The first of Trevor’s two oral questions for next week’s States sitting has been necessary due to “the not unexpected” move by the Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur to keep details of any additional payments outside of contractual entitlements relating to the recently resigned Chief Officer of Health & Social Services out of the public domain.
Trevor says that whilst the obvious response for the Chief Minister should have been to simply either confirm or deny that any such payments had been included, Senator Le Sueur had instead attempted to hide behind claimed ‘confidentiality’ and effectively refused to answer.
‘Any additional payments of taxpayers’ money outside of contractual agreements – agreements that all States employees must have under law – are not covered under blanket confidentiality’ says Trevor. ‘The response last month was, as I say, not unexpected, but it does once again show complete contempt for both transparency and the general public who are fully entitled to know what went on here.’
As a consequence Trevor says he decided to take advice from the Data Protection office before attempting to lodge a re-worded oral version of the question in order that he didn’t fall foul of getting it knocked back by the Bailiff due to any ‘loopholes’ as he says has happened before.
‘I’m pleased to say that Data Protection confirmed that in their view the entitlement in the ‘public interest’ that details of any possible payments outside of contractual ones should be made available was very strong. As was said, this was a top civil servant and any monies would come directly from the public purse. If politicians are not to be able to get answers on such fundamental issues then we really should drop any pretence to claiming that we are a democracy, let alone a government that is accountable to its people. It really is that black and white.’
Question One - Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Chief Minister –
“Given that any additional monies/severance payments outside of the contractual entitlement paid to the former Chief Officer of Health and Social Services would have been made from public funds, what justification can the Chief Minister give for not divulging the contents of the agreement to the Assembly in his written response on 23rd February, particularly in the interests of accountability and transparency (as outlined in the Ministerial Code of Conduct)?
Question Two of Trevor’s follows on from his written question on the 23rd of February that revealed the remarkable and eye-opening figures relating to the real amounts of tax actually paid by some of the island’s 1.1.(K) residents (details of which can be viewed on this site in an article below).
Given that Assistant Minister for Treasury & Resources, Deputy Eddie Noel had previously told the States that he was of the opinion that 1.1.(K) residents could not have their tax rates re-evaluated, and possibly increased like the general public, Trevor says it is absolutely essential that this be clarified.
‘With the much-trumpeted review of taxation being promised by the Treasury & Resources Minister this issue cannot simply be left to later be used as an excuse to actually do nothing at all in this area,’ Trevor told us; ‘worse, to actually use this as an excuse to instead increase taxation levels on ordinary working people. Not just so-called ‘middle Jersey’ residents, but those who can afford any increase, whether this be via increased GST or anything else, the least. Hence my question as to the legal standing of agreements made; particularly those dating back to before the current regulations from 2005.
Question Two - Deputy T. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Minister for Treasury and Resources
“Would the Minister clarify under which aspect of Jersey’s tax legislation individuals were deemed able to be legally granted 1(1)(k) status and thus negotiate their own tax contributions with the Comptroller of Income Tax prior to 2005; and advise whether 1(1)(k) status also means individual tax rates cannot be increased by government in line with a changing economic climate?”
We all look forward to hearing the answers…