Sunday, September 25, 2011

PRIVY COUNCIL PETITION from MICHAEL DUN submitted 30 July 2011

The Clerk of the Council                                                                                 
 Privy Council Office
2 Carlton Gardens
London SW1Y 5AA                                                        30 July 2011 Jersey

Dear Madam,


The States of Jersey Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law and the Names and Address Register (Jersey) Law

I the undersigned resident of the Island of Jersey hereby petitions the Committee of the Privy Council for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey not to recommend to Her Majesty in Council that Royal Assent be granted to the Laws entitled the States of Jersey Control of Housing and Work (Jersey) Law 201- and the Names and Address Register (Jersey) Law 201-, without due consideration of the reasons stated in this petition.

The Reasons for this Petition.

The Assembly of the States of Jersey has recently voted to replace existing legislation including the Housing (Jersey) Law 1949 and the Regulations of Undertaking and Development (Jersey) Law 1973 with the above named Laws.

It has been argued in the States that the new Laws will provide less complicated control over access to housing and  employment besides providing access to better information with regard to making decisions relating to migration and populations policy in Jersey.

However, the petitioner considers that the proposed Laws are intended to perpetuate existing policies that are already discriminatory and divisive and to impose yet further unreasonable limitations on the rights and freedoms of many residents or potential residents, in Jersey.

Furthermore, that the powers sought under these new laws are neither necessary nor desirable in a modern, affluent and democratic society but are rather designed to be oppressive, to create disharmony within this community and infringe universally  and internationally agreed and accepted standards.

Furthermore, since it was repeatedly argued by the proposers of these laws in the States, that they were only the beginning, and that further measures might follow, your petitioner believes very strongly that these should have been fully declared and discussed at the outset.

Also, that this legislation should, in fact, be considered to be a disguised immigration and population controlling device because such measures cannot be enacted openly within constitutional constraints existing between the peoples of the  Island and  those of the United Kingdom and other territories.

Your petitioner has been a campaigner on “human rights” issues in Jersey over many decades and notes with concern that there is still no anti-discrimination legislation in place in this Island (although it has been frequently promised locally and at Westminster) and, furthermore, there are many important international conventions and such-like that have not even been ratified for this Island.

Whilst the proposers of these Laws were required to give a statement of compatibility so far as the European Convention of Human Rights is concerned, the details of the legal advice supporting this statement were not made available (either to States Members or the public). Virtually no other discussion took place of the human rights implications of these Laws among Jersey’s tiny legal profession (which is mostly otherwise engaged in finance industry matters). As a result, neither States Members nor the electorate were enabled to discover or understand what the human rights implications of these proposals might have been.

As has been demonstrated in recent UK court cases regarding (for example), the Chagos Islanders and those of Sark, the liability for the upholding of human rights standards in such places as Jersey is not just a matter for the Islands own governments and administrations. That liability now clearly runs through UK institutions such as the Privy Council Committee for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey and possibly beyond.
Such liabilities can therefore be raised and challenged in UK courts.

Not only does this, by itself, raise profound constitutional issues so far as the residents of Jersey and other places are concerned but it must also be considered that the UK government has ratified many international conventions and treaties which have not been ratified for Jersey. Thus the implications for those seeking redress against a grievance arising under the proposed Laws are much wider than just those protected under the European Convention of Human Rights.

There may also be specific implications so far as the European Union is concerned - since the discriminatory measures enacted under these Laws apply to citizens of the Union who might otherwise have full rights of settlement and abode in British territories elsewhere. EU citizens, in this context might be from the UK, as well as any of the other nations within this organisation and there are different – possibly discriminatory – standards that apply to citizens of other Crown Dependencies, Overseas British Territories or from foreign countries.

The complexities that might arise from the application of these Laws have not been adequately discussed in Jersey and are too numerous to describe in this submission. However, it is evident that many existing residents of Jersey might be subject to retrospective decision making and that existing and future residents might be liable to have important licences or permits revoked or changed. Such decisions might also be taken in accordance with policies that are not clearly defined under these Laws but rely on some vague “aspiration” to control population numbers or immigration.

In this context it must be emphasised that Jersey’s government has operated since 1945 with a central policy based upon economic and population growth. Thus, although existing laws such at the Housing (J) Law 1949 and the Regulations and Undertakings  (J) Laws have included powers to restrict the ownership and occupation of housing accommodation or employment opportunities – the population has been deliberately increased from about 50,000 to the current 92,000 (winter) residents. It is currently proposed to increase the population to 100,000 residents – yet the Laws proposed are deliberately designed to restrict the occupation of proper housing accommodation or to deny employment for many in equity with others.

Thus, the proposed Laws perpetuate discrimination as a deliberate part of the economic and social policies of the Island and there is no plan to ever adequately house the entire population (whether that might be 92,000 or 100,000) or to ensure that all residents enjoy equal employment rights or opportunities.

The application of Island Planning (building) policies, Taxation and Social Security benefits policies need also to be considered in this context because they are also designed to favour certain groups over others on the basis of age, periods of residence, employment or wealth (for example) and add-to, rather than inhibit discriminatory behaviour towards many residents of Jersey, both by government bodies and private organisations or individuals. They are inevitably to be applied in conjunction with other discriminatory laws and policies and with those now currently proposed.

Underlying the whole package of new laws and policies is the centralised data collection and identity card system that will be applied to all residents of Jersey. This raises particular concerns about privacy, confidentiality and use since the information may be freely collected and viewed between different departments, including the Police initially and perhaps all government departments, eventually. It may also be transmitted out of the Island.
Since the Jersey Identity card was only originally agreed in conjunction with the UK card system that has now been abandoned on cost and human rights grounds, the reasons in favour in this Island have not been adequately promoted or examined. This is all the more of concern since the smallness of the Jersey population and the overlapping of so many institutions will ensure that abuse through access to the central  data banks is inevitable.

Your petitioner believes that these proposed laws have not been adequately considered by the States of Jersey or the public of the Island and that their application will be harmful to the interests of the people of Jersey as well of British people and others generally.

Yours faithfully

MICHAEL DUN                    

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