Thursday, September 6, 2012

Constable Pallett of St Brelade - what happened?

Yesterday’s Scrutiny Panel hearing concerned the Economic Affairs Panel, the Medium Term Financial Plan and the Economic Development Department.

Almost everything that is wrong with Jersey government was on display. Some of the shortcomings are discussed in the interview here with Constable Pallett of St Brelade but in the light of the current Electoral Commission’s work, there is much more that needs to be said in other places.

Quite how the politically progressive Steve Pallett has become transformed into an ultra-conservative Constable in such a short time is a mystery to me, especially since he is evidently the same decent thinking and friendly chap.

His views as expressed here on the role of Constables both in and outside the States certainly cause me to be even more concerned about any future activities for this powerful group.

The fact that his fellow Panel member Constable Paddock of St Ouen sat through the entire 75 minutes of this public hearing without contributing anything beyond  speaking his name – says a great deal to me. But why was he there?

Much the same could be asked about Assistant Minister Deputy Baker (sitting in for the EDD Minister absent for legitimate family reasons) but he spoke for only a few sentences – 2 minutes at most – whilst the EDD CO Mike King hogged the entire proceedings.

Even when Deputy Baker asked to be able to “say a few words regarding question three” his request was ignored. The discussion carried on without him!

Of course the whole scrutiny hearing was led by Deputy Luce of St Martin as chair of the Panel but he clearly sees the purpose to be just a friendly, well-rehearsed PR chat.
When ever the questions seemed to ruffle the feathers of CO King, Deputy Luce was apologetic – saying we don’t mean to be critical etc….!

A case in point was when Steve Pallett raised the international human rights question (which was presumably not according to the prepared script) and this was obviously intended – as a political question – for Deputy Baker – but King took over and Luce moved the discussion on to other matters, just as soon as he could.

If Scrutiny has managed to make their pod-cast system work then this full discussion can be accessed on-line.
But why are the Committee of Constables allowed to meet in total secrecy with no published agenda and no public participation etc etc and why oh why does a  formerly progressive chap such as Steve Pallet believe  this to be satisfactory?

We should all be very worried – but at least we have Friday 28 September to look forward to when we can all vent our frustrations in the proper place – in public – and discuss such things and many more whilst getting organised for change with or without our elected representatives…..

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