Friday, May 27, 2011


There are currently 3 senior States employees under suspension and 3 or 4 “on restricted duties” according the CM Senator Le Sueur.

Whether the 3 or 4 keep moving about and so it’s difficult to count them or Le Sueur was never good at maths – was not explained to the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel on Wednesday 25 May. It’s also strange that “suspension” does not attract much discussion these days. Sarah and Jim – the public scrutinizers – did not ask for more precise details but they had a polite wander through the wonderful world of PR and HR where everything is more or less ok and suspended people in general are regularly reviewed and kept busy so as not to waste public money etc etc.

Of course, Le Sueur has that bumbling, homely sort of way of answering questions – from the Harold Wilson School of “leadership” – which means that little or no information is actually divulged but a few public pleasers are dropped into the conversation from time to time. These tend to throw potential interrogators off the scent of any scandal – Harold used to draw a few puffs from his pipe to the same effect.

Today though it was especially “just a game” because “Call me Jim” Perchard was working up to his great, well rehearsed, revelation and after Le Sueur had delivered a verbal assurance about contracts and how recruitment was all about “seeking the right person for the job”- Jim delivered his mighty atom smasher of a bombshell.
Apparently, golden handshakes of £500,000 and £300,000 had just been paid to the departing Chief Officers of the States and Health Department respectively! There was no bang though – just a very slight pause in the proceedings and Le Sueur’s head sank just a few millimetres more into his slumped shoulders whilst he drew upon an imaginary briar.

Jim tried to deliver questions why these golden handshakes had been paid at all if the two officers had “resigned” and were the payments in accordance with their contracts? - but Le Sueur was explaining that their contract terms and conditions reflected particular circumstances at a particular time….

(Had yours truly missed a Jersey tsunami or an outbreak of cholera …It must have been something really important and serious…)

…but Call me Jim’s purpose had been achieved and the accredited JEP reporter had her headline for the next edition and she didn’t have to undertake any research or move from her chair…. and Jim had achieved a gold star in the Parishes  that would shine brightly in October.

Ironically, Le Sueur had previously been warning about not believing everything that appears in the JEP but he didn’t attempt to stop this message from hitting the press.
Sarah looked slightly bemused but remained silent and chewing.

Next to Le Sueur at the interrogation table was John Richardson who had hardly exerted his magnetic personality over the proceedings. In fact he is, like so many of Jersey’s senior officers, from the Invisible Man School of administration and he was sitting taller in his seat now that he was Interim Chief Executive Officer of the States. Presumably he was now even more comfortable upon his own increased package, designed to reflect these particular and extraordinary circumstances – but nobody asked about his revised contract and conditions or if the regular job was already his, “in the bag” or had he even applied for it?

The vacancy for CEO has only been advertised in the JEP because a local 3 years appointee is being sought Le Sueur explained, but he was suitably vague about the terms of the proposed contract. Would it be different from CEO Ogley’s? The answer was lost in the imaginary smoke from the imaginary pipe….what about the new head of Health? That contract will reflect current circumstances …another cholera outbreak must be looming yours truly thought….

How about Deputy Le Herissier’s proposition that all salaries over £100,000 must be agreed by the States? The pipe replied that an answer will be lodged in 2 weeks… and on Zero Ten the Treasury has lodged a proposition but the EU procedures are arcane ( which would be an improvement in Jersey yours truly thought) and it will be December before ECOFIN considers the harmful effects arising from Ozouf’s latest cunning plan….

The EU are so inconsistent in approach Sarah suggested – we are fed up with being bullied….but Le Sueur replied that we are not being bullied, we would protest too if the practices were harmful to Jersey and we must be good European participants although not part of the EU.

Are we in competition with Guernsey and the Isle of Man, what is the meaning of “Tax Neutrality”?  Who pays for our joint Brussels office with Guernsey? What about E- Gaming and the Fulfilment Industry; Freedom of Information Law implementation (don’t hold your breath); the New Strategic Plan; Portelet Planning Permission and what to do about Ministers who defied their Officer’s advice (nothing) and the missing Baroness at the Jersey Development Company aka WEB; reorganisation of Government, the Deputy of St Mary’s proposals and the Ministerial response (no chance)…were also discussed.
Deputy De Sousa arrived shortly before the end of the meeting. Deputy Le Fondre did not

Next the Panel was due to hear the Minister of TTS re CSR stage 2 so yours truly was required to leave for a few minutes. The JEP had its scoop, Jim had his star, Sarah had her moan, Richardson had the top job, and Le Sueur had survived another day. Yours truly – the public – had had enough.
Such is the wonderful world of scrutiny.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The summer hols will soon be upon us again – but what do our elected States Members do?
Are they still obliged to be at the end of the ‘phone waiting for our calls? Do they continue to attend Scrutiny Panel meetings or other States activities or is the grand Royal Square Building just left to the pigeons and their friends?

At least one of our elected reps thinks that recess means no work at all!
Since we have our very first General Election year (in October) perhaps this anonymous Member would like to come clean before the voters and tax payers?

Do we expect our elected reps to be available for most of the year and how many weeks holiday should they take? This is what the Chairman’s Committee Panel thought last September and the PPC determination is not known but does anybody know who such recess taking States Member(s) might be? No prizes offered……

23 September 2010
Re States recesses – Member work load over such periods.

The Committee considered the unwillingness on the part of a States Member to undertake parliamentarian work of any nature during States recesses.
The reasoning behind this appeared to be that when the States were in recess the entire time could be a holiday period for Members.

Whilst the Committee considered it reasonable, indeed wise, that part of such periods could be taken as holiday, it was very concerned about this approach not only from a scrutiny perspective but from an overarching States perspective.

The Committee concluded that whilst it could challenge an individual Scrutiny Panel Member in respect of scrutiny work, it believed that this was a wider matter than being restricted to scrutiny and should be forwarded to the Privileges and Procedures Committee for it to consider whether to take the entire time as holiday and for no parliamentarian work to occur.

The Committee also agreed to recommend that, following deliberation, the Privileges and Procedures Committee should draw up an agreed protocol to advise all States Members of the expectation of Members regarding the appropriate use of States recesses.

Monday, May 16, 2011


It must be stated that the quality of Jersey convicts is rising.
Now that we have a Jersey lawyer, an accountant, police officer and teacher at La Moye we only need a States Member to almost complete the set of incarcerated professionals. No doubt Stuart will soon fill the latter vacancy and we might even have a senior Magistrate there in the near future.

At least the image of being a prisoner is no longer that of the hapless recidivist, working class proles who deserve to be locked away for ever.

It’s a bit like when Dr aka Lady Isobel Barnett – the middle class darling doyenne of BBC chat shows and panel games in the 1956s and 60s – was convicted of shoplifting. She had (from memory) been a lay magistrate at a time when hangings and beatings were still much favoured punishments. Nobody suggested that a good thrashing or hard labour would do her good on “Any Questions” as a result of her conviction, although she had been a regular panellist.

Those with long memories will also remember that she committed suicide soon afterwards in 1980 by immersing an electric heater in her bathwater.

So when the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel met today to discuss the proposed Repatriation of Prisoners (J) Law with Minister Le Marquand and his team the subject was treated with a some degree of compassion – although not much in-depth knowledge.

Human Rights features now in a way that was never heard of in Lady Barnett’s time but it is still a bit of an add-on. Not an integral part of the whole punishment /rehab package and more of an irritant to be dealt with rather than an aid to justice and fairness to be grasped with enthusiasm.

Today’s Scrutiny team was sadly depleted to just Deputies Le Herissier and Macon so was barely quorate. Deputies Tadier and T. Pitman were absent but not audibly excusé. But it did not matter since this was not really a “fully fledged Scrutiny Panel” at all – rather (as Dep Le H explained) it was just a “little hearing” and the duo would draft a “little note” for those that might be interested.

As always, the suggestion that there might be Human Rights implications was more concerned with nastiness in other places. We could not send prisoners to places where they might be tortured!
The fact that Jersey’s prison has been subject to several critical reports by HM Inspectorate of Prisons over recent years was not mentioned. Nor was the Council of Europe “Torture Committee” visit and report of 2010, yet, there are plenty of potential Jersey violations yet to be dealt with there.
Also, the Panel was, as always, not allowed to see what advice had been given by Jersey’s Crown Officers to the Minister - although he clearly had the AGs written opinion in front of him at the table and was quoting from it!

In fact, it soon transpired that the bottom line was the bottom line.
The primary purpose of the whole “repatriation” exercise was a cost-saving exercise and although the dreaded words “Ozouf and “CSR” (if that is a word) were not actually mentioned - w e all knew that it was really about saving 10%....

The notion that there are 49 prisoners from the UK currently at La Moye just screams “savings potential” to an accountant like Ozouf and “repatriation” has all sorts of emotive and ancient cost reduction – even generating - potential. It was the same motivation that transported many thousands of prisoners from the UK to America and Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, some were sent from Jersey too and the memory of shipping destitutes and undesirables out on the next boat is still a live part of the Jersey heritage.

Unfortunately, even if there were no difficult Human Rights obligations to comply with now – the simplistic cost saving aims hardly added-up.
Reducing the population of the Jersey prison actually adds to the problem because a whole wing needs to be shut in order to sack any staff at all and that creates special problems of its own.
A prison that accommodates just 200 or so inmates cannot provide all the range of specialist facilities that are needed in the 21st century. This becomes more difficult with even fewer prisoners. Thus, the human rights violations and other inadequacies are increased by reducing the population. Trained staff could be needed in a hurry if Jersey accountants and lawyers suddenly started to copy-cat the crimes of those already imprisoned. Prison buildings have to be kept ready too – just in case….so the savings are more theoretical that actual and many prisoners from the UK, Poland or Portugal have strong Jersey links and would be exempted (on human rights grounds) from repatriation at all.

Put simply, Jersey prison needs more inmates – not fewer, if it is to address human rights issues or provide proper 21st century standard facilities on an economically sound basis.
[Perhaps this is the diversification that Ozouf and Co is seeking – why not turn La Moye into a revenue earning prison by importing criminals. Jersey’s very own Devils Island! There could be a huge airport traffic/tourism surge too….?}

Also, there are unknown numbers of Jersey prisoners in other jurisdictions who might be entitled to transfer to La Moye. Whilst they might be able to speak Jerriaise and make a Jersey milk-can in the prison workshops – they could also be in need of specialist care or treatment which La Moye cannot provide.

Unfortunately, it transpired (after some prompting from yours truly) that Jersey has not even yet managed to agree upon a repatriation policy with Guernsey or the Isle of Man or the separate parts of the UK (Scotland, Ireland and England) which will be compatible with their own prison/punishment variations or of Jersey’s own weird parole practices. Although there is a “dialogue” going on with the UK Justice Department trying to produce a special “bilateral agreement” – nobody at this Panel meeting could explain what it was!

Besides which, countries in the EU such as Poland - and doubtless others – have opted out of the existing agreements within the EU (which do not apply in Jersey anyhow).
So, even if Jersey does manage to negotiate an international agreement – it will be full of holes and the Minister had little idea about the implications for places further afield such as Indonesia or Thailand….it sounded like Freddie Cohen will have his work cut out there for many years to come, waving Jersey’s International profile flag.

Ian Le Marquand explained that a much simpler cost saving measure could be achieved by putting two prisoners in a cell, and he did not know what the term “temporary return” meant in the draft law. Also, he was a bit vague about prisoners from other jurisdictions who could return to Jersey before their Jersey sentences were completed - if they had been granted more favourable terms or an amnesty elsewhere - or about prisoners’ rights to vote.

Sadly, he had given up trying to revive the proposed reform of Jersey’s own parole system and sentencing policies.  These had been kicking around for decades but had evidently encountered the granite wall that is tradition in this Island and he had no inclination, time or energy to tackle them before October. Although this package was the impediment against administering much of the proposed Repatriation Law – there was the familiar hint of a higher presence in a red robe that was not in favour of change here.

So, although La Moye prison is currently starved of funds and struggling to provide adequate facilities and re-training/education services, or segregation on the basis of age, gender or vulnerability – the government demand is to reduce costs further.

Of course, the radical solution might be to look at ways and means of not sending so many people to prison at all ( and Jersey usually tops the international jailing  league) but that would require a more resolute and structured Scrutiny panel review.
Certainly it is not something that could be dealt with over a leisurely hour’s chat, one morning, during an Election Year. This proposed Law is clearly only half-baked….


Thursday, May 12, 2011


Comments from Michael Dun on the Revised Draft Jersey Island Plan

11 May 2011

1) Only in Jersey could the Island Plan be prepared in advance of the Census.
My first comment is therefore that the Plan should be withdrawn entirely until the 2011 Census has been digested and reported upon. Then the Plan can be reconsidered and re-drafted on the basis of reliable statistics and information. The existing 2002 Island Plan should remain in force in the meantime.

2) I gather that Deputy Sean Power has expressed a similar point of view about the Census.
He has also proposed by virtue of his 27th Amendment P48 that the Housing Chapter should be removed from the current Plan and a revised Chapter prepared instead. In the meantime he proposes that the 2002 Housing Chapter should remain in force.
I support that proposal as an alternative

3) I note that yet another St Helier Northern Plan has just been published.
All of a sudden such Plans for this patch seem to be appearing with absurd regularity whereas they have been required to be prepared ever since the 1980s under previous Island Plans.
Similarly, plans for many other Built Up Areas have been promised for decades but have still not materialised.

4) I say that until all or most of the area plans have been published and agreed that it is absurd to proceed with the rest of the Island Plan. In other words, I suggest that the whole Island Plan be suspended until all the future implications for St Helier and other built-up zones have been agreed based upon realistic aspirations for housing, commercial, retail, transport, industrial, recreation, and other development needs.
Only then will it be realistic to consider developments in the rural areas of the Island.
Many of the aspirations in the current Plan for office, retail and housing development are just fantasy and are totally unrelated to economic reality or even Jersey’s own contradicting policies for CSR (cost cutting) on the one hand and Growth (population and business) on the other.

5) The Planning Inspectors (Messrs Shepley and Langton) recommended that the needs of the Non-Qualified residents of Jersey should be better addressed (8.140 – 142).
I can see no change in this Plan so far as these 10,000 or so working adults (20% of the working population) are concerned. This is a moral disgrace and a planning absurdity. The Island Plan should be altered or withheld until research is undertaken to determine the specific housing demand from this group and their families. Current policies that largely ignore them are blatantly discriminatory and wholly inconsistent with best planning practice.
Furthermore, the substantial reforms that are already planned in the re-organisation of the Housing Department, States Social housing stock, Housing legislation and regulation of people and properties is so profound that the implications must be acknowledged and planned for.

6) The proposition currently before the States in the name of Population control will categorise and control all units of living accommodation from Alhambra splendour to Zinc covered slums All residents too will be labelled in accordance with their housing and work status and there will be all sorts of supporting rules about security of tenure for ALL etc. The implication for the housing stock are immense and there will be huge implications for housing provision – especially among those who are currently “off the radar” or living in sub-standard or unofficially sanctioned or “non-quals” units.
Jersey must PLAN to eliminate portakabin and garden shed living accommodation because it is unacceptable.

7) This Island Plan fails to accommodate so many other major reforms that are already in the pipeline by several government departments so that it is more like a plan for another Island That all this is proceeding against the background of CSR policies that demand public spending cuts of £65 millions before 2013 and reduced budgets thereafter for evermore whilst at the same time expanding the economy and population is so absurd as to be hopelessly flawed. Health, Education, sustainability, and transport plans etc that are already being discussed and promoted are not adequately reflected in this Plan if at all.
There are immense proposals yet to be digested and agreed by the States that will be implemented during the life-time of this Plan. It is just plain silly that the Plan does not include them.

8) During the previous Draft Plan discussions I raised repeatedly questions about discrimination, Human Rights and international obligations.
The Inspectors hardly fell over themselves in support (anymore than does the Jersey government) but they do ask that the Plan shall be confirmed as Human Rights compliant before it is adopted (1.23).
Such an assurance is not just a bland endorsement. It cannot be done without a proper examination of the policies that are included.
Thus, where discrimination is promoted between qualified or non-qualified under Housing laws or agricultural workers or agri-business in preference to others, or rural dwellers above urban – then I say that it should be spelled out that such contradictions re compatible. And, I don’t just mean compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights – I mean that the Plan shall be declared as compatible with ALL the international obligations that are relevant to this Plan. It is not just a question of non-discrimination either because there are human rights obligations relating to privacy and the peaceful enjoyment of property etc - besides important environmental safeguards that should all be recognised and acknowledge BEFORE this Plan is adopted.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


There is just one Scrutiny Panel meeting again this week.
The looming election in October might have perked-up our elected reps elsewhere- but it’s just that old end of term feeling around the Jersey corridor of powwow.
There is also an awful smell of impending doom - almost a feeling that the whole Scrutiny system is about to be closed down and buried. Shock and horror indeed – but very low key. No need to panic.

What then should Deputies Le Herissier, Macon, Trevor Pitman and Tadier do during the lunch-break of a States Assembly meeting and where else should they meet and eat their sandwiches?

This Tuesday at 1.00pm the famous four assembled beneath the rare Le Capelains under the guise of the Education & Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel and had even managed to attach an Agenda outside of the room so that the public could know what was happening within. Just in case.
This was a first – but the promised copy agenda on the Panels website had not materialised as promised. That site was still advertising coming events for 2009 which was probably when the future for scrutiny last looked bright…

Now the Panel was just wrapping up old reports.
There was no time to initiate any new investigations before the election except there was a suggestion for a review looking at Jersey pubs. Yours truly was allowed to interject here very briefly as the MOP (member of public) who had suggested it. But this had been referred onwards by the Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel just before that Panel had imploded following the resignation of Chairman Deputy Higgins.
Nobody was keen to pick up the flag on this one – then Deputy Macon smashed a glass but it was not through excitement or a practical pub re-enactment.  It seems that his eyes had just glazed over for a second and he lost his iron grip….but the percussive sound usefully jolted the teams’ attention to the next item…

The Scrutiny Panel newsletter is to be axed. That startling news is a bit of a blow because it is a great way to promote an election profile at public expense and a copy drops through every letter box in the Island. Its all part of the CSR cuts and even Scrutiny has to do its bit apparently and the decision was made by the Chairmen’s Committee – now led by Sarah – who won’t need to be re-elected this autumn as a half-term Senator.

Ironically (or not) this is just the sort of saving that Sarah’s pet Pied Piper had been advocating at her recent Corporate Services Panel hearing. Nobody reads these government publications he said – they are a total waste of time and money and make pretence of engaging with the public whereas they actually do the opposite!

On this basis the entire report publishing basis of scrutiny is doomed since so few reviews are ever looked at although they are given away free of charge. No reports means no scrutiny… and what about all those other States sponsored publications like Consumer Matters or Harbour News or Changing States etc etc that are churned out for no clearly defined reason and how about Parish Mags and the plethora of glossy freebies that are handed out here there and everywhere…All good potential business for printers and publishers and “accredited journalists.”

Yet Planning are charging £35 for copies of the printed version of the revised Draft Island Plan – even to those who paid £25 for the first draft and even £5 for a disc!

That rant is just a thought from yours truly not the famous four who had moved on to discuss their Police Succession Planning report - about to be published.
This won’t include former CO Graham Power’s recent written submission although that will remain on the Panel’s web-site (seek and ye might find it). And they will write to the relevant Minister to find out why there has been no response to the Panel’s request for more information about Mr. Power and the Wiltshire Report….it goes on for ever.

But, shall we ever meet again? Can Scrutiny survive?