Tuesday, 30 November 2010

GST and Exemptions: The Pros and Cons

Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf has been insisting that the Budget that he and his advisers have drafted is such a carefully constructed set of proposals that there can be no deviation from what it recommends. As well as undermining the idea that the budgetary sums can be made to add up in only one way, proposals to exempt food or fuel would cast doubt on a principle that has so far underpinned the operation of GST in this Island - the single uniform rate. It has been consistently argued by the executive that this is the only way in which excessively costly administrative overheads can be avoided.(1)

In fact, by November 22, 2010, Philip Ozouf had already considered the option of allowing a debate on tax exemptions on food and domestic fuel, but with GST at 6% (a tax neutral option, as it has the same effect as GST at 5% on everything). However, he is still against exemptions.

His argument against exemptions is twofold:

(1) He is of the opinion that 5% is the absolute threshold at which we can't bring in exemptions, but that if we sort out our finances, we should not have to go above 5%. Given his failure to keep it at 3%, which, in fairness, was in part due to circumstances beyond his control - the world economic downturn - this seems an unduly optimistic assumption.

(2) He argues that 5% is the better option because it is simpler for retailers, and also has higher compliance rates, and the evidence is that exemptions bring about more difficulties with complying with the GST law because it is based purely on the value of goods rather than contents. Once exceptions come in, mislabelling and other avoidance strategies increase the amount of work done to check goods, especially imports.

In "The Economics and Management of Small Business", Graham Bannock provides a degree of support for that argument. After looking at various studies, including one by the OECD, Bannock notes that:

the real resource costs absorbed by regulation per firm are very large indeed (about £1,700 on average for all firms in the United Kingdom with fewer than 250 employees), and these resources have alternative uses.(2)

Bannock comments that:

There are, of course, other reasons for high administrative compliance costs. As noted in the discussion of taxation above, regulatory systems have become more complex in an effort to achieve fairness. As an example, if VAT were levied at a single rate with no exemptions and on the whole of consumer expenditure, the compliance cost of the tax would be greatly reduced. Pressure for exemptions (food, for example) prevents achievement of this simplicity in most countries.(2)

This is found in Denmark and New Zealand, precisely because they have simpler systems:

Denmark and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand, have very straightforward VAT systems. However, Denmark is being forced to complicate its system in the interests of European tax harmonisation. (2)

Here is where the effect of "distortions" of the market, comes in, because there is a cost to complying with exemptions, and the more complex the rates of VAT and exemptions, the more this regulation costs the retailer or service provider:

There is no such debate about regulation, the costs of which are unknown to the electorate - and, indeed, until recently, to the legislature. The public is largely unaware that there are any costs to regulation. Where they are aware of costs, it seems to be assumed that these costs will simply be borne by business instead of, by large firms at least, passed on to the public. (2)

But of course, at least part of the cost of compliance will undoubtedly be passed onto the consumer. Most local businesses are quite hard pressed financially anyway, and with rents still going ever up (despite the recession), they will not be able to absorb all the costs, and the consumer will end up paying more:

Where regulations increase market distortions, then costs (in addition to compliance costs) are incurred in the economy. These costs are known as 'excess burdens', 'efficiency costs' or 'deadweight losses'. Excess burdens are difficult to assess but are thought in some cases to be a multiple of compliance costs. (2)

The fact is that VAT is inherently a complicated tax that is costly to administer in business... The best VAT systems are those with single rates covering virtually the whole of consumer expenditure. Political pressures resulting in multiple rates (e.g. higher rates for luxury items) or exemptions (such as food) create additional compliance costs for firms dealing in goods with different rates, as well as economic distortions. (2)

If Jersey did decide to go for exemptions, the simplest solution regarding food would be to use the lists already available in the UK. These have some patent absurdities - for example, a sandwich may be free of VAT but a toasted sandwich, classed as cooked food, attracts it - but at least if we were tied to UK lists, it would avoid costly litigation.

The other area which a more complex GST system with exemptions would impinge upon the public would be increased staffing costs. In "Public Sector Economics for Developing Countries", Michael Howard notes that:

Staffing of the VAT office is a significant aspect of VAT administration. The staffing requirement is a function of a large number of variables, including the tax treatment of various sectors of the economy, the extent of exemptions, the frequency of returns, the complexity of tax rates, and the existing computer systems. For example, the higher the level of transactions omitted from the VAT, the more staffing needs are reduced. Further, if a large amount of the VAT is collected by the customs at the import stage, this reduces the demands for staff in the VAT office. Finally, the more complex the VAT, the greater is the need for staff to administer it. A multiple rate VAT requires more staff than a single rate VAT. (3)

This is necessary, not least because a more complex system, with more exemptions or different rates, leads to increased forms of tax evasion. At present GST leveled on imports is simple - it is based on the value of the goods imported. But if exemptions are allowed, then large imports by retailers (where foodstuffs were involved) would require a more careful check and breakdown of the inventory, to ensure that mislabeling (a common means of evasion) is not taking place, and that requires more staff.

Like New Zealand, Singapore adopted simpler systems precisely because of this problem with complexity:

Singapore had learnt from the experience of other countries that operate VAT systems with multiple rates and multiple exemptions. These administrations had encountered many difficulties arising from countless disputes with the businesses on the scope of tax. Multiple rates and exemptions also pose higher compliance burden on the businesses. It was also recognised that a complex system with multiple rates could potentially lead to more abuses. (4)

But against these arguments, the question is really whether 5% is a permanent solution, or whether the tax rate will have to go up. If GST has to increase, then it makes better sense to go to 6% - an increase of 1% - and introduce exemptions on food and domestic fuel - rather than have to introduce exemptions later, when the increase in GST with exemptions would have to be considerably larger to account for the loss of revenue.

Moreover, the experiences of New Zealand and Singapore - both countries with simple GST systems - cast considerable doubt on whether the tax can remain low. In New Zealand, GST was brought in on October 1, 1986 at 10%, and later increased to 12.5% on July 1, 1989, and was increased to 15% on October 1, 2010. In Singapore, GST was implemented at a single rate of 3% on 1 April 1994, with an assurance that it would not be raised for at least five years. This promise was kept, but it was later increased to 4% on 1 January 2003, and 5% on 1 January 2004. It was raised again to 7% on 1 July 2007. Keeping a lid on the rate is not as simple as one supposes. Denmark, while it has one rate for VAT, has it at 25%

The other argument is that while GST goes up, targeted assistance is provided to lower-income families. The trouble with this is threefold:

(1) deciding the amount of assistance is problematic, and can fall below the threshold of what is really needed because it is extremely complex to assess the needs of individual families, and consequently the analysis of needs works from a simplified model;

(2) there are always people at the margins, who are hit by GST, but who are just above the level at which they could claim for assistance. While the GST bonus scheme can address some of this, there still seem to be marginal cases, just above various thresholds for claiming support, who are penalised and find it more difficult. It is particularly areas such as food costs and domestic fuel that they have to struggle with. The Parish Welfare system was very good at proactively identifying cases of hardship, but this seems a weakness of the more simplified and centralised income support system, which increases in GST will only exacerbate

(3) rapid changes in market prices, such as a large increase in domestic fuel (which does occur), for example, will invariable not be offset by immediate increases in the amount of assistance; there is a time lag in reviewing the figures, and taking decisions, which increases the chances that the targeted aid will simply not be sufficient.

I can see the merit of some of Philip Ozouf's arguments, but I can also see the problems at the lower end of the scale, and I remain unconvinced that targeted assistant works efficiently enough, either at its thresholds, or if economic situations (as with fuel) change rapidly. Given that GST will probably have to increase yet again - the experience of Singapore and New Zealand suggests that it will do so - I think that the GST at 6% with exemptions on food and domestic fuel is the wisest option.

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2010/11/29/exemptions-now-will-ease-the-pain-later/
(2) The Economics and Management of Small Business: An International Perspective, Graham Bannock, 2005
(3) Public Sector Economics for Developing Countries, Michael Howard, 2001
(4) GST in Singapore: Policy Rationale, Implementation Strategy & Technical Design, 2004

Monday, 29 November 2010

Health matters, A&E, GP Costs and Income Support

I see that Gerard Baudains is coming into the JDA fold, or at any rate has his own page on their website.

The latest wheeze is by Deputy Gorst of St Clement - the Social Security minister - who proposed raiding our pension fund to cover inefficiencies and poor management in another department. I thought only Robert Maxwell did things like that. (1)

Now this relates to the


and at first sight, it seems to be about taking money from social security to pay for health by raiding the social security pension fund.

But matters are not as simple as that. As I understand it, from reading the proposition, and looking at what has been suggested in detail, the pension fund is being kept well away from any transfer of funds.

There are two components to social security - the pension scheme and the health / medical side, which were accounted for separately, with a fixed percentage of the social security money going into the health / medical side. On the health side, the proposition notes that:

The Health Insurance Fund (the "Fund") was established when the Health Insurance (Jersey) Law 1967 (the "Law") came into force on 4th December 1967. The Fund receives a set percentage allocation of all social security contributions collected under the Social Security Law, which is currently 2% (made up of a 0.8% contribution from employees and a 1.2% contribution from employers) of the 12.5% total contributions collected. The Law specifies that the Fund is to use the contributions received to meet primary health care costs, which are currently limited to medical and pharmaceutical benefits. The level of medical benefit is set by the States by Regulation and was increased this May to assist in establishing General Practitioner governance arrangements. Currently the Fund subsidises patients to the tune of £19 for each G.P. visit and also covers the cost of prescriptions dispensed by Community Pharmacists. (2)

The proposition (and debate) makes it quite clear that the Health Fund and the Pension Fund are quite different entities, with quite separate sets of accounts.

The proposition would leave the pension side untouched, but as the health / medical side had actually been running at a surplus for a number of years, and as it was providing healthcare related funding, the decision had been made to use some of that surplus - and not in any way the pension scheme - to take over the health and social services, as it all came under the health care umbrella.

To some extent, the health care part of the fund has changed it scope over the years from when it was set up in 1967:

Since 1967, the scope of primary care has expanded greatly and many different healthcare professions are now involved in first-line medical and healthcare treatment and care. Typically, primary care is provided in a community setting, such as a G.P. surgery or a health centre. In Jersey, some primary care services are delivered from the General Hospital. (2)

So it is not irrational, or in any way a Robert Maxwell style pension raid, to move some of the Health Care Fund monies - and those alone - over to the Hospital budget.

But what should be looked at in more detail is perhaps the use of A&E rather than doctor's surgeries, or out of hours call-outs (which are incredibly expensive to young families). There are currently proposals coming in to limit that, or to force people to pay for the services if they are the kind of services that could be obtained from a GP. What is not being considered is why people use the casualty department service in that way - it is assumed they are spongers, trying to save money by working the system.

In the UK, the same kind of problem occurs, surprisingly, and one study from Barnsley notes that:

Participants provided the following comments to explain why some people used A&E for minor illnesses.
. Because its quicker (don't have to wait for an appointment with GP)
. Because of lack of knowledge of other facilities and services
. Some people are suicidal and attention seeking
. "You think you'll get better care - they've got all the equipment"
. Its easy
. All they have been educated to do is to use A&E. This is reinforced
through television programmes such as Casualty. The public know about
A&E. It was suggested that there are no dramas about out of hours
services. (3)

The "Doctor Foster" medical site said one key was making sure people knew they could get proper services from their GP, and it would not cost them anything to do so:

Certain messages were key for encouraging people to consider the out-of-hours service: patients could first get assessed on the phone, could easily make an emergency appointment and would always receive the treatment they needed. (4)

There's the rub. In Jersey, while going to the GP is subsidised, the patient also has to pay a share of the cost, and when it is a callout, perhaps to a young child who is unwell, the charges can rise rapidly over a very short time. And recently, when the potential of a swine flu epidemic was thought to be coming, patients were told - wisely enough - not to attend surgeries, and the cost of call outs in these special circumstances would not be for the patient to pay (to ensure compliance). Clearly this is a problem, which does not occur in the UK, where re-education into the use of alternative free facilities is the main problem.

If the Health Insurance Fund is running at a surplus, would it not be better to channel some of that into reducing the costs of going to the GP, especially perhaps when emergency out of hours calls are required? And rather than castigating Deputy Gorst on imaginary issues, would it not be better to ask questions about these very real issues?

Over-cautious parents are choosing to take their children to A&E with minor ailments such as coughs and colds instead of their GP. Under-pressure NHS staff are seeing youngsters with common illnesses which would usually be dealt with by their family doctor.(5)

Do we need some kind of out of hours community health care centre for minor ailments that is cheaper than call outs when they are not needed? The UK has quite a lot of those, and they reduce pressure on GPs. Might it not be a good idea to look at if something like that could be provided if A&E is closing its doors, so that alternatives are available? Even if there is still a charge - the same as that of going to the GP in daytime hours - that would still be a fraction of the cost of a call out.

The fact is that when a surgery closes (after 6 pm), any problems have to be dealt with by call-outs, and these cost a family (especially those trying to balance a budget) money that they can't afford, and I suspect this is one of the reasons why A&E gets people with more minor ailments.

In the 2008 Election, the JEP asked the prospective Senatorial candidates:

Question: Should the States pay more towards the cost of visits to the doctor? (6).

These were their replies. Perhaps we should ask them what has been done to improve matters since October 2008?

Mike Higgins: The cost of going to the doctor is crippling to some members of our society, so much so that they do not go and get the treatment they need and deserve. I believe in everyone receiving the health care they need, not based on what they can afford.

Montfort Tadier: Doctors' fees are prohibitively high for many people. There is currently an issue with those who are on limited means seeking treatment at A&E for this very reason, even though their sicknesses are not necessarily emergencies.

Philip Ozouf: The whole system of primary care needs reform. The Health Insurance Scheme is currently running with an annual surplus of £10 million with more than £60 million in the bank. Some of this fund should be used to subsidise visits to the doctor and also extend non-means-tested preventative care and screening, especially for senior citizens.

Sarah Ferguson: Why are the costs of going to the doctor so high? Perhaps the JCRA should investigate. Certainly those who were on HIE should be helped - but this is one of the areas where I think the forms required to apply for the various components of income support have been somewhat confusing, helped by the fact that it is a new system and the staff are not yet totally familiar with it.

Trevor Pitman: Affordable health care is surely one of the cornerstones of any true and modern democracy.

Alan Breckon: Paying doctors' costs for home or surgery visits is a concern to many people, especially those just above income support thresholds with children, or the elderly. Targeted support would be better than assistance for all. Prescription charges should not have been abolished. Assistance could have been focused on assisting others with medical, optical and dental treatment.

Alan Maclean: Those who can't afford to visit the doctor should have the necessary support to ensure that they can. Otherwise the hospital's A&E department faces an increased burden of non-emergencies, which is a false economy. In some cases, people will put off visits to their doctor, leading to more serious illness and ultimately greater cost to the health care system.

Ian le Marquand: Currently, drug prescriptions are free and £15 towards the cost of GP visits comes from Social Security. Income support is also meant to cover the cost of a reasonable number of visits to the doctor. This is an area in which the States should aim to gradually increase the £15, as the financial position allows. There is also an issue as to how well the new income support system is working. There appear to be cases in which people are having difficulty in obtaining the same level of medical support which they need and used to have.

Jeremy Macon: We should reintroduce HIE. This was an excellent system and currently low-income support only pays for four visits to the doctor. This is ridiculous for those on a low income who have to go to the doctor regularly for check-ups or tests. We were better off under the old system, where those who could not afford care did not have to worry about going to the doctor or calling him out if they had to.

Daniel Wimberley: The principle is clear: no-one should be barred from going to the doctor because they cannot afford it.

(1) jdajersey.co.uk/Gerard%20Baudains.htm
(2) www.statesassembly.gov.je/documents/propositions/28376-41910-1392010.pdf
(3) www.tcp-events.co.uk/wsmc/downloads/breakouts/Tuesday/1200/PCT/K%20Chaplin.pdf
(4) www.drfosterintelligence.co.uk/services/aande.asp
(5) www.theargus.co.uk/news/4424578.Brighton_parents_take_children_to_A_E_with_coughs_and_colds/
(6) www.thisisjersey.com/election/senators/issues/doctors-fees/#ixzz16f10TMbO

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Little Figures that Don't Add Up

Lennie Godber: Blokes by me bet on how many bricks are in the cell.
Norman Stanley Fletcher: That's common.
Lennie Godber: I can't think. It drives me mad, listening to their recounts. "341, 342..."
(BBC TV, Porridge, "The Hustler")

There were calls for the Treasury Minister to be sacked last night amid claims that he lied to Islanders about raising the rate of GST. Senator Philip Ozouf came under heavy fire from all sides at last night's protest rally at Fort Regent, organised by the union Unite, and a petition is now circulating to get him removed from office. The minister, who recently went back on a promise to the States not to bring a proposal to increase GST, was branded 'Pinocchio' and posters bearing his face on the body of the cartoon character, complete with long nose, were placed around the hall. Around 180 people turned out for the rally - far fewer than were expected and well short of the 1,000 who attended the last protest against GST. However, the crowd remained defiant and many expressed their anger and frustration at the proposed cuts and the current state of Jersey's political system.

A rally against tax rises and government budget cuts was attended by about 450 people at Jersey's Fort Regent on Wednesday evening.
The treasury minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, wants to raise the Goods and Services tax (GST) to 5% and cut £65m from States spending.
He was called "Pinocchio" at the union rally for breaking a promise made in 2008 not to increase GST.(2)

It was a disappointing turnout for the organisers of Wednesday night's union rally against public sector cuts in Jersey. They'd expected a thousand, but only 400 people went along to air their gripes over pay cuts, reduced public services and the planned rise in GST. Despite the low turnout - the union behind the rally won't back down without a fight. They now plan to ballot members on industrial action.(3)

So how many people did attend the rally at Fort Regent? The JDA reports on the meeting on their own website, but doesn't give any figures.

Said Mr. Vibert: "This was a chance for islanders who feel strongly about the issues to come together at Fort Regent and by their presence illustrate to the Council of Ministers how deep the feeling is against the path they are walking."(4)

But he doesn't say how many came together at Fort Regent.

The BBC reported "about 450", while Channel Television was slightly behind that at 400. How the JEP managed to get 180 turning out is beyond belief - either their reporter was simply unable to count or just looked around and guessed - or it was an example of deliberate spin - "far fewer than were expected..." certainly indicates it was used in that way.

Interestingly, while both the JEP and CTV mention an expected turnout of around a thousand, that figure made its way into the BBC but with a much more positive slant concerning a petition (unmentioned by the JEP or CTV):

A petition calling for Senator Ozouf to be dismissed as treasury minister has been signed by about 1,000 people.(2)

Geoff Southern made a great show of making Philip Ozouf out to be a liar, but somehow failed to mention that Philip Ozouf had made a very public apology at the end of October and explained why he had to change his position. Can we now expect an apology for Geoff Southern regarding his own change of position?

The St Helier deputy and Jersey Democratic Alliance member says if Senator Stuart Syvret doesn't return to the island in April he'll put himself forward in the by-election.(5)

Yet Senator Syvret did return to the Island, and Deputy Southern did stand against him. Clearly Senator Ozouf is not the only one who can be called Pinocchio!

The JDA website notes that: "Regardless of the fact that Trevor, Shona and Debbie are no longer part of the JDA, they still support all of our objectives and we will not be putting up candidates against them." Let's hope they stick to what they have said this time!

The rally also disclosed the possibility of industrial action.

Despite the low turnout - the union behind the rally won't back down without a fight. They now plan to ballot members on industrial action. (2)
Unite is now planning to ballot its members about possible industrial action over the planned government spending cuts.(2)

It is good to see they are balloting their members on this occasion, especially as last time, when Deputy Southern stood for election as Senator, the union decided to sponsor him and back him with money - despite not deciding to ballot members before spending their money. I asked one or two union members whom I knew about this, and they not only told me their had been no ballot of membership, but that they would have voted against any such decision as a waste of money, since Deputy Southern was already in the States.

Is it any wonder that so few people decided to turn up to Fort Regent, especially Union members who are used to the rank and file not being consulted? If there is to be better democracy in Jersey, then the lack of democracy within the JDA and the Unions is not a good sign. I am certainly not that happy when I also read on the JDA AGM that:

In discussions under " any other business" the president outlined that he had prepared a training programme for new members who are prepared to stand under the JDA banner in the forthcoming elections) (4)

I couldn't find details of that programme, despite it being described as "available elsewhere on this site", but it sounds very much as if there is a JDA "mould" and candidates are expected to conform to that, thereby reducing possibility of dissenters such as those who left the party before. Aren't members supposed to help decide policy rather than the other way round?

(1) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2010/11/25/ozouf-must-go-call/#ixzz16cVXYC00
(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-11838085
(3) http://www.channelonline.tv/channelonline_jerseynews/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=491963
(4) http://jdajersey.co.uk/default.asp
(5) http://www.channelonline.tv/channelonline_jerseynews/displayarticle.asp?id=486042&showallcomments=1

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Door into Summer

With the cold weather outside, and inspired by Robert Heinlein's book of the same name, where is the door...?

The Door into Summer
(A Villanelle)

The cold winter snows, this I mind
I am the cat that is walking alone
And the door into summer, I shall find
Windows coated with frost so unkind
I curl up sleeping, near the hearthstone
The cold winter snows, this I mind
In darkness I walk, others are blind
Cat's eyes see a spectral unknown
And the door into summer, I shall find
I try the front door, but I am confined
Still snowing heavy, my exit postponed
The cold winter snows, this I mind
I try a backdoor, still snow divined
There is no escape, this I bemoan
And the door into summer, I shall find
On my owners lap, there I reclined
Outside the wind whistles and moans
The cold winter snows, this I mind
And the door into summer, I shall find.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Jersey's Sex Offenders Register - Why the Delay? Facts and figures.

Jersey's home affairs minister said they needed an extra £184,000 for the sex offenders register. Officials behind Jersey's new sex offenders register say there is not enough money to fully fund it. The register will mean convicted sex offenders will have to keep police informed of where they are... The home affairs minister said more people are likely to be on the register than first expected. The Probation Service is currently dealing with seven sexual abusers, which the minister says is taking up a lot of staff time. If the department does not get more funding for the sex offenders register it could mean other offenders do not get the supervision they should have, according to the minister.

Home affairs minister Senator Ian Le Marquand has warned that if the law is going to be enacted now, more funding will need to be agreed next year to maintain it. Senator Le Marquand said they were expecting legal costs of £22,000 for each name added to the list. He said the extra £184,000 was needed for several reasons. He said: "There are two areas in which more money is needed, one is staff but the really big issue in terms of extra money is anticipated legal costs. "We estimate that for every case on average there will be costs of about £22,000."(1)

The question is where Senator Le Marquand gets his figures from - note that these are "estimates" relating to "anticipated legal costs". Who is providing this budgetary allocation? What data - perhaps from other jurisdictions - are they basing this on?

The Comprehensive spending review notes the following in its 2012 and 2013 Proposals:

Additional Staff - Probation Service and Childrens' Service - £184,000. Legislation has been passed by the States. Full financial implications were identified in the proposition (P132/2009). The Minister's Introduction to the 2010 ABP highlighted that additional funding would be required after 2010 for these services.

Court and Case Costs -£700,000: Impact on Court and Case Costs arising from defence lawyer's costs, risk assessment reports and additional court costs (as identified in P132/2008).
The proposition noted ACPO's report that: "Forces have varying levels of resources and requirements and there are competing priorities. Public protection work is generally extremely demanding and stressful. In order to fulfil responsibilities to the public and also to ensure, as a threshold standard, the welfare, health and safety of individual staff members, officers should not be required to manage more than fifty Registered Sex Offenders in the community at any one time."

A comparison was made between the smallest police force in the UK, that of Dumfries and Galloway, which is the smallest police force in England, Scotland, which has a population cover of around 130,000 people. It has have a dedicated Sex Offender Management Team within their Public Protection Unit:

The Sex Offender Team is managed by a detective inspector. It has one detective sergeant and 2 detective constables plus administrative support. This Unit currently manages 120 registered sex offenders.

By comparison, the Police National Computer identifies the names of over 250 convicted sex offenders with a Jersey address.

Why is Jersey listing such a high number? Part of the reason is undoubtedly that the UK legislation was not retrospective, whereas the Jersey legislation covers people convicted of sexual offenses before the legislation is implemented.

The ratios given by a Daily Mail article in 2006, entitled ""Staff Crisis in Monitoring the Sex Offenders' Register" noted that:

In some areas of the country there is only one police officer to track every 100 convicted offenders. In Strathclyde, Scotland's largest police area, there are only 15 officers in the sex offenders unit to monitor 1,500 individuals - a ratio of one officer to 100 criminals. Northern police region has only three officers to monitor 215 registered offenders, a ratio of one for every 72. Lothian and Borders has 590 sex offenders and 11 officers, while Central has four policemen overseeing 60 offenders. In Grampian there are six staff tracking 220 sex offenders and Tayside Police has seven staff monitoring 211 offenders. Fife Police have seven officers to 224 criminals and Dumfries and Galloway has only three staff monitoring 80 offenders

Clearly, since then the number of offenders listed in Dumfries and Galloway since then has increased by 40, but the administration numbers remain the same.

The policing requirements mentioned in the proposition (locally) are:

1 x Detective Sergeant
1 x Detective Constable (additional to post approved through the 2005 FSR process)
1 x Public Protection Unit Administrator

The annual cost of these additional posts is approximately £160,000. Non-staff costs of £17,000 will provide essential access to the ViSOR.

The proposition also listed probation costs:

(a) The appointment of 2 experienced Probation Officers at a cost of £129,000 (including on-costs).
(b) Provision of training and consultancy at £1,000 per day. This would total £6,000 per annum and it would be advisable for this consultancy level to be retained for no less than 5 years.
(c) Provision of joint assessment training with the States of Jersey Police at a provisional sum of £3,000 for one year only.

Apart from that, the other area of costs are of the following nature:

(a) Additional amounts within 'Court and Case costs' to cover specialist psychiatric/psychological reports ordered by the court in considering any applications.
(b) The appointment of a Senior Practitioner Social Worker to the Children's Service at a cost of £61,000 (including on-costs).
(c) The appointment of a main-grade Social Worker to the Children's Service at a cost of £55,000 (including on-costs).

But it is legal costs that really add the charges up:

It is anticipated that additional work can be absorbed within the current staffing levels of the Magistrate's Court and the Royal Court. There will, however, be additional Courts and Case costs arising from defence lawyers' costs, risk assessment reports and additional court costs. The estimate of costs is summarised in the table below.

Defence Lawyers' costs - Year 1 £435,000, Year 2 £435,000, Year 3 £89,000
Cost of Risk Assessments Year 1 £75,000, Year 2 £75,000, Year 3 £15,000
Court Commissioners' Costs Year 1 £25,000, Year 2 £25,000, Year 3 £3,000
Court of Appeal Costs Year 1 £24,000, Year 2 £24,000, Year 3 £4,800

The anticipated costs are very high initially - although these may in fact not be as high as anticipated:

The impact will depend on the actual numbers and types of cases that come before the courts, but this is difficult to predict precisely. Whilst people are more aware of their rights and ready to challenge decisions, it is likely that the number of appeals will be diminished by the certainty of media reporting. The estimate assumes that there will be 50 retrospective cases during the first 2 years of the operation of the Law, whilst year 3 shows the estimated costs of ongoing cases based on 5 per annum. It further assumes that the Police will require 30 Restraining Orders for retrospectively registered sex offenders.

The proposition - lodged 19th August 2009, carried unanimously on 08 October 2009 - noted in its comments that:

The Council of Ministers agreed earlier in the year to inscribe an additional sum of £70,000 in the 2010 Draft Business Plan so that some provision was made for any additional cost. As can be seen from the above table, the actual anticipated annual revenue costs total £431,000, creating a shortfall of £184,000 once the full effect of the Law is felt

To enable recruitment of these posts to take place next year however, agreement in principle will be needed to provide full funding, i.e. the additional £184,000 in advance of the 2011 business planning process.

This was back in 2009 - it is now November 2010 - and I wonder why - given that it was noted in these comments by Senator Le Marquand over a year ago, that nothing has been done regarding to secure the full funding until now, and matters have been left to drift, so that it is still £184,000 short of target!

...agreement in principle will be needed to provide full funding, i.e. the additional £184,000 in advance of the 2011 business planning process...

Surely someone in the Council of Ministers - Senator Le Marquand, or Senator Ozouf as Treasury Minister, or Senator Terry le Sueur as Chief Minister (and providing some active leadership) - should have addressed this issue early, and not at this late stage, because it was flagged up over a year ago? Equally I wonder why Scrutiny seem to have failed to pick up on that, and seen what was happening with that full funding required.

Why didn't any politicians concerned with child protection chase this up to make sure it was happening? They'll complain now - but that, too, is late in the day. Scrutiny should monitor anything like this, and make sure it is on target, if they are doing their job properly, not relying on an assumption that the Ministers will deal with it, so they need not bother.

What is needed now, however, is not blame, but extra funding in order to bring this into place, and given the failure to address the anticipated shortfall for over a year, it is beholden upon the Council of Ministers to find the funding, regardless of their budgetary cuts - after all, they knew about it, and they had the ability to address the issue.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-11824855
(2) http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/documents/propositions/21286-3803-1982009.pdf

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Prize of Peril

Nigel Havers has dramatically quit "I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!", just hours after complaining to producers about treatment of contestants. The 59-year-old actor finally left camp last night, after he was seen objecting to the Kangaroo Court task, which saw camp members given electric shocks if they failed in the special trial. Havers was seen fuming: 'I'm not up for it, I don't do electric shocks so I'm leaving. I cannot waste another second of my life. I will probably do something drastic like probably go. Every time the celebrities saw a baby Joey shoot out of the kangaroo, they had to bang their gavel. The slowest starts to bang their gavels were given electric shocks. (1)

On last night's show, the smoothie actor made it clear that he was unhappy with the latest task, in which he and the other celebrities should receive a mild electric shock. After threatening to quit, he had a heated exchange with producers and technical staff but was eventually persuaded to return.(2)

Quite why this show is called "reality" is unclear. The "bushtucker trials" are not part of any reality that I know much about, except perhaps where torture is inflicted on people for political reasons. And the tortures get more and more extreme, to titillate the appetite of viewers.

Now we have electric shocks - supposedly "mild" given to the contestants. The situation is fast starting to resemble the celebrated Milgram experiment, the subjects were told to give electric shots to a supposed volunteer, but here they volunteer themselves for electric shocks. Clearly, if they don't react enough to the shock, it is too mild, and no doubt voltages will be adjusted accordingly.

Another contestant actually fainted during the show:

During last night's show, nutritionist McKeith fainted live on television when she learned she had been chosen to do the "Unfairground" trial. Doctors checked her over and decided she had suffered an anxiety attack and Olympic gold medal winner Christie stepped in to tackle the bugs. Earlier, McKeith said she was on the verge of "mental exhaustion" as she became the first ever contestant to refuse to attempt a Bushtucker Trial....She told hosts Ant and Dec: "It's just too much, having things all over my head and my body and trying to move the thing all at the same time. "I feel exhausted, just mental exhaustion." (3)

Julia Raeside, writing in the Guardian, noted that:

she probably thinks now she's physically collapsed this early in the show, she'll be given a break by the viewers. But she couldn't be more wrong. We're like those people in the Milgram experiment who were asked to give strangers electric shocks. We're horrible. We'll keep turning the dial up until she admits defeat and begs to go home.

In Stanley Milgram's celebrated experiment, ordinary people were to give increasingly high electronic shocks to a subject at the prompting of an authority figure. Despite the fact that they could hear the experimental screaming with pain, the majority moved on progressively to send 450 volts through his body, a dose that could certainly be lethal. But in fact, the subject was an actor, the buttons were dummies, and no shocks were actually given.

Yet with shows like "I'm a Celebrity", we have moved on. The voting viewers can keep people in, can vote for them to have the latest "bushtucker" torture, and despite the celebrities very real protest, or the person fainting (which is dismissed as attention seeking behaviour), they vote on and on for each act of sadism, and relish seeing the celebrity suffer. Instead of taking the psychological pressures as genuine, it is dismissed as hysterical antics, dramatic outbursts and fainting fits.

The game show has taken on the trappings of "Tom Brown's Schooldays", where wimps are picked upon for not being manly and despised, and one character says "Moral principles! What's a school boy to do with moral principles? Feed him one end and beat him the other! That's education". Likewise in Goodbye Mr Chips, boys are subjected to Initiation rites, such as "barreling" and there is general bullying of weaker boys by older or stronger boys and any sign of weakness is seen as wimpish, despicable behaviour, and despised. When we see films of these in a period context, we do not identify with the bully, but it is a culture of bullying that is being promoted by the reality TV show, where the ratings are everything.

Michael Portillo commented on this kind of Game Show:

Television brings with it two dangerous hazards: the worship of celebrity, and the blurring of reality and fantasy. As director Christophe Nick commented: "On a game-show set, you can get people to do absolutely anything. The boundary between reality and fiction disappears."

In Robert Sheckley's prescient science fiction short story, "The Prize of Peril", written in the 1950s, he looks forward to where this kind of sadism, in which the trials have to become more unpleasant and nasty to pander to the ever jaded palette of the viewing public, and also shows the unexpected hazards of making euthanasia legal:

The owner of the local television store had explained it further. "You see, Jim, the public is sick of highly trained athletes with their trick reflexes and their professional courage. Who can feel for guys like that? Who can identify? People want to watch exciting things, sure, but not when some joker is making it his business for fifty thousand a year. That's why organized sports are in a slump. That's why the thrill shows are booming."

"I see," said Raeder.

"Six years ago, Jim, Congress passed the Voluntary Suicide Act. Those old senators talked a lot about free will and self-determinism at the time. But that's all crap. You know what the Act really means? It means the amateurs can risk their lives for the big loot, not just professionals. In the old days you had to be a professional boxer or footballer or hockey player if you wanted your brains beaten out legally for money. But now that opportunity is open to ordinary people like you, Jim."

"I see," Raeder said again.

"It's a marvelous opportunity. Take you. You're no better than anyone, Jim. Anything you can do, anyone can do. You're average. I think the thrill shows would go for you."

Raeder permitted himself to dream. Television shows looked like a sure road to riches for a pleasant young fellow with no particular talent or training. So he appeared on Underwater Perils, sponsored by Fairlady's Soap. In face mask, respirator, weighted belt, flippers and knife, he slipped into the warm waters of the Caribbean with four other contestants, followed by a cage-protected camera crew. The idea was to locate and bring up a treasure which the sponsor had hidden there.

Mask diving isn't especially hazardous. But the sponsor had added some frills for public interest. The area was sown with giant clams, moray eels, sharks of several species, giant octopuses, poison coral, and other dangers of the deep. It was a stirring contest. A man from Florida found the treasure in a deep crevice, but a moray eel found him. Another diver took the treasure, and a shark took him. The brilliant blue-green water became cloudy with blood, which photographed well on color TV. The treasure slipped to the bottom, and Raeder plunged after it, popping an eardrum in the process. He plucked it from the coral, jettisoned his weighted belt and made for the surface. Thirty feet from the top he had to fight another diver for the treasure. They feinted back and forth with their knives. The man struck, slashing Raeder across the chest. But Raeder, with the self-possession of an old contestant, dropped his knife and tore the man's respirator out of his mouth. That did it. Raeder surfaced and presented the treasure at the standby boat. It turned out to be a package of Fairlady's Soap -- "The Greatest Treasure of All."

Finally, Jim makes it onto the "Prize of Peril", where he has to face trained killers:

"If you accept, Jim Raeder, you will be a hunted man for a week. Killers will follow you, Jim. Trained killers, men wanted by the law for other crimes, granted immunity for this single killing under the Voluntary Suicide Act. They will be trying to kill you, Jim. Do you understand?"

"I understand," Raeder said. He also understood the two hundred thousand dollars he would receive if he could live out the week.

"I ask you again, Jim Raeder. We force no man to play for stakes of death."

"I want to play," Raeder said.

Mike Terry turned to the audience. "Ladies and gentlemen, I have here a copy of an exhaustive psychological test which an impartial psychological testing firm made on Jim Raeder at our request. Copies will be sent to anyone who desires them for twenty-five cents to cover the cost of mailing. The test shows that Jim Raeder is sane, well-balanced and fully responsible in every way." He turned to Raeder.

"Do you still want to enter the contest, Jim?"

"Yes, I do."

"Very well!" cried Mike Terry. "Jim Raeder, meet your would-be killers!"

The presence of doctors - and no doubt psychiatrists will follow soon - on such shows as "I'm a Celebrity" are a clear indication that we are moving in the direction of serious hazard, where there is a risk to health. Contestants need to be given a physical examination to ensure that they will not die, and cause an unacceptable reaction to this kind of show, and they also show how the prize, not only of money, but also of fame, can lure many celebrities into this kind of show. But it is, at the end of the day, an exercise in vicarious sadism, in which viewers tastes can be glutted by ever more inventive and unpleasant trials, and the announcers act as cheerleaders, encouraging and welcoming the voter participation (and cash from calls).

Time was when Clive James showed clips of the Japanese Game Show "Endurance" with wriggling eels and other nasties, and encouraged the viewers to laugh at how other societies enjoyed this sort of sadism, often with a superior air, as if to say, we are not as bad as that. Unfortunately, the lesson that Stanley Milgram taught was that we all are.

But now the viewers are on the sidelines, while below, in the arena, the gladiatorial games continue for their pleasure, and as the Roman Emperor Augustus saw, the circuses are an experience which bonds the audience together, and distracts them from any thinking about social issues, or justice, or compassion.

(4) http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2010/nov/16/gillian-mckeith-im-a-celebrity
(5) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7488732/Would-you-torture-this-man.html
(6) http://arthursclassicnovels.com/sheckley/prizep10.html
(7) http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jan/04/bullying-workplace-recession

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Questions on Wiltshire

Deputy Daniel Wimberley was asking questions in the States to Senator Ian Le Marquand (Minister for Home Affairs) on 16 November 2010. I know some people criticise bloggers for raking over old ground, but my principal interest here was the final question, which relates to more public documentation needed for those of us attempting to write a history of the historic abuse enquiry.

Here are the Q&A plus my comments:

In the light of the Chief Minister's statement that he believes that the findings of the Wiltshire Report fully endorse the decision to suspend the previous Chief Officer of Police, can the Minister:

Deputy Daniel Wimberley: (a) provide members with the press statements released by the States of Jersey Police relating to any one of the major elements disputed during the Haut de la Garenne inquiry, in order, and the full recordings of audio and video interviews?

Senator Ian Le Marquand: (a) I have previously indicated to the Deputy of St Mary that I am not going to do this. The press statements are in the public domain and the Deputy of St Mary should do his own research.

My comments: most of this is in the public domain, either on the police website, the States of Jersey website, the States Assembly website, YouTube etc, and I agree with Senator Le Marquand. If Daniel Wimberley is interested, I also have PDF snapshots of most of the newspaper articles relating to Haut de La Garenne, which also has selected quotations from those involved - including the BBC report where Lenny Harper says that the evidence is insufficient for a murder enquiry "at the end of the day there just might not be the evidence to mount a homicide inquiry" - long before Messrs Gradwell and Warcup said the same thing as if it was something quite new.

Deputy Daniel Wimberley: (b) provide members with the 93 page statement provided by the former Chief of Police to the Wiltshire inquiry?

Senator Ian Le Marquand (b) I would only do this if asked so to do by the previous Chief Officer and even then the statement would need to be redacted to remove reference to individuals who are not public facing.

My comments: Can the Friends of Graham Power get on to Graham and find out why he has not asked for the statement to be released to the public domain? It certainly seems to weaken his position if the onus was on him to request it to be released, as long as he could check to ensure the redaction only removed names, and was not the severe "slash and burn" of the first redaction of Wiltshire. Does he, in fact, know that he could have his statement released?

Deputy Daniel Wimberley: (c) supply evidence for the assertion that ACPO had a "policy of only making
recommendations to which [the then Chief Officer and Deputy Chief Officer of Police] had signalled prior approval?"

Senator Ian Le Marquand: (c) I have previously indicated that I will not be releasing the statements of witnesses who were interviewed by the Wiltshire Police or other evidence.

My comments: This is a major weakness of Senator Le Marquand's position. I heard him some time ago making very much the same statement that ACPO were conflicted and tailored their recommendations to the requirements of Lenny Harper and Graham Power. This might be true, but just baldly stating it, and with any evidence not visible, does not prove that it is anything more than an attempt by some people to provide spin against the ACPO reports by making baseless accusations, knowing full well that their identity and evidence will not see the light of day.

Deputy Daniel Wimberley: (d) provide a full and proper audit trail of the emails concerning the finds JAR/6 and SLJ/1?

Senator Ian Le Marquand: (d) I do not understand what is meant by "audit trails of e-mails". However, this appears to also be referring to statements or other evidence.

My comments: I believe most of this - if relating to the fragment of "skull" - was dealt with in a comprehensive press release by Lenny Harper putting the record straight with emails shortly after a critical Daily Mail story.

Deputy Daniel Wimberley: (e) provide members with the final version of the Wiltshire Report, redacted as necessary but with as much as possible of the missing 270 pages, which the Minister promised to issue to me by "early September" in his email of 3rd August 2010

Senator Ian Le Marquand: (e) I have planned to do this but the task is extensive and has been delayed by work on the CSR process and by other work pressures upon the individuals who are completing the redaction process on my behalf. I have reminded them of this task and will continue to do so. The date of September 2010 was the date given to me but has proved to be unachievable.

My comments: It is good to see the delay acknowledged, but without any target set in the future for its completion, this means the date of release can just slip by endlessly. It would be good to have some target to aim at, even if it is over generous, such as 3 months.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Organisation charts give insight into government

The Cabinet Office has published new details about civil servants working at the heart of government.

Structure charts of government

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has asked departments to publish for the first time structure charts. These set out details of the number and grade of staff working in different teams. In June the Cabinet Office published its chart showing the structure for senior staff, but this has now been updated to include team numbers.

The structure charts show:
- the names, job title and salary for all senior civil servants at director level and above
- the job title of all senior civil servants at deputy director level, along with the number of staff in their team and the breakdown of their grades
- More data will be added over the next few weeks including the total salary cost of each team reporting to deputy directors, job descriptions for senior roles and team functions.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, who chairs the government's Public Sector Transparency Board, said that the announcement reaffirms the government's commitment to opening up unprecedented levels of data.


The charts (on a preliminary look) are quite good. When will we get any?

I noticed that Senator Terry le Sueur (in answer to questions) repeatedly says he has given the information, and he refers to the existing charts in business plans, which are basically top layer sketches, and more of an organisational doodle. The only decent chart we have was done privately by Senator Sarah Ferguson, and she was not permitted to include the names, job title and salary for all senior civil servants at director level and above.

If the UK Government can quite cheerfully provide all this information, it is about time we did - note it shows salaries and not just salary bands for top civil servants. Clearly they have no problems with Data Protection, so that can't function as an excuse - our Data Protection Law is modelled on the UK.

On the lower levels (and they have lots of civil servants) it is more statistical, but still gives (a) number of staff (b) breakdown of grades. And it is going to be improved even more!

It's about time we followed suit, and Chief Ministers (or the Departmental heads) stopped saying it can't be done, or such information is private and cannot be revealed. That is a bluff, and the UK government has shown how hollow that excuse is now - it is providing a degree of real transparency beside which Jersey's approach is in the dark ages.

Is there any politician who would now like to ask the following question of the Chief Minister in the States:


Given the UK's commitment to transparency and organisation charts showing

- the names, job title and salary for all senior civil servants at director level and above
- the job title of all senior civil servants at deputy director level, along with the number of staff in their team and the breakdown of their grades

how long before we may expect Jersey to follow suit?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

JFK: The Making Of Modern Politics: A Review

If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better. If there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work. If man feels small, let man make himself bigger.
Hubert H. Humphrey

Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.
Hubert H. Humphrey

It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
Hubert H. Humphrey

The television documentary by Andrew Marr on Sunday night illustrated how all the poisonous tactics of today's politics entered with the Kennedy campaign first for the Democratic leadership, and then for the Presidency of the United States. It was a triumph of of style over substance, in which John F. Kennedy sold an image of himself as glamorous, virile and young. And it was also the start of a very nasty campaign of dirty tricks and lies.

When he stood for the democrat nomination, John F Kennedy had to overcome Hubert Humphrey, and how he did it was to use the power of the media to destroy Humphrey completely, by using leaks of false accusations to smear his opponent, and then denying that his team had anything to do with it:

Hubert Humphrey had a classic old-fashioned campaign. He had been too ill to fight in the war. His finances were meagre. His wife was homely and old-fashioned. He had no private plane, but a bus - with a broken heater - instead. He was one of the most intelligent, compassionate and literate politicians in modern American history, who had taken on Communists, organised crime and racialism when these were very dangerous fights to pick, and who understood middle America far better than Kennedy. But he was about to be crushed. The Kennedy team dealt with their Catholic problem above all by smearing Humphrey as a draft-dodger. They saturated the state with advertising, money and helpers. By the end, a stunned Humphrey, who had compared his fight to that of a corner store against a supermarket chain, was reduced to using the few hundred dollars he and his wife had saved for their daughter's education to pay for a final campaign ad. The 1960 US Democratic Convention selects John F Kennedy as its presidential candidate. Having smeared Humphrey and trashed his reputation, the Kennedys washed their hands and denied it all.(1)

In fact, as the Kennedy team knew only too well, during World War II, Humphrey tried twice to join the armed forces, but was rejected both times due to a hernia.

Kennedy went on to present an image of himself against Nixon as the younger, fitter, of the two, even though he had serious back problems since 1938 (and wore a canvas back brace with metal stays, and most seriously, Addison's disease, which he and his doctor both lied about:

Kennedy's Addisonism was diagnosed in 1947 by a physician in London. Kennedy had probably been suffering (literally) from the disease for years, if not decades. After the diagnosis, he was given less than a year to live. He was so ill during the sea voyage home from England, in October 1947, that he was given the last rites . Yet, during the 1960 presidential race, the JFK campaign flatly denied that JFK had Addison disease. The Kennedy campaign used a very narrow definition of Addision disease, namely, insufficiency of the adrenal glands caused by tuberculosis. This was deliberate, calculated, and grossly misleading. Bumgarner calls it "undoubtedly one of the most cleverly laid smoke screens ever put down around a politician" (2)

In the campaign against Nixon, he lied about the military capacity of the United States, knowing that it was greater, but calling for more missles nonetheless. Nixon, who as Vice-President, knew the real situation, had to keep quite because of security reasons, a fact which Kennedy was well aware of. And in the television debate, he deliberately played on his appearance, while Nixon, suffering from an injured foot, looked unwell. It was interesting that Marr revealed that the few radio listeners thought Nixon had the better of Kennedy, while the TV listeners thought the reverse, illustrating how appearance and body language dominated the impression far beyond mere arguments, and setting the tone for television debates to come.

Kennedy beat Nixon not simply with his ads, his sound bites, his jingles, the carefully posed photographs and the downright lies he told about his health. He beat Nixon by not standing for anything beyond rousing banalities. (1)

Today's politics bears the legacy of John F. Kennedy. His use of spin, of the media, of saying nothing, but saying it cleverly so that it sounded sincere and convincing, won the election, and thereby set the template for elections to come, and as Andrew Marr argues, has tarnished politics ever since. This is why we hear politicians talk about "comprehensive reviews", "efficiency", "enhancements", and all the managerial-speak that sounds statesmanlike, but says absolutely nothing at all; it is like the Emperor's new clothes, and of this kind of language, George Orwell commented:

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.(3)

How might matters have been if Humphrey, and not Kennedy had won? Well, Kennedy had a mixed record on civil rights, again a legacy of trying to play to the crowd. He had voted against Eisenhower's 1957 Civil Rights Act, when the Democratic party line was to oppose the bill. Humphrey had not only supported the Act, he had worked actively on it to get it passed. Kennedy appeared to support civil rights when addressing black voters, but when in office as President, dragged his heels, and didn't do anything until forced to with the Meredith case in 1962 (4)

Here's a speech of Hubert H. Humphrey from 14 July 1948, delivered at the 1948 Democratic National Convention Address and some very plain speaking, which he was to follow through in 1957:

We can't use a double standard -- There's no room for double standards in American politics -- for measuring our own and other people's policies. Our demands for democratic practices in other lands will be no more effective than the guarantee of those practices in our own country.

Friends, delegates, I do not believe that there can be any compromise on the guarantees of the civil rights which we have mentioned in the minority report. In spite of my desire for unanimous agreement on the entire platform, in spite of my desire to see everybody here in honest and unanimous agreement, there are some matters which I think must be stated clearly and without qualification. There can be no hedging -- the newspaper headlines are wrong. There will be no hedging, and there will be no watering down -- if you please -- of the instruments and the principles of the civil-rights program.

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states' rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. People -- human beings -- this is the issue of the 20th century. People of all kinds -- all sorts of people -- and these people are looking to America for leadership, and they're looking to America for precept and example.

My good friends, my fellow Democrats, I ask you for a calm consideration of our historic opportunity. Let us do forget the evil passions and the blindness of the past. In these times of world economic, political, and spiritual -- above all spiritual crisis, we cannot and we must not turn from the path so plainly before us. That path has already lead us through many valleys of the shadow of death. And now is the time to recall those who were left on that path of American freedom.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11718369
(2) http://www.doctorzebra.com/prez/g35.htm
(3) http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm
(4) http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/john_kennedy_and_civil_rights.htm
(5) http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/huberthumphey1948dnc.html

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Twenty-One Today

I read about a mother who was haunted from time to time of shadows of what might have been. I sometimes feel that way myself, but no one ever is told what might have been, as Aslan says in the Narnia stories. We have to make the best of what we have...

Twenty-One Today

Time to celebrate, time for a birthday,
But the years cruelly snatched away
Most of the joy; you retain some still,
Despite everything, such a bitter pill;
It seems only yesterday, time long ago,
When you were young, all promise so;
And that fateful jab, when barely two,
In the diary it was there, the fever too;
At the time, we thought of this no more
And did not notice the closing of the door
Speech left, and only later returned little
How could we know sense was so brittle?
And now you don't speak, just nod for yes
And are you happy? No way really to assess,
No conversation, but sometimes still a smile,
Which is enough, and even once in a while,
The whispered voice, to speak a few words;
But then the door closes again, afterwards;
You will never be safe to cross the road alone
And who will care for you, when we are bone?
But I have hope, pray you enjoy your life,
Even if you will never marry, have no wife;
And today is twenty-one, key to the door.
The door that closed, and opens nevermore;
Can we heal a fractured world? Perhaps not so.
But when you smile, I feel hope's glow,
All manner of things shall be well one day
All shall be well, and that I pray.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Stuart Syvret Verdict and Data Protection

Senator Stuart Syvret was fined a total of £4,200 and ordered to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs for the data protection breach. Not mentioned quite so prominently, certainly not on the early part of today's BBC Radio Jersey, was that he was also given one week to remove and/or destroy all data concerning Nurse-M, although quite how he will manage that with no internet access from the prison remains to be seen! It will also demonstrate whether he has, in fact, given other administrators control of his blog, and who could therefore now bar him from access (as he stated on his blog), or whether that was just a calculated bluff.

It is not perhaps surprising that he lost his case. When the focus of the Data Protection breach was not on any of the other people he had named on his blog, and accused of varying kinds of child abuse, he was clearly on a very weak position. If the breach had been about other people, he might have been able to summon the victims of the abuse to state their case, but in the case of Nurse M, where frail elderly patients had allegedly been murdered, it was always going to be impossible to find enough evidence. There were no witnesses to call, other than the investigating officers, such as Mr Faudemer, who would be unlikely to concur with Mr Syvret's assessment of the situation.

In fact, Crown Advocate Baker noted that: "An extremely experienced police officer Mr. Faudemer led that investigation for the police, and the investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence against X******, and X****** was never charged."

That doesn't mean that there might not have been a case - clearly there had been a rise in the number of deaths in that wing of the hospital, but that could have also been attributed to natural causes - deaths of elderly patients, who already are expected to die sooner rather than later, do not follow regular patterns, and the likelihood is that they might follow a Poisson distribution (which is ironic in this instance, because it first came to light in Siméon-Denis Poisson's paper entitled "Recherches sur la probabilité des jugements en matière criminelle et en matière civile"). The Poisson distribution can be applied to systems with a large number of possible events, each of which is rare.

- The number of phone calls at a call centre per minute.
- The number of light bulbs blowing per month.

Clearly the death rate in the ward also followed a Poisson distribution, which meant that, like the old light bulbs (rather than the energy saving ones), one month might have very few deaths, then many might occur at once. The only case Stuart Syvret could have made was a statistical one, to show that the deaths were significantly higher than even a Poisson distribution would suggest, but the small numbers involved, and the need for accurate statistics over a long time scale, suggest that would be impossible.

It is also clear from what has been reported both on Stuart's blog, and in the public domain, that the Nurse in question certainly had serious issues, with theft of drugs, possession of cannabis, illegal firearms, a police radio, and a knuckle duster, and had several affairs with either patients or relatives of patients. This testimony under interview suggests that on those grounds alone, the nurse was not a suitable person to be employed as a nurse, and the naming of individuals, not just the nurse, but also police and witnesses, could have put them at jeopardy, especially as an expert witness said that the nurse "possessed the hallmarks of a serial killer and that he was an extremely dangerous man". But that is just an opinion, and not proof.

What interviews with Nurse M did not do was to provide any confession of murdering elderly patients, and it is clear that - whatever suspicions the police may have had - they could provide no more than circumstantial evidence which just was not enough. By publishing the name on his website, Stuart Syvret was essentially acting as a judge in a case which had not come to Court.

But the removal of the material required, if that is true, is shutting the door after the internet horse has bolted. A search for the named nurse reveals that the report, with names, has already been reposted on a number of blogs by individuals who do not live in Jersey, and even more pertinently the nurse in question has been named in the UK Hansard by John Hemmings. Unlike Jersey, where names of individuals can be expunged from the record, that is not possible with Hansard, and it would be interesting to see how any requests for editing out names are met. . Here is the section (where I have removed the name - the original is still there).

Another area about which I am concerned is the lack of action by the Ministry of Justice on the Crown dependencies. Because I undertake work in the family division, many people contact me. I currently have two cases relating to the Isle of Man, and I have a senator living in my flat in London. Senator Stuart Syvret was elected by the whole island of Jersey. He revealed on his web log that a nurse, XXXX, had been found to have probably murdered a number of patients. He was then prosecuted under the Data Protection Act by Jersey. He was not allowed to adduce as evidence the case to which he referred on his web log, which is a public interest defence-that he needed to reveal the failures of the judicial system in Jersey.(1)

Given the seriousness of the breach of Data Protection, it was not surprising that a large fine was levied. It is however, a matter of concern that no fine, and indeed no action, was ever taken against Terry Le Main (as a Deputy) for allegedly breaching the Data Protection Law for a second time, and flagrantly saying he "would do the same again". If that isn't some kind of contempt for the law, I don't know what is! What is more, although the Housing Department had to pay out for the first breach of the law, it was the individual in charge who breached the law, and whom, in the interests of justice, should have been liable for any fine rather than the taxpayer.

HOUSING president Deputy Terry Le Main has defiantly said he would 'do the same again' after he was told that he would not be prosecuted for breaking the Data Protection Law. The Attorney General, William Bailhache, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed despite receiving a report from the data protection registrar which criticised Deputy Le Main. (2)

A STATES tenant whose rent arrears were disclosed by the Housing president will be eligible for compensation from the committee. If she does claim it, it will be the second time they have had to pay out for breaching the Data Protection Law. (2)

I'm not of the opinion that this occasion was of the same level as Stuart Syvret's breach of the law, but it does seem odd that the case was just dropped. "Insufficient evidence" seems a poor excuse - either the confidential data was illegally disclosed by Terry Le Main to a third party without permission, or it was not. As Mr le Main admitted doing so and said he would "do the same again", it is extremely difficult to understand the judgment of the Attorney-General in this matter.

It does seem the case that the judiciary has behaved inconsistently in this matter - although not, it must be said, the office of the Data Protection Registrar where there was a clear recommendation that a breach had been committed. However, that does not work in Stuart Syvret's favour, because if anything it would be Terry Le Main who should have been fined, rather than Stuart Syvret let off.

The Data Protection Commissioner, Emma Martins, was on BBC Radio Jersey today, speaking of any implications regarding publication of confidential data on blogs. It highlighted what I have been saying for some time, that if an email, for example, was to be published, the blogger should obtain permission from the sender to place it on the blog. It is also clear that if the email discloses personal data about other individuals, who are named, and which is not in the public domain, then they should have to authorise its publication as well. So what would apply, for example (locally):

- Mr Ogley's salary, which is not public - although the salary range, and his placement among the top 10 UK civil servants is public knowledge and can be mentioned.

- Mr Izzat's salary, which is public domain, in the published and publically available accounts of WEB, available to viewers worldwide.

Obviously also if a leak (and there are a number of those!) appears in the JEP or on the BBC, or Private Eye, then it can be reported on by the blogger, although it would be wise to identify the source, so that if the news organisation has to retract the information, so will the blogger.

Moreover, protection is for a living, identifiable individuals. Dead people, or corporations (such as limited companies) do not have the same protections.

(1) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm091118/debtext/91118-0015.htm
(2) http://www.thisisjersey.com/2004/01/29/data-protection-housing-may-have-to-pay-out/
(3) http://www.recordsmanagement.ed.ac.uk/InfoStaff/DPstaff/PDDefinition.htm

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Night Network

Trawling through the archives from "Thinks!", the Channel Island Mensa Magazine, I came across this review of the early night time broadcast on ITV, called "Night Network". This was ITV's first major experiment into the area of overnight broadcasting, and started in 1987, but only came to Jersey during early 1988.

It was written by my curmudgeonly character "Gideon Fell", a kind of bombastic cross between G.K. Chesterton and Victor Meldrew (although Meldrew was not to grace our screens until 1990), and based on the character of "Dr Gideon Fell" who featured in the locked room mysteries of John Dickson Carr. Fell (in the pages of the Mensa magazine), was a very grumpy old man.

Incidentally, I think I was being very unfair to Nicholas Parsons, who I think actually is a very talented actor and performer, and I still marvel at the way he keeps track and chairs his sometimes unruly panel in "Just A Minute" on Radio 4.

Night Network
Contributed by Gideon Fell
(from "Thinks!", March 1988)

As those who peruse the television schedules will have noticed, towards the end of last year television at weekends became almost a complete twenty-four hour run - the gap in the schedules between midnight and four o'clock was filled by a package of programmes loosely connected under the umbrella title of Night Network.

The other night, I was troubled by insomnia which resulted from an increasingly painful sore throat, which was the preliminary stage in what was to become a full scale dose of influenza; as I was unable to sleep, and could not concentrate sufficiently to read, I thought I might pass the time profitably by doing a little research on this new area of television programming.

Night Network is described as a magazine format type of programme, aimed at the teenage/young adult market. It is certainly a very amateur piece of television and uses an antique method of caption slides to introduce its presenters --they are completely blotted out by a black screen onto which their name is projected - much like the old silent films. In between these moments of black void are a rapid selection of second-rate music videos, a chat show in a bed (for this is the night), re-runs of old puppet shows like Captain Scarlett and even a quiz show grandly entitled The All New Alpha Bet Show, My memory must be fading, because I certainly cannot remember the old Alpha Bet Show before, it picked up the unusual appellation of "all new". It is interesting to note that this features Nicholas Parsons and therefore would seem to function as something of an elephant's graveyard for old television quiz show hosts.

This is television largely without violence, sex, drama or anything other than a rather bland collection of disparate images, none of which remain in the mind for longer than they are on the screen. Mary Whitehouse would find little to complain about here, because the programme is so innocuous in her terms; others may well regard it as symptomatic of a very illiterate culture in which image has replaced reality, and where the little content which remains is being easily obliterated by the gimmicks.

The gimmicks themselves are considered by the programme makers to be stylistic innovations. The use of caption slides as already mention is one such supposed innovation; another is the use of odd camera angles which bear no relation to the people speaking and are in no way integral to presentation - rather they detract from it. One has only to compare, for example, the innovations of Welles' Citizen Kane, superbly integrated with the story, to see how far behind these gimmicks are, with a random and pointless tilt and swivel of the camera.

The idea behind such television is that it appeals to the supposedly short attention span of modern youth. Now admittedly I. am not young, but as my throat became the texture of sandpaper, and my lungs began to wheeze, my attention span was very short. However, it failed to appeal to me. Indeed, the only area with any life was the dramatic puppetry of Captain Scarlett. Furthermore, I am sceptical about the patronising way in which television undervalues modern youth, producing programmes of very low quality that demand nothing of the viewer.

In conclusion, I would issue a warning. If you are ever in similar circumstances, don't he tempted to watch Night Network: it could seriously damage your brain!


For those who are interested, here are a few details about "The All New Alphabet Game": Linda Lusardi used to be a model appearing on Page 3 of the Sun, and "Kid" Jensen was a boyish looking DJ. Both were cutting edge down-market popular at the time!

Very low budget show billed as a "new, hip spoof quiz" in the advance publicity. Parsons, now sans Sale of the Century, saw it as part of his comeback to television. Although it only lasted for a few months, it helped ITV's Night Network punch through to a different kind of audience. In a kitsch pastiche of a typical quiz show, two teams of two celebrities (Linda Lusardi, David 'Kid' Jensen - that kind of thing) answer questions that are related to letters of the alphabet, kind of in the Blockbusters style except that it represented the first letter of the subject matter, not the answer. The 26 questions cards were marked with points values from 5 to 25, although there was no obvious correlation between the question difficulty and the points value. Teams began with 100 points and gained/lost that many points for correct/incorrect answer. They could also gamble at one point to double their score, or throw questions over to the other team.

Some questions had VT clips, leading to the intriguing juxtaposition of Nicholas Parsons introducing Beastie Boys videos.  Astonishingly, although it appeared to be live the whole thing was actually played in on tape. However, a tight recording schedule of six shows a day meant that any flubs had to be covered by Parsons adlibbing madly rather than doing a retake. The studio audience consisted of crowd noise, deliberately played in from tape. Quite often the director would play in a random noise - like a crowd of dogs barking - and Parsons would ad lib about beaming live from Crufts. Nicholas Parsons named his game show character "Mr Jolly". Apparently there were fan clubs dedicated to him.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Long-term care funding white paper

PROPOSALS which would save Islanders from having to sell their homes to pay for elderly care have been published by the Social Security Minister. The proposals call for a 1.5% increase in Social Security payments from Islanders and would set up the new elderly care scheme from 2013... Social Security Minister Ian Gorst has published the proposals today, saying that the demand for and cost of providing elderly care is going to rise substantially over the coming years.(1)

The Long Term Care funding paper is open to consultation (2), and in particular, they want opinions on what are termed "Option1" and "Option 2":

The co-payment will be means tested. Two options are presented in this paper and a final decision will be taken following this final round of public consultation. In both options, individuals will contribute their regular income towards the co-payment, retaining a weekly allowance for personal purchases. In Option 1, a total capital disregard of £500,000 will be applied to the combined value of the main residence, savings and investments. Those with assets above this level will not qualify for assistance with the co-payment. However, they will be able to defer co-payment charges by taking out a bond held against the value of the main residence, redeemed when the property next changes hands. In Option 2, the capital value of the main residence is totally excluded. However, if the main property is empty, it must be used to provide a rental income to help meet the cost of the co-payment. A capital disregard of £25,000 is then applied to all other assets, including other property, savings and investments. Any assets above £25,000 must be used to meet co-payment charges before means-tested assistance is provided.(3)

Of Option 1 and Option 2, I would suggest Option 2 is preferable, and the scheme is a good one as well:

This is on the following grounds:

A) I have come across several cases where other members of the family (daughter, spouse) live in the main (and only) residence. Where the individual has gone into residential case, there was an extra worry because they were told they would probably have to sell the house, and find alternative accommodation. In one case, where it was the spouse, they were in their 80s, and such a transition is an intolerable extra burden to impose upon them. They were extremely distressed and worried, at a time when they also were worried about the health of their husband.

B) Had the husband been aware of impending need for residential care, and made over ownership of the property beforehand to the spouse (when still healthy), perhaps a year before, they would be in an entirely different position, and it seems manifestly unjust that either this should be necessary, or if it had been done, one individual should benefit and another not, for what are very similar circumstances apart from actual ownership.

C) Where savings and home ownership have been made, and existing members of the family live in the property, part of the reason for the individual (now requiring residential care) doing so was to provide for their family, and the whole incentive of this is abrogated where the home comes under threat of being sold under those family members still resident, leaving them thrown (quite possibly) into needing social housing.

D) Option 1 specifies a total value of assets, but as the situation in the UK shows only too well, this has a major disadvantage when house values are concerned. Inheritance tax was introduced as a tax on the very wealthy, but the increasing value of house prices, and the failure of the tax threshold to keep pace, meant that over time, more and more of the population were drawn into the net, so that now most home owners will probably be liable to some inheritance tax. This is the weakness of any system which sets a limit (the capital disregard) which involves property, and while £500,000 may seem at the upper end of the property market, the attrition of rising property prices could easily see it fall prey to the same kind of problems unless there is a fixed relation between median (home) property values and that value. This I see as a major weakness in this option, and why I would argue that Option 2 is preferable.

I'm not whether social security is the best option for funding the scheme. Having read St Ouen's blog, I can see his point that renters will be contributing to a scheme for which they receive nothing, and either funding must be purely levied via on those who own property, or done via the owners rates system on their own home. It is not fair that those renting support those who own property.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Rewriting Hansard History

The BBC Journalism site notes the following:

Parliamentary privilege guarantees MPs and peers total freedom of speech, and freedom from arrest on civil matters, when they are speaking on the floor of either the Commons or the Lords, or in a Westminster Hall debate or a session of a select committee. The rules on privilege go back to the Bill of Rights of 1689. This declared that "freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any place or court outside Parliament". This means that MPs or peers cannot, for example, be sued for libel for any statement they make in Parliament. And the BBC cannot in theory be sued for broadcasting that statement either.(1)

and Lord Falconer, as Lord Chancellor, made this very clear, when he said:

"The purpose of Parliament having privilege is so that there can be free debate in Parliament. There is no point in free debate in Parliament if the free debate is then kept secret by the media. The purpose of the privilege rule is that, as long as there is an accurate account of what is said in Parliament, it can then be broadcast or put in national newspapers." (1)

But Jersey has seen a shift away from this kind of privilege. In 2009, it was decided that Hansard should be edited to remove individuals who were named in breach of standing orders, and sneaked away in the small items in the JEP tonight is a proposition by Privileges and Procedures, who want to edit old Hansard transcripts to remove any names of non-States members mentioned before 2009, when the States agreed that the Bailiff should be able to remove any names of if they were mentioned:

to agree that the Bailiff should be empowered to direct that any names found in the transcript of States proceedings from the establishment of the Official Report in 2005 until the coming into force of the amendment to Standing Orders approved on 10th March 2009 should be removed from the transcript, providing that the presiding officer had, at the time the name was used, ruled that the use of the name had been in breach of Standing Orders; and to further agree that when any name is removed retrospectively from the transcript in accordance with the use of this power a note should be inserted in the revised transcript stating "name omitted in accordance with States decision of [date this proposition is adopted]".(2)

While I understand the reason why the ruling was introduced, largely because of former Senator Stuart Syvret's misuse of Parliamentary Privilege, I regard it as an extremely bad form of censorship because the matter (as with current Hansard) is subject to the ruling - and hence the judgment of the presiding officer - and not done according to strictly objective criteria. And yet there is no reason why this should not be the case.

In Hansard, Official Report - 21st October 2008, the following exchange took place (which being in the public domain, I am reproducing), although I am removing the named individual because of my own sense of responsibility:

4.3.8 Senator S. Syvret: Does the Chief Minister really not consider, given the seriousness of the issue and the nature of the investigations that are taking place, that it is wholly inappropriate for M**** L****, the Chief Officer of the Education Department to remain at work? M***** L****.

The Deputy Bailiff: Senator Syvret, you, along with everyone else, are aware of Standing Order 104 which says that you should not refer to an individual's name unless it is unavoidable. You deliberately...
Senator S. Syvret: It is unavoidable and it is necessary in the public interest.

The Deputy Bailiff: Can I perhaps remind Members why that rule is there. Parliamentary privilege is an absolutely vital part of a democracy, Members must be free to speak their minds but with that comes responsibility to not cast aspersions on those who are not in a position to defend themselves before this Assembly.
Senator S. Syvret: Do you accept, on a point of order, that it is in fact done from time to time in the House of Commons, for example, that M.P.s (Members of Parliament) name individuals when there is a public interest reason for doing so?
The Deputy Bailiff: I have accepted that parliamentary privilege exists. It is up to Members to exercise restraint and responsibility. We come then, I think, to the next question, which is a question that Deputy Southern will ask of the Minister for Education, Sport and Culture.

I think it was wholly inappropriate of Senator Syvret to make allegations against Mr L****, when the man is unable to defend himself, and moreover has not been charged with any offense, or judged guilty. This is a McCarthy style naming of names. But it is also quite inappropriate for Jersey to introduce measures which are quite draconian, and based upon the judgment of one individual as to whether it is in the public interest. It is an over-reaction, and one which leaves a legacy of censorship which is not the case in England. It also seems wholly perverse that Jersey should follow the United Kingdom in minor matters, such as imposing a dress code for members which is not codified, and yet disregard the far more important realm of Parliamentary Privilege.

I think that States members should be able to name individuals in exceptional circumstances, and that should not be censored by the Bailiff. Equally, I believe that an honorable practice would be to follow that of Ernest Bevin, who in a commons debate stated the following:

Mr. Bevin: I am justifying the statement, without particularising individuals. If I proceeded to substantiate my case by naming individuals, I should be in honour bound to do that outside, to give them the opportunity to defend themselves. That may not be Parliamentary practice, but it is equity. If I mention a person in this House and then protect myself with Parliamentary privilege, that is a cowardly thing to do.

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/glossary/politics/parliamentary-privilege.shtml
(2) http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/documents/propositions/14093-9757-10112010.pdf
(3) http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1943/nov/02/industrial-disputes-employers

Affidavits and Truth

Rico Sorda's blog is looking at the inability of the Bill Ogley to supply any affidavit for his position, whereas Graham Power, Lenny Harper have both provided to provide affidavits to support the truth of what they are saying, and he looks a the merits of affidavits in general. My own Britannica tells me:

affidavit, a written statement of fact made voluntarily, confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, and signed before a notary or other officer empowered to administer such oaths. Affidavits generally name
the place of execution and certify that the person making it states certain facts and appeared before the officer on a certain date and "subscribed and swore" to the statement

However, what constitutes a fact? For instance, in his Affidavit, which does contain many shocking facts, there are also interpretations about, for instance, how the Attorney-General delayed cases. The reason given by the Attorney-General, in one instance, was that he was "reviewing the evidence." Now one might well take the view, given grounds for reasonableness after the evidence had been supplied by Lenny Harper, that was the equivalent of "the cheque is in the post", but however strong the evidence to suggest the delay was motivated by other reasons, that can be no more than an inference on Lenny Harper's behalf. The same is not true, for example, of finding pornography on the "bad eggs" in the police that Lenny exposed - either it was on a pc, or it was not - that is a clear matter of fact.

The same is true with the comment on Stuart Syvret:

Senator Stuart Syvret, was trying to draw attention to abuse of children within the Jersey Care System. He was eventually dismissed from the government as a direct result of his efforts.

Now it is clear that part of the reason for Stuart's dismissal was related to his exposure of the Grand Prix system, and other matters which had not come to light - but it was not the only reason why his fellow politicians voted to remove him. Roy Le Hérissier: noted that: "I certainly do not support bullying and harassing emails and that is what they are. Several of us have received them in other contexts as well. It is nothing to do with the particular display of anger associated with this case. That is a post hoc rationalisation and one to be treated like that.", and certainly the apparent rudeness and abrasive manner with which he managed his department and responded to colleagues (as evidenced in emails) could well have been the tipping point between support when it came to the vote despite his raising matters of concern. So Lenny Harper's affidavit is not giving the complete picture of the dismissal, but an opinion on the facts of the matter (the vote of dismissal).

So there are weaknesses in relying on an affidavit, especially where it moves from clear facts (a policeman had pornography on his pc) to surmise (the reasons why the Attorney-General took particular decisions).

But regarding the inability of others to provide an affidavit, it is certainly true that confidence in the Chief Advisor, Bill Ogley, would be immeasurably improved if he made an sworn affidavit on these matters under oath, but the fact that he does not seem to want to do so does not in itself prove any allegations made against him.

Yet under the circumstances, given Graham Power's file note, and the way in which Mr Ogley was excluding from the standard police investigatory methods of the Wiltshire inquiry, and the criticism of his part in the suspension by the Napier report, it certainly seems as if he is trying to avoid any detailed investigation or criticism of his actions, or other parties are trying to do that on his behalf. Perhaps there are good grounds for doings so, but a lack of transparency doesn't let us see one way or the other. In that respect, his friends may not be acting in the wisest manner, however well intentioned their interventions.

With respect to Terry Le Sueur, however, if he makes statements in the States, it is taken for granted, as in the U.K. Parliament, that these are truthful. As with the UK, to lie in the House is taken as an extremely serious offense, so much so that Frank Walker, when the Harcourt court case was raised, gave an answer (very unwisely) on the basis of advice given, stuck to that in the face of increasingly obvious contradictory evidence available, and was then forced into a very public apology for misleading the House, albeit unintentionally.

An affidavit is not necessary, therefore, if a politician makes a statement or answers a question in the House. They can say ""to the best of my knowledge" and give a summary of that knowledge. That doesn't mean they can't try and fudge the issue, or pull wool over people's eyes. The case of organisational charts is a point in question. On asked about these, Senator Le Sueur replied:

Most of the information the Deputy is asking for is included the annex to the Business Plan and in each department's Business Plan for 2010. In these he will find an organisation chart, a breakdown of staffing by division with a description of the work of that division.

Of course, these charts only provide the barest outlines of an organisation, a sketch of different departments structures, and of course Terry Le Sueur must be well aware of this - they do not give detailed charts of the kind in the minds of the questioners, and provided by Sarah Ferguson, or mentioned by by the Auditor-General:

Assessment of the appropriateness of the Department's management structures, including the number of management levels within them, has been hampered by the absence of a systematic practice within the Department of producing organisation charts that show individual jobs and the accountability relationships between them.

By sticking to the non-specific nature of what is being asked, it is possible for Senator Le Sueur to fudge the issue, and he seems very good at this. The other fudge which is well known to viewers of "Yes Minister" is the "internal investigation", where Sir Humphrey declares that the "job of a professionally conducted internal enquiry is to unearth a great mass of no evidence." By their nature, internal enquiries, such as that mentioned by Senator Le Sueur, rarely provide public information, and instead only supply "results" for the politician to declare.

There certainly seems to be a very close relationship of trust between Senator Le Sueur and Mr Ogley, in which trust is paramount:

I have not suspended the Chief Executive because he has denied categorically the allegations of the suspended Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police

Trust, and taking an individuals' word, is necessary for good government, but there can be dangers on over-reliance upon one individual, as the case of Sir Horace Wilson (chief advisor to one Neville Chamberlain) demonstrated only too well in the 1930s and early 1940s. It can be misplaced.

The climate in which politicians find themselves today is one in which trust has been steadily eroded, partly under the onslaught of post-modernism and the general deprecation of authority, which has to earn respect, and partly by the way in which (locally) that respect has been thrown away, especially by politicians who stand on one platform (for example, exemptions to GST) and change their tune almost immediately after election.

Senator Terry le Sueur's style of government - on the one hand saying one thing (e.g. we need more inclusive, broader government) and on the other doing the opposite - has been noticed and critiqued not just by bloggers but by columnists in the JEP, on more than one occasion. His loyalty to his Chief Executive is admirable, but the lack of trust which he has engendered by his style of government requires more transparency and independent scrutiny to restore public confidence than just saying (effectively) "I trust him, trust me".

Anyway, the inquiry cleared him completely, but they missed some rather obvious questions and checks.
(Yes Prime Minister, "One of Us")