Looking back, there have been some interesting Q&A in the States Geoff Southern asked the question of Philip Bailhache:
Could the Chairman state which other comparable jurisdictions he is considering visiting, apart from the Isle of Man, and state how many members of his committee are likely to visit there and what the potential cost might be?
Senator P.M. Bailhache:
The Commission is contemplating visits to Gibraltar, to Barbados, to Antigua and to Bermuda. The last 3 of which have jurisdictions which have bicameral legislatures; not Gibraltar. The plan would be for a limited number of members of the Commission to visit any of the more far-flung jurisdictions to which visits might be paid and I am not able to assist on the question of cost.
So having got the facts that there are certainly funds available, Geoff Southern turned his attention to less costly means of communicating:
In terms of researching the information required on comparable jurisdictions, would not the use of Skype and the internet be considerably cheaper than physically going to some of these places, which appear to be across the Atlantic and a long way away?
Senator P.M. Bailhache:
The Commission is acutely aware of the cost of any visit involving members of the Commission and that will certainly be taken very much into account.
And now we have the killer question by the Deputy:
Does the Commission actively use Facebook or Twitter in order to assess opinions in the general public?
Senator P.M. Bailhache:
I am sorry to say that I do not personally use Facebook or Twitter. The question of whether or not the Commission should use these methods of communication was considered and perhaps remains under consideration. The difficulty with modern methods of communication of that kind is that they require quite an intensive amount of time in order to monitor and the resources of the Electoral Commission are only finite. If the Deputy wishes to make specific recommendations to the Commission, either in the context of his submission or more generally, the Commission would be pleased to receive them.
If he doesn't use Twitter or Facebook, what are the chances that he knows how to use Skype? And how can he state that "they require an intensive amount of time in order to monitor" when he doesn't use them? But we are told that "the resources of the Commission are only finite", which no doubt is why they are restricting their researches to trips to Gibraltar, to Barbados, to Antigua and to Bermuda, which is obviously a good use of finite resources!
Finite resources are obviously why there is not going to be a Freedom of Information Act for the foreseeable future. Deputy Tadier asked:
Will the Chief Minister explain to the Assembly his plan for the implementation of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 stating in particular his timetable for implementation and where in the Medium Term Financial Plan he has made provision for the necessary expenditure?
The Chief Minister, Ian Gorst's reply was that we shouldn't expect anything until 2015, although that's an "intention", and therefore not cast in stone:
Provision has been made within the £16m "Emerging Items" Contingency in the Medium Term Financial Plan. The intention is to implement the Law in 2015. As implementation plans are finalised, more detailed information will be placed in the public domain.
The Freedom of Information Act was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2005.
Progress in the Isle of Man has also been as slow as Jersey, although May 2012 Minutes of the Chief Officers group mentioned that there were "policy issues" slowing it down, but it was hoped "to have a redrafted bill for public consultation in a couple of months". Guernsey is taking no steps forward at all. The Cayman Islands had their legislation in 2009, and Bahamas is bringing it in this year.
Other legislation missing, presumably because of finite resources, include any proposals on Vulture Funds - promised by Ian Gorst for September - and any sign at all of the Discrimination Law, not yet on the timetable to be voted for.
The States, meantime, voted to allow themselves to have laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc in the States Chamber, and presumably Sir Philip Bailhache will be given training if he needs it, as he probably thinks a tablet is something one swallows when prescribed by a GP. Senator Le Gresley feared they would become too much of a distraction - presumably surfing for nude pictures of Prince Harry and topless ones of the Duchess of Cambridge when they should be listening to debates, or playing games. But at least they'll be present - unlike the present situation where the number of times the States becomes inquorate is a joke. But expect debates which are framed around Wikipedia articles, because States members have only finite resources of brain power.
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