Monday, 18 June 2018

The Children X Case: Some Background History

The Children X Case: Some Background History 

The case before the Royal Court today is about two children and the neglect of the States in respect of how to care for them. As the JEP reported earlier in June:

“Plaintiff Two, who is currently sectioned in a UK facility, and Plaintiff Three, who lives in a ‘highly supported’ environment, are suing the Health Minister for a total of £238 million in what is believed to be the largest personal injury claim in British legal history. The siblings claim that they will never recover from the abuse they sustained while living in the family home.

The Health Minister has accepted that the pair should have been placed into care sooner, but disputes the amount in damages the plaintiffs are seeking and instead believes a total of £14.5 million should be awarded.”

Before looking back to the origins of the case, for which publically available documentary evidence is sparse anyway, it is worth taking a look at the more immediate past, and in particular what happened around the end of 2008 and 2009, under the two Health Ministers at the time, Senator Ben Shenton and Senator Jim Perchard, and under the aegis of Chief Office Mike Pollard.

The Court Judgement is in the public domain for 27 March 2009 and paints a sorry picture in which considerations of finance seem to have played their part, and in which also too much optimism was placed on Jersey being able to supply similar support - and thereby also save money, even though that structure was not actually in place at the time. There also is an extraordinary matter of a Minister delegating a decision to his Chief Officer, and not as one might expect, an Assistant Minister.

The Ministers - and in particular the first Minister involved - as well as his Chief Officer and the other members of the top echelon making decisions do not, in my view, come out of this at all well, and the only person who seems to have had the children's welfare at heart in Social Services was Tony Le Sueur, whose work to try and secure a UK placement was dismissed in a manner that seems almost out of hand.

While this does not form the original grounds for the action being taken today, it almost certainly contributed to further delays in a proper placement, which must surely be taken into account today.

The History of the Matter

On 27th March 2009, the case was heard of The X Children (by their Guardian ad litem Advocate Timothy Hanson) and The Minister for Health and Social Services, who was Senator Jim Perchard. This was the history of events which was unfolded before the Court.

On 2nd October 2008 a meeting took place between Ms Jemma Waugh, a social worker who had recently taken over responsibility for the family, Mr Butterfield and Dr Bryn Williams, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, to discuss placement options for the X Children. The unanimous view of the group was that each child required a highly specialised therapeutic package of residential care that was not currently available in Jersey.

Although it is clear that the brakes were applied to the planning activities of the professional team in early November 2008, it is not easy to ascertain how or by whom that deceleration was directed. It seems that on 5th November 2008 the Head of the Children’s Service, Mr Anthony Le Sueur, was notified by e-mail from the Finance Director of the H&SS Department that:-

“the level of funding to place these children into a UK placement as is being proposed is not available”.

The Finance Director warned that the Department must live within the resources allocated to it, or risk breaching the Public Finances (Jersey) Law 2005.

On 7th November a meeting took place at which the Minister, then Senator Shenton, was informed that the money for the placements could not be found from within existing resources, but that the Department supported the move threatened by Mr Hanson to seek a Judicial Review of the decision not to provide resources for the placements. The minute records that the Minister was concerned that the court might have power to instruct an action that would lead to a major departmental overspend.

Efforts were subsequently made by Mr Hanson to meet the Minister in order to discuss the difficulties. On 13th November an application for Judicial Review was filed with the Bailiff’s Chambers. On 17th November Senator Shenton agreed to a meeting which was scheduled for the following day. A full note was prepared for him by Mr Hanson’s office. On 18th November the Minister cancelled the meeting.

On 20th November Mr Anthony Le Sueur filed a statement in the proceedings before the Family Division. Mr Le Sueur explained that, if the Children’s Service did not have sufficient funds available in their budget for particular placements (as was the case here) he would make a submission to the Health and Social Services Placement Panel. His submission would be accompanied by a business case. The Placement Panel, if minded to support it, would refer the submission on to the senior management team (“SMT”) consisting of the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Executive Directors and Directorate Managers. If the decision was favourable, the Minister would be informed, and he would request the Treasury and Resources Minister to lodge a proposal before the States seeking additional funding.

It is important to note that the professional team (i.e. those working for and within the Children’s Service) remained convinced that the best and only suitable placements for the X Children lay outside the Island. A business case in support of that aim was developed and was to be considered by the Placement Panel on 15th December.

The Assistant Legal Adviser replied immediately to state that neither the Guardian nor his legal advisers were invited to attend the meeting of the Placement Panel. The opportunity given was only to make written representations. Mr Hanson’s firm protested, but to no avail

The meeting of the Placement Panel duly took place. Those present were Mr Richard Jouault (Deputy Chief Executive), Mrs Marnie Baudains (Directorate Manager for Social Services), Mr Ian Dyer (Directorate Manager for Mental Health Services), Dr Richard Lane (Medical Director), Ms Rose Naylor (Director of Nursing Governance), Mr John Cox (Service Manager, Adult Services), and Ms Sarah Purgal (Deputy Finance Director). Mr Anthony Le Sueur, Manager of the Childrens Service, made his presentation.

The recommendation of the business plan presented by Mr Le Sueur was that the only option able to meet the needs of the X Children within a reasonable time scale was that involving placements outside the Island.

“After deliberation, and giving due regard to the needs of each individual child, the views expressed by professionals including the Guardian, the risks imposed by both alternatives, and the costs involved IT WAS RESOLVED that the Panel would make a recommendation to SMT that local provision be established for the 3 eldest children, it being determined that this is the most sustainable long term solution. “

On 16th December 2008 the SMT of twelve senior departmental officials convened under the chairmanship of Mr Pollard, Chief Executive. Mr Jouault, who had chaired the meeting of the Placement Panel on 15th December was amongst those present. The opening part of the minutes record:-

“The background of the case was summarised and the consideration of the most appropriate placement of the 3 older children from this family along with the outcome of the Placement Panel Meeting of 15th December 2008. One option recommended by the Guardian ad Litem, is the placement of each child for therapy in UK specialist centres.

This option would cost approximately £750,000 per annum, which, if paid for by HSSD, would represent a significant overspend for the Department. MP pointed that this would be an illegal action. The Royal Court has requested that HSSD agree an appropriately funded care plan for each child by Friday 19th December 2008. Failure to produce a plan which is acceptable to the court may lead to a Judicial Review.”

The meeting discussed the issues for thirty minutes (according to the minutes) and agreed with the conclusions of the Placement Panel.

Later the same day, 16th December 2008, the newly appointed Minister of Health and Social Services, Senator Perchard received a briefing from Mr Jouault on the outcome of the meeting of the Placement Panel which had been endorsed by the SMT. In the light of his impending departure from the Island on holiday, the Minister delegated his powers to make a final decision to Mr Pollard, the Chief Executive.

On 19th December Mr Pollard considered the whole matter in the exercise of the powers delegated by the Minister. His initial consideration involved a reading of the Ministers brief which included the relevant provisions of the Children Law, a letter from Mr Robert Tucker, an independent social work consultant dated 31st March 2008, the report of Dr Silver dated 6th June 2008, the report of Mr Butterfield dated 22nd July 2008, and the report of Ms Carol Milnes, chartered educational psychologist dated 3rd July 2008, together with other documents placed before the Placement Panel on 15th December.

 Mr Pollard met with a number of officials during the morning and then retired to read or to re-read the report of the Guardian. Later that day the meeting reconvened, and Mr Pollard made his decision. The decision summary records the reasons for the decision as being:-

“After due consideration of all information and opinion outlined in the report and in particular the submission of the Guardian ad Litem, the Chief Officer supports the opinion that the development and provision of local services as recommended by the Placement Panel at its meeting of the 15th December 2008, is in the best long term interests of the family”.

The initial application by Mr Hanson was made on 25th November 2008 to the Bailiff sitting in Chambers. Notice of the application was given to the Minister. After an inter partes hearing the Bailiff adjourned the application to 23rd December 2008 on the ground that he was not satisfied that there had been a decision which was amendable to judicial review. He indicated that the Minister should make a definitive decision no later than 19th December 2008 in default of which he would be likely to assume that funding for placements in the United Kingdom had been refused, and proceed accordingly.

The Minister did make a definitive decision on 19th December refusing to approve the specialist residential placements for the children.

Court Case:

Mr Hanson submitted that the Minister, acting through Mr Pollard, had acted unfairly by excluding the Guardian and his legal adviser from the meeting on 19th December 2008 at which the decision was ultimately taken. Mr Pollard gave evidence that he did not want to be lobbied by the Guardian; he was prepared to take, and did take, the written representations of the Guardian into account but he was not willing to offer an oral hearing. He had many such difficult decisions to take, and it was not practical, in effect, to contemplate an oral quasi-judicial hearing on every such occasion.

If the court were being asked to determine whether or not the Guardian should have been permitted to attend the meeting of the Placement Panel on 15th December 2008, we should have been inclined to the view that he should. The Guardian is appointed to protect the interests of the children and the Minister has a duty under Article 19 to give due consideration to the Guardian’s views. The notice of a few hours given to the Guardian to make written representations was impossibly short and wholly inadequate.

There seems to be no good reason why the Guardian and his legal adviser should not have been permitted to articulate their views to the Panel as they considered the different available options. Indeed Mr Pollard told us that if the matter had been brought to his attention, he would have over-ruled objections from the Panel and permitted the Guardian to attend. We think that Mr Pollard was entirely right to make that concession.

This element of the Minister’s actions in relation to the decision making process did trouble us greatly. The Department was considering, in the context of how best to deal with the problems of the X Children, wider issues of child protection policy following a report dated June 2008 prepared by Mr William Andrew Williamson. A plan has been drawn up (“the Williamson Implementation Plan”) to implement a number of the report’s recommendations. A degree of unnecessary secrecy seems to have enveloped this plan, certainly prior to the decision of 19th December 2008. The minutes of the SMT meeting early on 19th December record:-

“MP [Mr Pollard] asked whether any of the professionals who had been asked to submit comment regarding the case were aware of the detail of the Williamson Implementation Plan particularly with regard to recommendations 7 and 8. It was confirmed that only the Minister, very senior members of the H&SS and independent experts such as Professor June Thoburn and Andrew Williamson himself had seen the report to date”.

Mr Pollard was cross examined as to why he had not taken greater note of the views of Dr Silver and the other professionals. He replied that he was “aware of a number of significant investments that were likely to be made in Children’s Services... The Andrew Williamson recommendations, which were known to me but were not known to either Dr Silver or to the professionals that you mentioned at the time. Those were pieces of important information that were kept very close to myself and a number of other very senior [officials]”.

We appreciate that the evolving plan to implement the Williamson Report constituted confidential information which it would not have been helpful to place in the public domain at that time. We see no reason, however, why the information could not have been shared in confidence with the Guardian and his legal adviser. It was important to the decision-making process in relation to which the guardian should have been permitted to contribute informed views. We considered whether we should strike down the decision of 19th December 2008 on this basis but have concluded on balance that it would not be in the interests of the X Children to do so for all the reasons that follow.

However, as we shall see, this was not the end of the matter, and Advocate Hanson was not minded to let the matter rest.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Outcast

The Outcast

Having a gay character in a TV show is one way of dealing with the prejudices that surround society, but it is not the only way.

A Star Trek Next Generation Episode I have been watching recently – “The Outcast” looks at issues of sexuality and being considered an outcast in a very different way. By doing this, it gets under the radar of inherent cultural prejudices and hidden biases which most people have in some form or another.

The Enterprise comes to the assistance of the Genai, a race that has no gender, to help retrieve the crew of a shuttle that went missing in a mysterious void of "null space."

The Genai once had male and female sexes but have evolved into asexual beings with some kind of external insemination used to propagate the species – “Our foetuses are incubated in fibrous husks, which the parents inseminate “

But occasionally there are some Genai who identify with one gender or the other and are considered throwbacks, evolutionary sports. These identifications are forbidden and those individuals are subject to a psychological "treatment" that eradicates those "abnormal" feelings.

Here is Soren, one of the Genai, explaining how they have evolved into a genderless society and the difficulty in finding personal pronouns to use.

Soren:. My parents were pilots. I was flying with them before I could walk. And as soon as I was old enough, I entered flight school. Krite was my instructor.

Riker: He had a good student.

Soren: He? Commander, there are no he's or she's in a species without gender.

Riker: Okay. For two days I've been trying to construct sentences without personal pronouns. Now I give up. What should I use? It? To us, that's rude.

Soren: We use a pronoun which is neutral. I do not think there is really a translation.

Riker: Then I'll just have to muddle through. So forgive me if a stray he or she slips by, okay?

And in some later exchanges, they discuss the notion of gender:

Soren: We are puzzling to you, aren't we?

Riker: A little. It's hard to grasp the idea of no gender.

Soren: It's just as hard for us to understand the strange division in your species. Males and females. You are male. Tell me about males. What is it that makes you different from females?

Gender is offensive to the Genai, it is considered an aberration.

Soren: The idea of gender. It is offensive to my people. You see, long ago we had two sexes, as you do. But we evolved into a higher form. I don't mean to sound insulting, but on my planet we have been taught that gender is primitive.

Riker: Primitive?

Soren: Less evolved.

Soren and Riker are attracted to each other, but Soren has to tell Riker how people of their race who take up a gender are considered outcasts.

Soren: Commander, I'd like to tell you something. Something that's not easy to say.

Riker: What's that?

Soren: I find you attractive. I'm taking a terrible risk telling you that. It means revealing something to you, something that, if it were known on my planet, would be very dangerous for me. Occasionally, among my people, there are a few who are born different, who are throwbacks from the era when we all had gender. Some have strong inclinations to maleness, and some have urges to be female. I am one of the latter.

Riker: I have to admit I had a feeling you were different.

Soren: I was hoping you would. But in front of Krite and the others, I must be careful not to reveal myself.

Riker: Why?

Soren: On our world these feelings are forbidden. Those who are discovered are shamed and ridiculed, and only by undergoing psychotectic therapy and having all elements of gender eliminated can they become accepted into society again. Those of us who have these urges live secret and guarded lives. We seek each other out, always hiding, always terrified of being discovered.

A later exchange goes into greater depth about “psychotectic treatment” which is in Genoi society, seen as a “cure” for gender:

Soren: I remember when I was very young, before I knew what I was, there was a rumour in my school that one of the students preferred a gender, in that case, male. The children started making fun of him, and every day they were more cruel They could tell he was afraid and somehow that seemed to encourage them. One morning in class, he appeared, bleeding and in ripped clothes. He said he had fallen down. And of course the school authorities found out and took him away, and gave him psychotectic treatments. When he came back, he stood in front of the whole school and told us how happy he was now that he had been cured. After that, I realised how dangerous it was to be different. And once I got older, and knew what I was, I was terrified. I have had to live with that fear ever since.

Riker: Do you have relationships with others?

Soren: Yes, with those who have discovered they are male. I have had to live a life of pretence and lies, but with you I can be honest. Please, don't say anything. Just think about it.

Soren’s relationship with Riker is discovered after they are observed kissing, and Soren is put on trial. This is the impassioned speech made at the trial and it is wonderful.

Soren: I am tired of lies. I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings, those longings, all of my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding and your compassion. We have not injured you in any way. And yet, we are scorned and attacked. And all because we are different. What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh. We complain about work and we wonder about growing old. We talk about our families, and we worry about the future. And we cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All of the loving things that you do with each other, that is what we do. And for that we are called misfits and deviants and criminals. What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?

Unfortunately it falls on deaf ears, and Noor, the judge, sees this as sickness speaking, which needs to be cured.

Noor: I congratulate you, Soren. Your decision to admit your perversion makes it much more likely that we can help you.

Riker: Wait, wait, wait. You don't have to do this.

Noor: Commander?

Riker: Let me take her with me. She can go back to the Enterprise. We would give her asylum. You would never have to see her again. That would solve the problem, wouldn't it? You'd be rid of her. She would never be able to influence anyone again.

Noor: Commander, after Soren's diatribe, you must think that we are a cruel, repressive people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Riker: I'm just trying to find a solution that would satisfy everyone.

Noor: We are concerned about our citizens. We take our obligations to them seriously. Soren is sick, and sick people want to get well.

Riker: Did it occur to you that she might like to stay the way she is?

Noor: You don't understand. We have a very high success rate in treating deviants like this. And without exception, they become happier people after their treatment, and grateful that we care enough to cure them. You see, Commander, on this world, everyone wants to be normal.

Riker: She is.

"The Outcast" is, on one level, a treatise about how horrifying it is when a culture decides a certain portion of its population is "sick" and takes steps to punish them for being outside the norm.

Specifically, it's about how the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered are often badly treated by the so-called mainstream, viewed as unhealthy abberations that are "sick" and need to be "cured" through psychological conditioning.

Sadly there are still those who regard members of the LGBT community as somehow disordered, and who should, as in some countries be imprisoned or killed, or just as bad in some ways, “cured” of their affliction.

There is no happy ending for Riker. By the time he returns with a rescue party, Soren has been “cured”. It is perhaps a reflection of how there are not always happy endings, and the struggle for acceptance and tolerance is something that still needs to continue, as long as there is intolerance and a desire to stamp out that which is seen as threatening.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Grenfell Lamentations

My poem today is a lament, mourning those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire just over a year ago.

Grenfell Lamentations

O weep, weep in sorrow song
Mourn the dead in candlelight
Cladding blazing up to height
Fire burning fierce and long

Money saving, ever so wrong
Cladding turning into blight
O weep, weep in sorrow song
Mourn the dead in candlelight

Burning, burning, all day long
Dying, trapped, a dreadful plight
No escape, no means of flight
Falling, falling, down headlong
O weep, weep in sorrow song

Friday, 15 June 2018

Jersey Airport - Part 1

My history blog today comes from the 1980 edition of Aircraft Illustrated.

British Isles 'Airports: No 10: Jersey
by David H. Kirkman
(Flightlines International)

IT WOULD appear inconsistent to the casual observer that a small island could have the third busiest airport in the British Isles in terms of aircraft air transport movements. But Jersey is. to say the very least, somewhat unique in the general structure of the United Kingdom, and it is this individuality that results in the importance of its airport.

The Channel Islands, with the three major islands of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, represent the southernmost extremity of the British Isles. Jersey has discrete and particular laws - occasioning fiscal advantages in personal and corporate residence, and an extremely agreeable climate: both well suited to the weary Briton. It is probably the latter factor which first directed the inhabitants towards the possibilities of air transport as a rapid means of facilitating an increasing tourist industry, and realising new markets for a thriving horticultural business borne out of the early seasons. Today the mainland enjoys the harvest of early tomatoes, new potatoes and cut flowers air freighted from Jersey.

The efforts to open air facilities to the Island, however, did not meet with universal approval. As is often the case, local resistance to any form of technological progress held up the development of air traffic and it was not until 18 December 1933 that a company registered as 'Jersey Airways Ltd' was able to commence a scheduled service from Jersey to the mainland.

Nevertheless, this first operation was not conducted on true terra firma; the 'airfield' being a stretch of tidal beach situated between West Park and First Tower in St Aubin's Bay. The service, operated to Portsmouth using a DH94 Dragon Rapide was highly dependent upon suitable weather and tides.

The same in part is true today - Jersey is known for its fogs or 'sea frets'. With a pilot and seven passengers, trade in the early days was brisk but a far cry to the annual 1 .5 million or so passengers using the airport today.

Despite the scoffing of many of the locals, albeit very understandable considering the operational conditions, the daily beach service thrived. Passenger handling could be likened to the nightmarish - if it wasn't the tide or the wind, it would be the rain. All passenger processing and documentation was conducted in the open in a true pioneer spirit but the outcome was an upsurge in interest towards air travel and better things were to come, with a remarkably high degree of punctuality and reliability.

It was obvious therefore that the strip on the sands had to be moved inshore. Almost at once, in the same year as the inaugural service, the Jersey Chamber of Commerce completed their preliminary investigation and made recommendations for a variety of airfield sites throughout the island. With the aid of a number of notable aviation experts from the UK, the present site - some 5 miles north-west of St Helier off the A 12 Beaumont to St Peters road - was declared `most suitable'. The controlling authority for the beach strip was the Piers and Harbours Committee and this same body was authorised by the States of Jersey to continue with the aerodrome administration on the new land site.

So it has remained to the present, though with a subtle name change to the Harbours and Airports Committee.

The culmination of this activity came on 10 March 1937 when the `States of Jersey Airport' commenced regular operations. Many facilities were provided including a terminal building with a control tower, waiting room, passenger handling areas, a restaurant, and a customs area. The tower itself was equipped with the most up to date communications available including an Adcock D/F system; and with the incorporation of powerful floodlights to illuminate the entire landing area plus boundary and obstruction lighting, the airport was claimed as being 'the most completely equipped of any in the British Isles apart from Croydon'.

Jersey Airways rapidly became established, operating DH86 Express aircraft. By April 1937 the first newspapers had been airfreighted into the island and airmail services commenced two months later. Initially, routes to London, Southampton and Exeter were introduced, but in the ensuing two years several more were added including Dinard and Shoreham, and air traffic became a regular feature of the transport pattern within the Channel Islands.

But the prospect of more immediate development was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 2: military aviation began to replace the civil operations and by February 1940 a Fleet Air Arm training squadron had moved in with Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers and Albacores.

The outlook for Jersey, far removed from the UK mainland, was perilous and indeed it was not long before the Channel Islands fell to German Occupation on 30 June- 1 July 1940.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

States Employment Board and the Police Chief

Below is a letter published by the JEP last night by Senator Kristina Moore. I’m putting it here because it puts the record straight, and that may be lost in the pages of the JEP, which not everyone may read anyway.

The following points I think are important to note:

States Employment Board and the Police Chief

Kristina Moore had no say in the employment and retirement arrangements of the former Chief Officer of Police – these were the result of decisions taken by the States Employment Board chaired by former Senator Andrew Green.

It was the same SEB which also commissioned an independent consultants report at the cost of £3,321 on Rod Bryans when there was already a paid Commissioner of Standards tasked with carrying out that kind of investigation. The other members of the board at that time were Treasury Minister Alan Maclean, St Mary Constable Juliette Gallichan and St Martin Constable Michel Le Troquer and Housing Minister Anne Pryke.

The States Complaints Board said in a recent report that the termination of eye surgeon’s Dr Alwitry's contract by the SEB was 'one of the worst examples' of a public authority 'disregarding' contract law.

Clearly the SEB had acted in a fashion which on occasions seems to have been cavalier and almost like a petty fiefdom. But as the letter notes quite correctly – these were not Kristina Moore’s decisions to make, and unfortunately none of the members of the SEB remains in the States to be called to account for their actions.

Personal Attacks

“I think it is unfortunate that I am also having to respond to personal comments or observations that involve my family”

A lot of what goes on with Social Media is related to discussion and argument, and perhaps also opinions on Ministers. There is a certain degree of flack which public office will always attract. I myself have seen a change from arguments on political matters to trading insults in political forums online.

But I regard it as beyond the pale for this to extend to a politicians family, and I hope that highlighting this part of the letter that moderators may keep a tighter grip on groups they administer, and those who make these kind of attacks may be shamed into reconsidering their actions. They may not – there are thick-skinned people out there who removed from face to face encounters can lose any moral compass in the way they behave. But where families of politicians are concerned, there is the crossing of a line, and that kind of harassment should be called out.

There is one other mention of a conflict of interest in the public domain. Ben Shenton wrote:

"She is married to a practising lawyer, as openly disclosed during her election campaign, and the interaction between a lawyer and elements of the Homes Affairs portfolio can be immense. To be clear, I’m not making any accusations, as there are none to make. These are just observations based on my experience of public perception. I am also acutely aware that not everyone shares this view regarding her perceived conflict of interest"

This is tackled at the end of her letter. While he is just pointing out perceived conflicts of interest - did he ever make such a mention of Frank Walker and the Guiton Group when he was Health Minister? - the manner in which he does so suggests some kind of collusion. It's not as blatant as the kind of remarks made by Sir Joseph Donaldson Cantley, but there are elements of that.

Role of Home Affairs Minister in police and fire chiefs' retirements
A letter from Senator Kristina Moore.

I wish to provide some clarification on recent comments regarding the retirement of the former chief officer of police and other matters relating to the Home Affairs portfolio.

The terms and conditions of employment for the chief of police do not fall within the remit of the Minister for Home Affairs - these are a responsibility of the States Employment Board. Accordingly, the former chief of police communicated his decision to retire through the States Employment Board.

When I was informed of the former chief's intention to retire, and the arrangements that had been made for his notice period, I had a duty as the minister to ensure the force could continue to operate effectively. This included the maintenance of a robust command structure. I therefore made the necessary interim appointments in July 2017, the details of which were published via ministerial decisions at the time.

All financial implications were resultant from the arrangements agreed between the former chief and the States Employment Board, with which I did not have any involvement. The former chief’s full retirement took effect from the end of October 2017 and he has not received a salary since that date.

In announcing his retirement, the former chief stated that, having reached normal retirement age and the 20th anniversary of his appointment as a chief officer, he was the longest-serving chief in the British Isles and felt that e had met all the goals and challenges he had set on his appointment in 2011.

Comment has also been made regarding the retirement of the chief officer of the Fire and Rescue Service. The current chief has retired and has publicly set out his reasons for this decision. It is a very straightforward matter. The chief has led the Jersey Fire and Rescue Service superbly since 2007, also undertaking the role of Emergency Planning Officer since 2015.

There is an excellent succession plan in place at the Fire and Rescue Service indeed it was stipulated in the contract of the current chief that he must train a successor. The current deputy chief has been in the role for ten years and is perfectly capable of ensuring a seamless transition can take place until a permanent recruitment process is undertaken.

While I am more than content to correct misguided and somewhat ill-informed speculation regarding developments within my current ministerial remit, and am happy to be challenged on policy, I think it is unfortunate that I am also having to respond to personal comments or observations that involve my family. The public can be assured that, throughout my time as Minister for Home Affairs, I have been conscious of occasions where I potentially face a conflict of interest and have undertaken my ministerial duties accordingly.

On the rare occasions where there may have been a conflict of interests or a perceived conflict of interests, the Assistant Minister has taken any necessary decisions.

May I take this opportunity to again warmly thank the 15,292 people who voted for me on 16 May. I am most grateful for their support and looking forward to representing them to the best of my ability.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Little Figures that aren’t there.

The Little Figures that aren’t there.

103 FM reports

A £2,500 deposit has been put down on the £80,000 Sir Max Aitken III, which is coming over from Great Yarmouth. Chairman of the charity Ben Shenton says it will be months before it can be used in rescues though

“We’ve done quite a lot of work on the boat. When it arrives it will have a new radio and will have had a full going over. But there is still a lot of work to do. We have got to make sure everything is absolutely ship-shape. When it arrives in Jersey it will be taken out of the water for the work to be done.”

The JLA hopes its new vessel will be operational before the end of the year.

The JEP reported

Mr Shenton added that it would be months before the vessel was fully certified for search and rescue operations. And he said that the organisation still needed to buy insurance and crew equipment.

‘It is not just a case of buying a vessel and away you go. We need to have health-and-safety certificates, rescue codes, a training regime and a list of procedures, which can take a massive amount of time,’ he said.

‘Then there is the boat. We need to prove that it is being maintained regularly, our equipment is sufficient, our radio equipment is up to standard – it is just everything you can think of.’ 

In fact it arrived Tuesday night.

Good luck to the JLA with their new venture. If I may be casting a slightly critical eye, it is just that I would like a bit more information,

For instance, there have been fund raising drives, fund raising events, but where are we with the fund raising to date?

There have been a lot of fund raising events, but very few reports on funds raised. I’ve gleaned two from Facebook but surely funds raised should be a news item on the JLA website too.

“Our Float our Boat lunch raised over £1,400 today towards the JLA funds - Thanks to all who attended and thanks also to all who attended the Bingo evening at St Peter's Community Centre last night which raised over £800.”

“Thanks, to Pub Manager Trevor Curtis, all the staff, and customers at the Wellington Pub, St Saviours Road for raising the amazing amount of £2,200 and to Connétable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard - for coming along to support us as she has done all the way along on our journey.”

But there have been other events, and no mention of funds raised to date.

When St Aubin on the Hill Church was raising money for new toilets, they put up on the railings outside the church a “fund raising thermometer”. This is a helpful way to keep everybody motivated towards a common goal. Instead of saying ‘we have another £70,000 to raise before we can purchase the boat, a picture not only speak a thousand words, but makes us all motivated to make sure that red line is filled all the way to the top!

But what we don’t know is how far the fund raising towards the £80,000 has gone.

So how have they got the boat coming to Jersey? It is not, I would guess, usual business practice to have an asset used by another party unless they pay the full amount? The only options I can see are (1) a phased payment scheme (2) some kind of loan either bank or private. Or will it be simply the case that it will still be owned by the current owner, but just kept in Jersey until they can pay for it.

Do they actually own the boat yet? If so, how are they paying for it?

And of the extra costs – insurance, crew equipment, annual maintenance – how much are they? Have they a budget?

The UK Charity Commission's guidelines are that a responsible charity (such as the RNLI) has to have enough in the bank to ensure that if all fundraising stopped today they could keep running our crucial service for between 6-12 months. This is prudent. Will the JLA aim towards the same, and if so, how much would they need when their service is up and running to keep going for six months? Do we have any figures yet, even estimates? As there are other independent lifeboat stations, they could probably advise on those costs.

Going back to the St Aubin on the Hill Church Toilets, at every stage the total cost was given, including cost of wheelchair access to the church at the same time, and the funds raised to date were noted on a "thermometer".

I would like to see a fund raising “thermometer” on the JLA website so everyone can see how much has been raised, and how much is still needed.

I have no problem with the JLA having an independent boat, but I would like some better transparency with regard to their finance costs. At the moment, there are too many figures that are missing. There's a lot of good people fundraising for them. Let's have their contribution appreciated.


They are paying for the boat in phased payments

John Baker, Fundraising Manager, The Jersey Lifeboat Association, told me:

"We have plans to put a fundraising thermometer on the web page and also some exciting plans to extend our membership program. A lot of our plans are based on actually getting the Max Aitken III and the crew and backup facilities into service. Considering we first started the JLA charity in February this year I think we have done pretty well, in fact, we have raised over £30,000 so far but now we have the boat we think that donors will be happier to donate to our cause now that they can see something substantial happening. I think to get the boat over here in less than 4 months is quite an achievement for a group of unpaid volunteers"

"We have in fact made a number of substantial payments on the boat but we do need to raise more substantial funds initially not only to complete the purchase but also to fit out the crew and to put more up to date equipment on the boat ."

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Propositions Coming Up – Part 1

Propositions Coming Up – Part 1 

Propositions coming up may be new ones, as that lodged by Jeremy Macon, or one proposed by former members who are no longer members of the present assembly, or by members by virtue of their office (as Ministers) who may no longer hold that office.

According to the Greffier, if brought by a member who is no longer a member of the States, they will have fallen away. If, however, they were brought by a former Minister who may or may not be a member of the States, the new incumbent of that office can propose them, or propose them with amendments, or withdraw them, or withdraw and reissue in a different form more preferable to the Minister and new Council of Ministers.

The really weird scenario would where a proposition was lodged by a former Minister who is now part or head of a Scrutiny panel tasked with examining that legislation. Presumably in that case the Scrutiny member would recuse themselves. However that hasn’t happened yet.

All this is unlike the UK and many other jurisdictions, where propositions not brought before parliament is dissolved just fall away as out of time.

It is also interesting to note that many propositions state:

“Collective responsibility under Standing Order 21(3A): The Council of Ministers has a single policy position on this proposition, and as such, all Ministers, and the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, are bound by the principle of collective responsibility to support the proposition”

But of course, they are no longer bound in that way, having given up Collective responsibility!

Here is a list of propositions, many of which were brought by Ministers who are no longer in office or in the States, and my notes on whether they will remain.

Propositions in June – Part 1

Proposition: La Route de St. Aubin: installation of Pedestrian Crossings and reduction of speed limit Reference: P.68/2018
Deputy M.R. Higgins of St. Helier

Proposition: La Route de St. Aubin: installation of Pedestrian Crossings and reduction of speed limit (P.68/2018) – comments Reference: P.68/2018(Com)
by the Minister for Infrastructure

“The normal process for the new crossings would be to carry out a review of the proposal, and then any recommended engineering interventions would be included in the Autumn 2018 budget prioritisation process, to potentially be included in the 2019 programme. This ensures that both staff resources and funding are available at the right time to deliver schemes, which can often take more than a year to develop, consult, review and implement.”

“There is currently no staff resource or funding available to implement the 4 new crossings. Staff resource is available to review the request and include any engineering interventions in the Autumn prioritisation; this prioritisation process will then allocate appropriate funding and staff resources for implementation in a future year. As stated above, any decision to fast-track these crossings and construct them in 2018 could impact on current schemes to a greater value than the cost of the 4 new crossings.”

“Funding and staff resources are available to work with the Parish of St. Helier to review speed limits in the remainder of the Parish, including La Route de St. Aubin, and implement any changes by the end of 2019 at the latest.”

My Notes: Proposition brought by Eddie Noel to delay it because it would fast-track ahead of other planned and budgeted work. That is unlikely to have changed, so most probably Kevin Lewis will follow the stance of his predecessor.

Proposition: Draft Explosives (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 201- Reference: P.38/2018 by the Minister for Home Affairs

“...improved and more robust Regulations for fireworks should be established, under the primary Law, in order to exercise control over their type, amount, storage, transport and use, similar to arrangements already in existence elsewhere in the British Isles.”

My Notes: Nothing controversial there. Very likely that Len Norman will bring in Kristina Moore’s proposition.

Proposition: Draft Armed Forces (Offences and Jurisdiction) (Jersey) Law 2017 (Appointed Day) Act 201- Reference: P.39/2018 by the Minister for Home Affairs

“Subject to the agreement of the Assembly, it is proposed that the Regulations come into force, and the Law is brought into force by this Appointed Day Act, on 30th June 2018, which Members will note is Armed Forces Day”

My Notes: Appointed day acts simply bring in legislation that has already been voted in. It is highly unlikely that it would be the subject of debate, although that has happened at least twice before. In this case, there is nothing controversial. Len Norman will bring in Kristina Moore’s proposition.

Proposition: Draft Armed Forces (Vehicles and Roads – Amendments) (Jersey) Regulations 201- Reference: P.40/2018 by the Minister for Home Affairs

Proposition: Draft Armed Forces (Vehicles and Roads – Amendments) (Jersey) Regulations 201- (P.40/2018): comments Reference: P.40/2018(Com)
by the Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel - supporting

My Notes: Nothing controversial there. Len Norman will bring in Kristina Moore’s proposition.

Proposition: Draft Access to Justice (Jersey) Law 201- Reference: P.50/2018 by the Chief Minister

“improve access to justice by establishing, for the first time, a legislative basis for legal aid in Jersey”

My Notes: I can’t see that John Le Fondre would reject Ian Gorst’s proposition, so it is likely he will propose it.

Proposition: Draft International Co-operation (Protection from Liability) (Jersey) Law 201- Reference: P.54/2018 by the Chief Minister

”protect public authorities in Jersey against claims for costs, damages or consequential losses when acting in matters of international assistance”

My Notes: I can’t see that John Le Fondre would reject Ian Gorst’s proposition, so it is likely he will propose it.

Proposition: Draft The Law Society of Jersey (Amendment No. 4) Law 2017 (Appointed Day) Act 201- Reference: P.58/2018 by the Chief Minister

My Notes: Appointed day acts simply bring in legislation that has already been voted in. It is highly unlikely that it would be the subject of debate.

Proposition: Draft Companies (Demerger) (Jersey) Regulations 201- Reference: P.59/2018 by the Chief Minister

My Notes: I can’t see that John Le Fondre would reject Ian Gorst’s proposition, so it is likely he will propose it.

Proposition: Ratification of the Agreement and Exchange of Letters for the Exchange of Information Relating to Tax Matters between the Government of Jersey and the Kingdom of Spain Reference: P.60/2018 by the Minister for External Relations

My Notes: I can’t see that Ian Gorst would reject Sir Philip Bailhache’s proposition, so it is likely he will propose it.

Proposition: Pedestrian Crossing outside La Moye School: petition Reference: P.61/2018 by Deputy M. Tadier of St. Brelade

“to request the Minister for Infrastructure to take the steps necessary to ensure that a pedestrian crossing is installed outside the entrance to La Moye School before 1st September 2018.”

Proposition: Pedestrian Crossing outside La Moye School: petition (P.61/2018): amendment Reference: P.61/2018(Amd)
by the Minister for Infrastructure

“For the words “1st September 2018”, substitute the words “1st September 2019”.”

“La Moye School has an effective crossing patrol, and there is no road safety evidence that could justify promoting this project ahead of those crossings already planned for 2018; such as, for example, the Longueville Road, the pedestrian refuge on Route du Fort, or outside the Janvrin Road Nursery School, in favour of this project.”

My Notes: Proposition brought by Eddie Noel to delay it because it would fast-track ahead of other planned and budgeted work. That is unlikely to have changed, so most probably Kevin Lewis will follow the stance of his predecessor.