Monday, 30 June 2008

Clairvoyance or Presumption?

The new Hopkins Masterplan for the Waterfront, released 14th November 2007, sets out the requirements for development in the area. It proposes which parts of the site will be put to what uses, sets standards of excellence for design and provides guidelines for building layout, heights and materials.

Jersey Finance Annual London Conference
Senator Philip Ozouf Speech

Jobs in Finance are also growing. Last year we added a further 1,000 jobs in the Financial Services sector.
And to make sure we have the capacity to grow still further our exciting Waterfront Development will provide an additional
400,000 square feet of office accommodation on reclaimed land.

Speech dated ----- 24th April 2007

Words Men Use

What Do You Want From Me?" - This is a delaying tactic. Most females will actually pause for a moment to think of an answer, which doesn't matter because the male will neither listen or follow said answer.

"Is There Something Wrong?" - Another delaying tactic. The male could not really help you anyway if you actually told him.

"You're Right, It's My Fault." - The male is actually denying blame but wants to end the argument.

"I'm Sorry." - Again, the male is actually denying blame but wants to end the argument.

"I Love You." - Both a delaying tactic and argument stopper. It usually gives the male somewhere between 12 hours to 3 days of relative peace and quiet*.

"Do You Want To Move In Together?" - See "I Love You" entry. Good for 1-3 weeks RP&Q. He only really means it if he has made a duplicate key.

"Will You Marry Me?" - Again, see "I Love You" entry. Good for 4-6 weeks of RP&Q. He only really means it if he bought the ring.

*"Relative Peace & Quiet" is a subjective term as determined by the male. The truth is relationships with females are very seldom peaceful and never quiet.


The current situation with the Jersey incinerator is an environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions waiting to happen.

The chimney is being repaired on a rough and ready basis to keep ticking over, but is way past its sell by date, and is falling apart. From people who work there, I know that it is almost past being "on its last legs".

If the debate on what kind of incinerator had taken place 5 years ago, there would have been a breathing space. Now there is none.

It is a time to forget debates about what might be environmentally friendly, because a new incinerator would not come online until probably around 3 years from now if we were lucky.

Do we really want three years of accumulated waste having to be dumped at La Collette (with all the pollution and smells that will come with it)? Do we want a breeding ground for rats? Because if we don't get a new incinerator soon, that is what we will have. Would that be environmentally friendly?

And although agreed, the tendering process now begins. After that, there has to be another States debate. More delays! And time is running out...

A new £60m waste incinerator is be built at La Collette in Jersey, States members have decided.

The plant will replace an ageing incinerator at Bellozane and be cheaper and greener, Transport and Technical Services said.

The plans were approved on Wednesday with 32 members in favour, 13 against and one abstention.

The project will now be put out to tender and the States will have the final say on the project size and cost.

Several companies have expressed an interest in the tender.

'Makes sense'

Concerns have been raised in the past about a plant's impact on the skyline of the south coast, the extra traffic it could bring and the lack of a plan for the La Collette area as a whole.

Guy de Faye, Minister for Transport and Technical Services, said: "The waste plant is not just an incinerator. It's doing something else as well.

"It does makes an awful lot of sense to locate something that is effectively an industrial electric power plant next to an existing industrial electricity power plant such as the JEC.

"The ability to do that is very easy at La Collette. Up at Bellozane we would have to pay a very substantial amount of money to put in new cabling."

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Friday, 27 June 2008


'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

I've been looking at how "indefinite" is treated, especially regarding the headline in the Jersey Evening Post on Saturday -: "Now they can lock you up indefinitely." The States sitting recently covered this.

The full text is at, and I have yet to see a more shifty evasive performance by a politician who, it seems, does not have the grace to simply say "I got it wrong" but has to apologise not for herself, but over the way in which it entered the public domain.

Senator W. Kinnard (The Minister for Home Affairs) said:

I make this statement because of public and Members' concern following an article that appeared on the front page of the Jersey Evening Post on Saturday, 14th June, under the headline: "Now they can lock you up indefinitely." The report alleges that I had authorised the indefinite detention of suspects without charge under delegated powers and that I had not consulted with interested parties. The word "indefinite" means "not clearly defined or stated." In my view therefore, it is quite wrong to associate this with the law in Jersey on limits for detention and subsequent review.

This was picked up by Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier:

Would the Minister not accept 2 things; that the popular usage of "indefinite" is: "Lasting for an unknown and unstated length of time" and that to say "indefinite" is not indefinite is utterly confusing.

Senator W. Kinnard returned stating that the word "indefinite" must be interpreted in the way in which she stated because of the legal and procedural measures which the order must be consistent and fit in with:

First of all, the word "indefinite" does not fit with the actual situation, which is the long-stop of 96 days and, indeed, the situation where the police are required to bring people before the court promptly. I do not accept what is being asserted by the Deputy.

And yet, earlier, Mr. W.J. Bailhache Q.C., H.M. Attorney General, used the word "indefinite" in the other sense of the word because he is talking in terms of limits (or no limits):

The fact that there are no statutory limits to detention before charge does not mean that the police can detain a person indefinitely

In fact, indefinite, like many words, is slippery in meaning, having a broad semantic sweep. The Oxford English Dictionary gives several meanings to it, and two of the main ones are:

"Without distinct limitation of being or character; having no clearly defined or determined character: indeterminate, vague, undefined. "

"Of undetermined extent, amount, or number; unlimited. "

It is important to understand what dictionaries do - they do not dictate what the meaning of words are and should not be used in a prescriptive way. They collate the different meanings that have arisen over the years, and list common usage, together with some etymological notes.

Words may change meaning, and may pick up extra meanings over the years. Arguments over "real meanings" belong to the Victorian Age of prescriptive grammars, where verb infinitives could not be split because the model was Latin, where a split infinitive is impossible. Original meanings of words are not "real meanings" either - in Semantics, that is caused the genetic fallacy. They are important, because if looking back at old documents - and old laws - the words used may have changed significantly.

C.S. Lewis noted how the 1928 revision of the Prayer Book altered "may truly and impartially administer justice" to "may truly and indifferently minister justice". He asked his gardener, Paxtead as an experiment to see what an ordinary man thought. Paxstead answered that he knew well enough what it meant to minister justice indifferently: that was fairly, without making any difference between people. But as for impartially, "I don't know that word, guv'nor". Nowadays, the meaning of "indifferent" has changed significantly to mean more like unconcerned, incurious, aloof, detached, disinterested - we see this in headlines such as "Black juveniles face indifferent justice system", or "Murderous clients and indifferent justice".

It is ironic that one of the definitions of "indefinite" is "Unclear; vague". I wonder whether it is sensible for politicians to criticise the JEP, simply on the Humpty Dumpty approach of saying "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less."

Generally, they will slip between meanings, much as Richard Dawkins does in "The Selfish Gene", where he says he uses the word "selfish" as a technical term - "Selfish", when applied to genes, doesn't mean 'selfish' at all. It means, instead, an extremely important quality for which there is no good word in the English language: "the quality of being copied by a Darwinian selection process." - and then comes out with tripe like this: "Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have a chance to upset their designs", in which he mixes up his "technical term" with the common usage.

Reading the debate in the States over the use of the word "indefinite", it is clear that it is changing in meaning take place all the time, and Wendy Kinnard is using the imprecise meaning (and the JEP using it) as a shield against criticism against the crux of the matter, which wasn't the JEP use of "indefinite" but the wording of the order regarding continual reviews and detention, a point well picked up by Gerald Baudins -

"That all that does not alter the meaning of the Order because I would like the Minister to advise why her Order included the words: "and may conduct further reviews and authorise further periods as such detention" which is quite unambiguous and the crux of the matter because it clearly indicates a never-ending process. It is not a misinterpretation, Sir, as alleged by the Minister but I believe a failure on her part to create an Order that did what was allegedly intended. "

Senator S. Syvret later asked a very good point:

It would appear from what the Attorney General has said and what the Minister has said that this wording of the now removed Order is simply not compatible with and is in conflict with statutory legislation. Would the Minister not then accept that this is simply an unholy mess and she might have got more credit from this Assembly had she simply come here and admitted this is a mistake and an error rather than engage is this sophistry?

Once bitten, twice shy...

Two people arrested in connection with the investigation into child abuse at a former children's home in Jersey have been released without charge. A 70-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman were arrested yesterday in relation to three "grave and criminal assaults".

The Times had a detailed report on the release of two couples, in which it noted that "Detectives said that there was sufficient evidence to charge the couple with serious sexual and physical assaults within the childcare system during the 1960s and 1970s. A member of the island's volunteer police force refused to do so after seeking legal advice from the office of Jersey's Attorney-General." Yet, in a seemly contradictory statement, it also reported that "William Bailhache said: "When all the evidence has been received and assessed, the decision on whether or not to charge will be made. This case is being handled by an independent Crown Advocate with advice from a barrister from London and there has been no interference by me or anybody else in the Law Officer's Department."" The key phrase is obviously "from the office", but it doesn't say who the "independent" Crown Advocate is, or what the advice was.

The Guardian had a quotation, apparently verbatim, from the police:

An investigating officer invited a Centenier, an elected senior police officer with the power to charge suspects, to police headquarters yesterday. "Despite stating that the evidence was present, the Centenier declined to charge," said a police spokeswoman. "The States of Jersey police have no alternative, therefore, but to release the two suspects without charge."

Channel Television actually quotes from Lenny Harper

Lenny Harper from States of Jersey Police told Channel Online: "At five o'clock last night as a result of some communication with the Lawyer whose acting on behalf of the Attorney General's office and working with us there was some delay. After the discussion we decided to get the Centenier in to charge. The Centenier came in and although he said there was sufficient evidence to change he declined to do so at that time."

The Telegraph gives a slightly different story, and notes that:

Detectives had initially been told by a legal adviser that they had sufficient evidence to charge a 70-year-old man and his 69-year-old wife with serious sexual and physical assaults, but the legal adviser, a barrister appointed by the island's Attorney General, then changed his mind and police had to let the couple go free's-home-abuse-case.html

The States of Jersey Police press office released this official statement:

RELEASED TO MEDIA AT 10.50 PM: After consultation with their lawyer appointed by the Attorney-General, two people were arrested today (Tues 24 June) in connection with three grave and criminal assaults by the historical abuse team. At about 5 pm today (Tues 24 June) the lawyer revised his advice to the investigating officers. Following discussion, the investigating officers requested a Centenier to attend Police Headquarters to charge the suspects. Despite stating that the evidence was present, the Centenier declined to charge. The States of Jersey Police have no alternative, therefore, but to release the two suspects without charge. Louise Nibbs, Press Officer, The States of Jersey Police

So far it seems that explanation has been given why the honorary officer, Centenier Danny Scaife declined to charge, although clearly it was on the basis of as yet unknown legal advice. Conspiracies flourish in such a climate, and suggestions that people might have friends in high places (or play at the same golf club) have been made.

I'm not sure whether there is another explanation. I'm not saying it is the right one - we won't know that unless we know the legal advice - but back in 1987 (I remember it being at the time of the hurricane in October), there was a Court case against three former police offices (one a senior detective inspector, one a sergeant) charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice - one part of the case involved them falsifying their notebooks.

The Attorney General of the day, a certain Philip Bailhache, failed to make his prosecution stick despite a considerable amount of work, and what seemed at the time to be a watertight case - and the case collapsed. This must have been discussed by Crown lawyers since, and be at the back of their minds when it comes to any prosecution, especially where there is a chance of those charged getting off. So it could be a case of treading extremely carefully - probably over carefully - because once bitten, twice shy.

The Bosdet Code

Something lighter for the weekend! Like its progenitor, the Da Vinci code, not everything in this short story of mine is strictly accurate! Indeed, like Dan Brown, there are errors in plenty, although I found it quite difficult to make as many as Dan Brown makes, probably because I like to research before writing. I think the best mistake is probably not in the Da Vinci Code (despite the wonderful howlers in that) but his computer one Digital Fortress, where he describes the Nazi Enigma machine as weighing in at 12 tons! As one commentator put it - "Must be dark matter in that typewriter sized wooden box. " He also has no idea what a Caesar cipher is.

Anyway, here is the Jersey take on the Da Vinci code....

The Bosdet Code

St Brelade's Church nestles sleepily in the corner of St Brelade's Bay in the Channel Island of Jersey. The saint, Bran Wallader, after whom it is named, is lost in the mists of time, if indeed he ever existed; he might even have been a Christianised version of the ancient Celtic god of wheat, O'tbran, whose sacred meal took place at the start of day.

It was in this place that I began, on a tranquil summer's day, to pursue my interest in stained glass windows, completely unaware of the terrible dangers that lay in store, and the vengeance of those sinister acolytes of the Jersey Round Table. I was following up the eccentric and often fanciful history given by Daniel Le Brun, on oddities found in Jersey Church windows. I myself kept a journal, from which this narrative is crafted.

I wandered into the Church, looking with interest at the windows, finely crafted by the great glassmaker, Percival Bosdet, and listening to the noonday peal of bells.

"Excuse me, Sir"

I turned around, and there was an old man, with a sun-browned weathered face.


"My name is James Stoker, and I noticed you looking at those windows, sir. They are very fine, but I wondered if you might be interested in one not listed in the usual guide books".

I was intrigued at the thought of a hitherto unrecorded Bosdet window. What a wonderful find! The old man led me to the face towards the altar rail of the Lady Chapel.

"Now Sir, we turn one hundred and eighty degrees, to face up the church aisle and - follow me – we walk thirteen paces. Now look up to your left, high up, and there it is! The last window he placed before his untimely death"

There it was. A picture from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, of Jesus fashioning sparrows from mud, breathing on them, and then, across the picture, the transformation into living birds. To the left was a pyramid with a single eye in its centre, and below that was a cracked jar, with an earthenware scroll. I could dimly make out letters in an unusual type of Arabic. Over the top was a glass rainbow. And below, was a Grail Chalice with an inscription in Latin.

I took out my camera.

"No photos, Sir", said the old man, and so reluctantly, I thanked him for showing me this strange window, full of mysterious meanings, and left, determined to return and capture that on film, and crack the secret of the Bosdet code.

That night, I crept back to the church, armed with my digital camera. It was still unlocked! I went to the altar in the Lady Chapel, turned, and walked the thirteen steps, and looked up. There was that strange window. Quickly, I took several photos.

Then I heard a noise, an odd tapping noise. I looked around, but could see no one. But all of a sudden, the temperature dropped rapidly, and I began to shiver. Hastily, I left the church. Outside, the winter snow was falling heavily. I thought for a moment of Daniel Le Brun, and his complete disregard for historical continuity, that had nevertheless given me a vital clue, and led me to this place. But what strange conspirators might guard its secrets? I knew from Le Brun that such a revelation is always guarded in some way by a secret society. And what was the secret of the Bosdet code?

As I left the church, I thought I saw a shadow move behind me, and turning glimpsed, just momentarily, the silhouette of a tall monocled figure with a twisted cane. Then the man, if it was a man, retreated into the shadows. I hurried off back towards my car, my ears acutely straining for the sound of pursuit, fearful lest I heard a cane tapping on the cobbled path leading up from church to lyche gate.

The next day, I visited an antiquarian who I knew was interested in the bizarre, the occult and earth mysteries, but who also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of languages. It is always useful at some point in any story to know people like this, and I was fortunate to have Erich Von Trapp as an acquaintance. Von Trapp had been seconded to the German army during the Occupation of the Channel Islands, and, giving up a promising musical career, had buried himself in Island history; his most notable discovery was the remarkable Neolithic passage grave beneath the Parish Church of St Clement; found by tapping the stones lightly with a stick, and noting the different echoes.

He welcomed me in, and I explained the curious nature of the find. I had blown up a picture of the window, and the remarkable and unusual Arabic writing was now clearly visible.

"What do you make of that?" I asked.

"Ah, my dear friend. No wonder you had trouble! I have not seen Arabic like that for many years. Let me tell you a bit about its history. Many people do not know that the Buddha once made a pilgrimage to Mecca, along with his followers. It was after the time of the prophet, peace be upon him, and Buddhist teachings influenced some aspects of Islam, most notably the Sufi mystics. They would meditate, and in a trance like state, have strange and wonderful visions."

"But what has this to do with this Window?"

"These Sufi Masters wrote down in this kind of Arabic, which was, briefly, heavily influenced by borrowings from Chinese ideographs. But all that was lost when the Caliphate came to power, and the Sufi Masters fled to the West, establishing for a time a presence at Glastonbury; there they were a thorn in the side of the Christians, persecuted, they left to settle elsewhere in what was described as "a land across the waters". So much can be pieced together from the ancient texts, such as the Gospel of Judas, and the Arabian folk tales of the Night. The circle was a symbol of unity to them, and their final legacy in Britain was the legend of the round table."

He paused, and sipped his whisky.

"Few people can now read this, but you are fortunate in coming to me. What you have here is a kind of prophetic vision. Roughly, translated, it reads:"

When the crescent is in ascension

And Babel rises over the waters

A walking man leads the common herd

Then will come the final conflict

When the rising waters hold dominion

The jewelled isle does vanish beneath the waves

The fires of wrath will rain across the waters

Rent asunder, gives cloud of poison vapour.

"But what this means?" he shrugged, "Who can tell? It is some kind of secret, a code that may have died with Bosdet himself. But be careful, for the Latin may be a warning"

The latin inscription, which I had also mentioned, read:

"A mari usque ad mare, ad astra, sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare."

Von Trapp nodded sagely: "This is also a curious form of Latin. As you know, the Latin of the Middle Ages changed significantly, to Silver Latin, and then to its Bronze period of final decay. Roughly translated, this might mean:"

"From sea to sea, to the stars, the conspiracy will keep safe the secret sense."

"I should take great care," he nodded, "for some very strange and ruthless people will be guarding the secret of the Bosdet code."

I thanked him and left. On my way back to the hotel, I mused on the Arabic verses, but could make no headway. So I picked up a copy of the Jersey Evening Post, to take my mind of them. The headlines were full of the usual topical news and controversies. The building of Jersey's first mosque. High rise buildings now spreading across St Helier, problems faced at the waterfront with rising sea levels. The threat from a spillage of radioactive waste at the nearby reprocessing plant at La Hague.

But I just skimmed the paper, for I found I could not concentrate on anything except the Bosdet Code. And who were the mysterious guardians? Could the Sufi Masters have settled in Jersey? Might they be connected in some way with the secretive but outwardly respectable Jersey Round Table? Was the circle a clue? Or was the whole thing a figment of my deranged imagination? One thing was sure. If I kept a careless record of my adventures, I might one day have a best seller on my hands. After all, it had been done before!

Thursday, 26 June 2008


The moment I have been wondering about has occurred. Tragically, not yet a happy outcome for the Zimbabwe. But finally Nelson Mandela has broken his silence on the matter and commented on the situation there.

"We watch with sadness the continuing tragedy in Darfur. Nearer to home we had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring Zimbabwe," Mandela said. It is a pity it is so short and lacking in detail, but perhaps now he has spoken out, he will say more.

A few hours before Mandela spoke yesterday, the Queen revoked Mugabe's knighthood (awarded on the recommendation of David Miliband in 1994) using unusually strong language. A Foreign Office spokesman (on her behalf) said: "This action has been taken as a mark of revulsion at the abuse of human rights and abject disregard for the democratic process in Zimbabwe over which President Mugabe has presided."

Gordon Brown also revealed today that he was seeking to block a Zimbabwe cricket tour of England planned for next year.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Witch Craze (2004): A Review

Witch Craze by Lyndal Roper: A Review

This is a study of the time of the persecution of people as witches in Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which she tries to understand why it took place then, why it was not geographically universal, and what kinds of fears, fantasies and confessions were apparent at the time. As Lyndal Roper points out any historical explanation should, in part, explain "why the witch hunts were so heavily concentrated in the German speaking lands of the Holy Roman Empire, why so many of the victims were women" (around 80%) with - in Germany "a shocking preponderance of old women", which given the life expectancy of the time, meant over forty. "Global religious persecutions will not work: in Germany, Catholic prince-bishoprics were the most fearsome witch-hunters, but in Catholic Italy, Portugal and Spain, the number of deaths were comparatively small. Calvinist Scotland suffered a very serious witch hunt and Lutheran Sweden had a very late outbreak of witch-hunting in which many children were involved."

There is a stereotypical idea of this period, popularised most strongly by Margaret Murray in her consideration of the witch craze as persecuting a pagan "old religion" which avoids looking at the evidence, and the problems arising from it. Lyndal Roper, in this study, suggests various ways of making sense of the historical record, and understanding the terrors and fantasies erupting in society at the time. As she says, she was surprised because she began the study expecting to look at confessions of sex with the devil, flying to the sabbath, or satanic rituals, and while these facets were there, they did not predominate: "what surprised me most when I began to read the detailed trial records of women who were accused of witchcraft was that they talked not about sex and forbidden desire, but about birth, about breastmilk that dried up, about babies who sickened and died, and about the room where the women spent their 'lying in', the period of six weeks after the birth of a child."

In fact, as she discovered "the fears that surrounded witches were not just about the deaths of infants and the early weeks of motherhood, but featured animals and crops, in short, fertility itself". The society in which these people lived was one at subsistence level, with a precarious economy, and years of poor harvests. "Marriage often had to be postponed, and many could never afford to wed. To be a fertile wife with plenty of children was to be honoured and respected. To be an old woman frequently meant poverty, infirmity, and humiliating dependence on the young." The image of the witch across Europe was remarkably consistent "she was an old woman, and she attacked young children".

During this period, Europe was recovering from "the little 'ice age'", from the late 16th century to the mid 17th, "a combination of perishingly cold winters and wet summers and autumns which brought bad harvests as the grain rotted". Everywhere there was "hunger, disease and death". Apocalyptic visions of a society "under assault from the devil made sense". The peasants had "fears of sick cows, outbreaks of hail, mysterious insects and various diseases". To try to stem the problem of a greater population than food supply, it was now that governments enacted regulations forbidding marriages unless couples could support themselves, and introducing legislation to control marriage.

How could the old woman support herself, in a society where women's status was closely tied to their reproductive capacity? Invariable, the old women acted as midwives, helped the mothers with the infants, and could also milk cows; in these capacities, they were placed in the worst possible place when children died, and milk went off; if men were impotent, it was felt that this came from the baleful presence of the infertile woman. And fears of fertility also come into the pictures of the time, where a common them of the fantasy links the post-menopausal woman with a young man, she sexually desiring him, even though she cannot give him children; there is a terror about failure in fertility, and this is one of the forces driving the persecution, which merges with the fantastic confessions under torture of satanic rites.

Other factors that Lindal Roper discusses are the breakdown of law, how the civic authorities in local communities take the law into their own hands, and where this occurs, witch hunts break out; the fragmentation of the mediaeval unity by the Reformation, where there is a culture of suspicion against heresy, not unlike Stalin's Russia - including the interrogation methods which elicit what the torturers want to hear; and again linked with fertility, and infant death, the idea of the old woman preying on children, wanting to consume them, which we see most clearly in the original version of Hansel and Gretal, although it is still present in later versions.

This is an interesting book, which shows that where a particular nexus of factors came together, it just needed a spark to set witch-hunts alight, and underlying this was a terror of loss of fertility and death, a society in which natural disasters were understood in a pre-scientific way which we can barely begin to understand. Nevertheless, Lyndal Roper helps us to understand that better, and this book is a fine contribution to the study of the witch craze.

O What A Tangled Web

How much information is there available about Web, the Jersey Waterfront Enterprise Board? You'd be surprised as to how hard it is to locate some of it. Here are my researches with comments:

The site:

has lots of colourful graphic renderings and maps, but I looked in vain for any sign of who was on Web, and precisely what its responsibilities or powers were. It is basically a PR job site. Perhaps some of the employees of Web are internet Web designers?

Searching around, I found that the following are directors of web and not States Members:

Mr. Francis Gerald Voisin (Chairman)
Jurat John Claude Tibbo
Mr. Peter Joseph Crespel

Their term of office expires on 20th August 2009

And I was wondering: do they get paid? How much? And how many hours do they have to put in (remembering Gerald Voisin is also Chairman of the local branch of Allied Irish Bank)

Looking on the States website, there is (if you dig down) a ministerial decision which gives some details on States Members.

The current States' Directors are Senator P.F. Routier, Deputy J.J. Huet, and Senator J.L. Perchard, who were appointed on 28th March 2006 for a three-year period expiring on 31st March 2009

Where are the accounts available from?

First of all I found this - really not informative to the public!

In accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company 'Waterfront Enterprise Board Limited' (WEB), the company is required to prepare annual accounts, together with interim quarterly accounts, and to
forward these to the Chief Minister.

And finally, to the accounts. The last annual accounts are for 2006, and as we are now in 2008, that seems rather slack, especially when one considers the problems Web is facing. Do we know when the 2007 accounts will be available? 2009 perhaps?

Executive Director - Mr D Margason (Managing Director)

Non Executive Directors
Mr P F Horsfall C.B.E.
Mr F G Voisin (Chairman)
Jurat J C Tibbo
Mr P J Crespel
Senator P Routier
Deputy J Huet
Senator J Perchard

Mr D Margason resigned as Managing Director with effect from 3 August 2006.

Mr P F Horsfall CBE retired as Chairman on 20 August 2006. Mr F G Voisin retired as a Director on 31 March 2006 and
was re-appointed as a Director and as Chairman on 20 August 2006. Senator J Perchard was appointed as a Director
on 1 April 2006. Senator P Routier and Deputy J Huet were reappointed as Directors for a three year term of office
on 1 April 2006. Jurat JC Tibbo and Mr P J Crespel were reappointed as Directors for a three year term of office
on 20 August 2006. The Company Secretary, who held office during the year was Mr R Woolf.

Note that the Managing Director is now Stephen Izzat - I got that from the JEP story on the Waterfront, as I was unable to find any single States page on giving details!

The Remuneration Committee comprises the States Non-Executive Directors. The Remuneration Committee
makes recommendations to the Board regarding the remuneration of both Executive and Non-Executive
Directors and senior management and considers the ongoing appropriateness and relevance of the remuneration policy.

Now the fun stuff. Remember that Stephen Izzat is now Managing Director, and David Margason was only paid for part of 2006 (until he resigned in August). Also Gerald Voisin took over from Pierre Horsfall in 2006, so his payment is only partial. The States members don't get anything - until they leave the States and come back as non-executive directors like Mr Voisin! Jobs for the boys!

David Margason £131,927 (2006)/ £189,702 (2005)

Non Executive Directors
Pierre Horsfall £19,032 (2006)/£30,000(2005)
F Gerald Voisin £10,904 (2006)
John C Tibbo £12,000 (2006)/£12,000 (2005)
Peter J Crespel £10,000 (2006)/£10,000 (2005)
Paul Routier - - - - -
Jacqui Huet - - - - -
James Perchard - - - - -

Total £183,863 (2006)/ 241,702 (2005)

Curiously however, the accounts show elsewhere:

Directors remuneration £217,986 (2006)/ £298,112 (2005).

The difference is in supplementary amounts, such as pension, benefits in kind, paid mainly to the Managing Director. So he leaves with a nice final salary pension too.

£423,234 (2006) / £345,901 (2005)

That's quite striking - one wonders how many there are, and what precisely they do? Unfortunately, that is not available in the accounts, and would need a question in the States.

But this is interesting too:


On 14 July 2006 La Haie du Puits Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company sold a freehold residential property

On 14 July 2006 La Haie du Puits Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Waterfront Enterprise Board Limited, sold a freehold residential property for a consideration of £730,000 following refurbishment paid for by the former Managing Director. Under the terms of the then Managing Director's contract of employment, Mr David Margason was entitled to retain the balance of the consideration offered by the purchaser in excess of £600,000 after taking account of costs of £3,040 and accordingly La Haie du Puits Limited received £600,000 and Mr Margason received the balance.

That means that Mr Margason left with £126,960 - quite a golden handshake!

Lastly this note is of interest.

Tax Free Status

The Minister decided to exempt the Waterfront Enterprise Board (WEB) and its associated enterprise under Article 115 of Income Tax (Jersey) Law 1961 to extend to the profits generated insofar as the profits are expended wholly and exclusively to improve and extend public infrastructure and works for the good of the public of the Island.

Who sees Minutes of the Waterfront Enterprise Board? The States Members, obviously, but how well do they communicate this to the other States members to keep them informed about what is going on. How many staff do they employ? What exactly do these staff do? How many hours do the non-executive directors put in? What exactly are their responsibilities? Does the new managing director, Mr Stephen Izzat also have severance deals as part of his contract? If you find out, post a comment!

O what a tangled WEB they weave!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

High Rise Buildings - Some Safety Considerations

This was written as part of a submission to Freddie Cohen at the time when high rise was on the agenda at the Waterfront. Given the height of Swansons building, I think it is still pertinent. I was once told by a fire officer that even with Les Marais, if a high fire broke out, forget being able to contain it. As it never found its way into details of submissions (very little did), here it is for all to read.

Safety Considerations

In his "Operational Aspects of High-Rise Firefighting", UK Fire Office Paul Grimwood researched firefighting experience in high-rise buildings and demonstrated that "many incident command systems and standard operating procedures for tall structures are based on out of date policies".

Where this is particularly relevant is in respect of the proposed "landmark" building of 15 stories. Some of the incidents he reports on occurred in buildings either of similar height or only marginally taller.

For instance, in 1996, due to welding work in an elevator shaft (maintenance and repair work), a fire broke out on the 16 storey Garland Building in Hong Kong, in which 39 people were killed, and 89 seriously injured. A helicopter was required to rescue more than 90 people who were in parts of the building inaccessible to conventional fire engine ladders.

In 1989, in Atlanta, in a 10 story office building an electrical fire killed 5 people, injured 23 others, and 6 firefighters. When the fire erupted, it immediately blocked the corridor, preventing escape from the two exits serving the floor. The fire demonstrated the need for automatic sprinkler protection for high rise buildings.

These demonstrate the need in high-rise buildings for precautions ("sprinkler systems, standpipes, fire detection systems, built-in fire protection systems"), and also the need for "a high level of co-ordination" and "a large commitment of resources" as "only with proper preplanning will familiarity with the response district be possible".

There is also dangers in stair-shaft negative pressures in high-rise buildings which "cause the fire to be 'sucked' out of the apartment or floor to head directly into the stair shaft" and which can be substantial. In 1998, an incident in a 10 story building involving negative pressure brought a fireball into the hallway claiming the lives of 3 fire fighters".

Grimwood comments that "Fires in high rise buildings everywhere have the potential to be one of the most challenging incidents to which we respond. The potential for loss of life is high"

If a decision is made to support a 15 story high-rise, it is certainly necessary both for the plans to be scrutinised by the fire department, and for the increased costs of fire drills and testing safety procedures which prudence would require.

Whether Jersey's fire fighting resources are indeed capable of tackling these kinds of problems needs to be considered, and an independent assessment by someone such as Paul Grimwood would make obvious sense. Planning must involve planning for safety, and the States have a moral duty of care to ensure that this is not overlooked in the rush to get ahead with development.

Selected References

Cohn, Roger, "High rise hell" (1985)

Grimwood, Paul, "Operational Aspects of High-Rise Fire Fighting" (2003)

Meaningless Adverts

Deputy R.G. Le Hérissier in the 10th June 2008 States sitting, noted in a passing comment:

"It is a point I have been hammering on to no effect, it should be added, for several years, is the quality of the advertisements. We have got yet another one, a totally turgid advertisement for the Procureur de St. Clement in the press at the moment, which is absolutely meaningless to the public. It is a total mass of gobbledegook and there have been all sorts of attempts to improve the level of advertising to make it more relevant to the public, and we are spending hundreds of pounds every time on totally useless advertising. Is there any way we can deal with that?"

The actual advertisement reads:

Paroisse de St Clement Election for Procureur Du Bien Public In accordance with Article 22 of the Public Elections (Jersey) Law 2002, Electors are hereby notified that an election for Procureur du Bien Public will take place on Wednesday 2 July 2008. Proof of Identity - Electors are advised to bring with them to the polling station some form of identification as this may be requested before they are allowed to vote. The polling station at the parish hall will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. The candidates nominated for position of Procureur du Bien Public are as follows - ......

Wikipedia notes that:

A Procureur du Bien Public is the legal and financial representative of a Parish in Jersey. Procureurs are elected for a term of three years. There are two Procureurs for each Parish and their duty is to act as public trustees, maintaining an oversight of Parish finances and represent the Parish along with the Connetable in respect of property transactions of the Parish

Since 2003 (in accordance with the Public Elections (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2003) Procureurs du Bien Public are elected at a public election. Before the passage of the 2003 law an Assembly of Electors of each parish elected the Procureurs in accordance with the Loi (1804) au sujet des assemblées paroissiales.

It doesn't note that changes in the law coming into force will also mean the senior Procureur du Bien Public in a parish should be empowered by law to deputise for the Connétable in the event of the latter's incapacity or absence from the Island.

But how much does the general public understand of this? Indeed, what precisely are the tasks a Procureur has to fulfil? I think the public has some idea with a States Member, that their purpose is (ideally) to represent the people, to deal with legislation (in a variety of capacites), to be available to help their constituents, both in States sittings, scrutiny committees, other committees, and Government departments. Although if the JEP ever thought about it a "Day in the Life of...." would be a useful feature.

But does a Procureur actually do? How do they "represent the Parish"? What kind of oversight of Parish finances do they conduct (or should they conduct)? The BBC site has just "The Procureur du Bien Public is in charge of looking after parish accounts" which makes him look like a glorified book keeper. Or her, for that matter, but as far as I am aware, no woman has ever held that office.

Europe's tax dodgers in the dock

The Times December 7, 1973
Europe's tax dodgers in the dock by Oliver Stanley

Just a note that this excellent research is available and free for a limited time, so if you want to research any Times story, look here.

I select for the readers' interest this story, which I place a selected snippet of here to whet the appetite. For copyright reasons, if you want the full details, you must register (which is free, and you don't need credit card details). Then go to:,ARCHIVE-The_Times-1973-12-07-25

Now, the outlook for all international tax havens has become uncertain, and prospects for United Kingdom tax haven investors, individual and corporate, are bleak. It is per- haps fair to say that the end of the tax-free world is at hand. It is not the moral wrath of the political left that tax avoiders need fear, but a more powerful adversary---the EEC, which, earlier this year, issued a first report recommending joint Community action against tax avoidance and all tax haven countries both in and out of the Community. Since that report, the EEC has come down in favour of the imputation system of corporation tax, as against the old classical system, one reason being that imputation will help discourage the setting up of fictitious tax avoidance corporations. The EEC report and inter national reactions to it served as a useful peg on which to hang the worldwide Associated Business Programmes conference in Amsterdam during November. Herr Gert Sass, the German head of the tax harmonization division of the EEC, opened the proceedings in the role of leading counsel for the prosecution. The substance of his case was that "letter-box" companies- that is, artificial holding companies set up in tax-free zones-distort capital markets. Then, the prisoners in the dock (from Switzerland, Luxembourg and Jersey) all earnestly pleaded their innocence. Not a single one of these countries should be regarded as a tax haven, and they should never have been charged with the offence, said their advocates. Mr Colin Powell, Economic: Adviser to the States of Jersey, went so far as to concede that Jersey was "a low tax area", but it was not a haven. It was, above all, respectable. In the face of all this special pleading, it was difficult for the distinguished international lawyers and accountants present to reach any verdict, other than "not proven ".

I remember back in the 1970s, the days of the "Sark Lark", and also in Jersey - where a plate with a company name would be accompanied by "nominee directors" of the company, who were not the ultimate beneficial owners. Even up to 1998, the Edwards report commissioned by Jack Straw noted that total Directorships held by Sark residents (pop 575) may have been around 15,000 or more, and 3 residents appeared to hold between 1600 and 3000 Directorships each.

Changes in Jersey Company Law (following recommendations by Edwards) sealed the fate of that by making directors legally responsible for the company and decisions and activities, and tying control down to location more strictly, and I remember noting that the practice vanished with rapidity. I am sure that was the correct and responsible thing for Jersey to do.

One question arises though: would the Island authorities been motivated to change the law internally? Would it be good practice for them to take the initiative in every five years (for example) seeking an independent assessment of practices which might, in hindsight, be regarded as morally bankrupt?

After all, as Edwards noted "Although formally Directors, some of these nominee Directors are Directors of so many companies that they could not credibly discharge the proper duties of a Director with respect to all of them, especially in cases where they have no professional or technical support. "

It is interesting to note how the European Union - then the EEC was making moves towards greater transparency and harmonisation. Personally, I think the idea of harmonisation is one of those ideas which - like a single European currency - may be fine in principle, but does not work well in practice. VAT rates and tax regimes differ across Europe, and as these are geared to the spending patterns and finances of national economies. The European central bank is at the moment fudging the issue on countries which stray outside of its initial (supposed) strict limits on borrowing and deficits.

The 1973 article goes on to comment with almost prophetic insight that:

The only conclusion was that the attitudes of governments towards tax havens will vary according to the economic interest of a country and its sense of competitiveness with other countries. That seemed incontestable. It is the principle of fair economic competition which has moved the EEC towards a tax haven clampdown In particular, it is the use of letter-box companies in Luxembourg and Gibraltar, where preferential tax treatments are offered, which the EEC considers an abuse.

That is why, the report continues, the Community would need to take action against all tax haven countries. On the other hand, the Amsterdam conference was told that life in the EEC moves slowly, and anyway there are undoubtedly problems of classification which will impede progress.

It then moves to the crux of the matter. What is a "tax haven"?

Tax havens are notoriously difficult to define. Like mirages, they tend to move farther away as you approach. Even tax avoidance is a confusing concept. Clearly it does not mean "evasion," breaking the law by fraud or default. On the other hand it is not entirely innocent, and the infamous judicial dictum to the effect that everyone is free to prevent the depletion of his wealth by the Revenue has become dated and is no longer (pace Mr Colin Powell) accepted by the courts in Britain.

The current EEC view seems, not surprisingly, close to a French concept, that tax avoidance is "un abus de droit", an abuse of rights, and in its more flagrant forms should be treated as evasion. Just where the dividing line is to be drawn is not clear and varies from case to case. Of course, there are perfectly innocent types of tax avoidance such as giving up beer and cigarettes; it is principally a question of motive. If tax avoidance is the sole aim of a specific financial structure, or transaction; then that is abusive. If there is a bona fide commercial purpose, then any incidental tax mitigation achieved is excusable. As it happens, this test is the one used in the principal piece of United Kingdom anti-tax avoidance law-Section 478, dating from 1936. To that extent we are for once already in step.

Jersey is clearly making headway. For a start, looking back at the situation in 1973, the brass plate companies are gone. Then there are already two Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA), one with the United States, and a large number of others in the pipeline. Despite some critics of Jersey (such as Richard Murphy) saying that this changes nothing, you have only to look at the people who stash money in tax havens just because they are havens. Those people, such as the pundits at the Sovereign Society (and many others, for example Barber Financial Associates), are sounding a very different note. They say that:

"However, I can confirm that the "Tax Information Exchange Agreement" (TIEA) between the United States and Guernsey authorizes the IRS to accompany Guernsey tax officials in tax examinations (Article 6(2)). (The U.S.-Jersey TIEA has similar provisions.) And while wholesale electronic surveillance of offshore services providers may not be occurring, a local court may authorize surveillance against any target. "

This is an important reason why The Sovereign Society recommends offshore jurisdictions that impose strict controls on the disclosure of financial (or other) information to foreign authorities. In Austria, for instance, there's no Tax Information Exchange Agreement in effect. If the IRS wants to learn about your Austrian bank account, IRS agents can't simply accompany an Austrian tax inspector to the bank, and surreptitiously examine the records. Instead, IRS agents must present evidence a crime has been committed, with that evidence confirmed by Austrian officials. Similar laws are in effect in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Panama.

The website "Escape Artist" - again for investors wishing for the old fashioned "tax haven", notes that:

If you read the press releases from the offshore jurisdictions that signed TIEAs, you'll come away believing that they may be invoked only in the event of probable cause of tax fraud by a particular taxpayer. But that's not what most of the treaties actually say. Instead, most TIEAs state that any information "foreseeably relevant or material to United States federal tax administration and enforcement with respect to the person identified" for investigation must be turned over to the IRS.

Not "probable cause" of a criminal or even civil tax offense. Not even "reasonable suspicion." Merely "foreseeably relevant." U.S. courts have interpreted this authority as permitting TIEA information requests "even if the United States has no tax interest and no claim for U.S. taxes are potentially due and owing." In other words, fishing expeditions into offshore accounts are explicitly permitted.

Now that you know about TIEAs, you'll understand why The Sovereign Society generally recommends jurisdictions that haven't signed such agreements, e.g., Austria, Liechtenstein and Panama. (Switzerland has consented to a TIEA-like addition to the U.S.-Swiss tax treaty, but its terms are far more restrictive than typical TIEAs.) While pressure continues on these countries, and others, such as the United Arab Emirates, to ratify TIEAs, these jurisdictions have the diplomatic and financial clout to avoid being intimidated by the U.S.

Jersey is about to establish a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. The OEDC has commented on these agreements, saying

"The trend towards greater transparency and tax cooperation continues as more and more countries and jurisdictions implement the OECD standards."

"Recent events have put international tax evasion in the spotlight, demonstrating the pressing need for action to tackle tax compliance issues in an increasingly borderless world. These agreements will better equip their signatories to address all forms of tax abuses."


Monday, 23 June 2008

Midsummer Fires

As we've just had the Midsummer solstice, here is a poetic celebration of the many different customs of Midsummer. gleaned from Ronald Hutton's excellent book "The Stations of the Sun":

Midsummer Fires

In the Vale of Glamorgan, there I saw
A cart wheel all covered in straw
Set alight, then rolled downhill
Augur for harvest, good or ill
If out before it reaches the end
Poor harvests now bad weather send
If lighted all its fall, and still longer
Abundant crops will grow for farmer.
At Buckfastleigh is lit upon on sunset
Midsummer wheel that luck may get
If guided by sticks, it meets the stream
Fortune will shine within its beam
A flaming chariot is shown in part
Bringing delight and joy to heart
As sun now wheeling through the sky
Brings living warmth to you and I.
In Shopshire, upon St John's Eve
Three fires do they carefully weave
A bonfire of clean bones, no wood
Of wood, no bones, the wakefire should
Keep on burning through the night
Watched by all, for second sight
And lastly, made of wood and bones
St John's fire is lit upon old stones.
At Penzance, tar barrels set on fire
With music played on harp or lyre
Folk walk this way, sing loud and raucous
Holding forth torches of blazing canvas
Then link hands, and dance in circle
"Threading the needle", rhythmical
Over the dying embers, fading light
As the evening falls to night.
In Ireland, when fire dulls to reddish glow
Men leap over the flames in show
When lower still, young girls can leap
Thrice back and forth a man to keep
Married women walk upon the embers
Secure good will for family members
Then all take back within one hand
To their own house, a sacred brand.
Midsummer Eve, and fires are lit
The solar nexus reaches summit
Spoked wheel pauses, then rolls on
We chant at equinox in antiphon
Lay out the candles for spectacle
In pattern of five, a pentacle
Of customs old, and customs now
Upon the Ancient Burial How.
Book of the post:
Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (Paperback)

The Five Gold Plates: Solution

The Five Gold Plates
A Solution

We had returned to 22b Baker Street. The fire was burning brightly, and Holmes had just finished playing one of my favourite pieces of Stravinski. "A magnificent recital, Holmes." I exclaimed. "Thank you, my dear chap." he replied. "But tell me," I said, "how you solved the puzzle of the five gold plates?"

"Elementary, my dear Watson," he began, "The fact that the man was an American, and the mention of 5 gold plates, led me to suppose that he was a Mormon. The sacred book of the Mormon Church was supposedly translated by its founder from 'Reformed Egyptian' writing on five gold plates that he discovered. Incidentally, it is called the book of Moroni, which is what the dying man was trying to say - you just caught ' Moron- !"

"Astounding, Holmes," I cried in admiration, "How easily you cope with such matters! You must admit that it is much more difficult for people like me, who are bright, but who do not possess your encyclopaedic knowledge."

"Well actually," he replied, smiling, "I did not really need encyclopaedic knowledge - merely a knowledge about encyclopaedias. Anyone who got down any decent encyclopaedia, and looked up 'Joseph Smith' would be directed to the entry on Mormonism, and all the details I 've just related would have been found there. Also that Joseph Smith was the founder of the Mormon Church, so any book with his name in must be his own copy - unique and immensely valuable! Our poor friend expressed this in terms natural to him; he said it was worth Five Gold Plates. That was what the telegram meant!"

Jersey Sicko

The essence of a satisfactory health service is that the rich and the poor are treated alike, that poverty is not a disability, and wealth is not advantaged. - Aneurin Bevan

The fees charged by doctors in general practice in Jersey varies tremendously. Doctors are entitled to charge whatever they wish.
- Jersey Citizen's Advice Bureau information page

I watched Sicko last weekend. Sicko is a 2007 documentary film by American filmmaker Michael Moore that investigates the American health care system, focusing on its health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. The film compares the for-profit, non-universal U.S. system with the non-profit Universal Health Care systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Cuba.

It is true that Michael Moore does not focus on the problems with waiting lists, or the difficulty in obtaining some kinds of cancer fighting drugs - weaknesses seized upon by his critics with glee. But their focus is purely on the weakness of his case for what Americans call "socialised medicine", and they don't deal at all with the massive deficiencies of the American healthcare system, where (1) you need medical insurance and (2) that leads to all kinds of problems where the insurance cover runs out, or the insurance company disputes treatment, just at the moment (obviously) when you need it most.

Of course, if you can't afford the insurance, the situation is even worse. But he shows how even if you have insurance, the system fails, as Moore shows. One of the most moving sequences was at the end 9/11 volunteers, not employed by the city, and whom the city authorities refused to help with the serious respiratory ailments many incurred. Moore takes them to at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, where the inmates get free the medicine denied to the 9/11 rescue workers. When a siren is blown from the base, the group move to Havana, where they purchase inexpensive medicine and receive free medical treatment.

Aneurin Bevan laid down the principles for free health care, and in doing so he attacked any kinds of means testing remorselessly, whether for private health insurance systems or by the State.

Where a patient claimed he could not afford treatment, an investigation would have to be made into his means, with all the personal humiliation and vexation involved. This scarcely provides the relaxed mental condition needed for a quick and full recovery. Of course there is always the right to refuse treatment to a person who cannot afford it. You can always 'pass by on the other side'. That may be sound economics. It could not be worse morals.

Some American friends tried hard to persuade me that one way out of the alleged dilemma of providing free health treatment for people able to afford to pay for it would be to 'fix an income limit below which treatment would be free while those above, must pay. This makes the worst of all worlds. It still involves proof, with disadvantages I have already described. In addition it is exposed to lying and cheating and all sorts of insidious nepotism.

And these are the least of its shortcomings. The really objectionable feature is the creation of a two-standard health service, one below and one above the salt. It is merely the old British Poor Law system over again. Even if the service given is the same in both categories there will always be the suspicion in the mind of the patient that it is not so, and this again is not a healthy mental state.

Having watched Sicko, I am certainly glad that our health service is not based on the American lines. Nevertheless, when you consider Jersey and compare it with England, some important and significant differences emerge - in particular that while in England, Doctors form part of the National Health scheme, in Jersey, people have to pay for their Doctors. There are also inconsistencies - look at this for instance:

The fees charged by doctors in general practice in Jersey varies tremendously. Doctors are entitled to charge whatever they wish.

In 2005, fees varied for a home visit at the weekend between £65.00 and £105.00, and night visit between £65.00 and £125. A sick child is often worse at night, and for a serious gastric disorder for example, a surgery visit may not be possible or prudent. When an adult I know had chicken pox extremely badly (as often happens with adults), it was important for home visits to take place regularly, especially given the dangers of high temperatures, and the doctor obviously wanted to keep at eye on matters. Sickness is no respecter of times of day. But look at this - if you are a visitor, and taken ill at night, and did require a call out:

The service is provided free of charge for visitors (and people who have been in the Island for up to six months) who are from the UK, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Medication prescribed is free..

Visitors get better treatment than locals! As do, of course, those in Prison at La Moye, where doctor's visits are free of charge to inmates. Now where have we come across that before?

It is true that - as Nye Bevan pointed out - there is a health exemption scheme, but many hoops have to be gone through, a labyrinth of forms to fill in. A person whose income is below a prescribed limit can apply for Health Insurance Exemption, and thus qualify for the above-mentioned benefits without payment. In fact the language of the Government health site is appalling:

If you have a low income and meet certain other qualifying conditions, you may be available for additional help under the Health Scheme.

But don't count on it! Ask anyone who has applied how easy it is, and it is not so different from the US insurance companies looking for loopholes to avoid letting people into the system. Complain, and there is always a lingering fear (which may or may not be justified) you may receive a rougher ride next time.

Consider this example from Nye Bevan, which I know is true of many mothers of young children in Jersey:

Preventable pain is a blot on any society. Much sickness and often permanent disability arise from failure to take early action, and this in its turn is due to high costs and the fear of the effects of heavy bills on the family. The records show that it is the mother in the average family who suffers most from the absence of a free health service. In trying to balance her domestic budget she puts her own needs last.

I wonder if the bureaucrats (who now refer to people who apply for benefits as "stakeholders" -see the States website) will ever get the message.

One thing that is extremely interesting is that "Sicko" was available in shops such as Woolworth locally in large quantities on the day it was released. On a visit to the shop the following day, I was told that there was a problem with the DVD so it was being withdrawn. It is still on sale in England at Woolworths, but I have not noticed any shops here selling it. It remains "withdrawn".

Please let me know if you find it otherwise.


Preventable pain is a blot on any society. - Nye Bevan

"It has been said that a country's greatness can be measured by what it does for its unfortunates." - Tommy Douglas


The full texts of "In Place of Fear", Nye Bevan, laying out the reasoning behind the NHS

Benjamin Langlois on Dentistry - yes, it is free in the UK

Government Website on Health Insurance Exemption

Tommy Douglas (Canada Medicare)

Friday, 20 June 2008

The Five Gold Plates: A Puzzle

For the weekend, a puzzle (and my pastiche of a Sherlock Holmes story). The solution will be posted Monday.

A Puzzle

There was a knock on the door. "Ah, my dear Mrs Hudson. Do come in." said the great detective, lying languidly back in the armchair, and puffing pleasantly away at his pipe. Mrs Hudson came in. "A telegram, Mr Holmes." she said, "And it is marked urgent." "What's this?" cried Holmes. In one moment, all the placid calm of the man had gone, as, eyes . bright with excitement, he reached forward to grasp the telegram. It read: "Possession great worth + Five Gold Plates + In grave danger + Come at once + Tower of London at 5.00 p.m. + Urgent." "What can it mean?" asked Watson. "I do not know." replied the great man, "But we shall find out." Swiftly, he donned an Inverness cape: "Come, Watson, no time to lose. Grab your Bradshaw. The game is afoot. It is 4.30 now. We must hurry to the station."

When the intrepid pair reached the Tower, the London smog, foul and thick, had descended. There was a scream, sharp and piercing in the gloom. They raced forward, but they were too late. There, lying in a pool of blood, lay an American. "He needs medical care." remarked Watson, stooping forward. The man muttered something, and died. "Well, really I" said Watson, "I think he called me a moron." "I'll search his pockets for identification" said Holmes. "No need, old chap." remarked Watson, "his name is inside the book he dropped. Joseph Smith. They must have left this because they were only after the five gold plates." "Do you think so?" asked Holmes. "On the contrary, we now have enough clues to know that the thieves did not succeed in robbing him. Can you see the solution? It is, after all, quite elementary!"

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Referendum on Triviality

Central European Time Referendum: Jersey is holding it's first ever referendum.

The States want to know whether islanders would like to adopt central European time. That means the island would be an hour ahead of the United Kingdom and Guernsey. The proposer Senator Jimmy Perchard believes in time they will also shift their clocks.

The States will still make the final decision following the referendum on 15th October - the same day as the Senatorial elections.

This is the recent news on Channel TV tonight!

When one considers that Shona Pitman submitted a proposition to the Bailiff last year which asked for a referendum to be held to engage the public's view on whether or not the Chief Minister should be directly elected by his/her electorate, we can see that referendums can be held on the kind of matter than doesn't really matter (except to cause major confusion between Jersey and the UK and Guernsey, mess up radio signal clocks etc etc)

The Bailiff subsequently ruled the Shona's proposition out of order for the following reasons -

'the election by the public of the Chief Minister would in my view confuse a ministerial system of government with a presidential-type system. The Chief Minister must, in our current system of government, enjoy the confidence of the majority of elected members of the States. To have the Chief Minister elected by popular vote might involve the election of a person who did not enjoy that confidence. In such a state of affairs a paralysis of government could follow. I do not think that one can fairly invite the public to vote upon a question which would lead to a constitutionally unworkable system'.(E-mail - 8/1/07).

So much for the idea that the Bailiff does not intervene in the political process. This is clearly a political decision by the Bailiff, and a unilateral one at that! To say that the Bailiff is outside the political process, and is purely a "speaker" to bring order to the Chamber is therefore disingenuous.

Look at the implications too - we can have a chief minister who does not have the support of the majority of the electorate, but is still voted in by the States.

To paraphrase the Bailiff: To have the Chief Minister elected by the States in this manner does not give confidence in democracy in this Island. In such a state of affairs apathy and cynicism of voters who have been ignored could follow.

Accordingly, the proposition did not go to the States. Instead she tried for the following this year: to agree in principle that any candidate for the position of Senator, Connétable or Deputy should be required, at the time of his or her nomination for the position, to make a public declaration if he or she intends to stand for the post of Chief Minister after the election;

It didn't get through, of course.

Deputy Peter Nicholas Troy
Deputy Judith Ann Martin
Deputy Geoffrey Peter Southern
Deputy Patrick John Dennis Ryan
Deputy Shona Pitman
Deputy Ian Joseph Gorst

Now instead, thanks to Senator Jim Perchard, we have a referendum on trivialities, a kind of token referendum which shows that they can take place, and you - members of the public - are being asked, so don't say we don't consult you. Of course, when it comes to the really serious issues, forget it! They don't want to know!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Youth Vote - What the AntiBrigade Said

Draft Public Elections (Amendment No. 2) (Jersey) Law 200- P94/2007 - principles 26 September 2007

Draft Public Elections (Amendment No. 2) (Jersey) Law 200-

If you are 16 or 17 years old, these are the people who voted against the age coming down last year.

Senator Leonard Norman
Senator Terence John Le Main
Senator Ben Edward Shenton
Senator James Leslie Perchard
Connétable Thomas John du Feu
Connétable John Le Sueur Gallichan
Connétable Geoffrey William Fisher
Connétable Peter Frederick Maurice Hanning
Deputy Jacqueline Jeannette Huet
Deputy Frederick John Hill, B.E.M.
Deputy Collin Hedley Egré
Deputy Guy William John de Faye
Deputy John Alexander Nicholas Le Fondré
Deputy Anne Enid Pryke
Deputy Kevin Charles Lewis

A few choice quotes from Hansard, which shows exactly how some States members regard young people! I've added my comments!

5.1.2 Deputy G.W.J. de Faye:
I think I have to say that since this original Law was passed I have had a number of voters and constituency residents from a number of parts of the Island who have all approached me on this issue and said exactly the same thing, unambiguously and unequivocally, that they could not believe that the States had passed this Law to reduce the age to 16. They basically felt that States' members had, and the general quote was, "taken leave of their senses". I have to say that in light of all the responses that I have had I will not be voting in favour of the Appointed Day Act.

But when pressed by Paul le Claire, he would not give numbers at all! Which reminds me of the wonderful cope out - "people are saying..." usually used to justify the speaker's own lack of support. As minister responsible for putting in an order to allow developers to dig up other people's gardens without consent, and who was responsible for £1 million roadwork at Bel Royal and forgot to check with emergency services whether they could get past with his new design, he is a fine one to talk about "taking leave of one's senses".

5.1.5 Senator B.E. Shenton:
I will be brief. I spoke and voted against this originally, the concept of giving children the vote. A lot has been made of the fact that they were asked what they thought and a lot of them said yes. I carried out my own straw poll. I asked a number of 16 year-olds whether they thought they should be allowed to drive and they all said yes. I asked them also whether they thought they should be allowed in pubs and they all said yes. This sort of unscientific way of judging whether this is right or wrong is wrong and I will be voting against it.

By the same token, you could ask adults this kind of question, and thereby I am sure prove that they are unable to judge matters properly as well. Just ask: should income tax be abolished for incomes below £40,000? Or look at the poll against GST. It is in fact Senator Shenton who is being unscientific in his approach and not applying moral principles.

5.1.6 Senator J.L. Perchard:
It is uncanny how often I am agreeing with Senator Shenton these days. Sir, like Senator Shenton and Deputy de Faye, I am still unable to support the lowering of the voting age to 16. I think, and I will ask members to consider, when we deem somebody not old enough at 16 to buy cigarettes or alcohol or drive a car or, more importantly, be held criminally responsible for their actions, how then can we deem them sufficiently adult to vote? I think there is some confusion as to what age an adult is but I certainly will draw the line in the sand in a different place to the good Deputy of Grouville. I think if you are adult enough to buy cigarettes you are probably adult enough to vote and alcohol, et cetera, and I just cannot see that we could possibly seek to lower the age of voting, even at this late stage, Sir.

And yet young people can have sex and marry at 16. An omission to the logic chopping of Senator Perchard. And if old people are restricted from driving (or made to have a re-test every five years after a particular age), does this mean - by Perchard Logic - that they are to lose the vote as well?

5.1.7 Senator T.J. Le Main:
I have to agree completely with the last speaker. In fact, what I would like to say is last year I was invited to address 16 and 17 year-olds at Victoria College on this subject and a vote was taken and it was unanimously voted down. They did not want to vote at the age of 16.

Wow! And if the majority of the public wanted to bring back hanging, and a meeting voted unanimously for it, would the Senator agree with a proposition in the States.

5.1.17 Connétable P.F.M Hanning of St. Saviour:
Like the last speaker, I was not here for this vote and I find it rather difficult. I agree with a lot of what the last speaker has said. We all want to encourage youngsters to vote, to get involved with politics and to generally be interested in the society but I think we have a problem. We are saying: "Yes, you can do that but you are not old enough to make a basic decision about your own health, i.e. you can smoke. You are not old enough or responsible enough to make a basic decision which is to go out and have a drink. You are not responsible enough to do that" but we are saying: "You can vote." Therefore, the impression that this is giving is that this is less important than drinking or smoking. It is trivialising the whole thing.

Another one who seems to have forgotten marrying, sex and the age of consent. Shame!

5.1.18 Senator L. Norman:
Where I part company with Senator Syvret on this issue is that intelligence is not the criterion that should or can or will be used to decide whether someone is able to vote or not. The criteria I think are probably maturity and experience. Children of six, seven, eight, nine, even younger, have got intelligence but surely that is not going to be the criterion by which the right to vote is judged because if that were the case, if you had to take an I.Q. test before you could vote, many children of that age would pass that test but many people of our age, over the age of 18 - yes, we are all over the age of 18 - would not pass that test so would be debarred from voting. It is an absolute nonsense

Given the paucity of logic in this debate, I think it highly likely that a number of members would not be able to vote on the grounds of intelligence. What in heaven's name does Senator Norman mean by "maturity and experience" and how does it effect how people vote? Let me give a counter-example. In his comic one-man stage play, actor Toby Hadoke mentions that when he was acting the part of vicar in Coronation street, he got fan-mail from people asking him - as a vicar - if he was free to come and marry them that summer, and he comments - "And these people have the right to vote!" Are these people - and I'm sure there are some in Jersey over 18 - lacking intelligence (obviously) but somehow blessed with "maturity and experience"?

5.1.21 Deputy G.C.L. Baudains:
I have not changed my mind; my original concerns remain. How much have those individuals made their own minds up and how much have they been influenced by their parents and their teachers? What pressure will be brought upon the youngsters to vote one way or another? How worldly wise are they? Wisdom, as we were told by Senator Norman, comes with age. I will not embarrass my Chairman; as a member of the sponsoring Committee I shall abstain from the vote, as opposed to voting against.

An extremely silly argument from the Deputy. Presumably when he goes electioneering, he wants to influence members of the public to vote for him. Does that necessarily mean that they cannot make up their own minds? Surely a false dichotomy. Moreover, people at 18 may still be at school, are they influenced by their teachers? Or if living at home (very likely even at 18), influenced by parents?

Regarding wisdom, there is much truth in the anonymous quote:

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone