Thursday, August 30, 2012

ONLY TEN PERCENT HUMAN RIGHTS ELECTORAL CONCERN from COMMISSION

The 10% rule and Senator Bailhache…

You can generally tell when a lawyer is beginning to lose the case in court because he or she will suddenly grasp the get me out of here “human rights” argument.

Today we in the public seats at the Electoral Commission’s latest hearing observed Chairman ex Bailiff Sir Philip not just reaching out for the ejector seat button but he was desperately seeking any exit from the impending disaster.

The old ship of Jersey tradition is headed for the rocks and he knows it.

So when the common call from so many witnesses was to throw the Constables overboard he was almost at a loss to know what to do.

Even Constable Norman proposed it in his refreshingly frank presentation and Senator Bailhache was pricked to reveal that “we” (the Commission that is) had only just learned about the 10% rule and he challenged the Constable that his “Clothier style” reforms (with all members elected on a Parish basis in a general election on the same day, under the same terms and conditions) might lead to an “international human rights breach”.

The basis of his sudden concern was that constituencies of unequal voter size would be in breach of international rules which allow for a deviation of about 10% or so ONLY.
The ex Bailiff was not sure which rules these actually were or which International Convention they came from but he resorted to the same argument on several occasions, as the long day of hearings wore on.

Eleven rounds of half an hour each with a fresh contestant for each round is a heavy-weight contest by any standards, especially since so many body blows struck the anti-reform target. The ex Bailiff’s aged constitution is clearly getting a bit tired.
Sir Philip’s gloves were so obviously becoming too heavy and his legs too wobbly and it was all under the steady gaze of Emille Collin’s bronze bust too.
Some people swore that Emille’s lips actually formed into a smile when the demand for the chance to vote for all the candidates of choice on an “all island basis” was uttered by several witnesses…

Sir Philip however did not play the human rights tune when it was pointed out  again and again that the inequality of the current Parish vote for Constables is already hopelessly unfair (and so must equally be in breach of any 10% International obligation}.
With St Mary’s 1,500 voters at such variance with St Helier’s 25,000 - the existing breach should be obvious to anybody but the misty eyed adherents of Jersey tradition will never grasp the unfairness argument readily.
Perhaps the fear of some international condemnation by the UN or the Council of Europe will stimulate action even before this Commission reports?

Our ex Bailiff  with his all-Island Senatorial mandate cannot be so unaware of this simple fact and he should perhaps be bringing a proposition to the States ASAP to correct the international unlawfulness in accordance with his oath of office to “uphold the {human rights} laws and usages of the Island etc”?

Of course he will not do so but it is difficult to imagine how the Electoral Commission can ignore the 10% rule threat when it produces its report and reform suggestions.

For those who want to learn more about the 10% rule – the http://aceproject.org site of the ACE electoral knowledge network is full of very wordy but essential reading.

In essence, international standards on elections are laid down in such instruments as the UN Declaration on Human Rights, The UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights (all ratified for Jersey), plus other Conventions such as those against Racism or the Rights of Women and various documents on non-discrimination in the matter of political rights (1962) or framework for periodic and genuine elections (1989).

Under these, the requirement that free elections must facilitate the full expression of the political will of the people is developed.
Not just as an add-on but as the VERY BASIS OF LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT.
One person, one vote is the basis of universal suffrage.
Each vote must carry equal weight – electoral districts must be established on an equitable basis to ensure that the results accurately reflect the will of ALL VOTERS.

The electoral districts must be determined on the basis of equality of actual populations or voter populations, as far as possible.
That is where the “10% rule” comes in and the boundaries of constituencies must be regularly reviewed to accommodate changes in population too and that review MUST be undertaken by an independent authority – i.e. not part of the government.
Generally, such reviews in most countries take place every few years.

The current (2012) UK arrangements are worth looking at.
The number of MPs in Parliament is being reduced from 650 to 600.
Each constituency will be within 5% (plus or minus) of a standard population quota – currently fixed at 76,641 (thus acceptable within the 5% variation range of 72,810 to 80,473) with a further general maximum land area of 13,000 square kms.
Redistribution of boundaries must be considered every 5 years.
Parliamentary terms are now for a fixed term of 5 years.

So this is the sort of standard that is being applied for the “mother of Parliament” but of course Jersey’s overall population has grown from about 60,000 to nearly 100,000 since 1960 and our electoral boundaries remain virtually unchanged.
Unfairness is just a fact of the Jersey electoral system as it has always been – but the “human rights” argument is hardly going to assist in its preservation.
 On the contrary, international obligations must ensure that the whole basis of having a block of 12 Constables (so unfairly returned into the States) is untenable.
The current arrangements for the choice of Deputies must be similarly defective under the 10% rule.
The writing is on the wall but am I being too optimistic for reform – can this Electoral Commission still, somehow report in favour of the status quo…?

Answers in Jerriaise please…


Sunday, August 19, 2012

University of Life, Essex or Jersey...?



Some people think that Jersey should have its own university.
These pix and the interview with Stephanie relate to one of the smaller UK institutions – namely the University of Essex at Colchester which hosts over 10,000 students from 120 plus nations.

Some of the educational activities take place at other centres (such as Southend) but it is quite clear that little ‘ole Jersey is already fully stretched with the Highlands College facility and that a full “Uni” is never going to happen here.

That is not to say that some more specialist courses could not be developed in Jersey and attract overseas students – but the full “Uni” experience is not just about narrow specialisation.

Essex has several particularly  well recognised departments – such as a Business School  and a Law Department which has a strong Human Rights interest – but these could hardly stand alone, especially in an insular place such as Jersey.

After all, the University experience is supposed to stimulate the brain not send it into a coma. If the purpose is to produce Trappist monks then different standards might apply but universities hopefully still strive towards educational awareness rather than cloning anonymous worker bees.

Perhaps if anybody has knowledge of Essex or plans to go there, now that the exam results are confirmed, they could comment here?

It would also be interesting to hear about Jersey students or potential students (young or mature) and how they are financing educational opportunities etc whether at “Uni” or elsewhere.

One of the most striking aspects of the Essex experience following this short visit was the inter-action with the local population.
Universities do tend to stimulate activities – from politics to sport and entertainment – that spill over outside the campus. The same is not very true for Highlands which seems to be still following some of its old Jesuit “closed community” behaviour.

Could/should Highlands be more involved with the community at large through initiating more research and stimulating public discussions on many issues (not just politics)?
Should Highlands’ policy be more welcoming to outside views and influences?
Does the Students Union still exist at Highlands and what is its status..?

Answers please on a beer mat

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ALAN COLLINS English lawyer for Jersey Child Abuse survivors 2012



Alan Collins is a solicitor-advocate with English lawyers PANNONE who specialises in child abuse cases. He started his career as a criminal lawyer but by chance now deals almost exclusively and internationally with cases such as that centred on the Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey (Channel Islands)

“Child abuse knows no boundaries” says Alan but it is very significant that he – an English lawyer – should be pursuing these Jersey cases whilst the 250 or so lawyers from this little Island seem to have been so reluctant to help the many survivors.

The Jersey compensation scheme now being implemented accepts abuse cases from 1945 onwards (the end of the Second World-War). Alan is now dealing with 50 cases plus there are several lawyers engaged from different UK legal practices in further cases.

This surely demonstrates just how substantial the Jersey failure has been and how deep-seated is the neglect by the Jersey legal and judicial system in response.

A look at “Alan Collins Pannone” or via www.pannone.com will find his website giving details of many similar cases in the UK and elsewhere.
So Jersey is not unique in this regard but Alan highlights (in this interview) his concerns about the long promised Jersey Inquiry which already seems to be denying participation to those most affected – the survivors.

If there is abuse taking place today in Jersey care homes, hospitals, schools or the prison, who would respond to it or report it?

The instances of institutional abuse – sexual and physical – regularly reported in the UK press are just the tip of the iceberg.
It is unrealistic to suppose that such abuse does not still take place here and now in this Island.
                                                                    ooooooo





INFORMATION SOUGHT
Anybody reading this with knowledge or experience of abuse in Jersey in the distant or more recent past - that has not been fully investigated – whether in hospitals, prison, schools or care homes etc., is invited to make contact with tom gruchy on this blog through the “comment” facility.
Any information will not be published and is confidential.
OR email
mikedun@jerseymail.co.uk   This is sought for research purposes by this blogsite.
.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Privy Council - Jersey's ancient bicameral government option...

Click on image to reveal eight hundred years of Jersey's existing bicameral government in operation!

And we already have the Westminster Parliament, all the UK Government Departments and institutions, the EU, The Council of Europe, the UN and the High Courts of the UK and the European Court of Human Rights to appeal to in order to check our legislation and any defects in the Jersey administration.

So why on earth do some people want another States Chamber to carry out scrutiny that already takes place? If Jersey was to become "independent" - what would happen to all these existing safeguards?

Answers on a history theme please...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

MORE CARE NEEDED in JERSEY




This interview with Judith is offered as part of the discussion on the current Jersey Health Department White Paper.

Judith has no axe to grind here – she appears as an impartial witness who manages a small “care” provider in the private sector and expresses her own views in this video.
We are grateful for her giving time and speaking in public.
The views that follow are not hers.
                                                              oooooooo

WHO REALLY CARES IN JERSEY?

The provision of “care” is a central and dominating part of the general discussion because of the changing nature of the population and expectations of ever-improving standards.
It is also matter of concern because of ever increasing COSTS and our government, led by “scissors hands” Senator Ozouf and his Treasury team, which is embarked upon a blatant USER PAYS policy coupled with a determination to reduce expenditure throughout the States’ system.

That accountancy standards underline the whole Treasury, capitalist philosophy is obvious. There is no grand “socialist” plan to properly house, care for and educate all the people of Jersey in spite of some substantial sounding aspirations declared in various Strategic Plans etc. In fact, there is no legal obligation upon the Jersey government to house or ultimately “care for” anybody at all (as in the UK and other places).

That KPMG researched the issues and drafted the plan for the Health Department as preparation for the White Paper should serve as its own warning of the financial priorities that really underscore this agenda – although the finished report indicates otherwise.

According to the Jersey CAB website list there are about 6 privately run Nursing Homes (which must have qualified medical staff) in Jersey, including “Hospice” etc.
There are about 19 Residential Care Homes – including “Silkworth".
Another 5 are dual registered” such as the “Four Seasons” group.

CAB also lists 3 Nursing Agencies and another 5 Care Agencies.

States research carried out in 2008 indicated that there about 216 Parish provided residential bed spaces in Jersey, 168 in the voluntary sector and 292 privately provided.
(Total 676)
Nursing Home provision then was 30 (Parish) and 5 Voluntary with 188 Private
(Grand total 879)
About 120 people occupied continuing care, nursing beds at such places as “Limes”, “Sandybrook” and St Saviours Hospital etc (“Oak,” “Maple”etc).

Part of the current government agenda is to draw many “Third Sector” (including charity) providers closer within and under government control to provide many essential services. It is all part of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) – User Pays philosophy but is really, primarily about reducing costs on the government purse whilst transferring any profit- making aspects into private hands.

It is all part of a plate spinning exercise to make it appear that  “health/social services” are being maintained whilst at the same time accepting less and less responsibility for providing them.

The paying/voting public has to be kept in silent awe so long as the plates continue spinning - yet knowing fully that they must inevitably crash to the floor, eventually.

Involving more and more volunteers from, and the goodwill of, so many “Third Sector” providers in this grand government scheme is all part of the cunning plan.
As the worked examples of “Roseneath” and “Silkworth” clearly demonstrates, such “Third Sector” providers will be gutted and hung out to dry almost at whim if and when they no longer satisfy government policies, prejudices or the peculiarities of political personality…

The vulnerability of the whole “care in the home” project is exposed when the non-suitability of most of the housing stock is considered coupled with the simple fact that most accommodation is rented.
Traditionally “landlords” (whether public or private) have never been keen on tenants bashing holes in walls or ceiling in order to make homes more “disability friendly” (even if the funds should be available).
Furthermore, the staff needs for looking after a person (often a single person in Jersey with no family to call upon) in their “own” home are potentially immense.
One severely disabled person can require calling upon a team of a dozen carers – where shall they be found in “population control” obsessed Jersey?

As the UK example has demonstrated time and time again, the provision of “private residential care” is a disaster zone because of repeated financial failures and it is significant and worrying that one of the largest providers in Jersey is part of a UK group with huge debts. What happens if such a large private provider closes its doors in Jersey?

Once again, following the tragic death of Ronnie Allan whilst supposedly under the care and supervision of Jersey Health services yet actually farmed out to a “private provider” – just what level of regulation now exists in Jersey and why has it been  demonstrated to be so inadequate?

Answers on a tombstone please.

Friday, August 10, 2012

SILKWORTH deserves a better form of Scrutiny Hearing...

Special  Silkworth Scrutiny Hearing  10 August 2012

“Good communication is vital” were the mumbled, final faltering words from Health Minister Deputy Pryke (nee Quenault) at this morning’s special Scrutiny session.

Of course, even at the best of times, Deputy Pryke is not one of the world’s best speakers but when she speaks quietly from behind her fist the problem is much magnified.

At today’s Scrutiny meeting her deficiencies were even more apparent because the “hearing” (if you will excuse the word) took place in Church House which is an echoing bare room about 15 feet high where the acoustics are especially bad.

I had previously written to the Scrutiny clerk to request that a proper sound system be installed for this hearing with a loop for those using hearing aids. At a health meeting (of all meetings) these standards should be obligatory – whether a public meeting or otherwise. Of course my request was ignored. The 6 mics around the inward looking “top table” were only for the benefit of the recording system and the transcribers in New Zealand.
They were the usual window dressing so far as this “public” hearing was concerned..

My own post-meeting protest fell on “deaf” ears with Chair Deputy Moore (the ex- professional communicator from the “accredited media”). She had little sympathy.
“You can always read the transcript” being the limit of her interest in the problem.
Who needs the public anyway one might conclude? – WE are the government this is our show for OUR benefit seems to be the attitude.
How different from all those promises to want to serve the voting/paying public at election times!

This communicating day did not start well.
BBC Radio’s Matthew Price (the non-accredited” journo) had evidently swallowed a Communications Unit  Diversion Press Release about the latest government plans for “Roseneath” and how this was now going to be used to accommodate all sorts of deserving people in a partnership deal with Sanctuary Trust.
It was a blatant disinformation exercise and the fate of 350 homeless people was trotted out as though anybody in government really gives a damn for their welfare.

Preacher Price’s husband also kept telling us, of a plan in Guernsey whereby householders are to be invited to offer rooms to homeless young people in that Island (aka the sister feudal Bailiwick).What a super charitable and |Christian idea!

But of course, the simple fact is that neither Island has a legal obligation to house any residents or to care for them if they fall ill.
(After I responded to his request to phone in with comments just a few of my much clipped words on this aspect were read out). 

In the UK and most other civilised places, governments accept such things as a legal right. They might not offer comprehensive solutions to all such problems – but they do not shirk their responsibilities as this bunch does. They do try and they also enter into Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that are binding over several years so that providers of “essential” services such as Silkworth can plan their futures rather then being kept dangling on a very thin thread of “promises”

The BBC themed government propaganda today was clearly designed to deflect attention away from the substance of the Scrutiny hearing. This had been called following the Silkworth Trust’s recent startling revelelations of a failing relationship with the Health Department and some very murky dealings by Health, Treasury and Property Services to wind up the Nemo Charity and take the Roseneath properties back into the States property portfolio. The aim to reduce financial contributions to several important charities (or Third Sector Providers as they tend to call them) was clearly too “Jersey image” damaging.
The failing pretence that this was all in some way to the benefit of the public had to be repaired!!

Naturally, the hidden hand of Senator Ozouf was everywhere apparent.
This was evidently just another aspect of his SAVE money CSR plan.
10% reduction or else and never mind who it hurts! So start with the most deserving and most vulnerable and if anything is still moving in the undergrowth of society - give them another burst of austerity and inflict some more PAIN!

It was especially sad to hear Deputy Green the Housing Minister ( who has gone so shy in front of my video camera) suggesting that the revamped Roseneath might do anything to house all or any of the under 25’s who do not qualify for “social housing” under the current absurd rules.
His promised White Paper will inevitably be about as much good as Health’s own “Caring for Each Other Caring for Ourselves” proposals which are visibly unwinding before our very eyes and ears, the more we learn about such worked examples as “Silkworth” etc.
Neither Deputy Green nor Pryke will be awarded enough money by Treasury to do a fraction of the things that are “talked” of around these Green and White Papers.

With rooms for 30 residents at most, the Rosemount property will hardly touch the needs of any one section of our needy society. The prospect of it as yet another building accommodating a random mix of all ages with all sorts of illnesses and issues must be a guaranteed formula for yet more and diverse problems in the future.

Laughably, the question was put whether Silkworth’s empty beds might be used for other purposes too - since Health does not seem to have any proper mechanism to refer clients for the 6 beds actually contracted for under the SLA.

Obviously, the nature of the specialist treatment undertaken at Silkworth was generally not understood here today. It appeared to be viewed as just another filing cabinet opportunity to hide so many of Jersey’s human problems.  Out of sight out of mind - although Deputy Pryke claimed that it provided a “very important service” when asked. But her solution to almost everything was “to discuss it around the table.”

Inevitably, neither the management from Silkworth nor others in the public seats were allowed to utter a squeak today. How absurd this is. So many half answered questions could have been clarified and possible deceits challenged, there and then.
But this is just a symptom of the bureaucratic malaise. It is ever more obvious that so many in senior positions do little more than attending endless discussions and “consultations” dreaming up catchphrases and novel names to describe projects that will never be financed or realised.

As always, Deputy Pryke turned up for this hearing with 6 minders including Constable Refault but they mostly mumbled their names at the outset and it is impossible to identify all of them here.
What a pity they cannot all be referred to Silkworth to occupy the empty beds for a 3 months learning and re-training exercise!

Chair of this Scrutiny Panel Deputy Moore was assisted by Deputy Hilton who both talked very quietly and apologised for the non-appearance of Deputy Reed.
The Panel’s “adviser” did not audibly speak and was presumed to have died in his seat until the meeting ended and he rose to leave.

So, yet another totally unsatisfactory hearing in this year’s scrutiny season
with no gold medals to be won by either the Scrutineers or the Health department.

There were too many issues raised today to be dealt with adequately here.

I hope that “Silkworth” might now respond publicly in some way to correct any defects on the public record but I feel sure they would rather get on with the job of saving the lives of so many people.

Perhaps Ronnie Allan might still be alive to day (see previous blogs on this site) if Deputy Pryke and her “Health” team had paid more attention to his needs and had not spent so much time talking and posturing amongst themselves whilst resisting those who offered to give genuine help…
…but have they even learned anything from his tragic death “in care”?

Answers on a ballot card please.








Wednesday, August 8, 2012

CM GORST - waving or drowning?




This, morning our leader Chief Minister Gorst appeared before the surrogate headmaster aka CM-in-waiting Bailhache et al to explain his views on “Electoral Reform”.

His appearance seemed to be as much a surprise to him as his ramblings were incomprehensible to everybody present - and et al were neither introduced by Chairmen Bailhache nor did they have identity boards. Of course, in this world of the “top table” if you don’t already know who they are – well you just don’t need to.

As Senator Bailhache explained, it was unusual that Senator Gorst had been called in at all since he had not submitted a written submission beforehand as the rules for mere plebs demanded.
Perhaps he would submit a note on his views - just for the file - suggested Bailhache. How quaint!

Clearly Gorst had nothing already prepared and he thought that it was something he could deal with whilst on holiday…his bags were already packed and the motor running…was he off to some distant isle to carry out research on alternative electoral systems we all wondered….

At a recent Scrutiny hearing Gorst emerged noticeably bruised with his ego much reduced because he evidently did not have many learned answers to the tame questions being posed. Nothing different here but he is a nice enough chap although typecast as an unimaginative and boring accountant.

Today, after about five minutes of his thoughts on the “political perspective interest” Bailhache waded in to the murky waters to rescue the CM who was obviously in difficulties – could he explain that again?

If this guy was a plant to give weighty support to the official line on preserving the Constables then clearly a major tactical error had been made!

The Chairman’s prompt soon had him back on “his” ill defined theme but the confusions remained.

Just who had put these random thoughts into his head – was it an over breakfast family chat or an early morning call from “deep throat” on a bad line?

There should be change he ventured - but nothing too soon or specific. Perhaps there should be an upper chamber of appointed or elected (he was not sure) wisdom but this should include the Constables and the Senators and the Constables should carry on doing whatever they do in their Parishes too…..

He seemed to want Parish constituencies abolished for Deputies and their overall number reduced but he was not sure how to re-draw the electoral boundaries and even less sure about a “boundary commission”.

Perhaps some spiders should be let loose on a map of the Island or ancient feudal fiefs re-established. Anything was possible

In Barbados Parish boundaries had been abolished and a boundary commission established Bailhache interjected….

…so it was worth spending that £6,000 after all – the dozen members of the public present were silently impressed too – at least none fell off their chairs or were actually sick.

The CM wanted scrutiny of legislation especially since (without wishing to identify anybody) it was evident that many States’ Members found it difficult to follow or comprehend the more complex or technical stuff – like Electoral Reform????

Wisdom was evidently in short supply but quite how splitting the House into an Upper chamber (full of wisdom) and a lower one where wisdom fuelled scrutiny might take place was not at all certain…but he stressed the need to STREAMILNE the system so that laws could be processed as quickly as possible.

Where had I heard that before I wondered?

Bailhache just smiled but the “Man from Mars” alias Deputy Baker muttered a few memorable words. Unfortunately, although the muttering  was memorable enough, I cannot recall his actual question but be assured, this Deputy is well worth every penny we pay him. What a shame if he falls outside the revised boundary under Gorst’s scheme...

Truly amazing though was that Gorst stressed the need for a clear message from the Commission upon which the State Assembly could easily agree a simple form of words for a Referendum that the public would vote on!!!
Where oh where will the States find that clear formula for change? Certainly not from CM Gorst on this showing.

Ok. We all got the message. Keep the Constables and Senators, prune and emasculate the Deputies and separate them from the Parishes and carry on as before for another century.

Why not paint all Post boxes a different colour too – that might help? Did anybody suggest that or was I just dreaming.
No other witnesses were called. This specially called and urgent session lasted just 45 minutes – why oh why did it take place at all?

Answers on a postcard please….





Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is a Silkworth Charity worth in Jersey....?

The link between government and charities in Jersey is becoming ever more complex and worrying.
We all know what happened to CHRISTIAN AID when it spoke out against some aspects of the Finance industry  (see the blog here on 25 April) yet we also know that Honorary Service is supposed to be at the very foundation of Jersey society.

On the one hand we have people being apparently demonised for doing charitable works whilst at the other end they are applauded and honoured with medals.
So just what has gone wrong with Silkworth Lodge Charity Group and its relationship with Jersey Government?

Nobody seems to know.

Here we offer an interview with Jason Wyse the COE of Silkworth who was previously employed in the Finance Industry. He is mystified too.

Likewise, it is puzzling that “Roseneath” – another Charitable and residential facility – was closed down just before Xmas last year with all staff and up to 30 residents being expelled at remarkably short notice.
Once again the axe fell when the Health Department removed its funding and the charity had to return funds already donated by a local bank.

Silkworth too has had to return funds given by the same and another bank for the creation of an in-house “detox unit.”

Clearly Silkworth cannot carry on with its good and essential works without an assured income so such actions by the Jersey government are doubly confusing and frustrating.

Ironically too, the Silkworth management had expressed an interest in taking over the Roseneath premises soon after they closed last year and had entered into discussions with the Health Department.
Yet it now seems that a Ministerial Decision was made by the Treasury months ago to secure Roseneath under States control, through the Health Department and its acquisition by Property Services was completed long ago, with an agreed payment of £100,000 of public money!

Something very fishy going on we think - but look at Silkworth’s own web-site for more details of their work and try to make some sense of all this



Notably, our 51 Elected States’ Representatives are keeping remarkably silent except for Constable Dan Murphy from Grouville who is a Trustee of Silkworth and hopping mad.

So what does this say about Electoral Reform proposals to put the Constables out to grass????

We have tried to contact Deputy Roy Le Herissier (he sat on the board at Roseneath a
and is quoted in the JEP as welcoming the Health/Property Services deal) – but he is away from Jersey on holiday…

Would any other States Member be prepared to give us an interview on this strange and very worrying matter?