain from their continuing existence, “one class of Member” seems to some to be a more tempting principle than “Fourteen votes, not one”. This thought must be firmly and vigorously resisted. An all-Deputy Chamber will marginalise voters, and especially minority voters, and suffer a greatly increased democratic deficit. And “one class” will be the misleading spin put on this failure to fool unthinking electors into believing that they have been done a favour.

Some people say that Senators should serve an “apprenticeship” as a parish Deputy first. But to what end? The work is the same, the powers, or lack of them are the same. But if a candidate has confidence in another in their home district, or believes that the electorate will, then the only constituency where they can offer themselves as a resident rather than a carpetbagger is the island as a whole.

Perhaps the class of Member that should be removed is the Connetables. They are elected to be community leaders of their parishes, not the island, and voters may have different opinions of their municipal and state governments. Certainly, up here in Trinity, the Parish functions perfectly, but the States work no better for us than the rest of Jersey.

We need all the talent we can get in our government, and as strongly democratic way of electing them as possible. An all-Deputy assembly would be an impediment, not a boon.

David Rotherham

Friday, July 2, 2010


Does anyone genuinely think any States member actually enjoys going back to an issue again and again and again? Well, maybe there are few out there who do believe such nonsense. But the truth is the answer is no. That it sometimes has to be done – if you don’t fall for the calculated ploy used by some Ministers of trying to grind you down until the question is dropped by attempting to belittle the issue’s importance – is just another example of the sorry state of ministerial government.

Indeed, one more reason why I and a rapidly growing number of other Members sick to the back teeth of the mockery of democratic government that this system has become under Chief Minister Le Sueur will be backing Senator Breckon’s proposal for a complete overhaul. But that is a story for another day.

The fact is that just as I have stated in the Assembly on more than one occasion, I have no personal axe to grind on behalf of the suspended Chief of Police underlying these questions. All I am concerned with is getting to the bottom of a process that would not be tolerated in any self-respecting democracy; about finally getting some transparency. About ensuring that people – no matter who they are – should be treated as innocent until proven guilty; not to mention how under this Council of Ministers it is possible to hide behind guff like ‘neutral acts’ whilst spinning lies about investigations that will only take ‘weeks’, yet then are allowed to drag on for months, even years.

If all of this upsets a few people I’m afraid all I can say is – tough. The number of people who have contacted me supporting continuing this line of questioning until we finally get answers, set against those who would just see the issues dropped indicates that most people think natural justice is something worth being tenacious about.

As per the written question regarding the Senator’s comments suggesting that everything would be made clear come July, it is interesting that I had to remove reference in the question to the globally established practice of governments looking to ‘bury bad news’ by revealing information when it would largely go unnoticed. The point I was seeking to highlight here is that if ‘July’ was to mean after the next but one States sitting of the 19th then any opportunity for asking questions would be put on hold for two whole months.

Wouldn’t that be a shame? Mr. Power would be gone, and as we all know it has never been the intention to allow a full and proper disciplinary process to be undertaken: a process where both sides of the story could be heard and allegations defended.

As to the other questions I hope to be writing something on the taxation issue shortly, having raised questions on this and the related subject of 1.1. (K) s a number of times. The other questions which relate to St. Helier No. 1 District are self-explanatory. One relating to long-standing work in support of constituents, the other to explore the possibility of whether the Minister for ESC could manage to find any alternatives to a cutting of a frontline service, rather than the rather populist approach in a proposition of just telling the Minister he couldn’t do it: period.

Deputy Trevor Pitman

*A final point for Jaime. Sorry, Jaime, but in answer to your question I get my information from a number of sources which obviously vary considerably in line with the issues. If similar concerns/issues/also surface on other blogs sometimes, then great. The fact that some people are actively seeking transparency should surely be applauded whether one agrees with those people’s views or not

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following oral question of the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Will the Minister advise whether the alleged author of the Metropolitan (Met) Police Interim Report is himself under investigation by the Met regarding alleged anomalies in the report’s construction and whether the author neglected to interview crucial witnesses who could have refuted allegations made by the Former Deputy Chief Officer against the former Senior Investigating Officer and the suspended Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question oral of the Minister for Treasury and Resources ­

“Given that in the Fiscal Strategy Review public consultation document it is stated that a key consideration in implementing a 30% Income Tax rate for those earning above £100.000 is the possibility of such individuals choosing to leave the Island, will the Minister advise what firm evidence, if any, his department has to support such fears?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Under questioning about the lengthy suspension process of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police on the 22nd June 2010, the Minister asked for patience, advising Members that all would be revealed in July, will the Minister now give assurances that when referring to July he meant that information, including access to the so called 'Metropolitan Police Interim Report' and information as to whether the former Chief Minister and current States Chief Executive Officer received briefings on other States Members as a consequence of 'Operation Blast', will be provided to members before, or during the last States sitting prior to the summer recess; or will the Minister be seeking to delay the release of such information until the summer recess has begun, thus preventing the opportunity for Members to ask questions?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Economic Development­

“Will the Minister advise what action, if any, the Harbours Department has taken to address the long-standing anti-social behaviour problems suffered by residents at Albert Quay Apartments; specifically whether the promised speed bumps are yet in place; what, if any, impact the new speed cameras have had and, if no action has been taken when will these matters be progressed?”

Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following written question of the Minister for Education, Sport & Culture

“Is the Minister able to identify any alternative efficiency savings, other than cutting the three life guards at Havre des Pas swimming pool, which would have less front-line impact on services, and, if so, what might these be?”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Geoff's Written Questions for 6th July

1.To Chief Minister:
Will the Chief Minister state what formal consultation, if any, has taken place with representatives of States employees over the potential job losses contained in the proposals put forward by ministers in the Comprehensive Spending Review, and if none will he state when he expects consultation to start?

Will the Chief Minister indicate the timescale over which he envisages any redundancies will take place and the extent to which these will be covered by Voluntary Redundancy or Voluntary Early Retirement schemes already in place or will need compulsory redundancies?

Will he further detail for members any proposals he has for changes to the Voluntary Redundancy scheme to be applied from 2011, and state when he expects to consult with employee representatives over any changes, or whether he intends to impose it unilaterally as he did with the pay freeze?

What estimates does he have for the cost in redundancy or other payments of the 67.6 job losses already proposed?

2.To Treasury & Resources Minister:
Will the minister inform members why in his FSR consultation documents on personal and business taxation he has proposed a figure £30m for additional personal tax but has set no such figure for any additional contribution from the business sector to fund essential public services?

Can he further explain why over the period 2004 to 2008 Income tax receipts from salary and wage earners has increased by 66% (from £136m to £225m) whist Company tax has only risen by 23% over the same period (from £189m to £233m)?

Will the minister also give members his estimates of what the overall tax take (including GST, the 0/10 regime and income tax) between these two revenue generating sectors will be for the current tax year?

3.To Economic Development Minister
The minister promised last month to initiate a wide-ranging public consultation over the potential impact of the introduction of further competition into the postal market on the finances of Jersey Post and the maintenance of the USO; where is it and when can we expect the public and other stakeholders to be consulted?

Does the minister accept that proper regulation and not competition may be the way forward in the delivery of efficient postal services for all postal users?

4.To Treasury & Resources Minister:
Does the minister consider his description of GST as “mildly regressive” as a fair and balanced statement to use in his consultation on personal taxation when his own figures show that it has more than twice the impact on the income of the lowest earners than it does on the highest?

Will he also explain to members why in the consultation on personal tax, almost half of the questions concern business but he describes the Business tax review as a “technical exercise” aimed solely at business and taxation experts? Why has he not consulted the public on what they believe to be the correct balance to be struck between Business and Personal taxation?

Will the minister state why he has chosen to cap social security contributions at £115,000? Is it simply to be competitive with Guernsey’s £117,468? What would the effect be of removing the ceiling altogether

5.To Health Minister:
Will the minister inform members of the decision-making process relating to her CSR proposals, to include the timeline of meetings at which these decisions were made and who was making these decisions?

Where services are to be reduced will the department produce any risk or cost/benefit analysis carried out on the change?

Will the department state which, if any, any services are to be outsourced along with the estimated costs of such moves?

Where there are to be job losses, will the department give details of the terms and conditions being offered to staff under any VR or VER scheme which is in place, and state what timescale is envisioned for any such processes given that these proposals will not receive sanction from the States until September?

Will the department also give details of what consultation, if any, with employee representatives has taken place or will take place?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(Accidentally posted to wrong blog originally)
Trevor’s two oral questions for this weeks States sitting are published below. They are both set to Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand and relate to issues Trevor has raised before with regard to the long-standing saga of the suspension of the States of Jersey Police Chief Officer, Graham Power.

According to Trevor the eventual answer – even if he doesn’t get it on Tuesday – to the question on Operation Blast will prove “very interesting and raise a whole lot more questions in it self”.

On a completely different subject, in response to questions a number of people have been asking this past week or so, Trevor also says that, constituent work permitting, he hopes to get his thoughts on the recent by-election and all that has transpired since up on the blog immediately this week’s States sitting is out of the way. This should probably mean by Thursday night.

Question One – To the Home Affairs Minister:

“Given that on 8th June 2010 when asked whether he would make available to Members the ‘Metropolitan Police Interim Report’ the Minister stated that he would have to take legal advice before coming to a decision, will he now advise whether he has taken such advice, who specifically the advice was sought from, whether he will be making the report available and, if so, at what date?”

Question Two – To the Home Affairs Minister:

“Will the Minister advise the Assembly whether (in the course of the investigation into ‘Operation Blast’) both the former Chief Minister and the current Chief Executive to the Council of Ministers received reports into the background of States Members, including any allegations or record of criminal activity; and, if so, under what authority?”
Posted by JDA Council at 8:13 PM
Labels: Jersey politics

Anonymous said...

I wish Trevor would get away from these repetitive Graham Power suspension questions. Can't he just leave it until Home Affairs have got their final reports out into the public? It is getting tedious.
June 22, 2010 1:48 PM
Anonymous said...

Well done for being persistent on this issue Trevor. I understand what you are getting at - you just want some answers and everything out in the open. Couldn't agree more.
June 23, 2010 5:06 AM

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"No Damage Done"???????

DEPUTY Geoff Southern shows his customary resilience in the face of adversity, with his insouciant declaration that there was no damage done by the result of his latest Senatorial campaign.

On the other hand though, the statement held no trace of his other customary qualities of being good at grasping facts and interpreting figures.

All that he says beneath the headline is indeed true. Geoff's error is that it is not all that there is to be said. Moreover, the unsaid items are big ones.

As he belatedly admits, many voters saw there was no advantage in voting for him, as he was already in the States anyway. That much was always obvious, so the assumption that those many voters would not notice that catch was rash, to say the least. The key agendum of any election is to elect the candidate enjoying the widest confidence; economics and policing are subordinate issues. To have re-elected the sitting candidate would simply have moved the actual choice of the new member to a secondary by-election, in which most of us would not have got a vote. Thus, success would have been an own goal against democracy. Although the goal was easily saved by the electorate, the attempt to score it was a lower standard of competence than the JDA usually aspire to. And it damages the party to be seen as incompetent and anti-democratic.

Geoff's intention to show the JDA are a “serious political force” would have been fine, had we done so. However, asking the voters to endorse us as such is, like any big question, double-edged. The derisory thousand votes we managed to scrape answers us alright, but that answer is “Oh no you're not, hahaha!” Geoff sought enhanced authority, but instead it has been immensely diminished. And, as he ran as our candidate, the party has lost its credibility with him, and the JDA's other public representatives lose what added kudos they gained from being in the team. Now, that is damage in a very big way, for all of us in the party.

The by-election campaign was a still deeper misjudgement, though. Despite Stuart Syvret's 2007 declaration of intent to destroy the JDA, he and we aim a broadly similar policy raft at the same voters. In 2005, we assumed that anyone who voted for us would vote for him, too, and ever since, we have known that we shared the same base. Voting for him and us did neither any harm, but this time it was him or us. Stuart's relationship with his voters goes back a decade before the JDA was even formed, and they resented being asked to choose. True he has alienated some of them with his recent behaviour, myself included, but three and a half thousand still thought what he has got right made the rest worthwhile. Having been made to choose against us, that large body of voters will now be considering themselves JDA opponents, and it will be an uphill struggle to tempt them back. Worse, the personal acrimony towards a man so many are fond of has antagonised them against us, especially from people perceived to be his friends. For myself, as Syvret has pointedly snubbed me each time we have met, whether you put that down to plain rudeness or shrewd judgement, I have no friendship to betray, but some of my party colleagues have been closer to him, in the past, so public responses to private breaches look more disloyal than they are from the outside. So, we have thousands of our core voters at least resenting us, and in many cases seeing us as traitors. That may not be how it was, but it it is how it has been seen. And that, too, is grave damage to the JDA.

Not only has the campaign split the wider progressive cause in Jersey, but its failure has posed a risk of splitting the party. Many outsiders are urging us to dump founding members Geoff and Ted, while many others want to see the other founding members, Trevor and Shona, wash their hands of us, despite the establishment of the JDA having been their big project of the last five years. Yet, cleansing reputations by sackings and walkouts raises further problems in going on. Were anybody to bring a successful motion that Geoff be expelled for bringing the party into disrepute, we would all wonder who would be next, and lose trust in our own party. Besides, as the candidature was a Council decision, they would have to fire the lot of us en bloc, and there are not enough other potential party leaders in the membership to fill the gap we would leave. Even after quitting, the Pitmans would still be tagged ex-JDA for the next ten years, so they would salvage little public repute for the price of abandoning the party that has been more their baby than anyone else's since 2006. This kind of destabilisation is damage, too.

I am not sure that I liked seeing Unite's logo alongside our own on our adverts, either. Having been a TGWU member in the late 1970's, when Mostyn Evans was sacrificing his subs-paying members' interests to his political aims, I am not keen on trade unions getting political. I am still less keen on the prospect that the JDA could become, either in fact or in popular imagination, a paid front for Unite, or any other union. If the relationship is clearly and openly that they are backing us, that is fine, but if we are fronting them, and becoming the Jersey Labour Party by stealth, then I want no more part of it. Cosying up to the unions could be damaging, unless the JLP is really an objective.

After this, the JDA plainly cannot field any Senatorial candidates, and possibly not even any Deputies in 2011, and maybe not even in 2014 either. The party can endure as a means of organising teamwork between centre-left politicians and between their supporters, but it will now be several years of re-establishing its reputation before it can return to a party's real business. That is terrible damage.

So, Geoffrey, there is great damage done, actually. Jersey needs to develop party politics, and we want a centre-left one in the range. So, the JDA needs to go on, but it would be ridiculous to pretend that this has been anything other than a massive setback that has undone four years' progress. Politics is a numbers game like snakes and ladders, as well as in the sense you meant, and we are back at about square 3 now.

I second Geoff's closing remarks, though:
Keep the faith. The fight goes on.

David Rotherham

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The JDA still have 4 members in the States committed to the cause of progressive change. Committed to standing on a manifesto which insists on protecting public services and the introduction of fairer more progressive taxation, government reform and sustainable population limits.

Many will present the result of the election as a defeat for the JDA. The reality is that I am a sitting deputy who is delivering effective opposition to the Council of Ministers and therefore lots of voters thought that there was no advantage in voting for me. Many people, on leaving the polling stations, said that they agreed with my policy but I was already in there.

The fact is that all other candidates were trying to align themselves behind the critical vision of the current Council of Ministers that the JDA, with me in the forefront, has proposed. The agenda of this election was not that of Stuart Syvret’s vision of corruption, but one in which we have to tackle the economic realities of the recession. I hope that the successful candidate, Francis Le Gresley, will help to deliver what he has promised. This includes reform of Income Support, moves towards progressive taxation, which has long been advocated by the JDA. I look forward to his support on the many issues which I have led in the States, and will continue to bring to our assembly.

I said on the hustings that I would deliver. I expect Francis to honour his promises in the same way. States members have to have a strong backbone. I will expect strong support from Francis on the social and economic policies that I will continue to present to the States.

Well done Francis. To the victor the spoils.

I thank all JDA members and fellow travellers for their efforts in this campaign. Keep the faith. The fight goes on.

Geoff Southern

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Geoff's Written Questions 15th June 2010

1. to Education Sport & Culture minister
Can the minister confirm that under the savings proposal ESC-4 "re-defining core business for schools" he plans to axe the employment of Modern Language assistants in secondary schools, and state how many posts this will involve and what other measures are included under this "re-definition"?
Will he also state what proportion of the £298,000 saving this measure accounts for?
Will he further assure the assembly that such a cut will not reduce the standards achieved in foreign language examination grades achieved by our students especially in spoken French standards which is a proud and unique part of our Jersey heritage? Can he state what impact this will have on his much-heralded initiative at Hautlieu School to introduce the International Baccalaureate (IB) which requires high standards in a second language study beyond the age of 16?
Will the minister also state whether the posts have been advertised and candidates have applied, but that shortlisting  and the interview process has been suspended? Will he then state when appointments have been made in previous years in order to allow appointees to take up their places for the start of the new academic year in September?
Finally, will he state whether any decision of the States on this matter in September has been pre-empted by his departments actions?
2. To Treasury &Resources minister
Will the minister inform members on a department by department basis what grades of staff were involved in the drawing up of the CoM summary of the savings proposals and assure members that it was not solely the efforts of CEOs and senior finance and other administrative directors?
3. To Health Minister
Will the minister inform members of the extent to which access to chemotherapy for cancer patients is being rationed in Jersey and in particular to the drug "Avastin" which is currently being trialled?
4. To Planning & Environment minister
Given the minister's long term goals on improving energy efficiency in the island what justification does he have for the 5%  (£54,000) reduction in energy efficiency grants in proposal PE-S4 of the CSR?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Geoff Answers Ben Queree

Deputy Geoff Southern's letter to the JEP, responding to Ben Queree:-

The careful reader of Ben Queree's column (8th June) would draw the clear implication that my motives in bringing a motion of no confidence in the Chief Minister were solely based on opportunistic electioneering. Such an accusation would be fair (but mistaken) if coming from from a rival candidate, but totally inappropriate when expressed in the island's only newspaper about one of nine candidates in a by-election. I am grateful therefore to the Editor for granting me this right to reply.

Ben Queree appears to have a limited grasp of the realities of political life. To oppose and defeat a major piece of the Council of Ministers' policy, no matter how ill-thought out and badly constructed, requires enormous efforts. The argument and debate will go on to September, and will pre-empt the budget decisions in December. It is not just a case of turning up and giving a speech on the day. The weaknesses and flaws need to be aired early and often in order to allow them to be firmly established.

The fact is there is no political coherence to the Comprehensive Spending Review. In the absence of a strategic agreement amongst ministers, and with no consultation with front line workers, it has been left to chief officers and senior mangers to produce the 2% savings. The States still has no evidence of what the full cuts (10% or £50m savings) will look like. Neither do we have any idea of what alternative tax changes might be acceptable to mitigate the cuts. We are making decisions in the dark.

An early and full debate on the overall strategic vision of the Council of Ministers in the serious context of a no-confidence debate is, I believe, legitimate. What has happened so often in the past is that some individual parts of the package will get picked off by members and defeated but the main body of measures will get bulldozed through. Scrutiny will do its best, but in the rushed timescale required, but it cannot amass the required evidence of the harm that these savage cuts will do to the workforce and to the most vulnerable in society. Scrutiny is in any case often ignored.

I have brought over 80 propositions, including votes of no confidence, to the States in my time and I know that timing is critical. The CSR debate needs to be had now, before it is firmly established as the only option. A no confidence debate, whatever the outcome, will set the context for the long campaign to come on this, the most serious issue which has come to the States in recent times. It will affect the quality of life of all residents for years to come. I maintain that my actions are appropriate, timely and based on a long-held promise to protect public services.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Debbie's Questions for 8th June

Debbie de Sousa will be asking these questions:
Question for the Education Minister

Will the minister inform members if he is aware of the discrepency with the allocation of free nursery places due to a childs date of birth. If not will he take steps to address this.

Question for the Minister for Social Securty

What steps if any is the minister willing to take to insure that within the CSR that those most vulnerable will not be affected by cuts.As many of those put forward target these groups ie GST Bonus and the Reduction in adeptations by 50% and the removal of the Christmas bonus to certain groups. These are but a few

Saturday, May 29, 2010

You Asked - Geoff Answers

Many of you have wondered what has been going on, with Geoff Southern's somewhat unexpected decision to stand against Stuart Syvret. And it is very much a question of standing against Syvret, as well as the heavyweight challenge of Francis le Gresley, not seeking a futile upgrade in Geoff's job title. We have seen some lively comments on the Council's blog, not all supportive, but many asking for explanation. Geoff has been too busy with organising a campaign in a hurry to prepare a soundbite-packed Press Statement, but we can now quote at length from an email in which he explains his position to a leading activist from outside the party.

Geoff admits “I have struggled with this decision over the last few weeks. I originally said that I would not stand against Stuart if he stood, as we share some common principles.I assure you this has not been an easy decision to make.”
“However,” he goes on to explain, “ many people have approached me to indicate that they had lost faith in Stuart and asking whether JDA would stand a candidate. Many said that they were unable to bring themselves to vote for Stuart and might not vote at all. I have tried to find ways to get another credible candidate but have been unable to do so.” Geoff correctly anticipated the tenor of the comments on our blog and others with his prediction that “Stuart has a core vote that will stick. I will not take those votes, I believe. Those who cannot bring themselves to vote for Stuart would in my absence vote Le Gresley if at all. Those are votes I can pick up, based on my record.”
Despite the protests of Syvret's die-hard followers, their man has been less of a leader in the States than they like to think. Geoff reviews his recent performance, as seen by fellow progressives: “I too have been disillusioned and disappointed by Stuart's behaviour. I feel his action in leaving the island has contributed very little to the debate over child abuse and cover-ups, let alone corruption. Many of us have attempted to carry on the fight here on the island including Bob, Trevor and Monty. Stuart's absence from the fight was I believe largely counter-productive... In the meantime I have helped investigate and publish positive moves to prevent abuse in our Protecting Vulnerable Children report.
 “I'm sorry but I have been [working flat out] establishing a party for the last 5 years in the face of incredible opposition. Stuart has maintained his position as outside any party throughout. Whilst we have been fighting public sector cuts, lifting the minimum wage, fighting the wage freeze etc, Stuart has largely sat on the sidelines. I have been trying to form a broader team with other progressives (success over Town Park and redundancy payments). Where was Stuart? Off island.”
Stuart Syvret is clearly so well-loved by his loyalists that we would simply not be believed, were we to leak the whole story of his bombastic threats against us. However, Geoff cites the tip of the iceberg. “Apart from his bullying tactics in stating that all not on his side are his enemies, the final straw for me came with his statement that the only way forward was the forming of an undefined party, his party, to bring about change. This is a line we have often heard from Stuart but he has never followed through. He was invited to join (and indeed lead) the JDA by both Ted and later by me . He refused.”
Geoff draws clear conclusions from all this, as these final quotes show:
“The fact is that after 5 years of struggle I believe that the JDA is the spearhead of a progressive movement which is increasingly respected. Stuart sits outside it and is trying to bully others out of the way. Stuart's way is "my way or no way" it seems. His politics remains personal and not collective. For the JDA to not stand a credible candidate in this election and give the centre-left a way forward  would be a failure of its duty. Whilst we have been striving to create cohesion, Stuart has  chosen to remain apart ... If the JDA were to duck this challenge, many would conclude that we are not a serious political force. Success in this election does not leave us static, but establishes us with an island-wide mandate and the chance to increase our numbers in the following Deputy by-election in St Helier 2. 
“This is not a zero growth policy. It could be a gain. Neither is it due to my personal ambition. I would love to stand aside, but I believe that would damage the party. Like it or not JDA must stand, and equally like it or not, I happen to be the best available candidate. All I ask is a fair contest. Politics is a numbers game, but to predict worst outcomes is defeatist. It has held us back for years. I will not join in. I think the JDA has won the right to carry the banner of the progressives. We will not go away.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

NEW! Ted Vibert's Election Blog

We are proud to announce the return of the now-recovered Ted Vibert to the team. He is worth a separate blog page of his own, so we have given it to him at - link on left. His first post tells a few home truths about the Syvret situation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


For next week’s States sitting Trevor has the following two oral questions lodged. The first was intended to be in two parts and was to be asked of the Privileges & Procedures Committee, but due to a difference of opinion regarding to Standing Orders this was re-directed to the Chairman of the Comité des Connétables and the second and main part omitted in error. Trevor explained:

“Being made aware that there have been moves afoot by some in the States to decrease the times the polling stations are open at elections I wanted clarification that no moves would be made to do this prior to the forthcoming by-election - possibly under the smokescreen of ‘efficiency savings’. Such a move would in reality even further erode the number of busy, working people able to cast their vote – which in my view is, of course, exactly what some in the States want because it is ordinary working people who tend to vote for the JDA and other Progressives. I believe that any such moves need to be opposed as strongly as possible. After all, this appears to all be part of a growing trend as we have already witnessed with the undermining of the postal voting process in Jersey that is a fundamental aspect of all modern, functioning democracies the world over.”

Trevor tells us that he will still seek to raise this second issue as a supplementary. The approved wording of the question at present
to the Chairman of the Comité des Connétables is as follows:

“Will the Chairman advise the Assembly of the likely cost of organizing and running the forthcoming Senatorial by-election?”

The second oral question Trevor has lodged is in support of his written question relating to the so-called ‘Metropolitan Police Interim Report’. For an explanation as to the background of this we suggest readers should see the posing on written question below.

Oral question to the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Given that the Minister has consistently advised the Assembly that he has not personally seen the ‘Metropolitan Police Interim Report’ relating to the process leading to the suspension of the Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police, will he advise whether he has now been able to obtain a copy and confirm that the report does exist as a physical document?”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Trevor has the following three written questions lodged for next week’s States sitting. Two of the questions are set to the Minister for Home Affairs. With the highly unsatisfactory process underlying the suspension of the Chief Police Officer showing little sign of satisfactory – specifically transparent conclusion - the first question focuses on the long-standing saga of the crucial ‘document’ repeatedly described as the ‘Metropolitan Police Interim Report’.

Asked about his reasoning for putting the question Trevor says that he has lodged this in an attempt to finally draw out whether this ‘document’ actually exists in a physical, paper format of significant content. Or whether the ‘document’ is, in fact, just an electronic e-mail to which the title ‘Metropolitan Police Interim Report’ has become attached. With some speculating as to whether this much-referred ‘document’ actually exists at all, one way or another, the answer should be highly illuminating,

The second question to Senator Le Marquand follows on from questions Trevor asked the Minister during the sitting of 11th May. Given that the Senator was unable to confirm whether or not some survivors from the Historic Abuse Inquiry had been shown articles of evidence relating to allegations - long before any investigations or trials would have taken place - Trevor says that this question is just an ‘official’ follow-up to get what certainly appears to be a highly unusual move on behalf of the police clarified. Any subsequent questions would obviously be shaped by the nature of the answer.

Trevor’s third question is another follow-up, this time to his questions that revealed the shocking reality of just what double standards have been allowed to exist with regard to taxation by this and the last Council of Ministers. As Trevor says, at a time with the ordinary working person - i.e. most of us reading this - are again being warned how we must face up to tightening our belts for the common good, the reality that not only are the majority of our wealthiest residents not paying the bench mark figure of tax that they should, but that a good number are actually paying less tax than many ‘middle earners’ simply cannot be acceptable. The question for Senator Ozouf if he is to be taken seriously as protector of the public purse is: are we all in this together or does there continue to be one rule for the wealthy and another for the rest of us?

Question One – To the Home Affairs Minister

“Given that the Minister has previously stated that he has never personally seen the 'Metropolitan Police Interim Report’ but only an electronic version of an e-mail apparently attached to this document; will he investigate and clarify whether this 'report' actually exists as a physical (paper) document or just in electronic format; whether it exists in the accepted 'report' format most professionals would be familiar with i.e. a detailed document of several pages; or whether this is in the form of just a simple e-mail of a small number of paragraphs; and whether, irrespective of the format the 'report' takes, the words 'Metropolitan Police Interim Report’ appear as a title?”

Question Two – To the Minister for Treasury & Resources

“Will the Minister advise whether he views the low degree of taxation (as outlined in response to my question on 23rd March 2010) amongst current 1(1)(k) residents - several of whom are paying between £5,000 and £10,000 tax; and a further ten paying less than £5,000 tax - in comparison with many lower and middle earners as acceptable within the present, highly challenging economic climate, and what measures, if any, he is currently examining to tackle this within the agreed Strategic Plan commitment to creating a fairer, more equal society in Jersey?”

Question Three – To the Home Affairs Minister

“Following my questions on 11th May 2010, when the Minister informed the Assembly that he did not know whether or not the former senior investigating officer of the Historic Abuse Inquiry had invited a number of the Haut de la Garenne survivors to the police station in November 2008, where they were shown evidence recovered from the cellars, will he advise whether this event can now be corroborated by the States of Jersey Police; why and for what purpose such an action took place; and advise whether showing evidence to individuals alleging abuse/assault would have, as a consequence, made all such evidence inadmissible in a Court of law?”

Monday, May 17, 2010

2Out Of 3 Ain't Bad. Or is it?

Senator Maclean answered a couple of Geoff's written questions as quoted below. Pedants may observe that three were asked, but two answered. Perhaps having Ministers who believe 2=3 explains a few things!

“Will the Minister inform members –
(a) whether Jersey Finance commissioned the report “Transfer mispricing and child mortality” by Richard Teather and, if so, why;
(b) how much did the report cost, and
(c) to what extent, if any, is Jersey involved in the practice of transfer pricing (or mispricing) of goods and services?”
Jersey Finance Limited is charged with the role of promoting Jersey's financial services industry in a positive and accurate light. This includes, but is not limited to, addressing potentially inaccurate and unsubstantiated opinion that could, if unchallenged, have a significant negative impact on the Island's finance industry that employs 14,000 workers and, as a consequence of its collective tax contribution, funds the majority of the cost of the Island's public services.
Recent reports published by Christian Aid directly linked child mortality in the third world to transfer pricing and in doing so dressed up opinion as fact. It is self evident that the Jersey finance industry has been attacked both directly and implicitly in these campaigns and reports and that they will, in all probability, have a corrosive effect if left unchallenged. It is the role of Jersey Finance to promote and defend the reputation of Jersey’s Finance industry and given the unfounded allegations and misleading information which have been widely disseminated as a result of these reports, it is entirely legitimate and indeed important and necessary that the body charged with promoting the Island's key sector makes informed comment on these matters.
JFL management sought approval for the report through their board approval process. The cost of the report is c.£6,000. The report's author, Richard Teather, is one of the very few Professors in the UK who teaches a pure tax degree, is an Oxford graduate, is both qualified in law and accountancy, and associated with eminent think tanks such as the Institute for Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute, and is widely respected as a tax expert on both domestic and international tax matters.
Professor Teather's report clearly and accurately answers the question regarding the role of transfer pricing in international finance.
I believe that Jersey Finance Limited has acted to ensure the reputation of our finance industry is accurately reported.

Geoff's Written Questions to Chief Minister 11 May 2010

Will the minister inform members of the terms of the Voluntary Redundancy (VR) package currently in place for public sector workers?

Will he further agree to release the terms of reference for the review of terms and conditions to be conducted as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review when they are finalised along with the person appointed to conduct the review?

Will he assure members that any changes to terms and conditions, including VR will be subject to full negotiations with employee representatives and not imposed on public sector workers as the pay freeze was?

Will he also explain to members why he considers that “it would not be appropriate” to bring any changes to terms and conditions to the States for ratification?

Does he not consider that the SEB acts on behalf of the States in employment matters and that it is accountable to the States through the chief minister for its actions?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Trevor’s two oral questions for next week’s States sitting are published below. Already clearly an issue of some public interest given the comments his written question regarding the subject of ‘part-time’ politicians has attracted, Trevor tells us that he felt following up with an oral was: “the best way to get this problem the serious attention that it merits”.

He explained that in his view – a view he says is supported by a number of backbenchers who regularly witness certain States Members disappearing, not just from the Chamber, but from the States building itself during sittings – politicians who behave in such a way should face some kind of sanction and the matter be brought to the attention of the public who effectively pay their wages.
“If we had ‘live streaming’ on TV this simply wouldn’t happen because members of the public would very quickly note that instead of Senator X all they were seeing for hours was a distinctly empty seat.”

Trevor added that whilst he fully expects some Members to try and dismiss the matter as unimportant it is something that PPC really need to take some action on quickly. “Personally, I actually believe that it is high-time we moved to bring in legislation meaning that anyone considering standing for election knows that he or she has a stark choice. They either commit to serving the public on a full-time, professional basis, dropping all other employment, careers for the duration of their time in office – I make it clear that I am not targeting the holding of directorships or shares that some Members have here – or understand that they will be prevented from standing at all. Being a States Member simply cannot be a part-time job if you are serious about serving the people who elected you. To pretend otherwise is an insult to those people.”


Given that the issue of ‘part-time’ MPs with second jobs was highlighted in the recent United Kingdom elections, will the Chairman advise the Assembly which reforms, if any, the Privileges and Procedures Committee has considered or will be considering relating to States Members with second jobs and who withdraw from the Chamber after roll call and leave the States building for long periods of time during States sittings.”

The second oral question Trevor has lodged for next week is another follow-up, this time in relation to answers given by the Home Affairs Minister in April regarding the state of prosecutions within the Historic Abuse Inquiry. Trevor says that in his view this subject will continue to be raised by Members again and again until politicians get a full independent inquiry the matter demands. “There continues to be more questions than answers” Trevor states. However, rather than writing any comment at length for the site at this point Trevor says that he will be writing something on this issue at length once he has heard what the Minister has to say next Tuesday


“Would the Minister advise the Assembly how many of the 30 alleged abuse cases relating to the cellars at Haut de la Garenne are still part of the ongoing historic abuse investigations; how many, if any, are not being pursued, when it was decided to discontinue their investigation and for what reason?”

Monday, May 3, 2010


Trevor has the following written questions lodged for the 11th May States sitting. Unusually for him he has only three lodged this time around rather than the normal full quota of five. Trevor tells us that this is the direct result of the current exceptionally busy period of constituent work he has on. :

“Unfortunately, with the lodging deadline times having been brought forward due to the holiday weekend, whilst right in the middle of finalising these I was contacted regarding some very urgent constituent issues. As a result I was unable to get my final two questions accepted before the 9.30am deadline - the Greffier’s office being understandably very strict about anything being even a minute late!”

Once again the three questions form a mixture of wider political issues and Trevor’s constituent work, the first question being a follow-up to his question to the Planning & Environment Minister on 20th April. This is in reference to the unsafe ‘listed’ building in La Motte Street in St. Helier No. 1 District, where obtrusive scaffolding and makeshift wooden screening are having a damaging impact on nearby businesses.

The second question Trevor tells us he feels very strongly about. Put to the Chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee this asks about the issue of some States Members regularly leaving the Chamber having registered their ‘presence’ at Roll Call to disappear to their day jobs.

‘This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. And what I, and a number of other backbenchers, find particularly galling is that one of the worst offenders is regularly to be heard droning on to the media about ‘States efficiency’ and how much Members cost the public.” Given his strong feelings on the matter Trevor tells us that he will be writing a post specifically about this issue in the very near future.

The third question is another to the Planning & Environment Minister, Senator Freddie Cohen. With the upcoming debate on the Town Park this asks the question on most people’s lips. Will the Council of Ministers, for once, support the wishes of the public and proceed with the development of the Town Park this year? Or attempt to reduce the much-needed ‘green lung’ in the middle of St. Helier to the size of a postage stamp by building expensive town houses all around its parameter under the guise of needing to ‘frame it’? We can only hope that for once commonsense and respect for the wishes of the public sway the day!

*Note. We will have the oral questions for 11th May from Trevor, Shona, Debbie and Geoff up on the website late on Thursday once they have been officially approved.


“Further to my written question of 20th April 2010, in relation to scaffolding at a building in La Motte Street, when the Minister stated that one of the problems delaying the removal of the scaffolding was the death of the owner, would the Minister state if he has information regarding the ownership of the building and, if so, disclose this to members?

Would the Minister further advise whether the detrimental effect of the scaffolding to other businesses in the vicinity has featured in his department's discussions with the owners of the property and outline what pressures, if any, can be applied to bring ensure that the scaffolding is removed as swiftly as possible?”


“Given growing public concern about various aspects of States efficiency -will the Chairman advise what measures, if any, the Committee has at its disposal to monitor and ensure that those members also having second jobs/careers give adequate commitment to carrying out their public duties? Further still, what sanctions, if any, can be put in place to prevent members simply leaving the Assembly after roll call to go to their second place of work?”


“Will the Minister confirm whether he intends to allow work to begin on the Talman area of the Town Park, but to oppose the development of a park on the rest of the designated area, if it is to be without buildings, and, if so, does he not consider that this would be contrary to the public’s expectations for the site?”

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Debbie's Questions for 11th May

Deputy Debbie de Sousa has tabled the following written questions:-


“Would the Minister provide the Assembly with details of the instances where issues have arisen between the Housing Department and housing trusts, as mentioned in his response to my oral question of 23rd of February 2010, in relation the elimination of price wars over land acquisition with housing trusts?”

“In light of the Minister’s commitment in the Strategic Plan to Social Rented Housing, what measures, if any, has he taken in the last 4 years to regulate housing trusts?”


“Can the Minister, as representative of the shareholder state whether he is satisfied that the redundancies at the Jersey New Waterworks Company were justified when the company has announced a profit margin to the value of £4,085,000?”


“Will the Chairman inform the Assembly what steps, if any, the Privileges and Procedures Committee have taken toward a single date for the 2011 elections and would she also advise whether the Committee is continuing to look at bringing proposals forward to reform the constitution of the States Assembly and, if not, why not and will the Committee consider these issues?”

Friday, April 30, 2010

Geoff's Written Questions to Ministers May 11 2010

1. To ED minister

Following his promise at the last session, will the minister inform members what request he has made to JCRA over the consultation timescale concerning the granting of class 1 postal licences to two competitors to Jersey Post and inform members what the new timescale for the process now is?

Will he state what meetings he has had with stakeholders to address the concerns expressed by Jersey Post and the CWU and inform members and if not why not?

What steps has he taken to ensure that the consequences of the introduction of new competitors in this sector will have on the maintenance of postal Universal Service Obligations are made clear to the Jersey public, and if none, when will he do so?

2. To T & R Min

Will the minister inform members of the terms of the new Voluntary Redundancy (VR) package to be applied to public sector workers and state how it differs from the previous scheme and how it compares with the new statutory redundancy terms soon to come into force in the island?

Will the minister state why public sector union representatives have not been consulted over the drafting of the VR terms and at what stage does he intend to consult them? Does he not accept that the absence so far of such consultation constitutes bad employee relations practice?

When he comes to investigate public sector terms and conditions as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review at what stage does he intend to consult with union representatives? Will he assure members that he will properly seek agreement with employee representatives before bringing any proposals to the States for ratification?

3. To ED min

Will the minister inform members:

a) why Jersey Finance commissioned the report “Transfer mispricing and child mortality” by Richard Teather;

b) how much the report cost, and

c) the extent to which Jersey is involved in the practice of transfer pricing (or mispricing) of goods and services?

4. Notwithstanding the response he gave to question 5289 on 20th April, when he stated that over 1,000 civil servants (over one sixth of the workforce) have access to “livelink”, will the minister advise members how many of these are senior management above grade 10?

Further can he state how many officers, and at what grades, are involved in the process of producing a single Ministerial Decision to appear on the government website?

Can he explain to members why there has been a massive reduction in the number of decisions published on the website compared with the old committee system of “acts” published along with the accompanying reasons or briefing papers? Does he not accept that “livelink” has reduced the information available to scrutiny and the public rather than, as it was designed to do, increase accessibility and accountability?

Does he not accept that with set up and hardware costs at over £2m and annual running costs of £131,000 (the cost of 3 committee clerks it replaced) “livelink” has been an expensive and inefficient failure?

5. T & R min

Can the minister explain to members when he felt able to confirm on the 20th April that he had comprehensive information on the first stage of the CSR as follows:

“I have now received proposals from all ministers detailing how they would save 2% of their gross budgets along with user pays initiatives, growth bids and invest to save schemes.”

Why he was unable to release this data to union reps and to scrutiny on 23rd April?

Will he now detail for members his new schedule for releasing this information to all stakeholders and ensuring that all proposals get the most thorough debate and scrutiny before coming to the States in the Business Plan 2011?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Report and pictures on the website.


The JDA believes that Jersey’s public services are a vital bedrock in sustaining the local economy and the community both in good times and now, during the worst economic recession in living memory. They ensure essential investment in infrastructure and support for business, and can mitigate the worst social and economic consequences of the downturn. As public services come under increasing pressure to cut costs and jobs, we believe that the Treasury Miniter’s view that spending cuts are the only option needs to be robustly challenged. For Jersey to emerge successfully from the current recession in a strong position for the future, we need to strengthen and sustain our public services.
We believe that that before we can decide on any measures, the public and the States must be in a position to fully understand the first year (2%) cuts in the context of :

a) the full (10%) cuts to be applied over 3 years, and
b) the possible tax changes that that might mitigate the cuts

Deputy Southern has called for such an open debate. The Treasury minister has refused to take part.

Public sector workers know that 10% cuts cannot be forced through without major disruption to services to the vulnerable and large-scale redundancies. This in turn will make the recession worse and further delay any recovery.

The Council of Ministers of ministers appears to be hell-bent on cutting services. Those services that are not scrapped will be subject to outsourcing or outright privatisation. This will result in lower standards of delivery and reductions in terms and conditions for workers as it has in the UK and elsewhere.

The first cut has already taken place: the arbitrary, unilateral and perverse decision to impose a pay freeze, and thereby an effective cut in public sector pay, removing at a stroke some £7m from circulation in an already depressed economy.

The teachers may have led the way in opposing the reactionary and oppressive tactics of the ministers, but this is just the start of a long campaign. We call on all workers, private and public, to oppose these drastic cuts.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

March and Rally, April 24th

There will be a March and Rally in St Helier on 24th April 2010, led by Jersey's teachers, and supported by other public sector workers and their families, to protest at the abrogation of normal pay negotiation by the Council of Ministers and the States of Jersey Employment Board.

The March will begin at Howard Davis Park, gathering at 11am for a 12 noon start, and proceed to a Rally at The Opera House, with a possible secondary Rally in Parade Gardens, should the crowd exceed The Opera House's capacity.

Below is an abridged version of the final confirmation document from the organisers' legal advisors to the organisers and authorities, to clarify arrangements.


Stewards will be present at the entrances of Howard Davis Park to count the number of participants entering the park. Once the march starts, stewards will count the number of  participants  leaving the park

Announcements will be made in respect of the contingency plan in Howard Davis Park prior to the march starting. Participants are not to walk more than 4 persons abreast along the march route, particularly through the centre of town (Queen Street / King Street). Stewards will monitor this and direct people along the route as necessary. Announcements will also be made about safe dispersal from either the Opera House / Parade Gardens.

The march is to begin at approximately 12 noon. Local Radio Stations have been advised to warn road users and the public to stay clear of Howard Davis Park around this time.

Howard Davis Park MUST be vacated by 1.30pm at the latest.
The March

Honorary Police will be located along the march route closing roads / diverting traffic. An officer will be available to spearhead the march. …
Stewards will be located at key points along the march, directing participants to keep a smooth flow.  Stewards will be positioned at Snow Hill to carry out a further people count. Once approximately 650 people have passed, a steward will form a marker to alert the stewards at the junction of York Street / Seale street to direct any overflow toward Parade Gardens.

Stewards will be located along the march route with megaphones to direct participants and make sure there are no blockages, or disturbances. ...
Stewards will be at the spearhead of the march and at the rear of the march, and as discussed above, at key points along the march.

Contingency Plan

In the event of the contingency plan i.e. that more than approximately 650 participants are in attendance, provision is made to direct any overflow at the junction of York Street / Seale Street to Parade Gardens
Stewards / Legal Observers

The NASUWT / NUT are to provide approximately 20 stewards (hopefully more) comprising of locals and non-locals.

There will also be 4 legal advisors present from Viberts, with a contingency plan of more should there be larger numbers than expected.

A full briefing will be given to the stewards at 10am regarding health and safety, and the march route and contingency plan.

Vacating Opera House / Parade Gardens

Stewards and Honorary Police will be positioned at the Opera House / Parade Gardens to ensure a smooth dispersal of people and to ensure the public traffic and road users are not overly disrupted. Special provision will be made outside of The Opera House to ensure the participants / public are not forced onto the actual road. There will be a States Police attendance also.

Monday, April 19, 2010

When are you going to start working for us?

This was a genuine constituent's email! To which Shona replied in detail, worth quoting here for anyone else who has not noticed her four-and-a-half years of hard work.
Dear JDA

I am a resident of the Val Plaisant area an area which am informed has two JDA deputies. For a, and i use this term loosely, party, which is meant to represent its people i have yet to see any evidence. Im not talking about historic abuse of gst im talking about the everyday issues. For example the fact bins keep being removed, the fact you have to avoid dogs mess walking around the union rd val plaisant and st marks area. The fact that both the pavements and roads are in terrible condition the list goes on.

I am disgusted at the fact none of these long running issues have been resolved. I also believe that as elected members you should stop your Arthur Skargill impressions crawl out of the unions backside stop antagonising the senators who DO represent the people and put your parishoners first.

You attitudes would not be accepted anywhere else and as a voting tax payer i am bitterly dissapointed.

Thank you for your email. I have to firstly say that if a concerned resident does not contact one of us Deputies (there are 3), then how do we know that we should be acting on such problems - we simply can not spend our time walking around St Helier looking for dog poo on pavements and moving bins. So as you have now brought them to our attention, I would be happy to meet with you so you can show me.

Secondly, if you were to ask in your email what have we done or are doing in the District, then you would not have come to the conclusion and presumed that we do nothing.

Deputy Southern has brought more propositions and questions to the States than any other States Member in the last four years; he was Chair of the Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel for 3 years in the first 3 years of government scrutiny, which produced more reviews each year than any other Panel. He is now on 5 different reviews. He is also on the Town Park Working Group, and successfully won a proposition to maintain the £10 million to work on and construct the Town Park - I am surprised that you think this means nothing to you as a resident near the proposed park site. Deputy Southern is also well known for his work with constituents and the high number that he manages to sort out.

Deputy de Sousa is on the Housing, Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel and is also a member of 3 other sub-panels (Chairing a review into dental practise and cost). She also has the largest amount of constituent work of all the new States Members, and is on several Parish Committees, including the Battle of Flowers Committee, which she Chairs - she feels very strongly that this Jersey tradition should not cease - pretty impressive as a non-local and the only St Helier Deputy on the Committee.

As to me, well I invite you to spend a day with me so you can see how much I do. However, firstly I feel I have to brag a little to you: I am currently on the Economic Affairs Panel, and 2 other sub-panels. I have 33 live cases (most now in my district), which range from individual income support and incapacity benefit issues; to damp states housing and poor maintainance, inadequate housing and getting people moved, and poor insulation; and planning issues; child protection issues; fighting for people's housing qualis; anti-social behaviour; helping people with financial problems; parish utilities; maintenance of States sporting facilities. Since I have been in office, I have helped in my district people living in:

- Convent and caesarea courts- informing them of intentions of Housing's property plan.
- Convent and caesarea courts - a number of individuals
- Windsor road - provision of adequate bins
- Dorset street - a number of different individuals
- Oak tree gardens - provision of heating in houses
- Clos du Mon Sejour - got residents speed humps and helped them with issue with Bartletts potatoe packing factory
- Vauxhall Gardens - a number of individuals.
- Vauxhall Street - a number of indiduals.
- Hue Court - a number of individuals
- Val Plaisant - a number of individuals
- Springfield - a number of residents who live in and around the stadium
- Grands Vaux Estate - a number of residents
- Nicholson Close on Grands Vaux estate - the recent floods
- Victoria Road - a shop owner
- Journeaux Court - several residents
- Clearview Place - several residents insulation problems
- Clarendon Road - group of residents concerned at airtel mast
- Clarendon Road - a number of individuals
- Devonia Close (Devonshire Place - a number of individuals

and this is only what I can remember, and not to mention the people outside of my district. I have also brought propositions to the States: trying to get a direct public vote for the Chief Minister; exemptions on GST; ceasing the dual role of the Bailff; a vote of no confidence in a Bailiff (then Attorney General)who allowed a known paedophile to work as an honorary policeman and who subsequently, went on to abuse young women whilst in this role; GST exemptions; and tried to overturn the unnecessary pay-freeze on states workers, many of whom have had below inflation pay-rises for a number of years running up to the last pay-freeze without complaining.

Other tasks that I have not included that we undertake: attending all sorts of presentations; Parish Assemblies; preparation for States sittings; attendance on independant bodies and Parish bodies; and giving an ear to those who just want someone to talk to.

It is unwise to make presumptions when you know nothing about the subject you are complaining about!

As I said earlier, I would be quite happy to meet with you, to discuss and get the ball rolling on the issues you have raised. I am not free until about Thursday afternoon or Friday, as am in the States from tomorrow. Notwithstanding this, if you text me on: 07797 778561, I will answer it during lunch times.

Yours truly,

Deputy Shona Pitman

Sunday, April 18, 2010


“Funny how ‘investigative’ journalists and ‘political’ correspondents sometimes seem to be anything other than what most of us would see as remotely ‘investigative’ at all. Indeed, I was tempted to say the same with regard to being ‘political’.

But like so many members of the public who contact me from all over the island, becoming increasingly cynical, I too have to come to wonder that such apparently staggering diversions from what surely must be outlined in some professional’s job description is in fact all too ‘political’ in origin after all; perhaps entirely so.

Of course, another possibility that I suppose one has to consider is that such journalistic anomalies arise from nothing more than a spectacular shortage of good old ‘testicular fortitude’ faced with the dilemma of digging out and reporting something that might not sit at all well with many in positions of great power.

Whatever the reason next Tuesday could be very… interesting…”

Deputy Trevor Pitman

Oral Question to the Minister for Home Affairs ­

“Following analysis of the sworn affidavit of the suspended Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police will the Minister advise the Assembly whether he has fully investigated every possible allegation of a conspiracy existing to remove the Chief Officer from office, further still, is the Minister wholly satisfied that no such conspiracy to remove the Chief Officer or to try to discredit him to justify his removal existed?"

Oral Question to the Minister for Economic Development 

“Having worked in support of residents at Albert Quay for over ten months, and residents having been promised that a solution was imminent before last Christmas, would the Minister advise the Assembly when he will finally be in a position to put an end to this anti-social behaviour by installing the agreed security barrier to control late night access to the areas directly under residents’ apartment balconies and bedrooms?”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Speaking up for Public Services

Geoff Southern writes:-

A JEP editorial recently pointed to the irony of the States spending two days debating cycle helmets and only minutes on the so-called structural deficit of £64 m now facing us as “lacking a sense of proportion”. In the same edition of the paper the Business Editor, Peter Body, described our financial problems as needing, or about to get, “outright butchery”. As Jersey faces up to a public finance crisis of perhaps unprecedented proportions, public spending has become the key political battleground. Very little has been heard so far to counter the approach taken by the Treasury Minister which proposes deep cuts in public spending and thereby in public services. This paper seeks to open up the political and economic arguments that need to be debated at this time of economic turbulence, and to lay the grounds for rational decisions for solutions to the problems we face.

I start from the position, shared by many politicians and others, that Jersey’s public services are a vital bedrock in sustaining the local economy and the community both in good times and now, during what we are told is the worst economic recession in living memory. They ensure essential investment in infrastructure and support for business, and can mitigate the worst social and economic consequences of the downturn. But as public services come under increasing pressure to cut costs and jobs, I believe that the view that spending cuts are the only option needs to be robustly challenged. For Jersey to emerge successfully from the current recession in a strong position for the future, we need to strengthen and sustain our public services.

Cuts or Investment?

The recent Budget saw the welcome confirmation of Fiscal Stimulus spending amounting to some £44 m for 2009. Unfortunately only about a quarter of these funds have made it through the bureaucracy in 2009; the greater part of these funds have yet to be spent. We also saw the announcement of two major reviews over the coming months:
Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR)
Fiscal Strategy Review (FSR)

Underlying these major reviews however is a general principle held by the Treasury Minister that there should be, and will be, substantial cuts in public spending and services. This has seemingly taken place without a full discussion of the alternatives or the implications of cuts to public services.

The first cut has already taken place: the arbitrary, unilateral and perverse decision to impose a pay freeze, and thereby an effective cut in public sector pay, removing at a stroke some £7m from circulation in an already depressed economy. In both the short and long term this will come to be seen as a serious error. It will worsen recruitment and retention problems in essential sectors such as nursing and social work; it has further depressed employee morale and the trust in the ability of our ministers to protect hard pressed public sector employees; it will see the return of above inflation pay claims as the economy recovers.

Senator Ozouf boldly assumes that spending cuts are the answer. He is actively pursuing 10% reductions in public spending by 2013. This will entail “radical changes to service provision and some reduction in staffing levels”. What does this mean? The JEP business editor has tried to put this in real terms. It means massive job cuts in the public sector are likely. His pro-rata estimate of 600 jobs lost is close to my own estimate of 400. Examination of previous lay-offs at Jersey Post, JT and JNWW with the associated cost savings suggests that redundancies on this scale may come about.

Recovery delayed

The first thing to recognise is that, according to the Chief Minister’s own figures, this number of redundancies will immediately impose a further negative impact on States revenues of up to £14 million annually, in lost income tax and additional Income Support payments. One might add to this, redundancy payments of around £3 million and an unknown sum in indirect taxes, as spending is curtailed. Let us say a further £20 million added to the so-called structural deficit. The net effect of this sort of cut would inevitably be a worsening of the recession, perhaps producing a “double dip” as the recovery is further delayed. Unemployment has hit 1,300 including some 300 “actively seeking work” on Income Support. The bill for Income Support is already running at £76 million annually. Do we really want to further increase that with another 400 public sector workers thrown on the scrapheap? I believe it is the last thing we should do.

As the Minister so clearly puts it, there are only 2 options to address what he calls the structural deficit - either raising taxes or cutting public spending. He has set his face firmly against raising taxation on many occasions. By announcing his twin comprehensive reviews last year in the Budget debate, the Treasury Minister cleverly avoided any major debate on the correct way to deal with public spending and the recession. This has put off any real discussion until the Annual Business Plan (ABP) in September 2010. The quality of this debate is also likely to be less than adequate since whilst details of the 2011 CSR will be revealed in April and lodged in July for September debate of the Business Plan, the level of overall cuts stretching into 2013 will not be known. Neither will the results of the Financial Strategy Review be clearly known. States members will be asked to choose between spending cuts and taxes without seeing the full picture.
Impartial Review?

That the content of these reviews is in any way likely to be impartial, fair and comprehensive must also be questioned. Despite several assurances given to the States that the Fiscal Review Steering group would contain members who favoured progressive tax measures, the Minister has failed to keep his word. The ministers of Economic Development, Treasury and Social Security along with the Chief Minister and the two Assistant Treasury ministers cannot be said to represent a good cross-section of economic thinking even when joined by the Constable of St Peter. The review will undoubtedly follow the tired old low-tax, low-spend free market approach that has already let us down.

In a superficial exercise which has nothing to do with the economic realities but merely exposed States members’ political prejudices, members were recently asked to say what “balance” they would find acceptable to address the £50m deficit between cuts on the one hand and tax increases on the other. Unsurprisingly figures like 70/30 or 60/40 in favour of cuts predominated.

This article seeks to provide a different context, to question the urgency of calls to cut the public sector deficit, and to set out the case for the vital role played by the public sector during the current recession and beyond. Our premise is that sustaining public services is vital to economic recovery and the future prosperity of the island.

Recovery is the best way to tackle the public deficit in the long term, and that means planning for a budget deficit in the short term until the recovery is firmly under way. Cuts in public spending would only have an effect on future competitiveness and would impact on the most vulnerable and needy in society. As argued by David Blanchflower, respected economist and former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee:

'Lesson one in a deep recession is you don't cut public spending until you are into the boom phase.'

We know from history that, without effective government intervention, the cost of recession is borne hardest by those who lose their jobs and by the vulnerable and poor that depend most on public services. We also know the big mistake made in the late 1980s and early 1990s was to give priority to macro-economic policy to fight inflation over employment and welfare policies. The words of David Blanchflower must be taken seriously. We must be sure that we are well into recovery before we make spending cuts. The proposal from PAC to make cuts earlier is even more dangerous and must be firmly rejected.

Jersey is a wealthy jurisdiction. Average pay is among the highest in the world, while marginal personal tax rates for the highest earners are low for a country with fully developed public services. We have been for many years, and still are, a low-tax, low-spend jurisdiction. The time has surely come to abandon the concept that we can continue to apply the same low-tax business model to the Jersey economy. Tax increases for the better off will not be popular but will be necessary and preferable to slashing those services on which the poorest and most vulnerable rely.
The time has surely come to start to address the gap between the rich and poor. The commitment to do so was reluctantly accepted by the Council of Ministers in amendments to the Strategic Plan. This must involve due consideration of truly progressive tax and social security policies as part of the Fiscal Strategy Review. However given the make up of the review panel a fair and honest assessment of progressive policies looks extremely unlikely.

How did we get here?

Frank Walker was often prone to repeat his adage “We are where we are” to preclude debate on how we got here. Today we are told that the recessionary position we find ourselves in is the result of hidden and uncontrollable market forces – almost a force of nature. We are the innocent victims of the world economy. This is not so. The worldwide recession has been caused by over-reliance on a single industry, banking, and the worst hit have been the most dependent, and with the lightest regulation. Does that fit Jersey? I believe it does. We are certainly way ahead of our competitors in terms of our dependance on financial services according to the Foot Review of British offshore financial centres.

So we are the most dependent of the offshore centres on the finance industry. We are a monoculture. Are we equally the innocent victims of market forces or have we contributed to the position we find ourselves in today?

Who is to blame?

No one would deny that we have a serious problem with the state of the island’s economy. The recession has resulted in a halt to the recent economic growth we have experienced and as a consequence, we are faced, according to the Treasury minister, with a large “structural deficit”. Discussed below is the extent to which we can describe the deficit as “structural” or “cyclical” and examine a number of decisions made by our government to determine to what extent our ministers have added to the problem of the deficit.


Examination of the 2010 Business Plan figures (June 2009) show the dominant influence of two negative elements:

Mistake 1 The single largest contibutor to the defecits we face is the decision to adopt the “zero/ten” company tax policy. This was a conscious decision taken by the current Chief Minister and supported by the current Treasury minister to give up £80 to £100 million tax revenue from companies. A 10% rate for non-finance companies effectively allows foreign companies to trade in Jersey for free. The 10% rate for finance companies reduced their contibution by half. The aim was to compete with the Isle of Man and satisfy the EU Directive on Business Taxation. The policy was a failure. We threw away £100m in tax revenue only for the EU to reject the scheme. We have to think again.

Mistake 2 The introduction of the regressive GST on all goods and services (including essentials) effectively transferred half the tax burden from companies to ordinary residents, especially the least well off. Further tax revenues (£10m) were to come from “20 means 20” on middle earners; £5m or so from IT IS and the remainder (£20m) was to be found from growth in the economy. The ministers gambled on the continuance of the rampant growth in finance sector GVA (up by 20% over the years 2005 to 2008) and in profits (up by a massive 35% in those years). This proved to be an expensive gamble; it has also failed. Negative growth is now predicted at -4% in 2009 and -2% in 2010 following the world banking crisis.

Mistake 3 At the end of 2008 the States exhausted itself in a long and bitter debate over the replacement of the EFW plant. I do not wish to revive the debate over the pros and cons of this decision here. However, the Treasury minister immediately brought a new proposal before the exhausted Assembly to pay for the EFW plant all in one go, in a single payment of £110m, instead of over a period of years. This had the effect of emptying the Consolidated Fund at a stroke. In addition to the £150 m we have in the Stabilisation Fund to contribute to assisting with the effects of the recession, how much better it would be to also have the £110 m to help cushion the blow.

The Treasury Minister repeatedly refers to the deficit as structural and not cyclical. A structural deficit is more serious and requires drastic action according to him. The fact is that the “structural” change to our economy and tax generation was the choice to adopt zero/ten. The blame for this lies entirely in the court of Senators Ozouf and Le Sueur. The economic downturn losses above are absolutely and clearly cyclical. They result from the “automatic stabilisers” of reduced tax revenues and increased expenditure on benefits during the recession. This situation will improve as the economy recovers. It should not be used as an excuse to launch massive ideologically driven cuts to the public sector.

The cyclical nature of the economy is clearly illustrated by Figure 1.3 above. The downturn in the economy over the years 2001 to 2004 showed similar reductions in GVA to those predicted for this recession. There was no panic then to slash the public sector workforce and thereby make the downturn worse. There should not be now.

How big is the problem? - 1

There is no doubt we are in a mess over the economy. The questions which need to be answered are how big is the mess and how do we set about clearing it up? Indeed first we have to ask which mess are we talking about? Well, there is the mess made by the recession and the mess we were already in (the £90 m revenue deficit caused by the mistaken move to zero/ten) that the recession has simply brought to the surface. The first thing to do in attempting to deal with the issues is put the situation in context. We remain a wealthy juristiction as shown here (Jersey Economic Trends, 2009).

Not only that, but we are undoubtedly a low-tax low-spend economy (T & R minister may 19th 2009).

Not only do we have a much lower spend overall than the OECD average , we have a lower “social” spend as well. I include Luxembourg in the comparison for those who wish to argue that our lower spend is a merely a product of our high GNI. If further proof were needed we need only consider the comparison made by Peter Body in Business Brief of March 2010, entitled “Who’s better off” summarised here:

The Business Editor of the JEP, an experienced observer of local economic issues describes the initiatives of the Treasury Minister and the PAC to slash 10% from public spending over 3 years or 2 years, respectively, in the following terms:
“Now they (PAC) propose immediate butchery in public services… Personally I believe it is simply crazy to expect a large complex organisation like the States to be dramatically restructured over three years let alone two. The obvious danger is that services the public have said they want and value will be damaged irreparably. Now we have PAC, panicking even more (than the Treasury minister) …. Certainly if you look at government spending elsewhere as a proportion of GDP, Jersey’s figure is very much lower than just about anywhere else.”

Public services are major employers and purchasers of goods and services. UK studies suggest that for every £1 spent on public services a further 64p is generated in the local economy. They create jobs, provide decent pay and pensions and set a benchmark in terms of equal opportunities. The imposition of a public sector pay freeze in 2009 may appear to be a popular short-term expedient, but it has fostered a deep resentment amongst public sector employees which will have long-term negative implications. The public sector pay target has been below inflation for the last three years. Further attacks on terms and conditions would not only reduce spending power in a key part of the economy, but also lead to recruitment and retention problems already evident in the nursing and social service sectors.

Siren calls for a deflationary package of public spending cuts in order to 'balance the books' are just ‘knee-jerk’ reaction and show no real understanding of the impact on front-line public services or indeed the potential to plunge the island into a 'double dip' recession. There is strong evidence, as Peter Body points out, that suggests the public is against such a strategy in any event. Senator Ozouf has set his mind firmly against any tax rises, and uses misleading figures to frighten the public into accepting massive cuts in public services which will harm the least well off and put recovery at risk.

The Treasury minister makes much play of the prospect of GST rates up to 12% by 2014, a figure produced by the CAG in response to a request from the Corporate Services scrutiny panel. This figure is however totally without any grounding in reality. It was produced on the two unlikely conditions that:
a)the States takes no steps to reduce increases in spending to below 6% annually, and
b)no other taxes are raised to meet potential deficits.
Such a scenario is completely unreal. Nonetheless Senator Ozouf is content to use this specious figure to bolster his one sided arguments for his failed Thatcherite policies.

He is equally unashamed by his repeated partial use of the facts and figures. For example he states accurately that States spending has risen by 30% over the past 5 years. He conveniently fails to put this apparently shocking fact in its proper perspective. He pointedly fails to mention the following significant changes in the economy over the same period:

Put into the context of an economy in growth mode with banking profits and overall GVA on the rise a growth in public spending is to be expected. As John Clennett (a previous Comptroller of Income Tax) stated in his recent contribution to the tax and spend debate: “States revenues and expenditure have been broadly in line and budgets have been balanced”. Interestingly the 21% growth in income tax revenues over the period 2003 – 2007 is made up of a 51% increase in personal tax and zero growth of company tax. In 2008, GST, most of which is paid by individuals,was added to further exacerbate this shift away from company tax on to the individual resident.

How Big is the problem? - 2

We have all been immersed in tales of total doom and gloom in the UK media regarding the size of projected deficits in the UK and elsewhere. These are given for selected economies below. Note that the UK leads the way with nearly 12% of GDP in 2010. Whilst Philip Ozouf concentrates on the misleading 30% increase in spending and the spectre of 12% GST, the reality is far different. Far from being 12% or even 6% in terms of GDP our deficit, taking the latest projection of £64 million and GNI around £4,000m, is running at 1.6% of GNI. This is hardly the stuff of catastrophe that others are undergoing, requiring massive reductions in the public sector. No wonder the treasury minister alternates between describing our position as “serious” and “fantastic”.

If we are in a “fantastic” position as the minister says, then why does he insist that draconian cuts to spending are the only way forward? He says to a sympathetic gathering of businessmen “I am not afraid to make bold moves to cut spending and keep Jersey working.” The problem is that his cuts may well stop the recovery and worsen the recession.

Borrowing unashamedly from David Blachflower, I have a question for Philip Ozouf, Terry Le Sueur and Alan Maclean. What plans do you have to get unemployment down any time soon? If you want to transform a recession into a depression, go ahead and cut public spending. I would advise against it and so, I believe, would John Maynard Keynes.
Voters want jobs.