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?”