Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Seasonal Registration Cards: Comments from Correspondents

Kevin Keen has seen my original suggestion for a "seasonal registration card" for the hospitality industry, and Senator Paul Routier's reply.
 
I suggested a time-limited "seasonal card" which was cheaper, but had to be "converted" to a standard registration card if the employee was here for more than 3 months. Here's my post:
 
http://tonymusings.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-seasonal-registration-card.html    
 
Senator Paul Routier gave a guest reply, with permission to publish at:
 
http://tonymusings.blogspot.com/2014/07/guest-reply-by-senator-paul-routier-on.html  
 
In particular, he said:
 
"Before I outline in detail my thoughts, I would mention that what has been missed by the reporting is that the card costs £35 for a person who has worked in Jersey before. As is often the case with seasonal workers, they return over a number of years. Furthermore, it is not something that has to be paid more than once, i.e. a worker can work in Jersey this season and pay for their card, and then use the card again next season without further charge. This may not detract from the points you raise, but does seem worth mentioning and means that the impact in future years will be lesser."
 
"Perhaps more fundamentally, however, the emphasis of our policies at the moment is very much one of supporting locally qualified people into work. While this is often challenging, the back to work programme offer considerable support, including financial incentives, for employers to take on local people. In this context, the registration fee is not inconsistent."
 
Reply by Kevin Keen
 
Kevin Keen has given me permission to make his comment public about Senator Routier's reply:
 
Fair points, but he takes a narrow view of tourism. For example retail is very dependent on tourism. They could take up your suggestion for all seasonal jobs (up to say 20 weeks).
 
I don't get the point about preferring locals, it is going to be miles easier to employ a local if they want the job and have the skills to do it. Occasionally you hear locals are holding out for a job in public sector or finance industry. This is understandable because these jobs are usually better paid and probably more sociable hours but the seasonal jobs need doing and they are not taking permanent jobs away from locals.
 
Reply by Adam Gardiner:
 
And my correspondent Adam Gardiner has this to comment:
 
My first reaction is that if cards are 'permanent' for seasonal staff, that does not actually limit immigration at all. The math is simple, 375 people each year for 10 years increases our population by nearly 4,000 over that period. Add to that birth rate (currently around 1,000 per year) and we are looking at our propagation growing by 14,000 by 2024. By way of comparison that is almost by the current population of St. Brelade!
 
Surely any scheme which is essentially designed to limit immigration by deterring speculative arrivals on the one hand, and on the other fill only peak time vacancies needs to be end-dated?
 
Work permit, right to work call it what you like, is always time limited elsewhere, or have conditions attached although there are mechanisms to extend them or eventually gain permanent residence. The Jersey fudge also has the potential to promote the grey economy in my opinion.
 
A right to work is not the same as having work. At the risk of sounding racist, the East European countries in particular, and who now feature amongst our largest number of immigrants, have exceptionally well developed grey economies born out of necessity which has become almost part of their culture They know how to survive in the shadows and 'fiddle the system'.
 
Why on earth we had to have a fixed quota in the first place is beyond me. There are other methods. If I take NZ as an example, they have a three tier system - based on work visas. Full details: http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/move-to-nz/new-zealand-visa/work-visa  
 
In every case all must be arranged BEFORE you travel. You are otherwise free to travel to the country as a visitor, on a tourist visa or standard passport, but must leave within 3 months of arrival and be in possession of a return ticket on arrival - although extensions may granted in certain circumstances.
 
In accepting that Jersey has several obligations under EU legislation, and perhaps we cannot issue visa's per se, the general principles that allow NZ to:
 
(i)  regulate is population without limiting delivery of its economic and/or social policies,
(ii) assures that casual and seasonal employment does not runaway or create a grey economy, and also
(iii) ensures temporary immigrants do not add unreasonable burden to the State
 
all seem very sensible to me.

Reply from James

And my correspondent James comments:

"Furthermore, it is not something that has to be paid more than once, i.e. a worker can work in Jersey this season and pay for their card, and then use the card again next season without further charge"

I hesitate to call Senator Routier a liar, but at least some of the cards that Population are issuing are end-dated. Mine (which is an ETW (entitled to work) card) has a 3-month validity on it.

First question: if ETW cards are end-dated and Registered cards are not, why would you give a seasonal worker an open-dated card, but not someone who is resident? Surely it ought to be the other way round if the States are serious about prioritising getting local people back to work?

Second question: if both cards are end-dated, then what Senator  Routier says above simply isn't true. A seasonal worker would need to re-apply for a card every time they started a job.

Constable Phillip Rondel asked Senator Routier for a reply on the rationale of end-dating cards on my behalf. That was 11 days ago. I am still waiting to see a response.

References

Monday, 21 July 2014

Street Works Law: The Unending Story

This blog posting consists of little more than extracts from Hansard on the proposed "Street Works Law". The purpose of the law was to ensure, among other matters, that utility companies repaired the roads sufficiently well that they would be guaranteed to last for three years - or the contractor would suffer the burden of fixing any potholes etc which had arisen through over-hasty repair patches.
 
Currently, the time for the road to be in good condition is limited to one year, and 6 months for trench work. The bumpy state of the roads, worsened as expansion cracks appear, is the result. The road surface has only to survive one winter, for example, where ice can get into the cracks. After that, it is the taxpayer, by way of TTS or the Parishes, which has to fund the cost of repairing a deteriorating road surface. It is rather like a warrantee on a washing machine, which just begins to give trouble after the year is up.
 
The state of the Street Works Law is farcical, as these extracts show. As far back as 2009, work was going to start on the law, which was "well under way", and would be there in 2009 or early 2010. Then we were told it would appear in 2012, which came and gone, and no law. By 2013, it was "the not too distant future", and "We have the Street Works Law in the pipeline.", and later we were told it would be there "by the middle of next year" - that is, 2014. Well, we are in the middle of 2014, and we are now being told it will come in "late this year, early next year".
 
Is this law ever to arrive? Let me present to you a fairy tale, a just so story, of what might be happening behind the scenes, although this is purely imagination, and I am sure bears little resemblance to the truth, even if it may appear plausible in places (if you knew the behind the scenes happenings).
 
I can imagine some law draftsman, tucked away in an office, delving into the minutiae of the law, and - being such a perfectionist - never quite happy with the state of affairs. There is always room for improvement, he tells himself, and then other laws come along, and every so often he returns to peruse it, and pick up where he had left off, polishing it so that it will eventually be a masterpiece of perfection, although this may still take several years to complete.
 
That glory of the ancient world, Rome, was not built in a day - and he will tell his Minister that every time they press him on the matter, and they will shrug their shoulders, and hope that if they say the law will come in after an election, no one will hold these interminable delays against them.
 
Street Works Law: The Unending Story
 
TUESDAY, 24th MARCH 2009
 
The Connétable of St. Brelade:
The new Street Works Law, to which I alluded earlier on, is long overdue and I am
very keen to have it on the statute books and this, as I suggested, will take place either
during the course of this year or early 2010. I
 
 
MONDAY, 5th OCTOBER 2009
 
16.4 The Deputy of St. Mary:
 
It is just a question for the Chief Minister.  On page 108 under T.T.S.: "Work will start on a new Street Works Law with the object of enforcing a co-ordinated and managed street works policy."  My understanding on Scrutiny was that work on this law was already well under way and a good thing, too, so I just want clarification on the rather odd wording: "Work will start on ..."  I am concerned that we need to get on with this because lack of that Street Works Law is costing the Island a lot of money.
 
The Connétable of St. Brelade:
 
If the Chief Minister will give way briefly, just to clarify, the Street Works Law is well underway.  Consultations have taken place with all parties involved and we have got now to the legislation stage where the Law Officers are being instructed.  So, this is the final tranche of the law.
 
TUESDAY, 15th MARCH 2011
 
The Connétable of St. Brelade:
 
I fully empathise with the Deputy's remarks regarding these situations and, in order to address that, the department is working on a new Street Works Law which I am hoping will come before this Assembly early in 2012.
 
TUESDAY, 19th JULY 2011
 
Bob Hill, St Martin
 
The States are asked to decide whether they are of opinion (a) to agree that appropriate legislation should be brought forward for approval to make the States, in respect of main roads ('grandes routes') and the Parishes in respect of Parish roads (chemins vicinaux), legally responsible for damage to individuals suffered as a result of negligence caused by a failure by the relevant highway authority to maintain the roads and pavements in a proper state of repair and (b) to request the Minister for Transport and Technical Services to bring forward the appropriate amendments for States approval.
 
Mike Jackson:
 
Just before closing, I would say that prior to being elected I was a roads inspector for the Parish of St. Brelade for some 6 years and I can assure Members that those roads inspectors in the Parishes do a diligent job.  They pick up all sorts of omissions in the road surfaces and I would say that the bulk of those issues are created by third parties digging up the public roads and I will refer to the new street works law which the Deputy mentioned earlier on and I am keen that this becomes on the statute book and I certainly think it will be during the course of next year.  It is in the later stages of preparation and that will certainly assist my department in managing the utility companies during their trenching processes, which are undertaken at the moment.
 
Connétable J.M. Refault of St. Peter:
 
Moving back to the proposition, I think the Deputy of St. Martin has brought forward a well-meaning and responsible proposition that protects the public from injury.  However, it is unfortunately, I believe, out of sync with the reality of where we are.  We are just months away now from seeing the Street Works Law, which is being put together by Transport and Technical Services, come into fruition, hopefully around about June next year, which puts a lot of responsibilities on the people that damage the roads deliberately because they are the utilities and they have to open the roads to get to their services.  The new Street Works Law also makes provisions to ensure that the repair is done to a far higher standard and also to involve the area of influence of the works that they are doing.  All too often we see, particularly after wet periods and cold periods, where on the interface between the old and the new asphalt potholes will appear overnight.
 
Connétable A.S. Crowcroft of St. Helier:
 
One of the things that I am most worried about is any delay to the long-awaited Street Works Law and effectively that is what will happen if the Deputy's proposition is passed.  T.T.S. effectively seems to me to be required to make space in their work that will be delayed and, from my point of view, the majority of things we are dealing with result from utility companies digging up highways and pavements and other third parties, not just utility companies.  The sooner we can get a handle on that and legislate and make them do the job properly, the safer our pavements and highways will be.
 
1.2.15 The Deputy of St. Mary:
 
The other 4 points I was going to make briefly, the Constable of St. Helier spoke about the Street Works Law and he said: "If we do not refer this back, somehow the Street Works Law might be delayed."  Well, that is extraordinary because my understanding was that that was with the law draftsman.  He also suggested that the virtue of the Street Works Law is that the sooner it gets passed it will make them do the job properly.  Well, amen to that.
 
TUESDAY, 23rd OCTOBER 2012
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
I think there are several facets to that question.  We have the Street Works Law in the pipeline.  That should be arriving soon regarding who digs up the road, when and where. 
 
TUESDAY, 19th FEBRUARY 2013
 
4.1.2 Deputy S. Power of St. Brelade:
 
Could the Minister give the Assembly an indication on the quality of the road resurfacing that is done as a result of trenching and digging and retrenching and resurfacing, whether his department exercises some degree of control over the quality of the resurfacing, because some streets like Gloucester Street are appalling?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
I would agree, and all the trenching is guaranteed for a period of time.  This will be tightened up in the not too distant future by the Street Works Law, which will make it mandatory to consult with Transport and Technical Services, acquire their permission, and we are going to raise the standards all the time for trenching works
 
4.1.4 Deputy J.M. Maçon of St. Saviour:
 
The Minister mentioned the long-awaited Street Works Law.  Can he advise us what draft we are in and when it is likely to be lodged at this Assembly for debate?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
I believe it is with the Law Officers, but I need to get back to Members on that.
 
4.1.6 The Connétable of St. John:
 
Out of interest, I have just turned a pad over and I have got a 1998 cartoon of road improvements that were guaranteed by the president of the day that they would all be done by 2004.  We are now nearly in 2014.  The Street Works Law was being spoken about in my time on the committee of the day, back at the turn of the century, and the Minister is telling us that he cannot give us a real update of when it is coming to the House.  He is blaming the Law Draftsmen's Office. Surely, Minister, you must be on top and be able to give us a date when the Street Works Law is coming to the House.
 
The Deputy Bailiff:
 
I did not understand him to be blaming the Law Draftsmen's Office.  I understood the Minister to say the draft law was with the Attorney General's Department, but Minister?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
Absolutely, Sir, I am not blaming anybody.  In f act, we are very grateful to the Law Draftsmen's Office for progressing this.  It will be with us as soon as possible.
 
TUESDAY, 16th APRIL 2013
 
2.6.2 The Connétable of St. John:
 
Given that a number of main arteries into St. Helier have been resurfaced over the last 5 to 7 years, will the Minister please explain how come Queens Road, for instance, has had its manholes lifted on several occasions because of failing asphalt and I note, even again this morning on my way in, that the manholes have been boxed again in yellow paint because a number of holes are appearing yet again.  Can it be right and are the States picking up the bill for this maintenance work or is this being done under the original contractor's warranty?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
Repairs of this kind are guaranteed for 12 months.  With the new Street Works Law, which will be coming in the middle of next year, that will be extended to 3 years.  If the roads are handed back to the States, they will be guaranteed for 3 years and any repairs will be taking place at the contractor's expense.
 
2.6.4 Deputy T.A. Vallois:
 
It is fine to have policy and procedures laid out, but it is how they are implemented.  How would the Minister know whether it was the contractor's fault or the officer's way of implementing those policies and procedures?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
It is all very closely monitored but there are occasions where trenching is done without the knowledge of the department, or should I say they are reinstated without an officer present.  This will be covered in the new Street Works Law where it will be clearly laid down.
 
2.6.7 Deputy G.C.L. Baudains:
 
Could the Minister assure the Assembly that the process used in resurfacing roads will revert to the original more satisfactory process where it was laid in 2 layers instead of the one layer they are doing now?  On trench reinstatement, can he assure this Assembly that his officers are monitoring trench reinstatement so that it is compacted and it is level as they go, because I do not believe there are any utility trench reinstatements being satisfactorily monitored by his department?
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
It is monitored by the department but, as I have stated, sometimes the trench is reinstated without an officer present.  This will be covered by the new Street Works Law coming in the middle of next year where they will be legally obliged.
 
 
TUESDAY, 17th JUNE 2014
 
Deputy K.C. Lewis:
 
The utility companies have a right in urgent matters to dig up any road they feel necessary.  That is the state of law at the moment.  But we will be having a Street Works Law coming in, I believe, late this year, early next year which will formalise everything where everything has to be approved in advance.  We do have agreements with utility companies with regard to digging-up freshly laid roads.  We have about a 3-year moratorium on that, but in an emergency, mains, electricity, a water main bursting, et cetera, or a major fault, they must go in and dig the road up, which is unfortunate, but we do keep it to an absolute minimum.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

On Women Bishops and Differing Views of Human Nature

I was mortified to see Jane Bisson, lay representative from Jersey, at the General Synod clutching a black leather bible. Urging members to vote against the measure, she said of Christ: "His direction should be the final direction we should take."
 
It is bad enough that some members of the Church of England managed to wreck a debate on civil - not religious - marriage for same sex couples in Jersey, but this gives the impression that Jersey is a misogynist backwater, in which people believe those voting for women bishops are in fact doing something against God's will.
 
People like this are so convinced they are right that they write off other Christians as imperfect, not living up to the high ground that they do. They never change their minds. And their language is often apocalyptic - if something goes ahead, major disasters will follow.
 
When there was a debate on women bishops on an earlier occasion, in the General Synod of 2006she said: "The sacraments will be brought into disrepute and disrespect, and the communion of the church will be annihilated". Indeed, on that occasion, according to the Church Times, she also suggested that the speed at which women clergy were trying to climb the ladder was unworthy!
 
Jane Bisson hails from Grouville, and also in the east of Jersey, at Gouray Church, is Gavin Ashenden, a long term opponent of women's ministry. From interviews on BBC Radio earlier this year, it seems apparent that he does not acknowledge the ordination of women at all, let alone that of Women Bishops.
 
His views against equality are strident, and part of what he sees as a battle against the secular world:
 
"As the secular drive for equality and even gender reparation developed in society and the Church, there was no other language available to counter the question (which was designed to have only one answer) 'if men can, why can't women?'
 
"In a context where priesthood had become synonymous with power and status, the language of power fixed its sights on the goal of priesthood and demanded the capitulation of the concept of priesthood to the categories of the age."
 
His ideal model for women is the Virgin Mary, and he sees the move to equality as something that happened when the Reformation lost sight of devotion to Mary within its worship.
 
"The movement for the ordination of women to both priesthood and episcopate has mimicked secular values in the absence of a theology of womanhood and motherhood that Mary offers. Power and status, inimical to real Christianity, are replaced by the role of co-creator and interdependence."
 
And he sees the ordination of women as an aping of the trappings of male power and status:
 
"For as long as the Anglican Church pursues the masculinization of womanhood in the pursuit of ordaining women to masculine office, it denudes itself of the charisms and patterns of mutuality that God has given his Church, confines it as it were to limping on one leg, when it might have run on two."
 
To see the ordination of women primarily in terms of power, reflects his view of the secular world, which, while he pegs it to an interpretation of the Bible, actually harks back to Victorian ideas about the role of women in society
 
"When rights are sought in our quest for egalitarianism, someone always has to pay the price. In our case it is not so much men who pay, as the popular take is, but children. One of the marks of our capitalist and secularist culture are homes where the children have lost their mothers to a quest for status, money, power or an alternative identity."
 
"Capitalism takes what was briefly, for a decade or two, a choice, away from a couple and turns it into a bondage."
 
There seems to be no consideration of the fact that some women do not want to be placed in the role of the dutiful mother, while the father is in the role of the worker, the breadwinner in the family.
 
Paul Heelas, in his investigation of New Age Spirituality, notes what he terms a "subjective turn", whereby people began to identify themselves by who they were, rather than by the particular roles they fell into in society - worker, office clerk, manager etc. This is a change which began in the 1950s, and represents a break away from the more traditional culture of the age.
 
In particular, religion is something that requires you to live your life according to norms set out by some external higher authority, while spirituality involves taking ones inner experiences as one's final authority. As Heelas says:
 
"The key words of New Age spiritualities are 'experience' and 'practice'" Rather than attaching importance to the beliefs, doctrines, and ethical injunctions of theistic traditions, importance is attached to experiencing the heart of life. Practices are taken to facilitate the inner quest."
 
That does not mean that practices are unimportant, on the contrary, New Age meditations are often well structured. Wiccan rituals follow a clear pattern. But the emphasis is upon praxy rather than doxy, on how one lives a spiritual life rather than what one believes.
 
Again, that doesn't mean that people do not believe anything, but it is rather that belief has not the high priority that it has often been given in Christianity. But this approach is wholly antithetical to Gavin Ashenden's theology, where Christianity is bound within traditional and largely unchanging structures, and the place of people within those structures is itself firmly determined.
 
This can also be seen in the letter in 2012 regarding women bishops, but pronouncing on the status of women in general, where he was one of the clergy signatories:
 
"The Bible teaches - and the Church has traditionally understood - that men and women are equal before God and yet have different, complementary, roles in the Church. By maintaining these different roles, neither men nor women are diminished; rather, we demonstrate God's wisdom in creating us to operate in this way."
 
The language suggests equality, but it is a verbal sleight of hand which actually manages to keep women in a subservient role, while at the same time, by words such as "complementary" and "different" suggest that this is not in fact a case of subservience at all. We are not too far removed from the idea of the "happy" slave, an argument used by a slave owner in South America on which Charles Darwin poured considerable scorn.
 
It is perhaps not surprising that Gavin Ashenden is also opposed to same-sex marriage, and describes sexuality in a vivid way which would not be out of place in some of the lurid passages of the Malleus Maleficarum:
 
"the moment Jesus warns that even looking at someone with sexual appetite opens the floodgates of desire in a way that takes us in a direction that is unacceptable to God, I and the majority of people are engaged in a struggle that will carry us to the limits of our self control and beyond. Worse than that comes the moment of falling in love with people we are not married to, and becoming imprisoned by feelings that carry us close to madness."
 
There's a strong puritanical streak in this which comes out in his writing on sexuality as something which needs "to be tamed":
 
"Christianity, or Christ, comes to the human appetite, whatever it is , sex, money, booze, pride, revenge, and offers to tame it; to tame and transform it. Sex is not a different special appetite, exempt from the touch or call of God, it's just one that society has become most fixated about, and screams abuse at any attempt to tame it"
 
And this is located - back in the territory of the Malleus again - in a world where the demonic and powers of evil rule:
 
"There is no sense that there is a real agency of evil that sets itself against the patterns that God has laid down. There is no awareness that evil sets out to twist and deform what God has made good."
 
And this is at the heart of his dualism between the secular and the religious:
 
"One secular and self indulgent, already experiencing the spasm of its own impotent death throes; and one transformative and with the experience of being always renewed and capable of capturing whole cultures and  civilisations with its empowered sacrificial love."
 
What is striking about Canon Ashenden's writing is the way in which he paints the secular world in the worst possible light. It is depraved, a place full of sexual appetite and self-indulgence, and only his brand of Christianity stands as a bulwark against it.
 
It overlooks all the compassion, all the goodness, all the acts of kindness that people do, and people that may or may not believe in God, but certainly who do not believe in the kind of Christianity which the good Canon sees as the only way to stem the descent into moral degradation.
 
I would sooner take a more positive view of my fellow human beings. And against a world in which Canon Ashenden sees dominated by powerful secular forces, I would also ask to be weighed in the balance what the late Stephen Jay Gould described as "ten thousand acts of kindness".
 
In that article, written in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers, he spoke eloquently of the need not to overlook the ordinary, and the goodness in the everyday, just because it is not as noticeable:
 
"History is made by warfare, lust for power, hatred, and xenophobia (with some other, more admirable motives thrown in here and there). We therefore assume that these obviously human traits define our essential nature. How often have we been told that 'man' is, by nature, aggressive and selfishly acquisitive?"
 
"Such claims make no sense to me - in a purely empirical way, not as a statement about hope or preferred morality. What do we see on any ordinary day on the streets or in the homes of any American city - even in the subways of New York? Thousands of tiny and insignificant acts of kindness and consideration. We step aside to let someone pass, smile at a child, chat aimlessly with an acquaintance or even with a stranger."
 
"At most moments, on most days, in most places, what do you ever see of the dark side - perhaps a parent slapping a child or a teenager on a skateboard cutting off an old lady? Look, I'm no ivory-tower Pollyanna, and I did grow up on the streets of New York. I understand the unpleasantness and danger of crowded cities. I'm only trying to make a statistical point."
 
His argument is there is an asymmetry of effect, and we forget that: "One incident of violence can undo thousand acts of kindness, and we easily forget the predominance of kindness over aggression by confusing effect with frequency.
 
And John Lienhard comments on Gould's point:
 
"Like all fine teachers, Gould uses metaphor to help us see how that works. To make his point, he asks, 'Are we humans cruel or are we considerate?' Of course, the record of history is written in blood -- in wars, treachery, and competition.
 
"But what does our experience tell us? Walk through your day and count the transactions. What's happened to me by noon today?"
 
"My wife had interesting things to talk about before I left for a dental appointment. The technician and I compared pictures of her new baby and my new grandson. When I entered my office building with an armload of books, two students held doors for me. The man at the lunch counter shared greetings with me. Students in the overcrowded lunchroom graciously shared a table. Back at the office, my e-mail misbehaved, and a colleague helped me sort it out. Once it was working, a colleague in another state responded to my testy message with grace and good will."
 
"I seldom look at my days like this, but the simple fact is, people who hardly know me have treated me like a king. I've been met with kindness everywhere. Yet you and I let ourselves be diverted by those rare occasions of human meanness."

References
http://www.sarmiento.plus.com/cofe/seminartranscript.html
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/30936
http://www.stpeters-devizes.org.uk/aug2012nd.pdf
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/archives/AfterSecularization/8.12FHeelas.pdf
http://kirtimukha.com/surfings/Cogitation/Evolution.htm
http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi861.htm
http://changingattitude.org.uk/archives/7536
http://web.archive.org/web/20140402015129/http://drgavsblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/hate-homophobia-and-holiness/

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Fallen Sky

This was written as an reflection on the people who died when a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area of Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.












The Fallen Sky
How can we count the cost, one by one,
Of lives lost in an instant from one gun?
Fired in haste, so many lives were lost,
And now the mourners count the cost,
Of the rocket sent by fighting men;
And explosions came, a dread amen;
Such petty games of life and death,
And now the world will hold its breath;
The plane destroyed, and fell to earth:
All that conflict, was it really worth
The suffering caused? And in the sky,
Fragments fall, the innocent pay a price;
No conflict is worth this. Let it suffice
To teach a lesson, and bring forth shame,
For those who battle like a game;
Oh, they are so proud, so firm, so strong,
Or so they think. But they did wrong,
And all the right cause of their belief,
Will never, never, expunge that grief,
Of those who mourn, and those who weep,
And lay flowers, light candles, vigils keep;
There is the real strength, not in display
Of posturing and power. And one day,
There will come justice, for those who cry,
And reckoning to those who caused to die;
Some bodies found in sunflower fields:
Oh what red harvest this now yields;
White flags blowing where dead lay:
The living turned to lifeless clay;
But some still missing, some still lost,
And here is the final, dreadful, cost,
As names are all we have. A roll call
Of the dead. No bearers of this pall.
Empty coffins processing down the nave:
For men, women, children, an empty grave,
Gone, lost for good, they are not there,
But carried in the wind on prayer.

Friday, 18 July 2014

History of St Clement's Church by G.R. Bailleine (Part 2)

Here is part two of the forgotten piece by  G.R. Balleine  on the history of the Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.
 
History of St Clement's Church by G.R. Bailleine  (Part 2)
 
The Twentieth Century
 
After the great Restoration of the 19th century, it would appear that the tendency of the Church Officials was to put up their feet and say "Thank goodness that's over for the next hundred years !"
 
We are not, however, far from the truth in saying the above, for sixty years after the great Restoration, we read that "the dingy, dampstained walls and ceiling are crying aloud for attention."
 
In the first half of the century, that little was done is evident. In 1901, a new organ (by Alfred Oldknow) was installed, the money for this having been raised by a bazaar in the grounds of Samares Manor, the sum realised being £351. In 1919, a clock was given. In 1935, plans for a new vestry were turned down
by the Ecclesiastical Court on the grounds that the Church was not large enough to sacrifice any of its pews.
 
In 1936, Lady Knott, of Samares Manor, offered a carillon of bells, but so many difficulties arose about this that the project was abandoned. In 1953, however, a further offer of a gift by the Lady of Samares, in memory of her second husband, was accepted gratefully.
 
This took the form of an oak screen, separating the North side of the sanctuary from the ancient North Chapel, thus making a commodious clergy vestry. The screen was given in the memory of Commander Edward Owen Obbard, D.S.C., G.M., R.N., Jurat of the Royal Court, who died on March 10th, 1951. The Dedication Service was performed by the Dean of Jersey on March 10th, 1953, in the presence of the Lieutenant Governor, and a large representative congregation.
 
The Wall Paintings
 
St. Clement's Church is justly renowned for its frescoes (or wall-paintings), and inscriptions, which were discovered in the extensive restoration.
 
1879, by workmen
19th century restor-
 
 
South Transept-In the South transept, on the West wall, there survive from the original painting the hind legs of a horse, followed by another of which the fore legs appear. Between the two is the hand of a cavalier, stretching down to a dog, whose head is raised towards his master, who is mounted on the leading horse. The inscription below the fresco reads as follows:
 
"Helas saincte Marie, et quelle
ces trois mors qui sot cy hideulx
mont fait meplre en gnt tristesse
de les vois ainxi piteulx."
 
("Alas, St. Mary? Who are,these three corpses that are so grim? It breaks my heart to see them thus piteous").
 
The legend which this illustrates is known as The Three Living and the Three Dead-an old French poem telling 'how three young princes, while out hunting, see three horrible corpses who gave them a lecture on the perils of worldly success. Several English Churches (notably Charlwood,=Surrey; Battle, Sussex; and Ditchingham, Norfolk), have paintings of this story on their walls, as have also many Normandy Churches.
 
North Transept-In the North transept, a large mural has been cut in two by the arch which leads into the Eastern portion of the Church. This shows that, at the time the mural was executed (about the 2nd half of the 15th century), this was a solid wall and the chapel behind entirely separate from the Church. All that is left to us is part of St. Margaret with the wing of her conquered dragon and St. Barbara standing by her tower.
 
The legend of St. Margaret is that she was assailed in prison by the Devil in the shape of a horrible dragon. She made the sign of the Cross on his breast, which split him in two; and allowed her to escape safely- The Crusaders brought over this legend in the 11th century, and it became very popular, since the Dragon was supposed to personify the Saracens.
 
St. Barbara of Heliopolis in Egypt was beheaded for the Faith in 235 A.D. Legend asserts that she, had been miraculously converted to Christianity.
 
North Wall of Nave-On the North wall of the Nave is a representation of St. Michael slaying the dragon. The Archangel is in complete armour, but appears to have lost his helmet. He holds in his hand a broken hilt, of which the blade is near the Dragon, which he is stamping under his feet.
 
The presence of this fresco is said to have been due to a prioress belonging to Mont St. Michel. It is possible that when the French, under Count Maulevrier, obtained by treachery possession of this portion of the Island, for a short time in the 15th century, he way have had the work executed as a sign of victory.
 
Judging by the lettering these frescoes would date from the second half of the 15th century, though some may be earlier, as the headdresses would seem to belong to the 14th century, and the armour of St. Michael indicates the same period.
 
Further Gifts
 
The Nineteen-sixties have seen further gifts to the Church, two of which must be noted here.
 
A "Treasury" in the form of a glass-fronted cupboard has been built into the wall of the North Transept. This is virtually a handsome showcase for the Church Silver, and contains the ancient chalices and baptismal dishes. The Treasury was erected in memory of the late Mr. V. J.. Bailhache, a lifelong worshipper at St. Clement's Church, and the cost was gratefully borne by his widow, Mrs. Alice Bailhache. her son, Advocate L. V. Bailhache, and her daughter, Mrs. Margaret Evans.
 
The latest addition to. the Church Plate is a Private Communion Set, consisting of chalice, paten, wafer box and spoon, all in solid silver, the gift of Lady Kavanagh. Presented to the Church in 1962, the. Set was given in memory of Colonel Sir Dermot McMorrough Kavanagh, G. C. V. O.
 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tony’s Newsround

A few stories that have caught my interest.
 
Seize the Day
 
Actor Ray Lonnen, who starred in shows including ITV series Harry's Game and the BBC's Z Cars, has died aged 74.
 
I was sorry to hear that news. Of course most of the tributes refer to Harry's Game, which was certainly a high point in his career, when he was the lead as an undercover British soldier, sent to Northern Ireland to infiltrate the IRA and kill an assassin.
 
But he was also brilliant in the Sandbaggers. I was in Bideford, doing teacher training, and lodging at the house of the head of Mathematics and his family, and they were avid fans of "The Sandbaggers", so I tended to watch it with them, and within a few episodes, I was hooked.
 
The "Sandbaggers" was a nickname for a Special Operations Section of MI6, whose work included highly trained officers, with dangerous missions that could be politically sensitive or especially vital. The writer, Ian Mackintosh, probably had some experience or knowledge of those kinds of operations.
 
Ray Lonnen played  Willie Caine, the Chief of Operations second in command, and he gave a brilliant performance in the role, alongside Roy Marsden as his boss, Neil Burnside.
 
According to the BBC website: Tara Ward, Lonnen's wife of 20 years, said: "Ray was a gentle man who showed great strength in his final years. Despite his discomfort, his favourite expressions were 'carpe diem' and 'the best of times is now.'
 
French Cuisine and a False Reputation
 
Miss Gurke: I'm sorry, but do you think we could cancel our fruit salads?
Sybil: Well, it's a little tricky, Chef's just opened the tin.
(Fawlty Towers)
 
No one expects Haute Cuisine at Fawlty Towers, unless of course, they are holding their Gourmet Night! But then they go and get a French chef, and when he gets drunk, dishes from a nearby French restaurant run by "Maurice"
 
French cuisine has a reputation for excellence, and this is indicated by the fact that so many restaurant menus, even in England, giving names of courses in French (although the English may be given underneath). This is less so now, of course, when Masterchef style pretention has meant that even English can sound pretentious with just a sprinkling of French - Méduse soup with gruyère croutons, Pan fried squid with a garnish of sea vegetables, followed by an Earl Grey soufflé. Of course, that is "nouvelle cuisine", which also harks back to French culinary prowess.
 
But there is bad news about French food. Many French restaurants, according to a BBC report, just reheat pre-prepared food, rather than cooking it from scratch. Apparently that 85% of restaurants secretly make use of frozen or vacuum-packed food! Zut Alors!
 
Now there will be a new logo on menus - - in the shape of a saucepan with a roof-like lid – and it will show if the dish is home made – "fait maison", or not.  From next year it will be compulsory for all menus to carry the logo – if the food is home made, so absence of logo indicates  it is not.
 
I wonder what the position would be over hear if we introduced a similar scheme. It seems like an excellent idea to boost tourism – always assuming that enough restaurants could demonstrate that their food was home made.
 
Excellence that is beyond measurement
 
And finally, a letter from a school regarding KS2 results which has gone viral. This in no way denigrates testing, but it does, I think, show very well that tests simply do not present the full picture. There is often an obsession with measurement, and quantifying things, which overlooks what is really important in life.
 
Examinations and qualifications can help people in their search for employment, and they also demonstrate a certain standard – a doctor has to pass medical exams for the very good reason that the patient wants to be know they can be trusted to diagnose correctly and prescribe accordingly. But – as the case of Harold Shipman tragically shows – and cases like the Bristol heart scandal – they are not enough to guarantee safety. Character and motivation is not so easily measured, despite the expansion of pseudo-tests in the business community.
 
Here is the letter, which is a hymn of praise to those aspects of being human that we often misguidedly overlook or neglect, or simply fail to see as the very qualities in which our common humanity can shine:
 
The Letter

Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.
 
However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you... the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.
 
They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.
 
They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.
 
They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.
 
They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best... the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.
 
So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Suggestions for Dissolving the States

As usual, this year brings a last minute budget, just before the States break up for the summer recess, and debated by the old house before the new ones can take their seats. This means a hiatus of around a month while people who have been voted out on 15 October 2014, or left the States, keep hold of their seats and pass measures.
 
This is an invidious practice, which began in 2011 when a single day election had the same hiatus. It is not something which occurs in other jurisidictions. In the UK, for example, at a general election, all constituencies become vacant and a Member of Parliament is elected for each from a list of candidates standing for election. Only in Jersey, does a new member become elected, but the seat is not vacated for 4 to 6 weeks after!
 
Hopefully the change to a Spring general election held 3½ years later in May 2018 will avoid these problems occurring again, but it would be good to have something like the UK position – so that when the States of Jersey is dissolved every seat in the States Assembly becomes vacant and a general election is held. Members don't hold onto their seats until the new Assembly is sworn in.
 
I raised the issue about the budget debate being taken by candidates voted out, and Philip Ozouf did suggest that a supplementary budget could be brought to address any issues where the new House disagreed with the old one:
 
philipozouf @tony_theprof we will see. Next big Treasury announcement is the Budget2014. The focus will be jobs, growth and targeted help. I shall try.
10 Jul13 from Twitter for iPad
 
tony_theprof Sure we were promised budget and elections would not happen right on top of each other. Shame!
17 Jun from Twitter Web Client
 
tony_theprof @philipozouf How will you address budget and old States/new States next year? Don't think new States should be saddled with old States decis
24 Jul13 from TwInbox
 
@tony_theprof will explain in more detail later in week. However, confirm the 2015 Budget will be held 23 Sept 2014. A supplementary Budget
 
Philip Ozouf ‏@philipozouf  Jul 24
@tony_theprof could be made by the Treasury Minister in early 2015, following elections if that was the wish of the new Council & minister.
 
 
What can we expect from the Budget? I have one promise from the Treasury Minister on Twitter:
 
tony_theprof @philipozouf Any nasty surprises like increases in GST planned in the next budget?
5 Mar from Twitter Web Client
 
philipozouf @tony_theprof I've committed Budget2015 will not contain any GST rise. Public finances are now stronger: targeted tax reductions expected.
6 Mar from Twitter for iPad
 
It will be interesting to see what the "targeted tax reductions" will be!
 
In the meantime, I would like to see steps taken to prevent an Assembly retaining seats while debating a proposition (such as the budget), and in particular along the lines of other jurisdictions – here is a Q&A from the Welsh National Assembly which explains what could happen – and I think should happen – in more detail:
 
What happens at the dissolution of the Assembly?
 
The Assembly is "dissolved" – it is no longer constituted as a democratic legislature until a new Assembly is elected. There are no Assembly Members during this period
 
What happens to the Welsh Government when a general election is called?
 
The Government does not resign when the Assembly is dissolved; essential business must continue and Welsh Government Ministers remain in office until after the result of the election is known. The new First Minister is nominated by the Assembly and then appointed by the Queen. The First Minister will announce the Welsh Ministers soon after.
 
What happens in government during the period of dissolution?
 
During this period Government Ministers and civil servants cannot carry out any activity which could give rise to the criticism that public resources are being used for party political purposes or, in the case of civil servants, could call into question their political impartiality. However, this does not mean that Government business ceases.
 
What happens to the legislation that is in progress when the Assembly is dissolved? (Legislative Competence Orders and Measures)
 
When the Assembly is dissolved, Assembly Members cease to be Members and so all business considered at that time will remain incomplete. After the election, it is up to the new Government whether or not they wish to continue with consideration of legislation from the previous Assembly.
 
Proposed Measures which have not reached the final stage before dissolution will fall. Proposed Orders also fall at dissolution. It is not appropriate for legislation to be simply carried over from one Assembly to the next since this would mean new Assembly Members having to stick to decisions made by their predecessors.
 
A proposed Order which has not been followed up with a draft Order will fall, but a new Government could introduce the same Order in the Fourth Assembly and the Assembly could then agree to bypass the committee stage.
 
After the election, it is up to the new Government whether or not they wish to continue with consideration of legislation from the previous Assembly.
 
What happens to statutory instruments when the Assembly is dissolved?
 
The Government's business continues during dissolution and therefore statutory instruments can continue to be drafted. However, the Assembly would have been dissolved and it would therefore not be possible for any statutory instruments to be scrutinised and/or approved by the Assembly. Any statutory instruments that remain to be laid prior to dissolution will therefore have to be considered by the new Assembly after the election.
 
Can Assembly Members deal with issues raised by constituents during the dissolution period?
 
Officially there are no Assembly Members from dissolution until the result of the election is known (a few weeks later). Once dissolution takes place then the Member ceases to be a Member and cannot take on cases from constituents.
 
If candidates for election are approached for help by constituents during dissolution then they can choose to take on the case but they would not be doing so as an Assembly Member.
 
After the election
 
When will the new Assembly Members be sworn in?
 
The Members must take the Oath of Allegiance or the Affirmation of Allegiance, in public or in private, before the Clerk of the Assembly. This may be taken as soon as possible after the election if both the Member and Clerk are present..
 
Do Assembly Members get paid during dissolution?
 
Assembly Members who are standing for re-election continue to be paid up to the date of the election. If they are successful their pay carries on from this date. Members who are not standing for re-election stop being paid on the date of dissolution.
 
What are the financial arrangements for Assembly Members who are not re-elected or those who do not stand for re-election?
 
Assembly Members who stand for re-election but are unsuccessful are paid up to the date of the election. Assembly Members who do not stand are paid up to the date of dissolution.