Monday, 18 March 2013

The Absentee Votes: An Addendum

Bob Hill has a good blog posting on

In it he describes how the "unanimous" vote came about because those States members who had been critical of the historical child abuse enquiry were simply not present for the vote; in his words, they had "deserted" their post.

"11 members of various ranks jumped ship and retreated no doubt to the safety of the Members' tea room."

"Fortunately following several broadsides from the lower ranks both Messrs Gorst and Le Gresley remembered that they were supposed to be at the helm and agreed to provide the musket balls. However it was apparent that neither could persuade the 11 deserters to return to their posts."

"What is known is that 4 of the absentees were also among the 6 absent when the vote was taken on the proposition as amended. The 4 were Senator's Bailhache and Ozouf along with Connétable Rondel and Deputy Rondel. No doubt each will have their own reasons for not being present but given the importance of the vote one would have expected each to have given reasons for their absence, particularly as they could have been valid."

Well, I've been following this up, and two of the members who were not present - both coincidentally with the surname Rondel - both had valid reasons for not being present at the vote. I'm not sure why they should necessarily give reasons for their absence; it would be more important for them to give reasons if asked why they were not there.

In the case of Constable Phil Rondel, I've been reliably informed that it was a sudden personal family matter which occasioned his absence from the States; these kind of emergencies do happen from time to time, and that couldn't be helped. He probably didn't feel the need as the decision was unanimous to explain his absence, which, after all, was a private matter. I've been given a few extra details, but a blog is certainly not the place to write them; suffice it to say that I am wholly convinced his absence was both unplanned and necessary.

In the case of Deputy Richard Rondel, I was told by Carrie Modral (of Jersey Care Leavers) that he had missed the vote by minutes, and was dashing back, just too late. He was out at another meeting. Remember that the debate on the inquiry had already been delayed and postponed, so when it moved to its current position, it was not wholly surprising that it clashed with other appointments. Those already had other people committed to them, and couldn't all easily be moved; this was one of those.

Deputy Rondel was gracious enough to reply to my query about his absence, and allow this to be made public:

"Hi Tony - thanks for that -  I was in the States for most of it but had to leave to attend a Bailiffs Panel meeting where I was presenting details of the Fete de St Helier Street Party which I am organising. When I got there they were running 20 minutes late - after the meeting I rushed back as fast as I could but missed the vote by a few minutes - yes I was gutted that I missed it but I fully supported and always have supported the enquiry - I have hardly missed a vote and commit myself totally to my role! Tony if you would be willing to post I would appreciate it and/or if anyone would like to contact me I would be more than happy to explain!"

So there we have it - two entirely legitimate reasons for absent votes on that day. This is not to criticise Bob, who is probably right in his surmise about some of the other absentees, especially Sir Philip Bailhache - a Senator who does not strike me as especially keen on the inquiry.

It would be interesting to know the reasons for the other absentees. Perhaps as a follow up, Bob Hill could ask them why they were not present, and also let us know if they decline to reply, which I suspect might well be the case.


James said...

All this is well and good. But there are other more important facts:

-Richard Rondel is elected first and foremost as a Deputy, not as a rep for the St Helier Fete, and that should be his priority.

- That other things do come up, even during States sittings, is a fact of life, but the courteous thing to do is to tell people what you are doing first, rather than excuse yourself afterwards. This is what prevails in every other walk of life.

TonyTheProf said...


First, I disagree with you regarding Richard Rondel. As I note, the original debate had been moved from pillar to post. It was not his fault it coincided with a prior appointment, in which he was lead. Why don't you take him up and contact him rather than griping.

Second, on "other things do come up". I have, one one occasion (and I'm not saying this is the same, I'm just giving it as an example) been rung up and told that my partner Annie had died. In those circumstances, doing the courteous thing is the last thing on your mind. If you don't understand that, then you need to widen your imagination a little.

Bob Hill said...

Hi Tony,

Thank you for mentioning my Blog and drawing attention to those Members who were not present for the Vote.

I accept that the debate was twice deferred but it was deferred to a scheduled States Day. In 2005 the States approved my proposition to establish a schedule for States Sittings which would be published around September each year.

The purpose of my proposition was to allow Members to record the dates of Sittings in their diaries. The Report with the schedule for the 2013 Sittings was published on 7th September 2012 via R 110/2012 and clearly shows that there was to be a Sitting on 5th March with continuation days on 6th, 7th and 8th if necessary.

States Sittings are supposed to take priority over any others meetings so no one should have been attending other meetings on 6th March. Hansard has now been published and it records that the Abuse debate got underway before lunch and was devoted to Deputy Tadier’s amendment. It is evident that as a result of the support for Deputy Tadier’s amendment, Senator’s Gorst and Le Gresley who were opposing the amendment discussed the matter during the luncheon break, fearing defeat they wisely agreed to support the amendment and made their decision known to Members upon the resumption at 215pm.

Quite often because States Members are late in returning the Chamber after lunch whereby the States is inquorate or has just sufficient Members present for it to continue the debate.

What is now apparent is that a large number of Members were late in returning so missed the first vote which was taken around 225pm. However the fact remains that 11 members missed the first vote and 6, including 2 who were present for the Tadier amendment vote were absent for the second vote, which according to Hansard was taken about 330pm which was 1 hour 15 minutes into the afternoon session.

Whilst it is open for me to draw attention to those Members who were not present it is not my responsibility to account for their absence. If any Member wishes to explain their absence I would be more than willing to publish it in my Blog.

rico sorda said...


If my memory is correct Senator Le Marquand was not present for both votes. Now I could be wrong, and you could check with him, but im sure he was out the chamber. I remeber thinking how the Lime grove boys were off celebrating.