Sunday, 30 June 2013

On the Demonic

I will be discussing here Gavin Ashenden's recent talk in Church House, which can be listened to here:

One of the arguments that Gavin Ashenden produces in his talk on demons is that everyone has a "world view", even atheists. It is not a question of belief or unbelief. The Christian understands the world from his world view, and the atheist from his.

He uses this later in a discussion with Mike Dunn, when Mike describes what we might loosely describe as "possession states" in terms of mental illness manifesting in behavioural symptoms. "That's your assumptions from your worldview" is one of his rejoinders against Mike.

I'm not sure this is a good way of arguing. It seems to buy into a kind of philosophical relativism. You are speaking from your world-view, I am speaking from mine. If I choose to speak of demons, and you speak of mental problems, behavioural problems, you are choosing to pick stuff from your world view. How does one actually measure one world view against another? At times he seems to believe you can, when he measures his scientific world view and a religious one against a "possession state", but at other times, he suggests that people are locked in world views, and don't notice that - and that's what comes out when he answers Mike Dunn.

And he is also rather disingenuous when he mentions a scientist saying that string theory was a "faith position" without a shred of evidence. Scientific hypothesis may be a matter of faith, but unless they turn out to be testable and true, like Einstein's theories of relativity, they are theoretical dead ends. He himself acknowledges as much when he says it may not turn out to be true. For it to be scientifically true, it must be provable or falsified. Some things may turn out to be untestable, or beyond the reach of testability. They may be dead ends, and forgotten. Others, like the Higgs boson fit into a complex model of physics, as an important keystone, and have been the subject of a 40 year search culminating in a tentative discovery.

The theory comes first, as anyone familiar with Karl Popper will know, but some theories like Freud's theories of the human mind, turn out to be largely untestable dead ends, others, which as Einstein's general theory of relativity, which was posited without a shred of evidence, were tested by making observations of an eclipse of the sun, and turned out to be true, displacing Newton's model of the universe - although Newtonian physics still provided a good enough approximation on a smaller scale, for instance with trajectories, and motions of moving objects on earth.

As an aside for what follows, a brief digression - I use this term "possession state" as about the closest I can get to a value neutral description, and while it is behavioural, it is not making assumptions about what is happening inside the woman, in the case he describes, except that it is a state which would be traditionally described as possession.

It is interesting that he describes his first encounter, at a Eucharist, with a woman who displayed a "possession state". He says he went through a number of hypothesis, and he couldn't find anything from his more scientific world view to explain the "possession state" , and in fact the New Testament stories of Jesus encountering demons was something which actually fitted the evidence and explained it. This was a woman who when offered the communion wafer, fell to the ground, writhing about, and using what Ashenden describes as "vulgar language". She could also not say the words "Jesus is Lord". She responded to prayer and exorcism.

Those are all the factors which come in the New Testament descriptions of possession by evil spirits, but before we assume that this is therefore the best fit, the most appropriate worldview, as Gavin does, let us cast our net wider.

We find that possession states - and explanations for those states - occur in all kinds of religious beliefs. The way in which the possessed person responds, and how they are treated successfully is also explained within those beliefs.

Here is a description from a Buddhist:

"I have witnessed spirit possession in my original hometown in the Himalayan foothills among the common village folk. At that time I was fairly young but I still disbelieved in these things (because I grew up in cities where nobody believed in it - at least those whom I knew) but after reading about spirit possession I have come to the conclusion that there could be some truth to it."

And a Buddhist commentator says of "possession states" that:

"Full spirit possession is very rare but partial possession or influence is quite common. Both types involve considerable damage to an individuals 'internal body', which is all but incurable. Most protective of all is a strong Buddhist devotional practice involving daily offerings and prayers. You should have both the Buddha on your shrine at home, and the smaller copy you carry about your person blessed by a Buddhist holy man."

L. S. O'Malley describes (in his book "Exorcism") how  Hindu temples in Sri Lanka attract thousands of Buddhists for exorcism. Buddhist exorcists use sacred words - words from the Buddhist scared texts- to frighten spirits and drive them away.

We can see therefore that "possessions states" and their cure by some kind of exorcism are not unique to Christianity. And there's a fascinating look at Japanese Fox Spirit Possession -

Anthropologist Raymond Firth describes spirit possession  as ""abnormal behaviour which are interpreted by other members of the society as evidence that a spirit is controlling the person's actions and probably inhabiting his body.""

There is also a means of exorcism, which again varies according to the religion involved. Mircea Eliade has described this as follows:

"Exorcisms may comprise little more than simple prayers or incantations sung over the possessed, as happens in Christian and Islamic contexts. Sometimes exorcisms involve torturing the possessed (pulling his ear, flagellating, or burning him) until the possessing spirit has revealed its identity and demands or has released the patient. In many societies that support possession cults, the exorcisms are semi-public or public occasions. Such ceremonies tend to be highly dramatic. There is music, most frequently drumming, but also music of woodwind, reed, and string instruments, and dancing, which may be simple or quite complex. In Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, comic or other dramatic interludes often play a role. The exorcist, the possessed, and other performers may don masks, wear special costumes, and take on the part of well-known mythic and legendary figures. The ceremonies are often accompanied by sacrifices and communal meals, and last through the night"

Gavin also describes how - apart from what he calls "high octane possession", there are also more subtle forms of possession. He makes the distinction between influenza and a mild cold. This kind of distinction is also known elsewhere, and a shaman - from a shamanic healing perspective -makes precisely this distinction in her discussion of possession states:

"I actually think possession is more common than most people realise. I'm not talking about possession in The Exorcist kind of 'crab-waling on the ceiling' sort of way. I'm not talking about 'completely losing your mind, time and starting to say I'm SATAN' over and over again either.  But the sort of spiritual possession where you pick up hitchhikers; other spirits, people, living people, dead people, etc. over your lifetime. You can still function, but probably not as healthily as you'd like. Most people, yup - most - have had at least some soul part of them which isn't actually their own, at some stage. And this is because most people, at some point, have experienced some form of soul fragmentation."

Medical metaphors are not unique to religious belief, of course, and Richard Dawkins is well known for his depiction of religion as a kind of "virus of the mind" which infects people. For myself, I'm not too happy with these kinds of views of human behaviour. They seem to provide explanations for aberrant behaviour which differentiate between the authentic person - the way they should be - and the way they are because of these spiritual infections. If I was talking to someone, and they were unknown me to be attributing my foibles to something possessing me, I'd be rather annoyed that they were  not actually listening to me, or taking me seriously. It seems to engender a kind of distrust of fellow human beings; a sort of spiritual dishonesty in which the real person is ignored, and an ideal one substituted.

Gavin Ashenden describes talking to someone, seeing a glaze in their eyes - a spiritual cold - and praying, and seeing that go. That fits his explanation of her behaviour, because she "comes to her senses", but I'm not sure I'd be happy talking to him with all these undercurrents of how he viewed me going on in the background. I'd be inclined to ask stop and ask him every few minutes what he was really thinking rather than just saying. It's a kind of dissembling, and I don't find that very pleasant, whether it is done by a politician who says one thing, and is thinking another, or by a Minister of the Church of England.

I'm giving different accounts of "possession states", and exorcisms because one thing I think we should consider - that they are diverse, and they occur across a range of very different belief systems, but there is a commonality to them. They are states when the individual appears to be taken over by something malevolent, they are have been acknowledged since ancient times within those belief systems, and the treatment of them makes sense within those belief systems.

What that shows, I think, is that methods have been developed to deal with possession states which work within the different cultures. Just because they work, however, it does not mean that the theoretical underpinning must therefore be true - although we may need those for practical purposes to cope with "possession states".

As Douglas Adams noted in a discussion on "Fen Shui"

"Apparently, we need to think about the building being inhabited by dragons and look at it in terms of how a dragon would move around it. So, if a dragon wouldn't be happy in the house, you have to put a red fish bowl here or a window there. This sounds like complete and utter nonsense, because anything involving dragons must be nonsense - there aren't any dragons, so any theory based on how dragons behave is nonsense. What are these silly people doing, imagining that dragons can tell you how to build your house? Nevertheless, it occurs to me if you disregard for a moment the explanation that's actually offered for it, it may be there is something interesting going on that goes like this: we all know from buildings that we've lived in, worked in, been in or stayed in, that some are more comfortable, more pleasant and more agreeable to live in than others.

"We've never seen a dragon but we've all got an idea of what a dragon is like, so we can say, 'Well if a dragon went through here, he'd get stuck just here and a little bit cross over there because he couldn't see that and he'd wave his tail and knock that vase over'. You figure out how the dragon's going to be happy here and lo and behold! You've suddenly got a place that makes sense for other organic creatures, such as ourselves, to live in."

His conclusion is that these kinds of explanations may provide a practical end result, even if they are scientifically suspect - "even though we may not accept the reasons given for them being here in the first place, it may well be that there are good practical reasons for them"

That's a rather more nuanced point of view, and it moves the debate away from the kind of shallow scientific reductionism that tries to find explanations that fit. In fact, if we look at a world view like a map, it is entirely possible to live with a world view with gaps in it, to say there are areas which are, at any rate at present, beyond our understanding.

That's not to say that there will be an explanation in terms of the material world either; I think we should keep an open mind on the subject that the present scientific paradigm may be limited in all kinds of ways, not least in how assumes that all explanations will be of the same sort. Anthony Swindell, Rector of St Saviour's church, was talking in the JEP about the need for "transcendent space". That is itself a metaphor, but it suggests an open rather than a closed universe where materiality is all that there is, and it isn't perhaps too fixed in coming down on one particular explanation as the truth.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


Yesterday was a sunny day but misty evening, and I was reflecting on the sunset concerts at Grantez...

Music over hills, sounds in the mist
Gathering here, singing ancient lay
They came, the tribe, to make their tryst
And listen to earth, to spirits of clay
Of ancient times, the shaman's trance
Swaying in the wind, within the grove
And here they circled round in dance
And buried long ago the treasure trove
Dews of night falling, upon good soil
Seeds are sown, and prayer wind blown
Till harvest home, to reap with toil
A gathering round the sacred stone
The mistfall comes, as it did yesteryear
And a singer's voice still rings out clear

Friday, 28 June 2013

Sir Philip De Carteret.

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931), by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey.
We think of Somalian pirates as a modern scourge of the seas, but that kind of action - taking prisoners for ransom - was much closer to Jersey in the 17th century; in the Mediterranean there was the added danger of being captured and sold for slavery in the market place.

A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore firearm, fired from the shoulder
A corselet was a piece of armour covering the torso; the origin of the English word comes from cors, an Old French word meaning "bodice". Later it became a word to describe a ladies garment.
A halbert a two-handed pole weapon (also called a halberd).
A gorget was a steel or leather collar designed to protect the throat.
The écu was a silver coin in use in France until the French revolution.
Sir Philip De Carteret.
By A.C. Saunders
Bailiff Herault died on the 11th March, 1626, and Sir Philip de Carteret took over the duties of his office until a successor was appointed. There were two other candidates besides himself, Philip Lempriere, Monsieur de la Trinite, and Philip Maret the former Denonciateur.
But on 30th April, 1626, Sir Philip wrote from Castle Elizabeth to Secretary Conway stating that John Durell had just returned from London with the intelligence that His Majesty had been pleased to appoint him Bailiff of the Island, and thanks Conway for his good offices in obtaining the appointment. He was all the more pleased because he understood that Philip Maret's claims were being supported by the Duke of Buckingham. There is no doubt but that Philip Maret must have been a man of determined character. He had been educated at Oxford and had followed the fortunes of Sir Walter Raleigh even to the extent of the Spanish expedition.
When Sir Walter was made Governor of the Island he made Maret the King's Receiver, and later on he was appointed Procureur, of which office he was deprived through the influence of Bailiff Herault and others. He was very unpopular and had been threatened with banishment from the Island unless he asked forgiveness for his contemptuous behaviour towards the Jurats of the Court. In a State paper it was reported that it would have been against the customs and privileges of the Island for Maret to be appointed Bailiff, and yet, later on, when he was elected a Jurat in the place of Clement Durnaresque, we find him complaining to the Privy Council that he was hindered from taking office by Lieutenant-Bailiff Elie Dumaresq.
Sir John Peyton had pointed out the necessity of an immediate appointment as several of the Jurats were unfit to carry on their duties. These included the Seigneur of Samares, who was in charge of a guardian, Mons. Clement Dumaresq, who was 94 years of age, and Mr. Philip Lempriere, who obstinately refused to attend the sittings of the Court. It was impossible to turn these Jurats out of office if they wished to continue, for it was an understood custom in the Island that "once a Jurat and so to the grave."
So Sir Philip was appointed, and in 1634, Sir Thomas Jermyn, who had succeeded Sir John Peyton as Governor of the Island appointed him as his Lieutenant. He was a man of high character and great ability, but made many enemies by his haughty behaviour and his keenness in acquiring all the well-paid positions in the Island for himself and his family. Not only that, but he endeavoured to obtain the reversal of the several offices to members of his family, and thereby he aroused a feeling of discontent and injustice which furthered the plans of those who were anxious to obtain positions of importance in the Island.
On 4th July 1627, he was allowed by the Governor and Jurats to proceed to England in order to defend himself against the unjust pretences of a Mrs. Perin (Rossel). This permission was granted with great regret, as the Island at the time was considered to be in great danger.
James of England, the wisest fool in Christendom, had for many years endeavoured to gain the favour. of Spain and his son Charles with the Duke of Buckingham had in 1623 gone to Spain to woo the Infanta for his bride. But the haughty demeanour of the favourite, notwithstanding the many concessions offered to those belonging to the Roman Church, resulted in a failure, and the two knights returned home fuming against the Spanish Court and used their influence to bring about a war with Spain. The proposed marriage was never popular in England, and there were great rejoicings when the negotiations were broken off.
Spain, notwithstanding the failure of the great Armada, still retained the prestige of her past grandeur and was considered one of the great powers of the world, and, in February, 1626, the Council considered it necessary to warn the Governors of Jersey and Guernsey to take all precautions for the protection of the Islands as danger was to be expected, not only from the ships of Spain or Dunkirk, but " even from pirates and other desperate persons who may attempt the Castles and Islands, if not for conquest and to hold, yet for spoil and booty."
So on the 17th April, 1626, Sir John Peyton advises the lieutenant-colonels of the different regiments to notify certain people to provide the muskets, corselets, and pikes, as appointed on the lists and "you are to reduce all the culivers to muskets and halberts and batoons to pikes and gorgets according to each man's ability."
Then on 22nd August, 1626, John Vavasour writes to Secretary Lord Conway, that the Island is menaced by Spaniards who have a fleet of sixty rowboats of fifty to sixty tons each, and having on board six thousand troops with an English pilot engaged at St. Malo. Later on Sir John Peyton finds out that the Spanish fleet might possibly be intended to drive the English out of Virginia.
The unfortunate expeditions of the Duke of Buckingham to the support of the Huguenots at Rochelle and the Isle of Rhe had aroused the enmity of Cardinal Richelieu, and it was rumoured, that. in hatred of the Protestant religion, he was preparing an expedition at St. Malo to make a raid on the Islands, and had assembled forty ships at St. Malo for that purpose.
So opportunity was taken of Sir Philip's departure for England to entrust him with obtaining from the Government certain arms and supplies for the defence of the Island. At that time the population of the Island consisted of twenty-five thousand people, including three thousand able-bodied men. Of these nine hundred were armed as musketeers, four hundred as pikemen, and the remainder with bows, bills, and unarmed.
On the 2nd March, 1628, we find that Sir Philip had arrived at Southampton and there he hired a Jersey vessel, the Sara, to load the arms, stores and other goods he had obtained for the provisioning and defence of the Island. They eventually sailed, and when within two or three leagues of the Isle of Wight the Sara was captured on the 10th March by a Dunkirk vessel and Sir Philip and his company were taken prisoners to Dunkirk. Later on he writes from Dunkirk that he was well treated and that the engineers, gunner, officers and some soldiers, who had been on board the Sara, had been allowed to return to England, naked, and he appeals that they may be furnished with apparel and sent to Jersey as the safety of the Island, even in his prison, seems to have been his first thought. Needless to say he had lost all his stores.
His imprisonment seems to have been very easy, for he was allowed to go to Ghent, but not to Brussels. When he appealed to be released his application was opposed by the Archbishop of Mechlin, who importuned the Infanta that Sir Philip should not be set free until a Scotch priest, then in the Gatehouse, should be returned to Flanders.
In reporting this condition Sir Philip asked, if possible, for the priest to be set free, unless he were detained for treason, when he would prefer to remain a prisoner rather than that a traitor should escape his punishment. The question of ransom arose and-was satisfactorily settled, for by 24th July Sir Philip had returned to Jersey, and we hear of him writing from Mont Orgueil that the soldiers sent over for the protection of the Island did not get on well with the inhabitants, and he asks that a Commission be sent to Jersey for the better government of these soldiers. There were frequent quarrels, and Jurat John le Hardy and Matthew Jambart were accused of wounding some of their defenders probably in protecting their private property.
To show the dangers our sailors faced when trading in the Mediterranean we have only to read two letters from Pierre d'Auvergne to his uncle Jean d'Auvergne, his brother Andre d'Auvergne, and his brother-in-law Jean Robin dated respectively 22nd June and 13th August 1625.
His ship had been captured by the Turks and he and his crew taken to the Castle of Saale where they had been sold as slaves in the open Market. A renegade, named Andre de la Rocque, had told the new owner of Pierre that he was a man of means in Jersey and could pay a big ransom, and so Pierre was put to the torture and was beaten with 500 strokes and had irons on him day and night. As they could not arrange terms it was decided that he should be branded. When the irons were being heated terms were arranged that the ransom should be fixed at 6oo écus. So he writes home to his friends to pay the sum to M. de la Pagineterre Lucrede at St.-Malo, and agrees that on his regaining liberty he will sell his lands and repay same. The mate had died three weeks after being captured and the cabin boy had turned Turk, but the rest of the crew were being tortured until their ransoms could be arranged. He asks his friends to pray God that he will give him grace to " die in the faith I have in him."

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Look A Like

Philip Bailhache, recently elected Prime Minister of Australia

Senator Sir Kevin Rudd, Member of the States of Jersey

Is it my imagination or does Kevin Rudd, Australian PM, look like Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, member of the States of Jersey?

According to the BBC, Kevin Rudd can easily be identified though because he is either "a psychopath with a giant ego" or a "political messiah capable of saving a divided and demoralised government from electoral doom?" and "a man of contradictions; reportedly prone to furious tantrums and indecisiveness in private, yet who is unremittingly casual and engaging in public."

What’s coming up in the States? 2 July 2013

Committee of Inquiry: Costs for Local Businesses

Senator Alan Breckon is calling for an inquiry, estimated at £60,000 to look into the cost of doing business in Jersey:

"For many years claims have been made, mainly by the Chamber of Commerce, that it is more expensive to do business in Jersey than other places, although this has never been qualified in any way with any evidence, to my knowledge. Flowing from this, claims are made that this is why goods and services can be more expensive to the consumer in Jersey."

"Generally, the stretch of water for transport between Jersey and the UK as well as employment costs for staff, the cost of premises, other problems associated with operating on a small scale in an Island economy, have all been used as reasons or excuses for some significant price differences between Jersey and elsewhere, however, none of the above or other REAL costs of doing business in Jersey have been examined in any detail."

I can see this being thrown out. It is costly, and endless attempts have been made to try and get a grip on higher costs in shops over the years, none of which threw up anything with great certainly. Why should this inquiry be any more successful? A perusal of town rents shows some very high leases on retail outlets. Equally, the Co-Op have been at pains to point out the costs of freight, which should not be underestimated.

I think that some kind of checking should be made, but much smaller scale, and more targeted. It seems a good scientific principle to have a control group against which prices can be measured. Clearly, the UK is not a good comparison for a small island.

But just across the water in Guernsey, we have very much the same stretch of water, and a small island economy. Adjusting for the element of GST, what could be done is a comparison of prices between Jersey and Guernsey, and as far as food is concerned, a look at the supermarkets which do business in both islands.

Other retail outlets – for petrol, domestic oil supply, domestic coal etc – could also be the subject of this probe. We can pretty well rule transport costs out of the equation, as they must be pretty similar for both islands, so other factors could be looked at in the case of significant differences.

It would I think be necessary for the data collection to be at least partly confidential, as that kind of business intelligence could disadvantage particular retail outlets, and detailed information on staff costs and rents etc would be needed. That is privileged information, and should remain so.  But a joint project to collate the information, between the Jersey and Guernsey statisticians, looking at all factors  - cost of staff, rental etc, could yield some very useful results and we might get an answer to the question why particular prices differ significantly between the Islands.

Chief Minister and Chairman of Comité Des Connétables: Monthly Meetings

This is Deputy Tadier's proposition, "to establish a system of monthly meetings with the Chairman of the Comité des Connétables to discuss matters of mutual interest affecting the States and the parishes, with the meetings to be formally minuted and with the Minutes being made publicly available as happens at present with the Minutes of the Council of Ministers.

This proposition was designed to ensure "the future interactions between the decentralised administrations of the Parishes and the centralised administration of the States of Jersey". In particular it was looking at the situation where the Constables might no longer be ex-officio members of the States.

Given that it was lodged on 16 April 2013, and the Referendum took place on 24 April 2013, it looks to me very much like an attempt to bolster support for "Option A".

The comments by the Committee of Connétables is that this will "seem merely to add to the workload, as relevant papers and minutes will have to be kept, and it is not clear that there will be any benefits. The Chief Minister will be reporting on matters which are the responsibility of individual Ministers and the Chairman can only express the views of other Connétables as the position carries no authority for decision making on behalf of other parishes."

Do we really want States members to be tied up in yet more meetings? I'm not convinced. Having spent much of the early 1980s on various committees, and much of the 1990s attending various meetings, the bulk of the time I think was wasted. The trouble is that attendance of meetings can be seen as a substitute for actual achievement, rather like those politicians who used (in pre-Ministerial government) to say they sat on Social Security, Gambling Control, the States Procrastination Board, etc. Nowadays there are less committees, and prospective candidates seeking re-election have to massage the old CV a bit more.

I'm all for keeping lines of communication open, but there is no indication that adding yet one more meeting will really achieve much. I would say that better liaison between those in the Executive and those outside would be more helpful, so that backbenchers have the chance to discuss propositions or potentially controversial ministerial decisions before they are put forward.

The Council of Ministers under Terry Le Sueur, in particular, often resembled a castle with drawbridge up, and moat filled, where propositions and decisions would be fired from those inside to the members outside its lofty walls, while the press were quite often briefed before States members. That doesn't seem to happen much now, and there seems to be more consultation in general, although unlike scrutiny, the consultations do not publish submissions received.

Ratification of the Convention between Jersey and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital.

I expect some comments from Trevor Pitman on this. He has recently commented on Facebook that:

"As for the issue of 'evasion' and 'avoidance' I take the view put forward by a lawyer friend that at the bottom line the two definitions are very much just man made and ratified by what we then decide is 'law' or 'legal'. Not a difficult reality to grasp at all in my view - whatever one's politics."

But of course the law is man-made.

We have for example, an age of consent, which would rule out the marriages that took place in the Middle Ages. In 1396, Richard II of England was joined in marriage to young Isabel of France, who had been 7 years old when their engagement was announced the previous year in Paris. Chaucer's Wife of Bath boasts of having had five husbands since the age of 12. St Elizabeth of Aragon (1271 – 1336) was aged 12 when she was married to King Denis of Portugal and gave birth to three children shortly after.

And in modern times, in Denmark people at 15 can get married if have the municipality's approval, and which requires that they have their own homes. In Canada, the age of consent was only raised from 14 to 16 in 14 to 16 in May 2008 (with special provisions for those below that age and legally married).

We can see that the legality of what constitutes marriage has varied in different times and in different countries. But I think it would be very special pleading for maths teacher Jeremy Forrest to say that it is merely man-made when he went off to France with an underage schoolgirl. Man made norms are made for a reason, ratified for a reason. We are far more aware of the vulnerability of young children to sexual predation.

If we can see that clearly legal boundaries are man-made but not arbitrary in the case of marriage, why is it that some politicians seem unable to see it in the case between tax evasion and tax avoidance? Just because something is man-made does not mean that it is arbitrary or that we should say the distinctions do not matter. It was, after all, legal exactness which enabled Portia to save Antonio from Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

So what might be a case of legitimate tax avoidance, or tax minimisation? When C.S. Lewis was not particularly well off, but had begun broadcasting for the BBC, the money he earned for his talks as well as from The Screwtape Letters was being given away by him to charity.

As Alan Jacobs notes in "The Narnian":

"He did not realize that even when he gave the money away he was still expected to pay taxes on it, so when his tax bill came due he could barely pay it. After that shock, Barfield helped Lewis set up his own charity so he could practice his extraordinary generosity without bankrupting himself."

Now that is a kind of tax avoidance, but is it the same as tax evasion? It is legal, and it is a means whereby C.S. Lewis was able to channel income from his books into charitable purposes directly without incurring personal income tax liability for that. Lewis was well known for his generosity, and I doubt if anyone can doubt that there were any false motives for a charitable trust. But it was a restructuring of his affairs to minimise his tax liability, so in a sense it was tax avoidance.

I'm not saying that all tax avoidance is as noble in intent as C.S. Lewis. What I am saying is that the terms themselves can be value laden, and "avoidance" suggests something shifty, which it may in fact not be.

A lot of mud has been hurled at Jimmy Carr, but let's look a bit more closely at the actor or entertainer's dilemma.

The UK tax system, with different bands for different earning limits mean that someone in the entertainment business, who can have large earnings over say 5 years, then 5 years slack or resting, can end up paying considerably more than someone on a steady salary whose total earnings over the 10 years are the same. That's because the tax system is geared to tax on the assumption that wages are more or less stable, which is not the case with actors or entertainers, nor with farmers.

It seems to me to be wrong that someone whose total income over (say) 10 years is £x should pay 40% and someone else whose income over the same 10 years is £x should pay at 45% because the tax system has built in assumptions which penalise people with very variable incomes. Equally the difference could be one person at 20% and one at 40%.

Of course if you have a flat rate like Jersey, the tax bill would be more or less the same either way; it's the structure of the UK system that makes it unfair for people whose income is notoriously unsteady.

That, of course, is one reason why actors and entertainers try to "convert" the years of plenty into a steady overall supply for the years of famine. It may not be the only reason; but it is one: the inherent unfairness of the system in this respect.

I think that as a matter of fairness an individual engaged in employment, writing a story or making an invention, the compensation for which is largely bunched in a single year, should not bear a heavier tax burden than he or she would have borne if the income were received in equal installments over the period encompassed in the rendition of services, the writing or the rewriting.

The UK tax system does not allow that, and is manifestly unfair. Using accounting strategies to spread the income in a manner which should have been proper could be seen not as tax avoidance, but as tax planning to rectify the problems with an unjust system in which one size does not fit all.

Is it tax avoidance to try and spread the burden of tax so that someone whose income goes up and down like a yo-yo should pay the same as someone on a steady income over the same period? So much attention has been paid to the fact that the actor or entertainer is using tax planning to not end up on the highest rate, that very little attention has been paid as to the structural weaknesses of the UK tax system over a flat rate system.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Major John Riley: An Interview from 1989

In 1989, Major John Riley (died May 1998) was Seigneur of Trinity Manor, and was often called by the popular epithet "The Galloping Major" because of his role in the Jersey Drag Hunt. That year he gave an interview to Cliff and Pam Le Clercq for "The Pilot" magazine,
The article introduced him like this:
"Major John Riley Seigneur of Trinity Manor, was born a little over six decades past into a family which may well be termed the privileged gentry of country landowners. Thoughtful and obviously methodical in his approach to life, Major Riley prepared a draft for our interview which we can do no better than to reproduce in. full. It sets the scene on which we enlarged during our talk together:"
Major John Riley: An Interview from 1989
In childhood I never questioned my grandfather's insistence that I serve at mass in the Manor chapel, the significance of ritual or the necessity for confession to a priest. Religion was to me a discipline similar to that imposed at boarding school for 'character building' or at home. because it was 'the right way to behave.
My realisation that a Christian belief could not solve all life's problems first came to me in the War when faced with the reality of violent and painful death and the inability of most men to face it with equanimity. In the post-war years of my Army career came the realisation that violence in India. Palestine, Northern Ireland and elsewhere was either the cause or result of religious or denominational intolerance. I also discovered that the primitive Sakai in the Malayan jungle with no sense of religion as we understand it, could live lives of morality and order comparable to ours.
"So the question arose: Did I really believe all that I professed in the Creed each Sunday and that there really was a life after death? Was it credible that Christians had the sole monopoly of the Deity of this planet, let alone the universe? If I couldn't find the Answers. did it amount to Apostasy? "
"And the Answers: I think not, because of the very positive influence my 'practical' belief has had on my life which I could summarise as follows: "
"(1) A set of guidelines for behaviour which I can accept or reject, thus recognising my freedom of will.
(2) A belief that errors or omissions (sins) can be rectified (forgiven).
(3) An understanding of human frailty and the comfort of mutual support in times of stress (sorrow. need, sickness and other adversity).
(4) Recognition of the sanctity of human life despite the mystery at the beginning and end of each one.
(5) Acknowledgement of a Divine creation of our planet and universe of all things and all people and our transient responsibility therefore."
Major Riley's grandfather Athelstan Riley, was to have a great influence on his young grandson's life. He was a fairly well-known lay theologian and he spent his whole life trying to bring the Greek. Russian and Armenian Orthodox churches together. He wrote quite a number of books and treatises on the subject and was continually writing to `The Times'. He spent much of his life travelling around Turkey, Armenia and Russia. and was very `high church' Anglican.
Athelstan Riley brought his practising faith to Trinity when he moved to the Island in 1908. He built the Manor Chapel. Prayers were said every day, saints days were celebrated and there was even a resident chaplain for a time. A most accomplished man, he also wrote and composed hymns, these having been recorded for posterity in the Manorial Chapel hymnal.
As a boy, John was made to serve at mass in his little red cassock and surplice. swinging the censer. "Smells and bells it was very high-strict orthodoxy." and endured an imposed, strict discipline which the young boy did not really enjoy. John's mother was killed when her son was only three from a horse whilst out on a drag hunt and so he does not really remember her, but his father was almost as much a disciplinarian as Athelstan Riley and was also a firm believer with the same Anglo-Catholic views.
Colonel Riley stood in Jersey's first election for Senators and the reason he lost was almost certainly because he strongly disapproved of divorce. When asked at the hustings whether or not he would support a change of law to allow divorce in Jersey, he categorically stated 'No'.
Grandfather actually lost an election for Parliament. He stood as a University candidate and said the same thing in his manifesto in 1919, that divorce was the beginning of the destruction of civilisation.
John was to spend many years away from his Trinity home first attending boarding school and then by having a career in the Army. In those days he went to church on a Sunday because that was the thing to do. but "my religion was always there.- it was part of my life, I don't say I had to rely on it to any great extent. One had to admit that when one is frightened you are probably looking for some sort of help, but then we in the services were brought up to think that fear was something to he ashamed of. Therefore, one felt slightly ashamed of falling back on a religion when one was frightened; it's a perverse sort of feeling.
But, I have been lucky and I have not been put in the sort of position when I have had to say 'God. help me'."
For many years, John ably served the Island as a Senator and he drew on his religious beliefs for the practical guidelines in defining where his responsibilities lay. "It's frightfully easy for politicians to say they must do good and help everybody but you can't so you have to be a judge sometimes. You can't be all things to all men. It can he difficult and this is why I didn't really like politics very much especially when I was making a decision which I knew would hurt somebody. In civilian and business life there are
different sets of rules. The principle is much the same but the application is necessarily slightly different."
As chairman of Channel Television, John views censorship regarding the portrayal of sex, violence, etc as a very tricky area, and he and his Board of Directors are ultimately responsible to the IBA for the content of the programmes they produce. It is difficult at times, and he believes too heavy a hand from the top in any media is virtual censorship and can be very dangerous. The distinction between what is of interest to the public and what is in the public interest, is a fine one. "By and large, I think television handles their religious broadcasting fairly well as it is a difficult one to put across. It's not a popular theme which will ever get the peak time slot, but those programmes which are seen, such as ' Songs ofPraise' and
'Highway' are well handled and about right."
In the Channel Islands there is a Religious Advisory body with representatives from the other Islands who meet with Channel Television frequently to discuss policy.
Now a member of Trinity Church, John accepts the use of the ASB and the introduction of modern hymns and choruses, which are used in rotation with the more traditional service. "I wouldn't refuse to go to church because they use the modern form but my personal preference is for the rituals that I was brought up with." It is interesting to note how the taxing disciplines from his childhood in the Manor Chapel are now accepted as a pleasing and comforting familiarity. "As one grows older, one appreciates one's religion far more. My relationship with my religion has changed. I now go to church because I desire to do so: it's my choice and I enjoy it when I do."
The Major's wife died in 1978 and he has adjusted to her loss although at the time it was hard for him to be left with two still very young daughters. "I found comfort when my wife died, not only from one's inner faith but from the faith of people around me. And I sought the help of Tony Keogh (the Rector of Trinity Parish Church). Actual death is probably easier to adjust to than the months beforehand, which is the worst part. Death is final and one has to start again."
When away, John has been to churches where the services were entirely modern but he is not frightfully keen on the shaking of hands during `The Peace'. He finds it a hit false. "If I did it, it would just seem wrong to me. If I was going to upset people by not doing it then I would extend my hand, of course, but I am not demonstrative by nature."
Today, Major John Riley is the proud grandfather of a grandson        and granddaughter. His two daughters are both happily married and the delightful little chapel was used to solemnise the marriage of one daughter and following the Parish Church wedding of the other, was used for the marriage blessing, at one time even being able to accommodate 100 people. He obviously enjoys to the full the beauty of his surroundings but as to the future, he comments in brusque good humour, "I live in a nice house, have nothing in particular to worry about so 1 am prepared to go gently downhill with gratitude for my good run!"

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

June 1913: 100 Years Ago

Today, a look back 100 years at events taking place in Jersey in June 1913.
A note on places:
Triangle park is the park to the side of the Grand Hotel.
The Bristol Hotel could well be "The Bristol Hotel Co Ltd" at 57 Ann Street, St Helier
The Grasshopper Hotel was at 3 Mulcaster Street where Frederick George Aplin was the Manager between 1902 and 1910.
It is interesting to see the branchage for St Helier is on the 26 June. The 1914 law would push that forward to July and make the dates much more limited in scope.
Josué Filleul Renouf was the winning candidate in the election for Deputy of St Clement. Deputies elections do not seem to have been held on the same month, and the number voting - 169 - gives some idea of the small size of the Parish. The 1901 census gives a population of 1,508, but of course there was no universal suffrage in 1913. The 2011 census gave a population of 9,221.
June 1913
June 2.
Serious accident to a farmer (Mr. Thos. Touzel, of Samares), who fell from his van in Mulcaster Street, the wheels passing over one of his legs.
June 3.
King's Birthday: Ideal weather. Military Parade at Fort Regent. Levee at Government House. Municipal Fetes in Triangle Park, afternoon and evening.
June 4.
Grand "Ship" Bazaar opened at Royal Crescent U.M. School Hall.
Nomination meeting for vacant Centeniership, terms of office of Centeniers Luxon and Amy  having expired; three candidates proposed, A. Luxon, F. Amy and H. J. Ross.
St. Mary's Parish meeting: rate fixed at 1s. 3d
June 6.
Fire at No.2, Granada Place, Oxford Road.
Closing day of " Ship " Bazaar at Royal Crescent: total for the three clays, £207 10s. 5d.
June 7
St. Luke's Cadet Co.: Departure for Guernsey for annual camp.
June 8
Wesleyan Methodist Foreign Missions: Visit of Rev. C. W. Harpur.
First United Sunday evening open-air service on People's Park: Speaker, Very Rev. the Dean.
June 10.
St. Helier's Parochial Assembly: Bristol Hotel special license recommended. Election for Centenier: Messrs. A. Luxon and T.A. J. Ross elected. Result of poll: Luxon, 771 ; Ross, 680; Amy, 586.
June 11.
Accident on Esplanade.: Cabman named Fred Bevans' leg fractured.
St. Clement's Deputyship: Nomination meeting; two candidates proposed. Messrs. G. L. Dupre and J. F. Renouf.
June 13.
Jerseyman named George Liot killed at St. Servan.
June 14.
St. Luke's Cadet Co, return from camp at Guernsey.
June 17.
Election for Deputy at St. Clement: Mr J.F. Renouf returned; result of poll: Renouf, 94; Dupre 75.
Parish Assembly at St. Oven: Rate taxed at 1.s. 2d.
June 18.
The resignation of Jurat Le Gros: His Majesty advised to grant petition; new election to be ordered.
June 19.
Inquest on Mr. George Whiteman (a visitor), who was taken ill at Havre-des-Pas the previous Sunday, and died at the Hospital on the Wednesday (18th): Verdict: "Cerebral haemorrhage, probably caused by alcoholism."
Miss Amelia Cray, of Fauvic Inn, died rather suddenly.
June 20.
Licensing :Assembly: Bristol Hotel "special" granted.
Haines Shield won in Guernsey by Victoria College Officers Training Corps.
June 21
RJA &HS (Agricultural Department) Special meeting. Decided to purchase Grasshopper Hotel for offices.
June 22.
Wesley Sunday School: 97th anniversary.
June 23.
Serious accident to a workman named W. French, of Birmingham, both legs fractured by being run  over by a loaded potato van whilst coming to town from Trinity.
Annual meeting British and Foreign Bible Society ((Jersey Auxiliary) at Prince of Wales' Rooms
June 24.
Inquest on Mr John Le Maistre of St Ouen, whose body was found that morning washed up by the tide at L'Etacq: Verdict: " Probable suicide due to depression carried through excessive drinking."
June 25
Rose and Sweat Pea Show opened at West Park Pavilion.
St. Saviours Parish Meeting: Rate fixed at 1s. 6d.; the Constable. announces his decision to resign his Constableship.
June 26.
St. Helier's Branchage Visit
June 27
Fire at Bagot (Mr Ahier's blacksmith shop)
June 28
Jersey seaman named James Kelly disappears from ss. Aysgarth Force on voyage from St. Main to Southampton, supposed to have fallen overboard.
June 29
College terminal Service at Town Church.
June 30.
Inquest on Mr. J. E. Le Marquand of Grouville, who died on the 29th from injuries received the previous day by falling through trapdoor of hayloft: verdict: Accidental Death
"The Silhouettes" open concert season at Triangle Park.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Odds and Ends

Some more comments from Inner Twitterspace, where dwell all kinds of interesting denizens.

Food and Finance
James Rondel @JamesRondel was of the opinion that whether we liked it or not, past industries of tourism and agriculture have had their day. He tweeted: "Anybody who thinks that tourism/agriculture can fund the same quality of services that finance provides lives in a fantasy world #BBCph"
To this, Mark Forskitt ‏@St_Ouennais replied "No more so than anyone who thinks that without agriculture they can resort to eating money."
Jersey's food dependency always reminds me of Trantor, the central administrative planet in Isaac Asimov's science fiction "Foundation series".  Like Jersey, it is dependent upon food supplies coming in from elsewhere – "Its dependence upon the outer worlds for food and, indeed, for all necessities of life, made Trantor increasingly vulnerable to conquest by siege."
Jersey still produces some food locally, and milk locally, but the days of the past when food storage depots stored months of food – tins and frozen – are long gone. Given a spell of very inclement weather, and the supermarket shelves begin to empty very rapidly over the course of a week, some like Marks and Spenser, have virtually no local storage, and empty almost straight away.
Recently, the Co-Op Supermarket has hit back over the high costs of food in Jersey compared with mainland UK – the cost of shipping freight to Jersey, and most of the freight containers go back empty – makes the stretch of water to Jersey very expensive. We are very vulnerable to shipping costs, and of course those are mainly fuel costs of transport, and everywhere in the world, the cost oil and diesel is rising.
Whether bulk transport of goods from France would fall foul of currency movements or be an improvement does not seem to have been considered or costed. After all, France  is a much shorter journey, and some of the coastline is only 15 miles distant and in plain eye sight. In the meantime, transport of food remains our own "jugular vein", one of the limits to growth, as food security and food prices remain far more at the mercy of the outside world than the UK.
One small silver lining in the very grey clouds was tweeted by lyndonfarnham ‏@lyndonfarnham "#bbcph Good and innovative work by Jersey Dairy seeking out new export markets for our excellent products". Jersey dairy is exporting Jersey Ice Cream abroad, which does not just mean sales abroad, it also means container ships not leaving quite empty.
Of course it is only one small drop in the ocean, but it is a start. Could more local foodstuffs be frozen and exported, increasing the demand for local production, boosting agriculture, and transforming it into a trans-seasonal small manufacturing industry?
Richard Rondel ‏@RichardRondel tweeted that "We are losing tourism business due to lack of investment! People are prepared to invest but Planning make it difficult!! #BBCph"
And John Gallichan: tweeted that  "More direct UK regional flights will boost Jersey's tourism rates" #bbcph (JB)
And Alan Maclean comments that  "Jersey should do more to attract more tourists from China." #bbcph (JB)
While lyndonfarnham ‏@lyndonfarnham notes "#bbcph The Toursim Budget has almost halved in real terms since the 1990's"
Let us be honest. The main problem with tourism, as with the high cost of food, is again the high cost of transport. The big dive in the people coming over here for holidays was when cheap budget airlines began offering low cost package holidays to very sunny climes, like Spain, the Canary Islands, Southern Italy and further afield.
The only way Jersey could compete would have been to effectively subsidise flights to the Island, on the assumption that the extra traffic would generate sufficient of a boost to traveller numbers to recoup and sustain that policy, but certainly back in the 1980s, when tourism began to crumble, there was a fixed policy that airlines had to provide a steady level of service all year round, and charter planes were unwelcome here.
While there had to be a balance between local needs, and tourism, I think that policy just didn't look for a balance; it was a decision, compounded with putting landing fees on a wholly commercial basis, for protecting local flights all year round. That was a disaster as far as competition goes, and with the major decline in hotels and guest houses since then, it is unlikely that any change in policy could every redress the balance now, but it some changes, some incentives to lower budget flights might help. Otherwise regional flights will be prone to appear and disappear, subject to the vagaries of the market, as in fact we have seen happen over the last five years.
Wish Lists and Buzz Words
A couple of tweets from Alan Maclean, Minister for Economic Development:
"we must focus on attracting new high value businesses, on innovation, creativity and the competitiveness of our economy as a whole #bbcph"
"Gov should concentrate on being an enabler for business investment, growth and job creation by ensuring a business friendly environment"
Putting flesh on this kind of bone is always more difficult than coming out with the sound-bite. The last Fiscal Stimulus pretty well all went into some kind of construction and building projects (and I include roads in that mixture). That's all well and good, but listening to some of the complaints from small businesses, retail traders in the High Street and just off it, there didn't seem to be any projects that targeted helping them.
Instead, what we have is a series of platitudes which could have been culled, let's be honest, from "The Bluffers Guide to Business Innovation".
Steve Duncan, an Account Supervisor with DCI, a top marketing agency in the USA comments:.
"I'm pretty sure you could transcribe the first 90 seconds of most economic development videos—and the first 10 slides of a PowerPoint—without even seeing the content. It usually starts off with a word about how much 'opportunity' exists in said city, then quickly mentions 'quality of life' as the number one reason to do business there. Some vague reference to 'technology' follows, along with 'business friendly environment' and so on."
He notes that these buzz words provide very little value to decision-makers, and tell people watching virtually nothing.  So let's have less buzzwords, and more substance, please!

Lord Sugar's popular Apprentice phrases decoded …
I particularly like - Res-u-may, which is described as follows:
"Lord Sugar's not someone you'd expect to take on tranastlantic jargon – then again, he's probably not much into abbreviations or Latin, which possibly explains why CV or Curriculum Vitae have been given the cold shoulder in favour of res-u-may. Although where that pronounciation comes from is anybody's guess."
Richard Coles ‏@RevRichardColes tweets: "If I'd designed top secret GCHQ I wouldn't have made it look like a Flying Saucer about to take off"
And Guernsey Donkey ‏@gsyDonkey_com tells us that "Cacao beans (the bean used in making chocolate) where once used as currency, during the time of the South American Incas. In the 16th century Inca Empire 10 cacao beans could buy you the services of a prostitute."
But would she brew them up for you to drink afterwards? I think we should be told. Myself, I think I'd prefer hot chocolate, preferably with whipped cream.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

At His feet

Today's post for Sunday is a lovely poem by a Mrs Thelma Shacklady, which appeared in the 1989 edition of "The Pilot", but which I think is well worth sharing. It is interesting how much feet crop up in the gospels, and this poem brings that out well.
I also like the connection to the remaining fragment of the mural in the Fisherman's Chapel; in this way, the poem reminds me of that remarkable part of "The Silver Chair" by C.S. Lewis, where the only remaining words carved in stone, "Under Me", are not merely part of a much longer text, but precisely by a remaining fragment, become one of the signs from Aslan. What remains can sometimes be as significant as that lost, because we can see that much more clearly, much more sharply in focus.
The Pilot notes:
"This poem was written this summer by Mrs Thelma Shacklady, a visitor to Jersey. She is a sufferer from M.E., a Christian herself, who came to stay with some Christian friends. She had been very ill and had temporarily to give up teaching English. She and her husband visited the Fisherman's Chapel and there she found a particular closeness to the Lord. The experience touched her physically as well as spiritually and she returned home much stronger and with a renewed sense of hope and anticipation for her future. "
In the Fishermen's Chapel in St Brelade, the mediaeval murals are almost obliterated. Of the Crucifixion, all that can be clearly seen are Our Lord's feet.
Those feet, devoutly crossed,
Are impiously pierced by vicious nails,
Impaled upon the suffering wood,
Yet would have been saved by angels,
If Christ were tempted once.
Feet which, for three years, tramped the dusty paths,
Were scratched by thorns and bruised by stones,
Danced at a wedding in Galilee,
And water was miraculously wine.
Strode into the temple, violently
Kicking aside the money-changers' stalls.
Were glimpsed by woman taken in adultery
As she crouched low, awaiting the first stone.
Feet which were cushioned by the waves
As they serenely stepped towards the boat
Where the disciples cowered in fear.
Stood with authority at Lazarus' tomb,
While a dead man was called forth,
Staggered obediently up to the hill to Golgotha.
Lord, I worship at your feet,
I wash them with my tears,
And dry them with my hair.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Midsummer Blues

It's Midsummer, but it is not exactly summer weather outside... hence this poem.

Midsummer Blues
Gently weeping, it is heaven's cry
Softly falling rain, drizzling down
Cotton wool clouds in a grey sky
Soil damp and darkest brown
Sunshine comes, flitters away
Glimpses of a Summer past
But now it never comes to stay
Sunbeams flicker, never last
Midsummer day is here once more
But cold winds blow, chill the bones
Enchantment closing summer's door
The wind is sighing, oak tree moans
Midsummer blues at the dolmen now
And the leaves shaking, branches bow

Friday, 21 June 2013

The Suspension and Re-instatement of Bailiff Herault

Something historical today. Here is an extract from "Jersey in the 17th century" (1931),  by A.C. Saunders. There is a lot of social history in Saunders, which throws up some quirky details that are often overlooked in the history of Jersey.
A few notes on legal terms.
"Moiety" is a legal term meaning "one half"
"Deodand" is a legal term derived from Deo dandum, to be given to God; and is used to designate the instrument, whether it be an animal or inanimate thing, which has caused the death of a man.
The Suspension and Re-instatement of Bailiff Herault
By A.C. Saunders
In the last chapter attention was called to Bailiff Herault's petition to the King. In August, 1622, Herault is still detained in London, and, in writing to secretary Calvert, he points out that he " cannot be justly charged with injustice or corruption ; the chief persons of the country have attested his fidelity. Is reproached with being poor and irritable but his poverty has never led him to a base act, nor irritability to violence. Begs that if he is to resign, that he may do it with honour, and have his pension assigned on some sure ground."
Then on the 15th March, 1624, he again writes to the secretary : " My debts and necessities compel me to sue to you. I have been always ready to resign my place so that my reputation might be spared, having given no just cause of offence and executed my office well. I should not be condemned without being heard." He understood that Sir William Parkhurst had been appointed Bailiff in his place.
But prior to that the King issued an Order from Whitehall, dated 13th January. 1624, to the justices of Jersey and to Sir John Peyton, in which it was stated that a Commission had been appointed to enquire into the charges against the late Bailiff-, and, as long-as his patent is in force, they are directed to pay him his pension and allowances.
On the 23rd February, 1624, Sir John Peyton writes to Secretary Conway that he cannot wait upon him about the fees due to Mr. Herault as he is lame and seventy-nine years of age, and that part of the fees had been paid to Sir William Parkhurst, " whom I have never seen," and that he had made six voyages " between Jersey and England about Church discipline, that his salary is only four hundred pounds a year, less than former governors, that he had sold land worth four hundred pounds a year and am still four thousand pounds in debt and finally that he has nine grandchildren to provide for."
Hugh Lempriere, the Bailiff's Lieutenant, and four Justices stated that they had ordered Jean Maret and Jean Bisson, the King's Receivers in Jersey, to pay the arrears and wages of the Bailiff to John Durell, his Procureur, but Maret said he is willing to pay all arrears up to Midsummer 1621, but since then all moneys due have been paid to the Governor. Herault was absent from the Island and the Lieutenant-Bailiff had died, so on the 28th April, 1624, Sir Philip de Carteret calls attention to the unsatisfactory state of affairs. Sir John Peyton was directed to pay Herault his arrears of wages and fees, but he points out on the 5th May, 1624, that he had previously been ordered to pay them to the new Bailiff, Sir William Parkhurst, but evidently the secretary was not satisfied, for he, on the 7th May, ordered Sir John to pay Mr. Herault all wages and fees which he had not paid to Sir William Parkhurst and to continue the said payments until the decision of the Commission on the suspension of the Bailiff had been given. He intimated that the Commissioners had to enquire also into the reason for his " sequestration from office."
Evidently the tide was turning in the Bailiff's favour and on the- 18th August, 1624,- the council gave their decision : " His Majesty finding no matter of charge against the Bailiff and holding it not suitable to remove an officer without sufficient cause is pleased that John Herault be restored to the office of Bailiff with all perquisites, and that the arrears due since his sequestration be forthwith paid to him."
But the Bailiff had great difficulty in getting his arrears of wages and fees paid. Maret and Bisson appealed to the King that they had already paid part of the fees to Sir William Parkhurst, but by order of the 10th October, 1624, the Receivers were ordered without further delay or subterfuges to pay the said pension and arrears, and to give pledges for their so doing.
So Herault, fully re-instated, returned to Jersey and was re-introduced into the Assembly of States by the Seigneur of Trinite, the Rector of St. Helier and M. de la Hague amidst the acclamation of the members. They were glad to see him back notwithstanding his autocratic methods, for they realized that with him as Bailiff the laws of the Island would be upheld with justice. He was not afraid to assert the dignity of his office and when Mons. de Rosel insulted the Chair, the Bailiff ordered him to be made prisoner and sent to the Castle until he confessed his error and asked for pardon.
But Herault did not live long to enjoy his victory for he died in          1626 at his home in St. Saviour's, very much respected by the people. He died a poor man and no monument has been erected to his memory. Very little is known about him personally except his fight against the tyranny of the Military Governors, and the reputation he has left behind as a just and good Bailiff. He was well acquainted with the laws of the land, and even to this day some of the laws are very difficult to understand. The lawyers were not always very well educated and we hear of a petition of Sir Philip de Carteret to the Council calling attention to the legal confusion and ignorance which had arisen in the preparation of deeds by some of the lawyers practising in those days.
On 10th July,   1620, the Privy Council gave a decision which throws considerable light on the question of " Deodand."
Mr. John Baillehache was the owner of a certain barque which was in need of overhauling and so the vessel was drawn up on the shore to be " calked and shoread." Unfortunately the vessel fell on one side and falling on two of the workmen " slewe them."
The matter came before the Court and adjudged a Deodand (a thing forfeited to God for the pacifying of his wrath) and Baillehache was condemned to lose one moiety of the Barque. Baillehache evidently considered that he had been unfairly treated as he was not responsible for the accident, caused possibly through the carelessness of the workmen. He appealed to the Privy Council and they gave judgment that the whole ship was forfeited and that the " said Baillehache who hath carried himself with some obstinence and pervers in the persecution of the case do pay unto the King for his charges the sum of thirty pounds stirling."
So Mr. Baillehache not only lost his ship and his money but was provided with a grievance to comfort him for the rest of his days.
In 1608 the States passed an Act dealing with knitting and it was approved by the Privy Council.
" Forasmuch as one cause of the scarcity of corn arises from the neglect of agriculture because the landowners cannot procure assistance at the time of tilling and because many persons strong and in good health, dispising the labour of the field, employ themselves in the knitting of stockings whilst others choose rather to beg than to work. For this reason knitting and such employment in the Island be laid aside at vraic and harvest time by every person above fifteen years of age under pain of confiscation of the knitting found in their hands at such time and they are condemned to aid the husbandmen at the seasons mentioned receiving the current wages under pain of such punishment as shall be awarded by the Court. "
" As to beggars they are forbidden to wander out of their own parish under pain of being punished as vagabonds and it is enjoined that none be permitted to beg who are able to work and only such as are authorised by the Connetable and other respectable persons of the parish in conformity with the ordinances established."
We might learn a lesson from our forefathers in their decision that none should be allowed to beg who are able to work, but the times are changing and recent discussions in Parliament tend towards making the pay of the non-worker better than that earned by the honest independent man.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Odds and Ends

A few odds and ends based on a perusal of Tweets over the last day or so.
Tax Avoidance
Montfort Tadier Tweets that "More misreporting again in today's @JEPnews by Jo Hutchinson. I never did talk of 'evasion' to @siobhankennedy4 C4. Even media confuse the two".
Jim Perchard: comments in a Tweet "Most of us don't understand why you would wish to criticise Jerseys finance industry to C4 anyway."
And Monty replies "How is stating a fact dispassionately being critical?"
Now Montfort is right – the JEP said evasion, when he used the term; he did say "avoidance" and not "evasion". He also said that of course tax avoidance went on in Jersey. But he didn't name any cases.
I find this problematic. It reminds me of a paragraph in a book by the science fiction writer Philip K Dick called "The World Jones Made". In the book, the State enforces Hoff's Relativism, which is a political philosophy which came about after so much distrust of absolutes, of people proclaiming they had the truth. Here's the paragraph in question:
"Jones can disagree with us. Jones can believe anything he wants; he can believe the Earth is flat, that God is an onion, that babies are born in cellophane bags. He can have any opinion he wants; but once he starts peddling it as Absolute Truth -"
 "Then you put him in prison," Nina said tightly.
 "No," Cussick corrected. "Then we put out our hand; we say simply: Put up or shut up. Prove what you're saying. If you want to say the Jews are the root of all evil - prove it. You can say it - if you can back it up. Otherwise, into the work camp."
Now I've no wish for a repressive relativism like that, or for Deputy Tadier to be carted off to a work camp! But it shows the basic difference between opinion and fact. Opinion is something I may believe to be true. Fact is something I can prove to be true. So if Deputy Tadier is "stating a fact" when he is talking about tax avoidance in Jersey, I have no problem with that – providing he can back it up, and name names. I'd like to see him disclose details of tax avoidance happening now, not historical incidents like Jimmy Carr and K2. 
Can Facebook bring bullies to book?
Kevin Pamplin tweets on an alarming trend:
"A recent rise in sexual shaming pages on #Facebook has left teenagers "hysterical" also in #JerseyCI read more here"
The report in question is on "BBC Newsbeat":
Newsbeat's spoken to one 22-year-old victim. We've changed her name to Nadia. She said three pages dedicated to her ruined her life.  "They managed to get photos off my actual Facebook page," she said. "It was saying I was a slag, a tart, a home wrecker. Really degrading stuff, to be quite honest.  "I still don't know why anyone would ever do it. "I was a very confident person before and now I've become a very quiet, timid person."
These pages have been called "slut shaming pages" and claim to expose the sexual behaviour of young people. They are not, of course – they are a new form of cyber-bullying, in which fictions masquerade and it seems to be something of a trend, mainly targeted at women.
Megan Tyler, Lecturer in Sociology at Victoria University has looked at this on her blog, and says "It is perhaps most accurate to see slut shaming as the electronic equivalent of street harassment. When women are wolf whistled, or propositioned, or called sluts by (usually male) passers by, they're targeted because they are women. These pages do not singly aim to embarrass or harass women seen as publicly promiscuous. They just aim to demean women."
Facebook have said they were closing the pages as quickly as they could. It is an improvement, as around 2012, they showed a certain reluctance to act. But what effort can be made to prevent this? At the moment, anyone can create a bogus "identity" on Facebook, and use it to create groups like these. 
There's a disconnect between identity in the virtual world, and identity in the real world, and while that remains the case, there will always be a cloak of anonymity behind which these malicious individuals can hide.
Science Matters
The Guardian tweet mentions that "Mars had an oxygen-rich atmosphere four billion years ago"
The paper itself reports that:
"An examination of meteorites and rocks on the planet suggests that oxygen was affecting the Martian surface four billion years ago. On Earth, oxygen did not build up to appreciable quantities in the atmosphere for at least another 1.5bn years"
Curiously it seems to support the old belief, based on Laplace's Nebular Hypothesis, that Mars was a more ancient world, a dying planet because of its longevity compared with earth. But it seems that if life did exist, its foothold was precarious in the extreme, and it did not evolve into the complexity of life which we have on earth.
Quirky Tweets
Adam Hess: "The song 'Rock Around the Clock' has only ever been played at events that have finished before 11."
States of Jsy Police: "Battle of Jersey re-enactment between 6pm & 8pm this evening in the Royal Square. Musket fire , pyrotechnics and a film crew". Reading this tweet makes it sound as if  there was a film crew when Major Peirson was fighting against Baron de Rullecourt in the Royal Square, along with the Musket fire! And why aren't they shown in the famous Copley painting "The Death of Peirson"?
As the Naked Rambler goes to prison again, Jennifer Bridge ‏tweets: "Is there a village out there willing to let the Naked Rambler ramble freely? Maybe Jersey could invite him to wander the coastal paths?" I remember when there was a serious proposal that Beauport Bay should be a nudist beach!
Lucy Stephenson Tweets that: "The hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge will give birth has a wine list so you can toast new arrivals!" #randomfact
On the matter of edibles, Richard Coles ‏tweets that "Driving back from assembly I discover the unwonted sun has oven baked my on-board wine gums to a sweet sour sludge."
And Eamonn Clarke (a doctor at a UK hospital) tweets: "I have (no joke) just received an email from Aslan asking if I can do a GP locum. The Lion, the Witch and the Ward Round?"


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Beneficial Ownership and American Exceptionalism

"Russia, Canada and the US despite the encouraging language were not up for public registries and full disclosure of beneficial ownership. Competition, costs, and privacy concerns, not to speak of the UKs own position, arguably along with the US (Delaware), the weakest of the G8, must have been a handicap." (Geoff Cook, Jersey Finance)
The first move towards transparency must be beneficial owner registers kept by a regulatory authority, even if those are not public. It is interesting to note that David Cameron acknowledges that the UK business community would be opposed to a public registry unless other countries also conformed to that standard, but in the meantime, a registry supervised by a regulator, would be a good step in the right direction..
While Deputy Tadier continues to criticise Jersey, it should be noted that at present, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Guernsey each have a register of beneficial ownerships regulated by their respective Financial Services Commissions, and with firm requirements to check the authenticity of the ultimate beneficial owners of companies - customer due diligence, CDD, and apply a risk rating to them, as well as reporting any suspicious transactions.
For all David Cameron's rhetoric, the UK does not have this. It has no regulated central registry of beneficial ownerships. Cameron has pledged that this will be forthcoming, although since then, he has been hedging about whether it is initially made public or not. So in terms of requirements, the UK has a certain amount of catching up to do.
At the moment, Company A in the Jersey could be owned by an onshore parent, say Company B, where the identity of that company's parent may well be a complete mystery. There is no central registry of beneficial owners in the UK, and no requirements for due diligence.
The situation is even worse in the USA. There is no central registry of beneficial ownerships under State regulatory authorities. As the Financial Times notes "Companies registered in Delaware do not pay income tax there unless they have operations in the state. The disclosure rules when setting up a corporation or partnership - which costs anywhere from $180,000 to $75 per year - are simple, with the main constraint being the provision of a "natural person" to be the contact for that entity in case law enforcement officials come knocking on the door."
Recently, 19 former prosecutors and activists sent President Obama a letter urging greater transparency. They wanted disclosure of beneficial ownerships of these corporations which the prosecutors say are ways for "corrupt politicians, tax evaders and organized criminals to hide and launder stolen money."
But this is a long term problem. Back around 2000, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan first proposed legislation for Congress which would require states to disclose beneficial owners of corporations set up in their state. It has come back, and has failed three times since 2000.
Unlike Jersey, where suspicious transactions have to be reported to the authorities, and a central register of beneficial owners is kept, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation in the USA was hampered in tracking some 800 dummy corporations - incorporated in the USA - and for which it suspected there were hundreds of millions of dollars of suspect money. The reason? The states where the corporations were registered had no requirement for owners to be identified. As a report notes:
"Reports were offered showing $14 billion to $18 billion of suspicious transactions going through U.S. shell corporations. The U.S. Department of Justice has fielded thousands of requests from our international partners for information on who owns corporations suspected in money laundering and other fraud. We cannot help them because we don't know who owns thousands of these corporations set up in the U.S."
Automatic exchange of information sounds like a good idea, and is being heavily promoted by David Cameron, but it falls down when confronted with shell companies formed in states like Delaware or Nevada.
Banks in the United States cannot at present even provide the kind of data the United States asks of Swiss Banks, because there is no legislative requirement to collect that information. And there is no way you can exchange information on a Delaware holding company if you cannot say who the beneficial owners are.
Unless the bigger players like the US can come on board with the drive towards a beneficial owner registry, all the dodgy money will migrate there, as indeed much already has. To date, the US government has struggled to pass any measures through Congress, and the omens are not good for the future.
There's a wonderful exchange in Yes Prime Minister
Hacker: We must fight for the weak against the strong.
Sir Humphrey: Then send troops to Afghanistan to fight the Russians.
Hacker: The Russians are too strong.
Sir Humphrey: What was that about law and justice?
I'm reminded of this when I hear David Cameron "summoning" the Crown Dependencies, and in part asking for something they already have, and the UK does not - a registry of beneficial ownerships. Of course it is terribly easy to summon small Islands to the Conference table and sound off about transparency, but what about America? I can imagine a fly on the wall might hear this:
Cameron: We must demand transparency and a register of beneficial ownership, and force it through. We must have fair taxation.
Cabinet Secretary: Then tell President Obama.
Cameron: The Americans won't take any notice of me.
Cabinet Secretary: What was that about fair taxation?
As the Guardian noted:
"Cameron wanted a couple of other G8 leaders to join him in pressing for public registries, but in the end none did so. All the G8 would agree to was that "some basic company information should be publicly accessible".
"Who, therefore is to blame for the summit's lack of real progress? Clearly, the G8 countries that put up strong resistance to change need to be named and shamed. This list includes the United States, where the tiny state of Delaware is the tax haven of choice for shell companies."
And Gavin Hayman noted:
"The credibility of this depends on the ability of the White House to advance legislation," said Hayman said. "The U.S. has promised this kind of thing before ... and not a lot happened."

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Bouley Bay to Plemont

A few more extracts from the 1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands are given below. This was a kind of "Bradshaw" for the Channel Islands, telling visitors where to go, and what to see.
It should be noted that the date for St John's Church is certainly wrong; all the Parish churches date from at least around the time when William was Duke of Normandy, some 200 years earlier.
I like the idea that the Devil's Hole had a figure which moved when someone pulled a string.
A few details on the book mentioned, "The Battle of the Strong" by Gilbert Parker. First published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1898, it was also published in book form in late 1898. The book is set in the Channel Islands, primarily during the period 1781-95, and opens with attempted invasion of Jersey by France in the Battle of Jersey. The title is derived from Ecclesiastes 9:11, "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."
The hut mentioned in the Guide book comes into the story:
"If you had approached Plemont from Vinchelez-le-Haut, making for the sea, you would have said that it also had no habitation. But when at last you came to a hillock near Plemont point, looking to find nothing but sky and sea and distant islands, suddenly at your very feet you saw a small stone dwelling. Its door faced the west, looking towards the Isles of Guernsey and Sark. Fronting the north was a window like an eye, ever watching the tireless Paternosters. To the east was another tiny window like a deep loop-hole or embrasure set towards the Dirouilles and the Ecrehos."
"The hut had but one room, of moderate size, with a vast chimney. Between the chimney and the western wall was a veille, which was both lounge and bed. The eastern side was given over to a few well-polished kitchen utensils, a churn, and a bread-trough. The floor was of mother earth alone, but a strip of handmade carpet was laid down before the fireplace, and there was another at the opposite end. There were also a table, a spinning-wheel, and a shelf of books."

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Bouley Bay to Plemont
As the cliff path involves arduous climbing, it is wiser to continue by the road along the heights until Bonne Nuit Bay comes in sight. Away on the right is a huge bluff headland, Belle Hogue Point, sheer and bare but for a little grass. From the high ground there is a fine view of Guernsey. Near the point is a Chalybeate Spring, once famous for its miraculous virtues. Its water was said to promote remarkable fluency of speech, and even, if imbibed before sunrise, to make the dumb speak.
A road on the right leads down, past quarries, to Bonne Nuit Bay, or the cliff path leading off from the road on the left, which rounds the brow of the hill, can be taken. The latter affords a pleasant view of the bay and little harbour, and the row of barracks and dismantled fortifications.
To the west of Fremont Point, a good view-point forming the western horn of Bonne Nuit Bay, is "The Wolf's Cave", at the foot of a narrow rocky gorge running some distance inland. It is hard going both down and up. A direction notice declares the Cave to be " la plus Pitoresque et Romantique de Jersey."
The road crosses a deep granite quarry, and the Cave then lies away to the right. Admission to the path is gained by passing through a refreshment pavilion (charge, 3d,). There is then a long and, to ladies, rather formidable descent by steep zig-zag paths almost to the foot of the deep ravine, or " chine." Visitors are here met by the proprietor, who conducts them to an iron ladder leading down to the door of the cave and lights a torch, so that the dimensions and the weirdness of the cave may be appreciated. The best time for a visit is at half-tide or at low water. 'When the tide is up it is only possible to stand on the ladder and watch the waves surging up below. At low tide the sandy bottom of the cave is exposed, and one can pass through to the shore and see the Venus Bath (a very clear rock pool) and other objects. On regaining the top of the path, note the fine view of Guernsey, Sark, and the French coast.
The main road leads now to the village of St. John's, busy with the Mont Mado granite quarries (St. John's Hotel). Granite from here was used for the Thames Embankment. The pretty pink colour always attracts attention, and to the non-scientific eye the pink granite has a much more interesting appearance than the blue variety.
St. John's Church was built in 1204. The recent date on the spire refers merely to the cementing. Little more than half a mile from the hotel is Saline Bay.
Motor-buses run between St. Helier and St. John's, which is a good centre for exploring this part of the island.
Becquet Serrais, a village near the 3-mile point on the St. John's Road running northward from St. Helier (see Map), is locally known as Sion Village, perhaps from its Sion chapel.
By continuing westward along the road and then bearing off on the right we reach a little cove, between the two headlands of Sorel Point (left) and Ronez Point(right). This cove, being off the beaten track, is seldom visited, but should be more noticed. At half-tide a remarkable rock-pool, the Lavoir des Dames, can be found here, the sides are almost rectangular. So regular is the shape that many people declare it to be artificially made. Its dimensions are nearly 25 feet square, with vertical sides 15 feet deep. The water left by each tide forms a bath of remarkable clearness.
Before going to the pool, the permission of the farmer at Sorel should be obtained. From the Ronez quarries a pretty blue diorite stone is extracted.
The cliffs hereabouts are too sheer for safe walking near their edge. We can either walk round by the road, or cross the gorse and bramble-lined paths to the Mourier Waterfall. (The motors come along the lane.) The water falls over the smooth face of the cliff. Amateur photographers sometimes climb down, and for men the short descent is not difficult.
Immediately beyond, 7 miles from St. Helier, is "The Devil's Hole", or Creux de Vis. From the Mourier Waterfall a narrow path, skirting the very edge of the cliff, proceeds to the Devil's Hole, but should only be attempted by the sure-footed. The safest way is to take the path leading inland and turn off on the right down to the Devil's Hole. Rounding a dome-shaped hill, we reach a small refreshment house. Here threepence is paid for the right of descent (much easier than at the Wolf's Cave), and visitors can also see a caged black figure, with horns and tail, flap its wings and nod its head when a rope is pulled from the inside.
The hole, or creux, is a crater-like basin about 200 feet deep and 100 feet across. A wooden staircase gives access to the bottom, and a long dark tunnel leads out to sea. A " creux " is formed by the sea washing away a soft vein of rock or earth at the back of a cave. The earth or soft rock from above continually falls and is washed out by the sea until a creux is left. Another instance of this can be seen at Sark, where is the far-famed Creux Derrible. The descent to the Devil's Hole is perfectly safe, and the view of the tide rushing through the tunnelled entrance and over the great boulders which strew the foot of the creux is very fine. About half an hour is required to descend and return to where the motors wait.
Crabbe is the next cove to visit, and those who wish to see it must re-ascend the path and bear to the right, returning shortly to the coast again. The cliffs are finely formed, and the rocks are wave-worn into pinnacles and minarets. Descend to the beach by the fishermen's path down the narrow cleft in the cliff.
About a mile to the west is the famous Greve de Lecq.
Access: Those who are not following the rather difficult coast walk here described will probably reach the Greve de Lecq by motor or cycle. Cyclists should approach it via St. Mary's, and after passing the church take the first turning on the right, gradually descending a lovely valley, some two miles long, to the sands. Distance from St. Helier, 7 1/2 miles.
Hotel.-Greve de Lecq Pavilion.
In appearance this delightful cove closely resembles the North Devon combes, with steep grassy cliffs on either side and a deep wooded valley running inland. The Greve (greve = sandy beach) has varied attractions. Excellent bathing can be had, and the sand dunes are a favourite resort of picnic parties.
To reach Plemont we can continue by the cliff, passing Douet de la Mer, where there is a waterfall. Or we can go up the lane behind the Pavilion and bear round to the right. This brings us to the beautiful and much-photographed Vinchelez Lane, with its overhanging trees. After passing the old stone gateway in the wall of the grounds of the Manor-House, the backward view is charming.
For Plemont (Plemont Hotel) a lane leads off presently on the right. The motor vehicles run up to the hotel and make a sufficiently long halt.
In the adjacent small bay called Greve-au-Lancon are precipitous cliffs and a series of caves which can be visited without inconvenience at low water. To facilitate access to the caves, paths and bridges have been constructed, and for the use of these a fee of 2d is charged. As the bridges are descended, there are caves on the right, and beneath the bridges, and again a little distance away to the left.
Sometimes natural arches lead from one to the other, but all are interesting. The view seawards from the large cave, with the long pointed Needle Rock outside, is very pleasing. A passage leads from this cave to the pretty Waterfall Cave, in which a stream of water falls from the cliff above and makes a transparent curtain. This is at its best after a heavy shower of rain. From this cave there goes out the telegraphic cable which connects Jersey and Guernsey. A remnant of a former cable may be seen hanging down from the top of the cliff, against the waterfall. The most westerly cave is a little difficult of access even at low tide by reason of a pool, across which ladies are usually carried. There is really nothing remarkable to see when the trip has been made, but it is fairly popular.
While at Plemont many passengers find time for a bathe, and a more tempting spot for the purpose would be hard to discover.
Those who have read "The Battle of the Strong" will look with special interest at the hut on a low site to the right of Plemont Hotel, as it is mentioned in the story. It is not visible from the level of the hotel.
The islands that will attract the attention of the visitor are, from left to right, Guernsey, Herm and Jethou, Sark, 9 miles distant, and Alderney, on the horizon. Then on the extreme right is a long stretch of the French coast, the white sands of Carteret being a conspicuous portion.
A mile or so west of Plemont is Grosnez Castle, at the extreme north-west point of Jersey.