Before 2011 is put into the political trash box it is necessary to consider just some of the secret decisions that Scrutiny Panels have been making during the closing days of the year. No doubt other big decisions have been made around the Council of Minister’s table but we can learn very little about them because these are ultra secret.
Certainly not suitable for the eyes and ears of mere voting plebs – unless of course Ozo can put a safe spin on them first.
However, the bare bones from Scrutiny meetings are made public in the published Agenda which have all – to date – been held in secret too.
As somebody who has submitted a long list of potential scrutiny topics I also have some knowledge, not generally made public, about matters which have already been discussed and rejected.
Technology willing, the Agenda of the secret Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel for 21 December 2011 should appear on this blog (yes above). It was held in Le Capelain Room and closed to the paying public (under Standing Rule 138(6) of the SOJ Law for those who want to look up the feeble thinking of our past or newly elected Scrutineers).
In this case there were some important decisions to be made – not least the choice of future scrutiny topics.
This Panel is now constituted under Deputy Stephen Luce (Chair) with Constables Stephen Pallett and Michael Paddock so is brand new, through and through.
Although one item on the Agenda was the matter of the creation of the new “Jersey Business” (to replace both “Jersey Enterprise” and “Jersey Business Venture”) it is not known what was decided. Yours truly had also submitted a scrutiny topic on this matter too but what happened to it is not known and it usually takes months for Scrutiny minutes to be published.
Of course, if the public had been admitted to the meeting this would all be public knowledge – along with the Panel’s reasoning - and I could also have asked to address the Panel on the matters that I had written about. A member of the public might also have asked why it was felt necessary to have a day out in
to visit the House of Commons as the very first jolly of the new States? London
In fact, this was not the first of the newly constituted Scrutiny Panels to meet because HSSH (Health, Social Security & Housing) had already met in secret on 13 December to consider such things as video recording by bloggers, the conduct of meetings, communications and correspondence from a Mrs Brand and yours truly.
We the mere public cannot know what Mrs Brand’s subject was but this new Panel rejected my topics;
1) Suicide & Self Harm 2) Respite & Care facilities 3) Pensions public & Private and
4) Discrimination & Human Rights
Suggestion number 4 had been passed on to HSSH by Corporate Services at a previous secret meeting (already discussed on a blog on this site) because nobody but nobody wants to grasp the Human Rights nettle.
An attempt to claim that my suggestion re Respite & Care had been accepted was in fact not correct because a much more limited scrutiny topic to consider respite for children and young people only had previously been embarked upon. This new Panel had already been milking the PR good message from this and ensuring that their visit to several “young persons” respite centres was fully announced in the established and unquestioning media.
This new Panel now consists of Deputy Kristina Moore as chair – so it will know how to milk the media to maximum effect – with Deputies Jackie Hilton and James Reed.
The next day – 14 December – the new Environment Scrutiny Panel met under (ex Planning Chief Officer) Deputy John Young as Chair, Deputy Stephen Luce Vice-Chair and Constable (ex Deputy) Philip Rondel (who formerly chaired this Panel). This meeting was in secret too of course to reject my scrutiny proposals as follows;
1) Provision of Public toilets and 2) Low Emission Transport.
So there we have it – the new super rejuvenated Scrutiny System has ended the bad old year and welcomed the New Year with much the same secrecy, non–engagement policies that have already brought the whole scrutiny process to its knees.
It is no coincidence that so few established States members are serving on the new panels because they have chosen to boycott the whole rotten system.
Just to let the public know – yours truly has submitted many more possible scrutiny topics and will publish the outcomes in due course. Don’t hold your breath as they say but my suggestions with regard to public hearings that cannot be heard – at election hustings, in scrutiny meetings, the courts etc etc – could find no home with any scrutiny panel so it was passed on to the Greffier of the States Mr Michael De La Haye to play with. He was also fobbed of with a whole bundle of my suggestions for improving the scrutiny process, better information about so many States Departments, access and the whole Complaints Board process (which also ought to include the fast asleep Trading Standards Department hidden away in the Market)…
Of course, at the Senatorial elections Jersey’s very own favourite Knight in shining “amour” aka Philip Bailhache promised to reform so much that is wrong with our government and scrutiny in particular. We shall see - but yours truly will try to monitor any progress that is recordable with my most basic of devices in 2012.