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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Further to the recent unsuccessful attempts by JDA Deputies to set a more reasonable rate for the minimum wage, Deputy Geoff Southern will bring this proposition to firm up the good intentions expressed by the Social Security Minister during the debate:-

The States are asked to decide whether they are of the opinion:
a).        that the minimum wage should be set at 45% of average earnings, to be achieved over a period of not less than 5 years and not greater than 15 years from April 2011 ; and
(b) to request the Employment Forum to have regard to this objective when making its recommendation on the level of the minimum wage to the Minister for Social Security.

Deputy G P Southern


In summing up the debate of P212 / 2009 which followed extensive debate on P14 /2010, the Minister of Social Security had the following to say:

“.. it has been difficult for me to bring forward a recommendation… because it has been a slight step back from the percentage of the previous year, and I strongly believe that they (Employment Forum)should be bringing forward recommendations which increase the level towards the 45%”.

Minimum wage level - principles

The Employment Forum recommended in 2006 that the minimum wage for April 2008 should be set by reference to 40% of the overall average weekly earnings, as released in the June 2007 average earnings statistics. This was based on evidence that minimum wages in other jurisdictions are generally around 40% of the average wage of those jurisdictions.

In making its recommendation, the Forum had been influenced by the Economic Advisers advice regarding the States inflation policy and caution regarding the competitiveness of export driven industries. The Forum emphasized that if the States of Jersey wished to raise the bottom end of earnings, the minimum wage must equate to more than 40% of the average wage in future. Ideally, the Forum would aim to gradually increase the percentage of the average wage used in the formula towards 45% in the future. For example, 40.5% of the average wage would have given a minimum wage of £5.47 for April 2007. The Forum intends to take this into account in its 2007 internal review of the proposed uprating mechanism.

By 2008 the principle of raising the relative purchasing power of the minimum wage to over 40% of the average had been adopted.

“The Institute of Directors suggested that the minimum wage should be £6.08 per hour, based on a formula of 40.5% of the June 2008 average weekly earnings. Although a number of respondents said that the formula should not be increased beyond 40%, the Forum considers that this is based on an expectation that the 40% figure itself will be significantly above the average earnings figure.”

They concluded as follows –
“The Forum unanimously agreed to show a commitment to very gradually increasing the minimum wage above 40% of weekly average earnings (half a percent increase for 2009).
The Forum recommends a minimum wage of £6.08 to apply from 1st April 2009.”

Recent debate

On 25th March the States decided that it would not support either my proposition P14 / 2010 or Deputy Trevor Pitman’s amendment which maintained the 40.5% standard and raised the level to 41%, respectively. Given the impact of the recession, the Assembly decided instead chose to go along with the recommendation of the Forum.

The Social Security Minister, despite supporting the recommendation, appeared to lend his support to the principles outlined by the Forum above when he stated in his summing up on P212 / 2009:

“… I believe that there should be (a formula) and we should over time see it moving up”.

In the debate on this issue I pointed out that the level of the minimum wage, whilst clearly being an economic decision, was also one which was legitimately also a political one. In establishing a minimum wage the States have quite properly committed themselves to the protection of our lowest paid employees. I argued that this protection must be at least maintained and when possible raised along the lines suggested by the Forum. The Social Security Minister appeared to give support to this approach when he said:

“Sometimes this Assembly has not always felt itself able to make difficult decisions in times of good when we should have done … part of the role of government is to put pressure on business to do the right thing.”

As the minister made clear, politics (though not “politicking”) has a role to play in setting the minimum wage rate. He finally made his personal position on the minimum wage crystal clear, when he stated:

“I have made it clear to the Employment Forum that when we are out of recession, they should have the courage to come forward with increases because it is only right and proper that they do so.”

This proposition, I believe, allows the Assembly to put its weight behind the Minister’s obvious support for the principled approach adopted by the Forum, and sets the right political framework within which the Employment can feel supported in judging the pace at which the minimum wage rate can be improved.

There are no manpower or financial implications for the States in this proposition.


Deputy Geoff Southern will be challenging the potentially disastrous proposal to destroy the viability of our postal service in the name of free-market dogma, initially with this proposal to delay a decision until the consequences have been properly assessed.:-

The States are asked if they are of the opinion

To request the Minister for Economic Development to extend the period of consultation over the granting of postal licences to Citipost and HubEurope so that members may be fully informed of the consequences of such action by the JCRA


On Wednesday 31st March 2010 the JCRA placed an advert in the JEP (see over) of its proposal to grant a Postal Operator’s licence to Citipost and HubEurope to convey large letters and packets, which includes CD and DVD fulfilment post. The closing date for comment is midnight 30th April 2010.

Jersey Post’s managing director has accused the JCRA of “failing in its duty to properly assess the impact on the traditional postal business.” Mr Carr stated that the decision to open the whole of the bulk business mailings market could result in substantial cuts to future services including a reduction of deliveries to every other day and the existing Post Office network being halved.

Despite being assessed in 2006 by the JCRA as an efficient operator, and recently agreeing a 4-year modernisation deal with the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) which included the loss of 80 jobs, the Post Office see this as an “attack” on the only profitable part of the business leaving losses to be picked up by Jersey Post or the taxpayer.

The CWU agrees that the long-term viability of Jersey Post is seriously threatened by the introduction of competition to this market. They state that they “will not sit back and watch the decimation of this very valuable social service carved up and destroyed through the introduction of phoney competition designed for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many”. They are calling for urgent talks with all stakeholders including States members.

It is my opinion that such a radical move cannot just be allowed to proceed in such a timescale without full consideration by the Assembly of the potential impact on the infrastructure of the island.

There are no manpower and financial implications to this proposition.


[From the main JDA website; www, ]

Once again Trevor’s written questions for the forthcoming States sitting arise from a mixture of his St. Helier No. 1 District constituent work, further contact from individual islanders relating to on-going issues of wider public concern, and matters linked to established JDA policy commitments.

The recent JCRA proposals, not to mention the distinct lack of adequate political information, has left a lot of people from all political perspectives scratching their heads, Trevor told

‘If we are serious about maintaining a proper daily delivery service for standard letters, keeping costs as low as is practical linked in with protecting jobs – not to forget the hugely important ‘social’ aspect of many older and/or disabled people actually having that contact with ‘the postie’ – then the competition for competition’s sake approach makes no sense at all. Hopefully,’ Trevor adds, ‘the States will see sense and agree to Deputy Southern’s proposition to ensure a far more in-depth analysis of all of this is implemented before any decisions are taken that could have disastrous long-term implications.’

Trevor tells us that his question relating to the unsafe ‘listed’ building in La Motte Street in St. Helier No. 1 District is also essentially about protecting jobs.

‘Letting people who have worked hard at developing their businesses suffer, due to an inadequate approach to ensuring ugly and obtrusive scaffolding such as this - deterring many shoppers, particularly visitors unfamiliar with the town – are erected and removed in the most rapid of timescales possible is simply not acceptable. The paving in the area has just been upgraded so this just makes a complete mockery of what we are trying to achieve at significant financial outlay.’

Ensuring adequate postal voting facilities are in place is a key aspect of all modern democracies committed to social inclusion, and with the commitments to building a more equal, fairer society featuring so strongly in the Strategic Plan it will be interesting to see if such statements really are little more than words. ‘Is it any wonder that so few turn out to vote in elections,’ Trevor observes, ‘when contrary to every modern democracy you look at Jersey has gone out of its way to make that as difficult as possible for many of those who already struggle to have their political voice heard.’

As to the questions to the Attorney General and the Minister for Home Affairs, Trevor feels these speak for themselves, being related to issues that understandably continue to strike a cord of intense interest with large numbers of the public.

Nevertheless, Trevor did tell us that with regard to the question to the Attorney General he had been contacted by a number of people from across the island expressing concern about material that has recently been made available via the internet and believing that there is a need for further answers to be provided publicly. To this regard Trevor also revealed that he had had a request within his original question for official confirmation that a death certificate had been made available to the Jersey authorities (in relation to developments in the case reported last year) turned down by the Bailiff on the grounds that this was not the responsibility of the Attorney General…

Here at we think the answers to all the questions below will make interesting reading. We will, of course, do our best to publish anything of particular interest in due course. For those readers wanting access to the answers to all written questions from States Members we would remind you that these are eventually available on the States own website.


“a) Given that Jersey Post has worked hard at improving efficiency, including the use of voluntary redundancy packages, and is only 4 months into a four-year plan, what action, if any, will the Minister be taking following the decision of the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) to advise the public of its proposal to issue a Class 1 Postal Operator’s Licence to convey Large Letters and Packets to Citipost DSA Ltd and Hub Europe Ltd?

b) Would the Minister set out the impact that the grant of such licences will have for Jersey Post and confirm that the bulk mailing represents the core profit-making aspect of its operations? Would he further state whether the introduction of competition will lead to job losses and increased long-term costs for the public and would he state whether or not he supports the introduction of competition in this area?

c) Would the Minister state how both Jersey Post and competitors can survive and thrive financially in the years ahead within such a limited market where the comparatively unprofitable but socially essential daily mail delivery to domestic and business customers alike is intrinsically dependent on the more profitable side of the business?”


In view of the detailed States of Jersey Police ‘Sequence of Events: Macguire investigation’ timeline published on the internet recently together with the content of the Report by the Manager, Mental Health Services dated 23rd February 1999 and other material including the 26th July 1990 letter from the then Education Committee President, is the Attorney General satisfied that the decision of his predecessor (as summarised in e-mail correspondence from the now Deputy Bailiff copied to all States Members on 8th April 2010) not to pursue the case against Mr. and Mrs. Macguire was both wholly justifiable and correct and, if so, will he state why? Will the Attorney General also clarify whether the issue of Mr. Macguire’s stated terminal illness at the time was ever discussed in any shape or form as a potential justification/reason for not pursuing the case in the 1990’s?


Scaffolding surrounding a ‘listed’ but empty and unsafe business premises in La Motte Street is having a hugely damaging impact on retailers whose businesses are hidden from view from shoppers which is particularly damaging to potential business in relation from visitors to the island who will not know the hidden shops are there; what measures is the Minister taking to ensure that this eyesore is rectified and what assurances, if any, in terms of timescales can he give the proprietors of the retailers being negatively impacted upon as to when this scaffolding will be removed?

As access to a postal voting mechanism is a fundamental part of all modern, fully functioning, inclusive democracies, will the Chairman inform members what consideration, if any, her Committee has given to ensuring that those who wish to do so, especially the elderly and those with mobility problems or other disabilities, can easily vote by post in the coming elections in line with priorities 6, 8 and 15 of the Strategic Plan 2009 – 14?


"Further to the written and oral answer given on 9th March 2010 relating to the suspension of 2 officers from the States of Jersey Police for just less than 18 months would the Minister advise -

a) which person within the States of Jersey Police was responsible for taking the decision that resulted in the suspension of two police officers and whether the individual responsible for the original decision to suspend them was the same person who made the decision to re-instate them without charge? If so, does the Minister believe that this shows sound judgement?

b) that the costs listed in the answers of 23rd March 2010 showed the total cost to the States of Jersey Police of these suspensions and included all ancillary matters such as staff costs and overtime to cover the suspended officers?"