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