Sunday, 29 November 2015

What is Jersey Identity?

Simon Reeve’s journey around Ireland was one of the best documentaries I have seen on Ireland, and I really found it most enjoyable to watch.

One of the interesting issues that he brought up in the Republic of Ireland was the decline of the church. In some ways this has been positive: while Jersey is just on its way to get gay marriage on the statute books, Ireland – almost the last place you would think because of the conservative Catholicism – is now legal since 6 November 2015. They had a referendum – and support was overwhelmingly in favour. It became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote.

Jersey has a commitment to introduce legislation allowing same-sex couples to get married in civil and religious ceremonies by the end of 2017. It is extraordinary that it lags so far behind so many other countries on this, but part of the reason for the delay was the apparent need for a consultation and ensure that religious groups had adequate safeguards.

This in fact was rather a waste of time, as the legislative framework for protection of religious groups was already in place in the UK, and it is most likely that Jersey will simply adapt existing UK legislation on the matter. Cynics will note that the delay preceded the election of 2014, and hence kept the matter largely off the election agenda.

But the debate on gay marriage in Ireland highlighted the declining power of the church to persuade ordinary Catholics to follow its party line. The Catholic Church has been severely damaged in Ireland because of the child abuse scandals, and mass attendance has been falling. Even among those who attend mass, a much more critical approach to the teaching of the Church prevails.

Reeve noticed that Catholicism certainly formed a very strong part of Irish identity, and wondered what would take its place if it was no longer there in such a dominant place. That’s an interesting question, and it made me think about Jersey.

How do we describe “Jersey identity”? What in fact is now unique about our own culture, that is not the same elsewhere. Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, there was a strong sense that Jersey identity related to genealogy, in other words, marking yourself out as Jersey by being descended in some way from a local Jersey family.

While there is a strong family history society, I would say that side of Jersey identity has been waning for some time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A primacy of identity on belonging to a genetic heritage can easily be divisive, something which is easily apparent with the Harry Potter stories, where “true blood” refers to families untainted by marrying outside the clan, and mudbloods are effectively immigrants who have no connection at all to those families, but who have the special skills which qualify them for entry into that community. In Harry Potter, of course, it is magical skills, but it could just as easily be business skills of one kind or another.

It is notable that Jersey’s most notorious child abuser, Edward Paisnel, was largely driven by a resentment of English residents, coming to live and work in Jersey, and the way in which the almost automatic respect given to old farming families was eroded as the finance industry began to grow. As Ward Rutherford notes in his book “The Untimely Silence”, Paisnel deliberately set out to target those children he saw as part of families he regarded as interlopers, deriving him of status and power.

So what is Jersey identity? One thing is certain is that it has become very diffuse in a number of ways. Old Jersey families have married with the immigrant population, and no longer hold that prestige, and indeed are in a minority. It should be noted, of course, that this has happened for centuries, but the pace has been usually relatively slow. Post war, with the boom in tourism and finance, the population has grown, as has the pace of immigration.

But not all immigrants are alike. Some would like to impose a UK style view of Jersey with regard to governance and traditions, as that is what they are familiar with, and they don’t want to understand local systems. Others become valuable members of the local community, supporting the Parishes, and have been here many years; they regard Jersey as their home, not the UK.

Keith Beacham, the head of Visit Jersey, has faced a similar task in trying to establish the selling points of Jersey, and where Jersey's brand identity lies. It is a difficult task. Heritage is clearly something we have to offer, and I know from my English friends who have visited that the relics of German Occupation are fascinating: they have nothing like that. We also have beautiful coastline, and good coastal walks for those who want a more energetic holiday.

But there are also High Street Chains, MacDonalds, and wholesale parts of English and American imports. Walking along St Helier down the main precinct, we have Boots, BHS, Waterstones, WH Smith, and other shops which may provide welcome familiarity to some visitors, disappointment to others. I know that when I visit St Malo, the last thing I want to see are those kind of shops: I want a retail experience which seems French, even if, as I discovered when I got home, a pottery star ornament said “Made in Ireland “on the back.

I don’t think there are any easy answers. I think that increasingly, in a segmented market, Jersey will have more niche appeal, and there heritage, coastal walks, and hotels beside the beaches can play a good part. We also have some superb restaurants for the gourmet, for whom expense is not the prime consideration, and also some good local restaurants and pubs using fresh local produce, and with reasonable prices. Jersey milk and ice cream, the Jersey cow, and the Jersey Royal still are brands which have much appeal to the outsider.

Jersey identity, however, like its population, remains a mixed bag, without the obvious brand of Ireland, for instance, and the Irish accent itself, a cultural legacy, and still an identifiable marker of identity. There is no clear cut identity. Jersey is in some ways, very insular, but in others, quite cosmopolitan, and somehow we need to take the best ingredients of both for the shaping of Jersey identity for the future.

Ecological Exodus

This is from "The Pilot", 1970, and shows how even back then some people were raising awareness of how we were already misusing the environment.

Ecological Exodus

In the end, there was the Earth, and it was with form and beauty. And man dwelt upon the lands of the Earth and he said 'Let us build our dwellings in this land of' beauty.' And he built cities and covered the Earth with concrete and steel. And the meadows and the trees were gone and man said, ‘It is good'.

On the second day, man looked upon the waters of the Earth and man said, 'Let us put our waste in our waters and the dirt will be washed away.' And man did. And the waters, the rivers and the lakes, became polluted and foul in their colour and smell. And man said, 'It is good.'

On the third day, man looked upon the forests of the Earth and saw that they were beautiful. And man said, 'Let us cut the timber for our homes and grind the wood for our use'. And man did. And the lands became barren and the trees were gone. And man said. 'It is good'.

On the fourth day, man saw that the animals were in abundance and ran in the fields and played in the sun. And man said. 'Let us cage these animals for our amusement and kill them for our sport.' And man did. And there were no more animals on the face of the earth. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the fifth day, man breathed the air of the Earth. And man said, 'Let us dispose of our wastes in the air for the winds shall blow them away'. And man did. And the air became heavy with smoke and dust. The sun could not be seen and the winters became long and cold. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the sixth day, man saw himself: and seeing the many peoples, their languages, their cultures and their colours, he feared and hated. And man said. 'Let us build great machines and bombs': and the Earth was fired with the rage of great wars. And man said, 'It is good'.

On the seventh day, man rested from his labours and the Earth was still for man no longer dwelt upon the Earth. And it was good

(From the Canadian Churchman)

Saturday, 28 November 2015


Truth is two eyed, we might say:
As the captain sails across the bay;
Both eyes bright, she's all right;
One eye winks, down she sinks:
The saying told to Father Brown,
About those who would drown,
If they did not see coast lights;
And sailors needing final rites:
The ship is smashing on the rock,
And come the ravens in a flock;
I thought of this and eyes today:
How the eyes show us the way;
Truth is two eyed, a book I read,
The author, now alas, is dead,
Spoke of how religions meet,
East and West, a different beat;
Each could learn from other one:
Moon by night, by day the sun,
Leaving hatreds, leaving fear,
Truth is two eyed, vision clear;
Losing an eye, another case,
Not to see clearly over space,
Learn to live a different way;
Thankful for one eye, we pray,
Though we stumble, do not fall,
And our vision may be small;
For we can still see: a grace,
To recognise the loving face;
But when someone is very blind,
Needing other help to be kind,
Other senses come into play,
To help them along the way;
Touch, smell, taste and sound
Help them on their daily round;
And it was said of that Greek sage,
Who lived to an immortal age,
While his eyes had lost the light,
He still retained a second sight.

Friday, 27 November 2015

General Review – Part 2 by A.C. Saunders

The final part of A.C. Saunders “History of Jersey in the 17th Century”. I have kept the spellings of quoted text as it stands in Saunders. Saunders quotes from documents as they stand and does not render them into contemporary English, and the spelling is variable and probably largely phonetic.

General Review – Part 2 by A.C. Saunders

It must have been a very anxious place to live in in those days, isolated as it was from the mainland, with very little and irregular communication. On the 8th July, 1693, Lord Nottingham writing to the Governor of Jersey, suggested that it was good for their majesty's service that there should be a very frequent correspondence between Jersey and the mainland so that the Government might know what was going on. The Governor was directed to send the yacht to Southampton at least once in five or six weeks with a report as to the state of the Island. It appears strange that this order should he necessary, seeing that we were at war with France and at any time the Island might be invaded.

Robert Slowley, master of a Privateer was captured and taken to St. Malo, and on the 13th February, 1694, he was able to report that the French were preparing to attack the Channel Islands. They had brought a great number of bombs and mortars from Brest for that purpose. The British fleet was ordered to cruise about the Islands, and the Governor was ordered to give, out of store, a convenient number of small arms and ammunition to the Captains of the several parishes taking care that the arms are duly accounted for, and he was directed to provide Elizabeth Castle with an engine to make salt water fresh, and also a quantity of sea coal.

The people were in a state of great excitement. Rumour followed rumour, and it was reported that the French were fitting out a squadron of ships, and Privateers, and had an army in readiness, only waiting for the necessary galleys to carry them across, and that there were sixty men of war at Brest waiting to support the invaders. The Government sent down additional troops, and ordered barracks to be built, and directed that no Lt. Governor should leave the Island without permission.

But nothing came of the rumours and on the 21st October 1697, the proclamation of peace with France was sent to the Bailiff and brats who were directed to make it known to the inhabitants.

The soldiers stationed in the Island had so abused their powers, that the Privy Council decided that any misbehaving themselves should be tried by a Court Martial consisting of the Governor, Bailiff and four Commissioned officers. A set of regulations were made for their guidance.

Article 1 directed that all officers and soldiers were directed to attend Divine Service, and behave themselves reverently and decently. Anyone using blasphemous language shall have his tongue bored with a hot iron. Article 13 directed, that complaints of non payment of wages, and those who shall assemble together to take " Council among themselves for demanding their pay " the inferior officers shall suffer death as ring leaders of such mutinous and seditious meetings, and the others court-martialled. Article 19 directed, that death should be the penalty of those who molested the persons, or stole the goods, of the Islanders.

Those quartered on the inhabitants, had to be paid for at the rate of twenty-eight pence per week, for board and lodging for each soldier, sergeants being at the higher rate of three shillings and six pence.

During all the century, Jersey was making progress. A new Court House had been built, and schools established. A new prison built at Charing Cross, and the cage for prisoners in the Royal Square was ordered to be abolished. Harbour accommodation was being provided, and scholarships given at Oxford, for promising youths from the Channel Islands.

The Islanders had their quaint customs and laws, and the country people knew a great deal of fairies and witchcraft. During this century women were burned in Jersey for their unchristian like activities.

It was a wonderful little Island, with her feudal propensities. With the poor very poor, and the Seigneurs going out on state occasions, in their coaches drawn by six horses. It was a period when the strong man held sway over his fellows, and owing to the ignorance of the many, rich and poor, a man who had been educated and had seen something of the world, and had sufficient courage to assert himself became a leader in the land of his birth.

These men stood out above their fellows, and it is therefore interesting to note how Jersey, during the whole of the seventeenth century, was under the domination of some dozen men who by force of character, and position, managed to rule their fellows.

Possibly the social history of Jersey was no worse than that of the mainland, but many a good man in Jersey, in the past, has had to follow in a narrow groove because of the difficulties of obtaining a larger sphere for his energy. Those who had sufficient courage to face unknown dangers abroad, had a better chance, and in our colonies, and along the shores of the United States, we often find names of men whose ancestors must originally have come from Jersey. Jerseymen were good sailors and did not lack courage.

Away from the Island, generally speaking, they made their mark, but even when they realised the advantages they were deriving from their adventures, their thoughts always turned to the Island where they had been born in the hopes that before they died, they would be able to return.

And thus we find that Jersey did her part during the seventeenth century. Times were troublesome, and things were tolerated then, which would not be allowed now. People in power, knew not how long their influence would last, and therefore, in order to retain this power they had very little sentiment in dealing with their opponents.

The Civil War had allowed many a worthless demagogue to collect a following, and many a better man had to give way, but Jerseyman have the knowledge that their Castle was the last to uphold the Royal Cause, and in their Square Charles II was proclaimed King long before his subjects called him to the Throne of England.

And thus I have come to the end of my story about Jersey in the seventeenth century-a most important century of our national history, dealing as it does with the beginning of Government by the people, and a fight against those ancient privileges, which had gradually surrounded those who considered that Might was Right irrespective of the rights of their fellow citizens. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Sark and the Sharks

Sark has problems, but there are ones not addressed in the letter written by Frank Walker et alia.

There is no doubt that there are divisions in Sark between the more established families, and those who have come in, mainly I suspect, as a result of the Barclay brothers boost to the economy.

The decision to close the Barclay brother’s hotels appears to have nothing to do with failing tourism, but seems to be more of a political decision. The problems with the economy partly stem from that, and the extra population which has grown as a result of them pumping money into the economy. In the past eight years, as the "New Yorker" notes, they have bought up almost a quarter of the land on Sark, and a number of its businesses.

The hotels are not the only time they have used economic forces for political ends. For it is not the first time they closed businesses on the Island – they also did so immediately after the 2008 elections on universal suffrage – after they Reforms they asked for – failed to produce any wins for their own slate of chosen candidates.

When it became apparent that only about five candidates they had supported had been elected, as the Daily Express reported, the Barclay brothers announced that they were shutting down their businesses on Sark — hotels, shops, estate agents and building firms - leaving about 100 people, or a sixth of the population, out of work.

Not one of the other hotels, guest houses or self-catering accommodation is reported as having closed – the letter only and notably only reports on the Barclay brothers hotels which were closed because they decided to close them. Was that political? It came shortly after they had lost a court case about the new constitution. Coincidence? Did the letter writers notice the pattern of events was like that of 2008?

In 2014, when the decision was taken that the hotels should close in 2015 supposedly because of a poor season, Sark's Tourism Committee chairwoman Sandra Williams told Channel Television: "Although this is unfortunate... Sark is still very much open for business." She said: "We are perplexed about the decision to close their hotels when this season has been so successful." And Conseiller Andy Cook, chairman of Sark Shipping Committee which runs the regular passenger services to the island, said passenger number had risen from 48,655 in 2013 to 50,521 in 2014. These facts seem to have been overlooked by the letter writers.

Avenue Stores & Newsagents is one of three general stores on the island and has closed. Is this a sign of declining tourism, as most of the media report, or could it be that the Barclay brothers, who are the landlords of the newsagent, might have decided to pull the plug to put extra pressure on Sark residents?

Everyone now gets to vote, and it’s an Island wide vote. The system is representation like the Island wide Senatorial elections in Jersey. Sark First want an electoral system which will give them more power. Their spokesman says: “"If you get 51% of the vote at the moment you get 100% of the seats, this is not fair to the other 49%”.

But the same could be said of Jersey's First Past the Post system, or even the multi-member Island wide Senatorial elections, or the multi-member constituencies for Deputies. Not one of the signatories seems to address the issue of voting mechanisms in their own homeland. That's surprising as Pierre Horsfall, Frank Walker and Terry Le Sueur were elected Senators on a virtually identical system.

In the 2008 election, ninety per cent of Sark’s voters turned out for the election. They rejected seven of nine candidates that the Barclay's Sark News had endorsed as the island’s “safe pairs of hands,” and elected nine of twelve candidates that the News had blacklisted.

There is certainly a problem - general elections were due to be held in Sark on 10 December 2014. However, only 16 candidates stood for the 16 seats in the Chief Pleas, meaning that all were elected unopposed without a public vote being required. But it has to be asked: why did Sark First field no candidates? Perhaps their support is not as great as their talent for media publicity?

This situation is not a problem specific to Sark – Jersey also has that problem, something the letter writers failed to note, where candidates get in unopposed. In fact, Jersey has many small electoral districts where this happens often, for both Deputy and Constable's elections. 

To ask a Royal Commission to step in, where the QC comes from a country where First Past the Post is the accepted method of election, is to stretch credulity. Why on earth would they recommend something other than what they knew, just as Cecil Clothier tried to do with his recommendations?

To say, as Sam Mezec has, that it is not democratic – something also mentioned in the Sark letter – is to overlook the substantial reforms from when it was just Sark Tenants – a special and limited category – who had a vote.

It would also mean that the UK is not a democracy, Jersey is not a democracy, but the EU Parliament (hardly a model for good government, and dominated by powerful voting blocks) is a democracy - because it has Proportional Representation. Just to have a vote does not make a democracy, but Sark conforms to accepted voting parameters that other democracies have accepted.

The Barclay brothers did well to change the old Feudal system, but it would be a mistake to see it as an act of pure altruism – in my opinion, and that of other commentators, they basically have wanted to take over the running of Sark as their own pocket fiefdom. Remember that as the New Yorker reported, "David Barclay wrote to Michael Beaumont, offering to buy his title for two million pounds and to relinquish all the privileges associated with it to Chief Pleas"

And are the letter writers acting out of altruism? Whose interests are the signatories to the letter supporting? Is it the people of Sark, or the Barclay brothers? Or are Guernsey and Jersey after a power sharing arrangement where Sark is demoted to a vassal state, rather like Alderney?

On the radio, one or two of the letter writers have voiced points raised in a serious and concerned tone of voice. Sounding convincing  is, however, one of the dark arts that politicians learn when speaking in public, as long as they know when the microphone is turned on. It is something they share in common with advertisers and double-glazing salesmen.

But as it turns out, as Peter Roffey observes, they have not met with Chief Pleas, the government of Sark, at all, to discuss the contents of the letter, much of which, in any case, are rather sweeping generalisations hiding complex changes in Sark's economy.

The population has been falling, and the survey by Sark Electricity shows there are now 492 residents, down from 542 last year. But part of that is certainly due to the Barclay's decision to close hotels. In Sark, the unemployed who have come to the Island in more recent years tend to emigrate. In Jersey, they claim Income Support.

Peter Roffey, writing in the Guernsey Press, has a number of solid points to make against the writers of the letter, especially the former politicians of Jersey, and I reprint it below.

Peter Roffey's Comments on Sark

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the call from 22 individual Channel Islanders for a Royal Commission-type inquiry into the future of Sark.

Even taking into account the no doubt well-meaning intentions of these self-appointed guardians of Sark’s fortunes, I can only come to one conclusion.

That they’ve got a lot of barefaced cheek.

What on earth gives their calls any legitimacy at all? As far as I can tell, not one of them is a Sark resident. They say they have the right to speak out because they are Channel Islanders and ‘we are all in this together’. What bunkum.

The ‘Channel Islands’ is a geographical term, not a political one, and each island is independent, with its own elected political administration. The only exception is the fiscal and partial political union between Alderney and Guernsey, which was instigated to help the northern isle recover from the ravages of the Second World War.

That was entered into freely by both parties and could be terminated on the same basis.

If just living in the same archipelago gives us the right to call for inquiries into the way the other islands are being run, then why stop at Sark? Personally, I’ve got a few questions about the way the States of Jersey are running their island. Should I get a few kindred spirits together and call for an external inquiry? To be fair, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so perhaps a few nosy parkers from Jersey could lobby HMG to set up an inquiry into the way Guernsey is governed and its economic prospects?

Of course, to be consistent with the actions of ‘the magnificent 22’ such calls will need to be made public without any prior consultation with the democratically elected governments concerned. Rather, the people’s representatives in the respective jurisdictions should learn about these unofficial attempts to subvert their legitimacy by reading about them in the newspaper.

One of the 22, Rupert Dorey, tried to justify the fact that this self-appointed quango of the righteous had wholly failed to engage with Chief Pleas before calling for outside intervention in Sark’s affairs. In fact he made a virtue of it. ‘Of course we were careful not to engage with anybody in Sark before going public in case it was seen as taking sides.’

Unbelievable. Since when has talking to the legitimate, democratically elected, government of a territory been taking sides?

I accept that there are some in Sark, just like in Guernsey, who have no time for their government or its policies. As an outsider I am certainly not going to opine on how well or otherwise Sark is being run. What I do know, though, is that every two years the Sarkees have the opportunity to change their politicians through the ballot box if they are unhappy with the way their island is being run. It wasn’t always thus but it is now, and the people of Sark have taken to full democracy like a duck to water, with turn-outs which make Guernsey’s electoral participation look very lame indeed.

Chief Pleas might be a super government or an awful government or somewhere in-between, but it is the government chosen by the people being governed in fair and free elections. For them to learn through the media that a bunch of self-appointed arbiters of Sark’s best interests is calling for outside investigations into the way their community is run is outrageous.

Sark is being plagued by some internal ructions that have resulted in rather sad personal tensions and blighted the island’s economy. This needs to be worked through. But it’s shameful that when the island has been (rightly) pushed into democratic reform, outsiders should then try to undermine its autonomy and the legitimacy of its government.

Just think about it. How would we feel if a bunch of bigwigs from Jersey suddenly popped up out of the blue and called for an external review of the way Guernsey is being run?

The answer would be a short one and would involve going forth and multiplying. What’s different? In the circumstances I think the reaction of Chief Pleas has been very restrained and polite.

The reality is that Sark does have difficulties and tensions.

It is clearly for that community alone to work through those problems, however long or difficult that process may be.

I only hope this latest ill-advised intervention hasn’t done anything to make that even harder to achieve.

Referenced News Stories

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The End of Safe Harbour: Check Your Data

Safe Harbor was a self-certifying arrangement whereby a company in the US (for example) would be able to provide protection for data stored there by EU users under the EU Data Protection Law. Hence the name - "safe harbor".

The Safe Harbor principles were agreed to on the basis that, even though U.S. law would not change, the private companies who signed up to the Safe Harbor list would adhere to the rules set out by the EU.

These rules included, but were not exclusive to, the EU enabling access for private organisations in the US to an individual's data upon request, and assurances that data security was effective enough to guarantee data protection. It was neat because it was self-certifying and did not therefore rely on lawyers to draw up contracts. However, there was mounting criticism of laxity even before the EU ruling.

The current situation is that what might be termed “Safe Harbour 2.0” is in progress at the time of the ruling. It is clear that this ruling will act as a bargaining point for stricter regulation of data transfer.

While the current situation has been prompted by a particular Court ruling, it has become clear from the revelations by Edward Snowden that breaches of Safe Harbour by the USA have been going on for some time on a regular basis.

“A company in Europe may run afoul of these rules if it uses a U.S. service provider that it sends data to, such as for email marketing. Or it might run afoul of these rules if it sends data to a U.S. subsidiary,” explains Daniel Castro of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

The collapse of Safe Harbor does not mean the end of legal transfer of data. The EU commission itself says that other mechanisms can be used, and EU Model clauses are one such mechanism which they themselves suggest. In the meantime, there is a period of grace until 31 January 2015.

But in the meantime, business users in Jersey should question where their Cloud data is held, and how it is protected. This covers everything from online accounts packages like Quickbooks Online and Xero, to email systems using Hotmail and Gmail. etc.

Basecamp has this to note:  If you live in the European Union and store personal data in your Basecamp account, or you use your Basecamp account to do business with EU residents who may provide personal data, then the ruling on Safe Harbor may affect you.... We are currently in a grace period from enforcement groups through the end of January 2016.

I've not been able to find anything about Quickbooks Online, which is worrying.

It appears that Xero, perhaps because of its origin in New Zealand,  has not just relied on Safe Harbour but has also been using EU Model clauses as a backup in case there were problems with Safe Harbour, and these satisfy the requirements of data transfer from the EU to the US. It is highly likely that they knew the weakness of Safe Harbour and decided to reduce their risks accordingly.

A Xero Community Manager has stated:

"Like many SaaS companies, we use top-tier, third party data hosting providers' servers to host our online and mobile services. Our providers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Rackspace are located in the US. For our European and other non-US customers, it means that personal information is transferred to those hosting providers’ servers in the US.  To confirm, we have in place EU Model Clauses with each of these hosting providers, which continue to be recognized by the EU as a means of satisfying the requirements relating to the transfer of data from the EU to the US."

However, these model clauses will be placed under additional scrutiny and may have to be tightened. The particular reason is that the USA’s National Security Agency may well “ride roughshod” over them just as it did with Safe Harbour. But for the moment, they remain an alternative safeguard, and Xero clearly complies with those.

It is worth noting that for many other countries outside the USA, there were no “Safe Harbor” arrangements, and “model clauses” and “binding corporate rules” were always necessary to do business. The UK Data Protection guidelines state:

“Adequate safeguards may be put in place in a number of ways including using Model Contract Clauses, Binding Corporate Rules or Binding Corporate Rules for Processors (BCRs) or other contractual arrangements. Where “adequate safeguards” are established, the rights of data subjects continue to be protected even after their data has been transferred outside the EEA.”

“The European Commission has approved four sets of standard contractual clauses (known as model clauses) as providing an adequate level of protection. If you use these model clauses in their entirety in your contract, you will not have to make your own assessment of adequacy.”

“Another option is to adopt binding codes of corporate conduct, known as binding corporate rules or binding corporate rules for processors (BCR). This option only applies to multinational organisations transferring information outside the EEA but within their group of entities and subsidiaries." 

"These rules create rights for individuals, which can be exercised before the courts or data protection authorities, and obligations for the company. In all cases, the rules are legally binding on the companies in the multinational group and will usually be made so by unilateral declarations, intra-group agreements or the corporate governance of the group. To use BCR to transfer personal data freely within your group, they must be approved by all the relevant European data protection authorities who will co-operate with each other in assessing the standard of your rules.”

There is no need for immediate concern, but if your business uses cloud based storage of data, including personal data on individuals , the you need to consider where your data is held and what protective measures have been put in place.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Means Tested Christmas Bonus: A Necessary Provision

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” (A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens)

Geoff Southern has lodged a proposition to retain the Christmas bonus for pensioners – but on a means tested basis. That, of course, should have been the way it was retained in the first place, but was not. Deputy Southern needs to think more carefully before putting propositions before the States. Fortunately, at the 11th hour, there is still an opportunity to correct this.

Looking back at the debate which rejected a blanket Christmas bonus, it will be interesting to see how States members now justify rejecting, because a number made statements rejecting it on the grounds that it was given to all, even those who didn’t need it.

Senator Alan Maclean, in particular, rejected the original proposition saying that it was universal and “That is what we need, targeted benefits, getting to those that really need them. “

This was in line with his manifesto promises, which said support for the elderly needed to be targetted:

“Inflation and especially the rising costs of food and fuel are impacting on retired people living on fixed incomes. We must ensure that help is available and targeted in a fair and dignified manner to those in genuine need.”

Meanwhile, Susie Pinel, the Social Security Minister, criticised the original proposition as follows. She said that “Deputy Southern talks about supporting the most vulnerable in our society and protecting the poorest households. This part of his amendment does not achieve the same. The impact is to keep the Christmas bonus for rich and poor alike”

But she went on to say: “I absolutely appreciate that there is a strong sympathy and emotional attachment to the Christmas bonus but I do not believe that the States Assembly would support the introduction of a non-means-tested Christmas bonus today. However, I do understand that there might be support for introducing a means-tested Christmas bonus, perhaps as part of the overall income support scheme, but to be clear, that is not what we are being asked to vote on today.”

And Constable Len Norman, who also rejected the original proposition, noted this: “Surely the people that Senator Cameron was talking about, they need to be helped but use the money that I am getting and people like me are getting and target them, not just spread all this money around to anybody because they have reached a certain age.”

The Constable of St Peter, John Refault noted this:

“I met them for the first time when becoming a Procureur du Bien Public and doing welfare. These people were coming in who were desperate for money in any way just to be able to eat and have some form of heating. I know that we used to go around at Christmas time with what hampers we could make up to their houses and found them coming to the door in the overcoats and relying on a tin or a packet to have as Christmas dinner. It is those people that I feel very strongly for today."

"It is that 20 to 25 per cent of our population who have come to expect that little bonus that just helps them perhaps to buy a little bit of coal to go on the fire at Christmas, to have something slightly better to eat than something out of a baked bean can or a packet. They probably have not even got a microwave in which to heat it". 

"The 75 per cent, Len Norman and myself and many of us in here, we do not need it. We do not want it, we do not need and we should not have it. There has to be another way in which we can be dealing with this.”

These are all people who rejected the proposal on the grounds that it was not targetted.

Now it has been changed to restrict it to the most vulnerable, those who are so accurately depicted in John Refault’s speech, will they vote against keeping in under those terms? Or is all the talk of giving help in a fair and dignified manner just so much smoke and mirrors?

Why is it important for those in need at Christmas, rather than to be used in some other way, as will be probably be argued? Those who don't understand that just don't understand human beings at all. They are economic calculators, devoid of feeling. They should try taking the message home from "A Christmas Carol". It is a time when want is keenly felt.

To lose the money in welfare mechanisms which supposedly will benefit the poor better is missing the point. We don't know how much that might help those in need; we do know that a bonus will bring them something palpably sold that will definitely improve their lives. That it may not be so much spread across the year is also to miss the point. Do States members spread their own Christmas expenses across 12 months? Of course not.

Perhaps they should go out into the streets and flats, and speak to a few pensioners in need, and ask them what they really want, rather than just pontificating from on high in a rather patronising manner. Why is Christmas more important. If they honestly don't know that, they should not be in charge of other people's welfare.

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

Monday, 23 November 2015

Leading Channel Islanders Unite to Save Struggling Jersey

Leading Channel Islanders Unite to Save Struggling Jersey

An alliance of prominent Channel Islanders are lobbying the UK to step in and help solve “serious“ problems facing the embattled Island of Jersey

They call for a Royal Commission style inquiry to be set up into the future of Jersey. Royal Commissions are public inquiries authorised by the Queen that investigate major issues of concern or contention.

The letter says that “the inconvenient truth” would seem to be that without some form of effective intervention from outside, people and investors in Jersey are unlikely to reach a sound and effective set of solutions to the problems they face.

These include:

1) An inability to reform the composition of the States of Jersey, over many years, despite an Electoral Commission chaired by a former Bailiff and current Senator. The States have simply sabotaged all efforts at reform, and the only solution is an external one: a panel chaired by a genuinely independent person of experience and standing who would be appointed by the UK government.

2) A Royal Commission should also look at and identify and put in place long term solutions to many of the economic and fiscal issues afflicting Jersey, and in particular, the falling revenue and fiscal black hole since the introduction of zero-ten. The economy is weakening, housing prises continue to rise, and Jersey has become a community in which increasing numbers of its sons and daughters no longer see as their future home. 

3) An internal system of Ministers and Scrutiny panels which is failing as Ministers refuse to co-operate in giving information to scrutiny, leading to a culture in which concealment takes precedent over transparency and open government.

4) A Care Inquiry which - despite being promised full support by the Chief Minister - is hampered by the Health department Minister refusing to supply requested information, and using taxpayers money to fund lawyers to defend their action.

Letter ends.

This letter was not written, unlike the recent letter to Sark, but could well have been. The issues stated are as pertinent. The astute reader may notice I've used many of the phrases used to express concern with Sark in the other letter which was written.

It does strike me as extraordinary that the signatories to the letter about Sark can see nothing wrong with the situation in Jersey and want to intervene in another sovereign democracy. And didn’t Senator Gorst suggest a Royal Commission might be the only way forward for Jersey's electoral reform? He has since taken up a Trappist Vow of Silence on the matter.

In the post war election change, a Royal Commission suggested changes, and the Islanders voted on it, and the States honoured that vote. The last ten years have seen a total failure of the States to reform themselves, causing concerns about democracy which don’t seem to have been noticed by those signatories.

Then, of course, at least two signatories were former Chief Ministers, and beneficiaries of the limited changes which did take place, and effectively responsible for keeping them limited.

Privileges and Procedures are, I understand, working on yet another set of suggested reforms to the structure of the States., which, if I were a betting man, would make me rich against if I could get a turf accountant to get me odds against.

Scrutiny, in the meantime, is treated with contempt by the Treasury Minister, who blames them for delays which he has himself caused. Can there be any better argument for a Royal Commission than the contempt the Council of Ministers has for both Scrutiny and the general public?

And in the meantime, Alan Maclean also says the Island should work together on marketing. As long as it is not the Channel Island Air Registry, of course, as he refused to engage with Guernsey (who were there first) unless considerable concessions were made to Jersey.

Fine soundbites of ideals are plentiful but action is negligible. The disconnect between speech and act could seldom be greater than we see whenever the Treasury Minister speaks. Wittgenstein's notion of a "speech-act" could scarcely be better refuted.

And yet the "great and the good" decide to write about Sark's problems. For those of us brought up on Bible lessons, the words of Jesus seem particularly pertinent: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?"