Friday, 27 June 2014

Plemont 2---More Dirty Deeds Afoot??

In my previous blog I stated that the anticipated Comments from the Treasury and Planning Ministers along with those from Council of Ministers (COM) had not been submitted. Following the States approval of my Proposition P194/2011, Comments relating to propositions should  be lodged by noon on the Friday before the debate.The Proposition can be read HERE

Senator Bailhache's proposition is the first to debated at next Tuesday's States Sitting. Today the COM lodged comments in respect of Senator Breckon's proposition in relation to an inquiry into the sale of the Broad Street Post Office Building which is to be debated at the same Sitting. However its Comments re the Plemont purchase are still no where to be found, Why?

Earlier today the Treasury Minister, Senator Ozouf lodged his Comments in relation to Senator Bailhache's proposition which seeks States approval to spend £3.5million to assist the National Trust for Jersey to purchase the Plemont Holiday Village and return it to its natural state.

Senator Bailhache's proposition also (cheekily) requests the Treasury Minister to identify the appropriate means means of funding for the States, should they wish to do so, to provide a grant to the National Trust for Jersey in order for them to acquire the Plémont Holiday Village.

Senator Ozouf's Comments can be read HERE

Senator Ozouf has made it clear that there are no immediate funds, however he wishes to assist his good friend and fellow Minister Senator Bailhache by raiding the funds from the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) law 1999 ( The Law) which can be read in full  HERE

I hope that ALL States Members will read Senator Ozouf's Comments and read the (Law) which the Senator has conveniently omitted to provide a link why? Is it because he knows that what he is proposing is well outside the provisions of (The Law). He knows that, so does Senator Bailhache, the Council of Ministers, the Attorney General, Uncle Tom Cobley and all who have read Article 24 which covers how the funds can be dispersed.

For the benefit of readers and hopefully those States Members who read my Blog Article 24 is as follows:

24    Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund

(1)    There shall be established a Fund to be called the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund which, subject to this Article, shall be managed and controlled by the Minister for Treasury and Resources.[22]

(2)    All amounts –

(a)     recovered under or in satisfaction of a confiscation order; or

(b)     received under an asset sharing agreement,

shall be included in the monies which are paid into the Fund.[23]

(3)    Monies paid into the Fund shall not form part of the annual income of the States.

(3A)      The Fund shall be a special fund for the purposes of the Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005[24].

(4)    Subject to paragraph (5), monies in the Fund shall be applied by the Minister for Treasury and Resources for the following purposes, that is to say –

(a)     in promoting or supporting measures that, in the opinion of the Minister for Treasury and Resources, may assist –

(i)     in preventing, suppressing or otherwise dealing with criminal conduct,

(ii)    in dealing with the consequences of criminal conduct, or

(iii)   without prejudice to the generality of clauses (i) and (ii), in facilitating the enforcement of any enactment dealing with criminal conduct;

(b)     discharging Jersey’s obligations under asset sharing agreements; and

(c)     meeting the expenses incurred by the Minister for Treasury and Resources in administering the Fund.[25]

(5)    Before promoting or supporting any measure under paragraph (4)(a), the Minister for Treasury and Resources shall consult the Attorney General and other persons or bodies (including other Ministers) as the Minister for Treasury and Resources considers appropriate.[26]

(6)    Monies paid into the Fund, while not applied for any of the purposes mentioned in paragraph (4), may be –

(a)     held in the custody of the Treasurer of the States at the States Treasury; or

(b)     placed, in the name of the States, in a current or deposit account with one or more banks selected by the Minister for Treasury and Resources,

and any interest earned on such monies while held in such an account shall be paid by the States into the Fund.[27]

(7)    Monies held in any account by virtue of paragraph (6)(b) may be withdrawn on the signature of the Treasurer of the States.

(8)    In this Article, “asset sharing agreement” means any agreement or arrangement made by or on behalf of Jersey with a country or territory outside Jersey for the sharing of the proceeds of criminal conduct that, as a result of mutual assistance, have been confiscated or forfeited either in Jersey or elsewhere.[28]

As can be seen from the above Article there is no way in which funds which are intended for preventing, suppressing or otherwise dealing with criminal conduct or in dealing with the consequences of criminal conduct can be used to purchase the Holiday Village.

It might be worth reminding Senator Ozouf, States Members and Law Officers that when seeking to use money from the same source to fund the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the abuse of Island residents, the request was rejected because it fell outside the provisions of Article 24, even though it was argued that the COI was dealing with the consequences of criminal conduct.

Is the reason for the COM's failure to lodge its Comments because it has lost its spin script writer and is therefore unable to find someone with the ability to pull the wool over the eyes of States Members, or has it been reminded that the provisions of the (Law) do not allow for funds to buy Plemont which was denied to supporters of the COI which the Council of Ministers opposed.

Apart from bringing the States into disrepute by recycling the Plemont issue, using highly questionable or even "dirty" tactics to achieve their goal does little for the reputation of the individuals concerned.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Plemont Headland---A Contrived Debate?

Next week the States will be meeting as per schedule and Members have over 30 propositions plus amendments to debate. Some years ago the States approved my proposition which was to publish a schedule of States Sittings in the summer for the following year and should States business not be completed on the scheduled Tuesday then business would continue through that week. The 2014 schedule was published on 15th July via R87/2013

The reason for my proposition was to help States Members with their diaries. They would know that whilst they could be in the States for some days in the scheduled week, there was good chance that they would be free the following week so they could arrange meetings, particularly those out of Island, with a degree of certainty. Therefore States Members had almost a year's notice that there would be a States meeting on 1st July which could sit for several days as there is always a build up in July.

Due to the large number of propositions the States has agreed to meet at 230pm on Monday 30th June for Question Time which will mean that debates on the propositions can get under way after prayers on Tuesday 1st July. Normally propositions are debated in the numerical order in which they are lodged. However if a good reason can be found it is possible with States approval for a proposition to be moved up or down the Order Paper.

On 3rd June Senator Philip Bailhache lodged yet another proposition on the Plemont Holiday Village. P107/2014. In his election manifesto he was critical of States Members stating " The reputation of the States in the Island has seldom been lower. Too much time is wasted by the discussion of trivial matters." He may be right but what is a trivial matter and how many times must a matter be recycled? There have been several States debates on Plemont and on 13th December 2012 the States debated P90/2012 lodged by Chief Minister Gorst which asked whether the States should buy the headland and sell it on to the National Trust for Jersey. The States by 25 to 24 decided against the purchase. Planning Consent has since been given and work is underway, however the friends/members of the National Trust have continued their opposition.

The latest twist in the saga is that the Developer, probably because he can not longer afford the time or money fighting the Trust's big guns is offering to sell the property to them. However not only is the price well over the top, see Treasury Ministers Comments in 2012 but is considerably more than the Trust can afford. However with friends in high places money is not a problem. The Developer is asking for just over £7 million pounds and to walk away leaving the States and the National Trust with responsibility for clearing the large site and returning it to nature.

What is alarming is that Senator Bailhache only lodged his proposition on 3rd June and it is being debated one month later with no Comments from the Treasury or Planning Ministers or the Council of Ministers, nor being subject of a review or Comments from the Scrutiny Panel. If the proposition had been lodged by an "ordinary" back bencher all sorts of obstacles would have been found let alone requests for deferment until the financial implications had been addressed. 

When a proposition is lodged the proposer is supposed to disclose the financial and manpower implications. If a particular proposal does have financial implications he/she must identify what savings can be made elsewhere to fund whatever is being proposed. Finding £3m can be difficult however Senator Bailhache is requesting that the Treasury Minister should identify the appropriate means of funding. Can you imagine what the Treasury Minister's response would be if a lesser mortal should make such a request?

To add insult to injury and to expose States Member's soft under belly they have not only agreed that Senator Bailhache's proposition should jump the queue but should be debated as the first item when the States sits on Tuesday morning. This will be really convenient for the Trust's supporters who are being encouraged to attend the debate. How is this possible and how could Members be so naive. The answer is simple and is explained below.

The Overseas Aid Committee has an annual trip to the UK to meet various bodies who have applied for Aid. It has had a year's notice that the States was sitting on 1st July and given the usual build up of propositions, the Sitting was likely to continue through the week. Senator Paul Routier who apart from being an Assistant Chief Minister is also Chairman of the Jersey Overseas Aid Committee and he should  have been aware that the States was likely to sit for several days. It should be noted that he and fellow members Connetable le Troquer and Deputy Labey all voted in support of the proposition to purchase the Plemont property in 2012, but unless Senator Bailhache's proposition was able to jump the queue all three members would be in the UK and unable to vote.

Normally it is the proposition's proposer who asks for a variation in the running order. However it appears that Deputy Labey was deputed to make the request. One can understand the request because it is likely that the proposition would have been debated later in the week when the 3 committee members were in the UK. In my view the States Members should not have supported Deputy Labey's request. The Overseas Aid Committee had ample knowledge of the States Sitting and should have avoided that week. Among the 30 proposition are matters which relate to a number of important laws which affect the well being of ALL Island residents and deserving the support of ALL States Members. To agree to the Plemont proposition jumping the queue is an insult to All Island residents and no wonder that the reputation of the States in the Island has seldom been lower with leader of the culprits being none other than the statement's author.

It should be noted that there were requests for P102/2014 Civil Marriage-same sex couples lodged by Deputy Sam Mezec and Maternity Leave- Rights of employees lodged by Deputy Geoff Southern to jump the queue but neither were approved and among those voting against were Senator Bailhache and Deputy Labey.

Supporting the proposition is short sighted. The Holiday Village is a brown field site where the Developer intends to build 28 homes which we are told are much needed. The cost to the States will be in excess of three and a half million pounds for these reasons. Building the homes will provide work for a large number of people who will pay income tax and social security and the sale of the homes will lead to a considerable amount of stamp duty to the States and 28 rate payers to the Parish of St Ouen. The Developer has said that he will give the States a large area of the headland which can be enjoyed by future generations. 

I submit that if the States has over £3m spare money it would be better spent on helping the Island's needy and vulnerable residents who probably have no idea where Plemont is and like the majority of Island residents are unlikely to visit the headland.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Independent Jersey Care Inquiry --- Wheels Turning?

The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry's offices at 11/15 Seaton Place in St Helier were opened yesterday to members of the public.The photograph above is the main area where the three members of the Committee of Inquiry will conduct their business There is also an area set aside for witnesses who do not wish to be identified and for the media. 
There were members of the team present to answer questions and how witnesses will be looked after. It is evident that no expense has been spared in providing the latest technology and also provision for witnesses who wish to give their evidence anonymously.

My visit lasted about an hour and I took the opportunity of speaking to a number of the team and also interested members of the public, many of whom I knew. 
At the outset of most Inquiries there is always a mixture of optimism and pessimism which is understandable. One of the main concerns is the time it has taken for the pleas of the victims to be heard and for the police to actually have the courage to address their allegations. There is also the suspicion that a number of people in positions of responsibility who not only turned a blind eye but also covered up or protected suspects will not be exposed. 

There is also a feeling of despair that the Committee of Inquiry (COI)  will not get to the root of the problems and the " Jersey Way" will remain but in a stronger position because it was able to withstand an attack from what is seen as a toothless body which does not understand how the machinery of our government functions. There is also a belief that it will "chicken out" because it does not have the resolve or stomach for a fight against an entrenched system which is still based on the feudal past.

Among the reasons given by the Council of Ministers for opposing the Inquiry was because lessons have been learnt and systems are now in place whereby the vulnerable are protected and if by chance anything untoward should arise, systems are in place to ensure that their concerns are openly and efficiently addressed.

Those who have been following my Blogs will know that nothing has changed and lessons have not been learnt. Victims become villains and are abused or ignored by those who are supposed to uphold the law and see fair play. So what hope is there for those who may still be considering whether to come forward as witnesses and/or to appear before the COI?

The protocols akin to a set of rules are in place and are intended to assist the COI, the witnesses, press and other interested bodies. However I question whether they are being interpreted fairly. I have been impressed by the Team's manner and enthusiasm but they are being let down because of the manner it is interpreting the protocol relating to legal assistance.

I understand that legal support is being given to government bodies such as the police, health, education and other public funded departments but not to ordinary members of the public. How can that be, surely that is no way to treat individuals some of whom are key witnesses.

I also understand the Team was refused access to a person held at La Moye Prison, yet when a States Member attempted to lodge a question of the Chief Minister, the Bailiff would not allow it. There is no appeal system in place.

It is to be hoped that these are just isolated incidents and will be remedied but if the Inquiry is to succeed it will require a mature approach from both the COI and the States and to understand that witnesses need to be encouraged not hindered.   

 I have submitted a 37 page statement. It was taken by two UK lawyers in what was a painless exercise and I would urge all those who are not sure whether their evidence is of value to pick up the phone and make a free call to speak to a member of the Team. If in Jersey/UK dial 0800 735 0100 or if further afield dial +44 (0) 1534 828 798. The email address is
The Independent Jersey Care website is 

These are still a few wrinkles to be ironed out including some proposed amendments from Daniel Wimberley which the COI is duty bound to consider and seek States approval to implement.These are stilll early days but the wheels are at long last turning.and we have been promised a "robust and fearless" Inquiry, let us hope that this is the case.