Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Care Inquiry Budgets

Care Inquiry Budgets

Looking at the votes, it is notable that most of those voting against the proposition were Ministers, and if they had good points to make, I think we have to respect that. I personally was glad of the vote in favour, although we have to accept there will be consequences.

Incidentally, where was Andrew Lewis, who was just “not present” and presumably had been present before the vote was taken, as he was not “en default”? It would be nice to know which way he would have voted.

But it is clear that better controls on costs need to be put in place. As John Le Fondre pointed out:

“I am reminded of a discussion or a meeting, I think between the Chief Minister, possibly the Minister for Treasury and Resources, and myself and I think there was a representative - I will think of the name - I think it was Jim Diamond Consulting Limited many years ago. I do not know if the name is quite right, but that particular individual had a reputation and a career in analysing and digesting legal costs and the legal profession did not like him very much because he had some success. All I would suggest, perhaps to the Chief Minister, is perhaps to get the equivalent of that individual or that company in on a regular basis, (a) to monitor the costs going forward and (b) to look at the historical basis”

John Le Fondre voted in favour, but he spoke of the way there seemed to be a “feeding frenzy”:

“The fact that we have fully qualified lawyers effectively reading out typed documents to a hearing - that may be the process, but my goodness, that does not sound an appropriate way of dealing with things, it is a feeding frenzy”

And it was Eddie Noel who really highlighted the problems in this regard:

"The committee allowed for hundreds of thousands of pages of written evidence to be read into the inquiry. Let me explain what that means in reality to the Members of this Assembly, to the media and to the public so they can understand why these inquiry costs spiralled out of control and will continue to do so after today if we accept this proposition. To “read in” means exactly what it says: hundreds of thousands of redacted written documents are physically read by a number of lawyers to the committee, recorded by 2 stenographers, backed up by 2 technicians, costing probably in excess of £10,000 per day with the transcripts typed-up and posted on to the inquiry’s website, when simply they could have been taken as read, scanned and loaded up on to the website."

This approach seems to be to have been madness! The written questions and answers to the States are not, as far as I know, read out in the Assembly. That’s the difference between written and oral questions. But here we have lawyers reading out documents. And if they have to be read out because of a legal technicality, why on earth get lawyers to do it? Why not get a clerk?

Eddie Noel also spoke about the inquiry protocol regarding these redacted comments:

"One example is the protocol on the redaction of documents, which required the States lawyers and the solicitors to the inquiry to redact or edit out irrelevant material, for example the names of innocent third parties unconnected with the inquiry. Only after that process of redaction was done did the inquiry’s solicitors consider what documents they wanted to use, and that was usually only about 10 per cent; 90 per cent of these carefully-redacted documents went into the bin, never to be seen again. This happened for 9 months, wasting huge amounts of legal time and money. The States lawyers complained regularly but to no effect, until they demanded a public hearing before the panel on 15th October 2014. The panel stated that a new redaction protocol would be coming out within a week but, in fact, it was not until 5 months later, in March of this year, that the new protocol came into effect."

“I am told that we had some 24 U.K. lawyers staying in hotels on the Island, all at the inquiry’s expense, to redact these documents"

The panel seem to be very slack, both in their consideration of costs, and in implementing new protocols. And in the meantime, it was a nice little earner for those 24 UK lawyers, which has only just been plugged – probably just as they run out of most of the documents to process!

And Eddie Noel had a further revelation which also shows us something of the way the Committee looks at money. No one knows what might have been, but I suspect matters would have been very different with Sally Bradley at the helm. This comment by Eddie Noel, which I assume is true, beggars belief. It reminds me of the legal shenanigans of Bleak House.

"My trust in the Committee of Inquiry was shaken and then shattered over the second half of 2014. Shaken when the committee in the summer of last year via the Greffier contacted the Chief Minister to ask for their own remuneration to be increased substantially before they had even heard from a single victim.”

“I attended a meeting in my capacity as Assistant Minister for Treasury and Resources together with the former Minister for Treasury and Resources, former Treasurer, the Greffier and the Chief Minister. We were informed that the committee had asked for a substantial increase because some of the lawyers involved would be earning more than them. What sort of message are we to take from that? I think it is fair to say that we were all disappointed at the stance of the committee and, from memory, I believe they even threatened to resign if we did not increase their fees. Reluctantly, we agreed to do so, we met them somewhere in the middle on the strict condition that the committee gave a firm undertaking to deliver their inquiry within the £6 million budget and to report monthly on their costs. "

Now these matters seem to be to be much more substantial that the projections of costs given by Philip Bailhache and Susie Pinel, because unlike their speeches, Eddie Noel is explaining where the money went – how it was gobbled up.

So I can understand that he had good cause for voting against. But I do have some questions to ask about the timing of this information:

Why was the increase in the fees not reported on far more publically at the time? Why wait until now, when this happened over nine months ago? I can perceive that there may have been a worry that the inquiry might be damaged by a focus on the purely pecuniary matters, but it might have shamed them into looking at the public service element of an inquiry. If they had resigned, their reputations would have certainly been in tatters, and their bluff should have been called.

And why was the change in redaction process so late, and why were they allowed to make a promise to change the protocol in a few weeks (verbal or written?) and then get away with not making changes until much later? Why not protest in January about that failure – and make that public as well, which again might shame them into changing matters sooner.

It is good that this information has seen the light of day, and Eddie Noel was right to mention it. But it is a shame he, or any of the others involved, only decided to share it with us so late in the day.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Long Term Incapacity Allowance: Some Information

I wrote in March to Deputy Graham Truscott, Assistant Minister at Social Security:

I note the following in today's Bailiwick Express:

"Claimants who get assessed as having their faculties impaired up to a level of 30% have always been expected to have a job or look for work if they want to get Income Support, just like everyone else, but those above that threshold have not been expected to find a job."

"From today, the estimated 100 claimants whose impairment is assessed as between 30% and 35% will also have to get a job or prove they are trying to find one – and the department is aiming to increase that threshold to 50% by the end of 2016, which will affect around 350 people. "

Can you confirm to me whether or not the Minister has taken medical advice on these changes before making them? If so, will that consultation be published, or will it require a freedom of information request? If not, could you explain to me why not?

As I remember, your manifesto said:

"We need transparent government. Accountable politicians that listen to public opinion"

I am quite happy for these changes to take place if there has been an adequate consultation with medical practitioners, provided that is made public so that it is transparent. What I find it hard to countenance are changes made with keeping the public properly informed on the basis for these changes, and that they are acceptable to medical practitioners.

Some transparency would be welcome.

He informed me that he would pass on my query to Susie Pinel, the Minister, who in turn passed it on to one of her offices, and the reply, which I obtained permission to publish is below. While it cites statistics on those with 35% incapacity who have managed to find work, and while I appreciate that the percentage of incapacity is not linked to ability to work, I would have thought that the latter would require at the least some degree of consultation with the medical profession - especially if they are increasing the threshold at which work will be sort gradually to 50%. 

Academic studies show that the kind of work that someone is capable of may depend on the kind of incapacity they have and not just the bare percentage; something which needs additional medical assessment. More on those studies is available here:

I'm also very unhappy with an "operational decision" -unlike a Ministerial decision, which I think this should have been - it was not published on the Gov.Je website. I think it should have been a Ministerial decision.

I have been passed the enquiry you sent to the Deputy Minister, and am happy to respond on his behalf.

The decision made by the Minister regarding changes to job seeking requirements for those Income Support claimants with an LTIA award of 35% did not require medical advice to be sought from medical practitioners, as the change was not about assessing or challenging any LTIA claimant’s condition or percentage award. The decision made was an operational one, to extend the range of support to a wider group of Income Support claimants.

Our goal at Back to Work is to provide support to all those who are capable of work. The percentage of LTIA awarded to a claimant is compensation for a loss of faculty; it is not based on, nor an indicator of someone’s capacity or ability to work. There are already a number of people with 35% LTIA who work. In fact, the proportion of those working and on LTIA only, is three times greater than those who work and are on 35% LTIA and Income Support. We want to give full support to Income Support claimants by extending the Back to Work service to include those on 35% LTIA, and therefore honour the Council of Minister’s strategic priority of providing support to key groups (including long-term sick) to remove any barriers that prevent them fulfilling their potential in rewarding employment.

We work closely in partnership with a number of external agencies that provide services for those with health conditions. Agencies such as Jersey Employment Trust are fully supportive of this initiative as they, like us, recognise all the benefits of being in suitable work – improvement in a person’s well-being, as well as greater financial independence.

To summarise, this was an operational decision, with the reason for the press release being to keep the public fully informed and aware of the work the department does.

I hope this information is useful.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Memories of a remarkable Bishop

From "The Pilot" in 1987.

By Edward J. Bastin

Forty-five years ago (I believe on St Swithin's Day) Bishop Mervyn George Haigh was Enthroned Bishop of Winchester. Among others who attended that Service was my intrepid wife.

Dr Mervyn Haigh had been Bishop of Coventry since 1931. At the time of his coming to this See he was forty three years of age but brought with him his gifts and remarkable experience. Of those I would mention his apparent desire to seek and promote for the Church of England, mature Wisdom. If called upon to speak, he would so with brevity, clarity, and charity. Add to that he had dignity and graciousness reflecting as it seems to me, the life of the Precincts of Canterbury. He would have been 100 years old this September, but he died at Dolgellau on May 20th 1962, having retired there ten years earlier.

Mervyn Haigh was ordained in the London Diocese in 1911. He was in various parishes doing parochial work until he became an Army Chaplain in World War I. On returning in 1919 he joined Canon F. R. Barry at the Test School Knutsford as Tutor. His unique experience was to follow later by his being asked by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson, to be his principal Chaplain in 1924. This post might be compared to being "A Chief of Staff." He continued in this responsible office until 1931 with Archbishop Cosmo G. Lang.

Concern for the Channel Islands

The years 1924-1931 were years of many changes and difficulties in our country. They were also years of development in the church's life at home and abroad. I mention a few of the developments. Church Assembly and Parochial Church Councils were fairly new. There were abortive attempts to provide an Alternative Book of Common prayer in 1927 and 1928. Then it fell to Mervyn Haigh to prepare for the Lambeth Conference of 1930 of which he was the Non-Episcopal Secretary. In addition there was the continuing work in the big Canterbury Diocese including the setting-up of the first Diocesan Board of Finance.

At the time of his Enthronement in Winchester Cathedral 1942, Dr Mervyn Haigh could not have been unmindful of that part of his Diocese from which Britain was cut off. However, it is recorded by F. R. Barry (Mervyn Haigh SPLK 1964) that the Bishop did manage to keep in touch with the Channel Islands by `devious routes' and some-times through prison camps in Germany.

Though Mervyn Haigh was by nature rather reserved he was extremely sensitive to `situations' which were poignant. It troubled him much that it took so long after your liberation for permission for him to visit the Islands as their Bishop. He had considerable mental anxiety about what he would find - it might well be clergy and people in a starvation plight needing every kind of help while facing the most unlikely problems. He almost dreaded the visit but steeled himself to do what he regarded as his honourable duty for Christ and His Gospel'. He wrote about his visit afterwards in his Diocesan leaflet but most of that is gone and now forgotten.

He was rich within in charity for others. He was inclined to be `distant' but not indifferent. As a Bishop we found him firm but always trying to understand, especially those who in Church Assembly differed from him. From time to time he was unwell, yet did not allow that to prevent him doing his work if that were possible.

I close this article by relating a simple incident I remember of Bishop Haigh. It was in May 1939 and he was preaching at a Sunday School Festival in the Mission Church of the Mining Village being a part of the parish north west of Coventry, to which parish he had appointed me in 1936.

To follow this incident II Kings 2 verses 19-22 should be read. It is about Elisha `healing' the waters. As the Bishop was relating the story to the adults and children, he `lost' the word he wanted for `a new cruse' and he turned to me saying "What is the word I want?" fortunately I had followed his reasoning (and, I may add I had married a Nursing Ward Sister) I said it, `Sterile.' I leave you with that thought and the memory of a remarkable man.

(Our thanks to the Rev. Edward J. Bastin, incidentally a reader of 'The PILOT; for providing this article. Mr Bastin has himself written a personal history, of the Diocese of Coventry: "Seen in a Sec."

Saturday, 28 March 2015


As we approach Easter. I've also had a fall recently and my left arm is in some considerable pain, not as much pain, but it gives me a way into the subject of this poem.

Pain, sharp, agony, in wrists and hands
I know why I am here, I know my fate
And why I came to these bleak lands
And I curse my fellow in my hate

Breathing is hard; I have done wrong
I know my guilt, but that man is good
I am going soon, I will not last long
Remember me, I plead, if you would

Today you will be in Paradise, he said
And he suffered too, laboured breath
But it was tears of sorrow that he shed
At last cried out, and went to death

Paradise can weave the strangest thread
Even on the cross, when full of dread.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Thoughts on the Economics of Parking

Thoughts on the Economics of Parking

“Formulating policy means making choices. Once you make a choice you please the people you favour but you infuriate everyone else.” Sir Humphrey Appleby, Yes Minister

E.F. Schumacher noted in “Small is Beautiful” that consumption of oil, including that consumed as petrol to run cars, was virtually inelastic:

“It used to be said that the oil exporting countries depended on the oil importing countries just as much as the latter depended on the former; today it is clear that this is based on nothing but wishful thinking, because the need of the oil consumers is so great and their demand so inelastic that the oil exporting countries, acting in unison, can in fact raise their revenues by the simple device of curtailing output.”

And he noted in his later book, “Good Work”, specifically that:

“Because oil is a nonreproducible, nonrenewable asset of limited duration, and the demand is virtually inelastic--there was just as much motoring after the petrol prices had gone up 20 percent as there had been before, and motoring is only the tip of the iceberg of oil consumption.”

Why is this important? Because I believe the same problem over increased fuel costs applies to increased parking charges, as proposed by Transport Minister, Deputy Eddie Noel.

His strategy is to increase parking charges to such a degree – far above the cost of living – to ensure that people leave cars at home and take public transport. That overlooks the convenience of the car, and often the lack of shelters at bus stops. There are more shelters, but they are still relatively few and far between.

And if you live in a relatively inaccessible location, for example – down at Ouaisne – you have a hefty climb to the top of the hill before you stand a chance of catching the bus. The days are long gone when buses – and even the narrower double-decker buses – actually went down to Ouaisne and up before travelling on to St Brelade’s Bay.

So what will happen if parking charges are increased, apart from a lot of grumbling?

Commuters will still commute, but they will tailor their household budget accordingly. They will spend less elsewhere, just as they do when petrol costs go up.

Moreoever, any increase in car parking charges, if it effects anyone, will effect the poorest first. I don’t expect any lawyers, top civil servants (if they don’t already have free parking), dentists, doctors, top management etc moving to the bus.

If changes apply globally, the short stay shopper, the person who comes into town to shop, to go to the doctor, to visit the market, to eat or have their hair done – will look elsewhere when they can. Outlets with free parking, like Grande Marche, will do well, as will out of town destinations, like Quennevais Parade, B&Q, the JEC showrooms etc.

The only way this can be avoided is to have short-stay shopper car parks run like Sand Street, where there is increased premium on long stays. If that remained low for the short term, that would retain short stay spenders.

But as far as the strategy goes for forcing people onto buses – that will not work, any more than high petrol costs force people to take the bus. The convenience (especially in wet weather) of the car is likely to prove relatively inelastic.

If the Minister decides to raise parking charges, then I do feel that the States should also feel the pain, the pocket being pinched. So let the proposition also include States members beginning to pay 50% of what a motorist would pay for their parking, and moreover, make sure that the States members remuneration or expenses are not raised to cover this.

After all, if parking charges increase, we don’t get an automatic rise in salary – so why should they? It is about time States members ceased to be insulated by virtue of their office from the changes they propose.

There is an interesting 2013 study – “Re-Think! Parking on the High Street: Guidance on Parking Provision in Town and City Centres” by Ojay McDonald.

The report is produced by the Association of Town & City Management, British Parking Association, Parking Data & Research International and Springboard Research Ltd. It looked at off-street parking tariffs in around 90 locations around the UK.

It warns that: “Car parking charges cannot be viewed one dimensionally as a simple revenue source for local authorities. If such charges damage the viability of a town centre it will have a knock on effect on the resources available to the authority. Car parking charges must be viewed more holistically as part of an accessibility strategy for town centres which takes into account the need to promote its businesses.”

“Some might question why it is so important to protect the our town centres if out-of-town shopping caters for the car borne consumer, the Internet for those that want to stay at home and the traditional centre for everyone else. The truth is, not thinking strategically about car parking can be an extra step towards the erosion of the town centre’s viability and lead to the under-utilisation of a centre’s assets.”

And they note, for example, that:

“Interventions have also been used to entice shoppers into the town centre but encourage commuters to park edge-of-town to ensure town centres are able to capture spend.”

In their advice, they say: “Calculate the potential impact a rise in car parking revenue will have on the local business community and the subsequent collection of business rates before implementation”

On the high level of car ownership in the UK – certainly also in Jersey, it notes that “the cost of the family car today is the equivalent of just 20 months average annual salary compared to four years average annual salary in 1952” That’s important when it comes to Eddie Noel’s “Stick Argument” for getting people off the roads.

What the Minister is proposing is a very blunt stick, and we haven’t seen any carrots, although they have been mooted on occasion – and are very much what is recommended by the “Re-Think!” report:

“Use smart technology to reward consumers for visiting the town centre and link rewards to the payment process for parking. Smart ticketing, smart cards or even smart phones can provide consumers with intelligent services that could influence their behaviour in a number of ways from switching to public transport or receiving discounts for driving into the town centre during off-peak periods.”

The report “Spaced Out Perspectives on parking policy” (2012) also makes some important point, for example:

“Builders of new estates generally try to maximise their profits by achieving the highest density per acre within local planning constraints, thus restricting off-street availability”

Joined-up government would suggest that transport and planning get together, especially where large developments such as that at Gas Place are proposed. There are not enough parking spaces for one car per flat for the proposed flats, which perfectly illustrates the point made above. Plans should not be approved for large scale development without adequate parking provision, despite the reduction in profits this entails.

On pricing for parking, it notes that:

“The price of petrol, and the cost of parking and its availability, affect drivers in similar ways, with around a half saying that these factors do not affect their behaviour at all, and about a quarter each saying only that they affect their behaviour to a limited extent, whether positively or negatively. When interpreting these views it should be borne in mind that expenditure on fuel is 30 times as high as expenditure on parking.”

That statistic should also give the lie to the idea that increasing car parking charges will force more people to use public transport. If fuel expenditure – which it has already been noted is fairly inelastic – has little effect on commuter behaviour, it is unlikely that parking charges would.

But one effective way is Park and Ride Schemes. These are where drivers leave their cars on the edge of towns and continue into the centre by bus:

“Research by Meek (2010) identified that surveys of P&R users show that up to a third transfer from conventional public transport. This induces car travel for the access portion of the P&R trip, which generally consists of long trips compared to the bus portion, owing to the edge-of-town location of P&R sites” The problem is that it does require high-frequency bus services to be effective.

In conclusion, the use of parking charges as a “blunt instrument” to force commuters to take public transport is too rigidly focused on one objective, and could cause significant harm to footfall in the high street. Existing surveys elsewhere suggest this would be the case, even if there is not a direct link between the two.

Shoppers short stay car parks should all be based on the Sand Street model. This allows differential rates which can be used to penalise the commuter, while not impacting on the shopper and te high street. With only Sand Street currently running this scheme – Minden place is not – it is important to implement this before making significant changes to prices.

Another option – which was successful in changing commuter behaviour – was a Park and Ride Scheme. That should also form part of any successful parking strategy.

As it stands, from the seemingly off the cuff remarks reported by the JEP, this is an ill conceived scheme with no proper data, making untested assumptions on driver behaviour (but ones which will very likely be false given the inelastic nature of the effect of price), and seems to be isolated from a transport strategy in general. It is atomic, and what is needed is a holistic approach to parking.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bulb Growing - A Great Success

Here’s an article from Jersey Topic in 1967, which just shows how easy it is to be right in the short term, but wrong in the long term.

I remember when we sometimes went up to the Le Feuvre’s farm in St Lawrence when we were growing up, and how we would see the fields were full of flowers for that export market – that would have probably been in the 1970s. In those days, the flowers for the Battle of Flowers were mainly sourced locally – why import when you were already growing plenty, and there was sufficient surplus?

But that success story has now gone completely. Flowers are imported from Holland for the Battle of Flowers. There are no longer any fields full of vibrant flowers in April, May, June. The one legacy may be the daffodils which proliferate on the edges of fields, perhaps the last bulbs dumped there when the fields were turned back to use for growing crops or cattle grazing.

Bulb Growing - A Great Success
From Jersey Topic, 1967

The greatest success story in Jersey in recent years has, of course, been that of bulb and the flower growers, who recently held their extremely novel and fruitful Spring Show at Hotel de France.

In the last three years, exports of flowers have increased by almost a third, from £678,000 to £865,000.

It is conceivable in the years ahead the total value of flower exports may reach that of tomatoes.

Much of the merit for this success goes to the former presidents Mr. Arthur Adkins and Mr John Le Gallais. Their drive was matched by the untiring and business like energy of the young, now retired, Secretary of the J.B. &F.A.

Mr John Le Sueur has been equally successful in his own private venture which he has brought up from small beginnings to a flourishing business.

While the transporting of potatoes and tomatoes, on the whole, presents few problems as regards availability of ships, flower and cattle exports do run up against formidable difficulties.

Mr. Dick Byman, Chairman of the new limited company formed by the bulb and flower growers for the express purpose of finding reliable air transporters, told me that at times, some three hundred growers may be found queuing at the docks or at the Airport in the hope of getting their fragile flowers away. With the yearly increase in exports, the crush would get much worse. "We want organised transport, not individual scrambles," said Mr. Byman.

The week of the Mothering Sunday and the week before that the flood of flowers leaving the island was such that the growers new Transport Company with its Secretary-Transport manager Mr. A. Greenlee, had to charter no fewer than six aircraft. Here is enterprise for you.

The cattle exporters are in an even more difficult position. Shipping companies fight shy of taking on cattle, except in large numbers. Also sea carriage is prohibitively expensive. So, here again, a special Sub-Committee of Cattle Exporters, with Mr. John Vint as its Secretary, is studying ways of finding air transport instead.

Their thoughts are turning towards appointing an expert agent from the travel and air cargo profession who would co-ordinate transport for them.

An aircraft, chartered and paid for on a single flight basis, can be, Mr. Vint told me, considerably cheaper than carriage by sea which now costs up to £20 per cow to Southampton.

One of the snags of transporting cattle to Britain by air is, however, that Coventry Airport is at present the only one having a lairage.

With so many branches of our agriculture depending so much on transport to get their goods to the markets as cheaply and quickly as possible, one wonders if the day is not too far distant when the States will set up a special committee to deal with transport in a comprehensive and systematic way! If the Common Market comes, this may become a question of survival!

It is now generally known that the Committee of Agriculture intends to set up a Semen Bank and A.I. [. Centre, probably at the States Farm in Trinity. Many people say that selling our best cattle abroad is giving away our best assets, Be that as it may, one thing, though, is certain, that all the daughters of registered bulls will have to be recorded otherwise the semen will have no export value nor will it be possible to further our own island strains.

The Committee of Agriculture, under its able Chief Executive Officer. Mr. John Abraham, is enlarging its Advisory Service. Already advisers are active in the spheres of agriculture and farm economics and individual crops profitability. Now, soon, a new adviser is to be engaged to provide expertise in the one sector in which many farmers are no doubt the weakest. That is to advise on Farm Management. The Howard Davis Farm which is to become a practical demonstration station is already the seat of the Farm Advisory Panel under Deputy Major John Riley.

Together with the Horticultural Courses run next door by Mr. Denis Shaw the sails are set in the direction of knowledge and practice.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

In the States

Order, Order…

The debate on the continued funding of the Jersey Care Inquiry took place today but has been adjourned. Because of problems with electrics and a fire alarm, it was moved for the first time to the Town Hall.

And unusually – although it has happened in the past – the “speaker” was a States member, and not the Bailiff, who apparently recused himself because of a conflict of interest.

It has been said that part of the problem of having a speaker chosen from among States members is that one Parish will probably lose some of its representation in the House. This does happen in the UK, but the numbers of members are so plentiful that the loss of one vote is not significant.

But why not adopt what I would term the “Have I Got News for You Approach”? The TV show suffered the sudden departure of the Chairman Angus Deayton, after various misdemeanours involving sex and drugs. The solution could have been to replace him, but instead they opted for different presenters for each show.

Now there is no reason why this could not happen with the States. A rotating chairmanship, perhaps for a month or two months, by a number of nominated States members would mean that the House and the electorate were not wholly deprived of a member by being set aside as speaker. States members can already take the helm; it would require but a small change to regularise it.

Moreover, having different speakers would also ensure that the post would not accrue to itself a rival status to that of Bailiff, who would remain the Civic Head of Jersey, which I think is the main worry of those who don't want an elected speaker.

The Jersey Care Inquiry

Deputy Anne Pryke made this case for not appropriating badly needed funding from current demands on Health and Social Services; in doing so, she made substantially the same kind of argument that was made by John Refault, the Constable of St Peter:

“We know that funding for health will increase over the years but we only have a finite budget. Indeed there are 2 propositions to come to increase funding for the voluntary sector. I just have not got a bottomless pit.."

"The pressures we are under for waiting lists, time and time again people can read that in the paper; I get a lot of complaints. Public health: improve and campaign to raise the awareness of psychoactive drugs in young people, face-to-face work; that can be one-off. Also to support the Y.E.S. (Youth Enquiry Service) project in that work that they do to cope with the increased demand; that would be one-off payments. So I am afraid I will not be supporting this”

But when was this said? This was said at the time of the Plemont debate, and true to her word, Deputy Pryke (and indeed also the Constable of St Peter) voted against handing over £3.575m of public money to buy the headland.

Deputy Susie Pinel, on the other hand, said that “the approaches that have been made to me with regard to the proposition have been overwhelmingly to vote in favour which I fully intend to do.” There was none of the wholly forensic style of focus on the economic arguments, despite Social Security badly needing extra funds, especially for Income Support, even back in 2014.

It will be interesting to note, when it comes to the vote, how those members – 35 of them – who felt the money could be grabbed from the Criminal Confiscation Fund and used to help the National Trust buy the headland, will somehow have lost all hope that the new Treasury Minister can pull economic rabbits out of his bag like his predecessor.

The Jersey Care Inquiry is not a vanity project, nor could it ever been seen as such. Despite the strong emotive appeals made, the funding of the purchase of Plemont could have been seen as a vanity project. So isn’t there a shocking inconsistency with those members who - like Susie Pinel – urged splashing out on Plemont, but now tell the States to draw in the purse strings?

In fact the said Deputy also voted for the purchase of Plemont by compulsory purchase in 2012, when essentially the vote (which was lost) was one for a blank cheque! One could say: "Wake up, little Susie", to your blatant inconsistency.

And how much money is still available in the Criminal Confiscation Fund? If there was no better use, it would be to support the inquiry. Or has it been frittered away elsewhere by clever creative accounting?

I am in favour of prudence, and better accountability, and I do worry that the legal costs have been significantly greater than expected – but that suggests that an examination should be taken to see how that has happened. Clearly something is amiss.

But if a business needs better financial controls to run well, closing the business down should be the final option, and an admission of failure - bringing better financial controls should be the first. Should we have shut down Economic Development because they gave away £200,000 under Senator Maclean's tenure? Should we give up on Digital Jersey and shelve it because of the money which it has wasted? Or do we have better controls on spending? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Are you being served? London's Department Stores

A guest posting today, from Jeff Hathaway, looking back at the old London Department Stores.

It reminds me of "Are You Being Served", the TV show which, in its early years before it got very silly, very much captured a type of department store, and like the other shows - Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-De-Hi - had its genesis in real life experience.

The idea for the show came from writer Jeremy Lloyd's brief period in the early 1950s working at Simpsons of Piccadilly, a clothing store which traded for over 60 years until 1999. The inspiration for the store has also been credited to Rossiters of Paignton department store from the time Lloyd and producer David Croft spent there, and the former Clements of Watford.

London’s department stores.

London - on Oxford Street. A London that in the 1970’s was undergoing considerable change both in appearance and in shopping habits. The out-of-town super-centres, as there were first called, were taking their toll while the buildings that these big departmental stores occupied were showing their age and inadaptability.

So I thought I would write a little piece about the London Stores I remember and in particular Bourne & Hollingsworth where I worked for about 2 years as ‘House Promotions and Ticket Department Manager. A mouthful of a title which really meant I was in charge of all instore signage.

While some of London’s departmental stores have hung on and able to re-invent themselves and even become icons in their own right Harrods and Selfridges for example, so many have fallen by the wayside.

They are just names now from a bygone era when London’s streets were dominated by the large departmental store; Swann & Edgar, Derry & Toms, Gamages, Marshall & Snellgrove. Peter Robinson and my old company, Bourne & Hollingsworth.

I found this nostalgic reference from novelist Christopher Fowler:

“As a kid I went to Gamages to see Santa, and my mother would go to Marshall & Snellgrove. Swan & Edgar was more mysterious, being situated on Piccadilly Circus – what did they sell there? It suffered the indignity of becoming a Tower Records.

In the 1970s such stores suffered from the birth of style-shopping, and were unable to update their services fast enough to attract the newly-monied young. Old-fashioned concepts like knowledgable staff, politeness and advice were less important than stocking the latest fashions.

If the old department stores had managed to hang on for just a few short years until mass tourism arrived, they would doubtless have been reborn as flagship British stores.

We still seem to have more department stores than most cities, some of which are specialised, like Lillywhites, the sporting store in Piccadilly, and Fenwicks, which seems entirely aimed at county ladies of a certain age who are in town for the day.

But more and more, like Simpsons and Whiteleys, are slipping away to leave us with TK Maxx and the nightmarish souk Primark”

Gone two are their histories - save that Wiki has provided opportunity for those who experienced London Departmental stores in their heyday to leave their own snapshots and ‘Time Out’ has dedicated a section of there website to the long-lost departmental stores http://www.timeout.com/london/shopping/history-of-oxford-street-in-pictures

It contains masterful précis of Bourne & Hollingsworth.

“Howard Hollingsworh and Walter Bourne opened their shop on Oxford Street in 1902. The business grew and took over the whole block which was redesigned in the art deco style in 1928. Bourne and Hollingsworth became renowned for selling the best quality goods and for looking after their staff, providing accommodation at Warwickshire House on Gower Street for up to 600 female workers. Like much of Oxford Street, the store suffered bomb damage in 1940, however today much of the art deco facade still survives. Now housing the Plaza Shopping Centre the initials of it's previous occupants can be seen either side of the bronze ballerina statue. Warwickshire House is now used by UCL for student accommodation.”

Working for the company came something of a family tradition. My grandmother worked there as a wages clerk in pre-war years and during the war, and my mother as a sales assistant in ladies underwear (no the department not the mode of dress) in post war years.

The store reeked of 30’s art deco grandeur – although by the time I worked there in the 1970’s it was showing signs of its age and the wear and tear of the millions, perhaps even billions, of footsteps that had traipsed over its five floors – and its encounter with German bombers during September 1940 - during the early days of the London Blitz.


“Bourne & Hollingsworth - an imposing edifice built in 1894 and remodelled in art deco style in 1928 - was hit in the night raid of 17 September by high explosive bombs which gouged a huge hole in the store's interior and severely damaged several shop floors.

Shards of glass carpeted its Oxford Street locale and adjoining Berners Street. But the next day, in a powerful example of the 'Blitz spirit', the staff were back at work, unfurling large Union Flags to cover bomb damage to the store front.”

I remember my grandmother telling us that the staff cleaned up sufficiently for the store to re-open is east wing to customers just 7 days later. Signage guided people around the the remaining debris, each sign carrying the Great British understatement: ‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused’.
For Bourne & Hollingsworth you could easily read Grace Brothers as if the BBC series ‘Are You Being Served’ had been modelled upon the store. Perhaps it was. The characters are also there from John Inmans camp Menswer Department Manager to Mollie Sugdens 'mutton as lamb' Mrs Slocombe - complete with blue rinse. 

There was even a parallel with young Mr Grace. Although the Hollingsworth side of the business has long since departed, three generations of the Bourne family now ran the business including patriarch Stafford Bourne on whom surely young Mr Grace character took its inspiration. It was however a wonderful family run business in which the Bournes were known personally to all, and at their instruction were to be addressed as Mr Edward, Mr Christopher and Mr Stafford. Gentleman all. Happy times. 

The store finally closed its doors in 1983, but the name survives – as a basement bar in nearby Rathbone Street.

Monday, 23 March 2015

BBC Radio Jersey Interview

Tony at BBC Radio Jersey with 2 meteorites.

On Sunday, I had a great chat with Christina Ghidoni on BBC Radio Jersey, mainly about astronomy and the Jersey Astronomy Club, but also about the Parish Magazine, my blog, and my poetry. I even read my poem about eclipses!

I took along two small meteorites, as people don’t usually get to see them, or even handle them. To hold something which has come from outer space is rather a different experience, and Christina had never done so before.

For those interested, the Jersey Astronomy links are:
Email: jerseyastronomyclub@ymail.com

We meet once a month, on the second Monday at the Club house, Les Creux. Why not come along to see? You can come along to one meeting before deciding whether you would like to be a member and pay the very modest dues.

Music and songs:

Now the Carnival is Over by the Seekers (1967)

This one me back to childhood memories. The “Battle of Flowers”, of course, is the “carnival”, I remember mostly, and we used to go to the “Golden Egg Restaurant” in Wharf Street, St Helier. I tuink it was part of a chain, and they had egg shaped menus, egg shaped plates, and of course a lot of egg courses on the menu. As a lover of egg and chips, it was heaven!

Surprisingly, we had few Beatles albums at home, but lots of Seekers ones. Judith Durham’s voice is wonderful, and her backing by Athol Guy - ‎Keith Potger and ‎Bruce Woodley was also good. Although they sang pop songs, they did so almost in a folk style.

Pipes of Peace by Paul McCartney (1983)

Help them to learn (help them to learn)
Songs of joy instead of burn, baby, burn, (burn, baby burn)
Let us show them how to play the pipes of peace
Play the pipes of peace

People now don’t realise how much of a threat atomic warfare was. We grew up in the shadow of the bomb. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos actually devoted almost half of one episode to the dangers of nuclear winter and the threat of war.

Paul McCartney gets to comment on the 1980s zeitgeist times by rather cleverly looking back to the First World War. Anyone who has seen "Threads" knows just how much we all feared "burn, baby, burn". CDN, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was strong. Cleverly McCartney enfolds those fears in a Great War setting, and as we look back at that war 100 years after, it began it’s just as appropriate.

Star Trekin by The Firm (1987)

Star Trekkin' across the universe,
On the Starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk.
Star Trekkin' across the universe,
Boldly going forward 'cause we can't find reverse.

I’ve always enjoyed Dr Who and Star Trek, science fiction which really sparked my interest in science, and of course astronomy. This is the best piece of musical comedy about the original TV show. And of course, sadly, Leonard Nimoy, Mr Spock, has just died. This song can be dedicated to his memory. And on 22 March, when I was on air, William Shatner was also celebrating his 84th birthday.

Science fiction has a way of looking forward to today’s world, sometimes getting it wrong – smoking on a moonbase in UFO – sometimes right. Who would have thought we’d all have pocket size communicators like Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew? Sadly, we can’t yet be “beamed up” by a transporter! And on the subject of preduction, Dr Who's first episode in 1963 predicted a decimal system of coinage, something which didn't happen until 1971!

Stars From Les Miserables (1989)

In your multitudes
Scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness
With order and light
You are the sentinels
Silent and sure
Keeping watch in the night
Keeping watch in the night

I’ve always loved Victor Hugo’s giant novel, although it is the smaller conflict between Javert and Jean Val Jean which is really inspirational. A good man who is hounded by the law for one wrong. There are lots of fantastic songs in it, but this is perhaps not so widely played. It’s all about stars and destiny, and it gets into the mind of Javert, and we see the world as he sees it.

In any story of conflict, we tend to root for the heroic figure, like Jean Valjean, but in the musical, and in the book, Victor Hugo gives us an inside view into Javert’s motivations. Javert is an empty man, he has really no faith, although he considers himself to be a righteous man following “the way of the Lord.” It is part of the tragedy of the human condition that people exist like Inspector Javert, upholders of the law, with a very distinctive and self-righteous religious faith who nonetheless are devoid of compassion and empathy.

Lady of the silver wheel by Damh the Bard (2003)

High in the Castle of Glass,
A Silver Wheel turns in the night,
Slender hands guide a thread,
Keeping it true, keeping it tight,
As it spins, fate it begins,
To opens it's eyes,
Lady of the Moon, of the Stars,
In the Spiral Castle I hear you sing

Arianrod, the Lady of the Silver Wheel, is a Celtic Moon goddess. Astronomy occurs in unlikely places, such as this wonderful Pagan folk song by Damh the Bard. This song is all about the influence of the moon on our fate. Statistically it may appear that there is in fact no connection, but within our poetic souls we feel the influence of the moon. And the sight of the moon, waxing and waning, must have bedded down deep in our ancestral psyche.

And there may be more than that. We are have evolved on a planet with a cycle of day and night, but also a cycle in which the moon is bright and dark, a full moon, clear enough to see by, and a new moon, a dark landscape, hard to see. Our evolutionary roots may be as in tune with this cycle as the diurnal one, and a 2013 study showed that “The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not 'see' the Moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase."

Note, by the way, there is a full eclipse of the moon (not the sun) in September. It goes blood red as the normal light of a full moon is blotted out as the earth moves between the sun and moon.

I Vow to Thee My Country, 1921. A poem set to music by Holst.

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

Wonderful words, about sacrifice and service to one’s country and the other country whose ways are ways of peace. Although written in the aftermath of the Great War, it should not be assumed it is just about patriotism in a military sense.

In the Jersey Occupation, for example, there were those who made what Paul Sanders called “the ultimate sacrifice”, attempting to save Jews or slave labourers who had escaped, or engaged in acts of resistance against the enemy. Not all involved with these actions were caught, but anyone who was involved in that ran that risk, especially those who sheltered Jews and slave workers. They were people who gave “the love that never falters, the love that pays the price”.

And even today , we have the Jersey pathologist who has gone to Africa to help in the Ebola crisis – surely “the service of my love”, again undaunted and prepared to server and not to ask questions, but only answer need..

The music is adapted from Holts’ Jupiter from the Planets Suit. The Planets is one of my favourite pieces of music. It takes one back to the Middle Ages, and the idea that Planets had their own tutelary spirits or souls. C.S. Lewis, in his Space Trilogy, brilliantly gave the idea of planetary spirits a science fictional plausibility. There is certainly a degree of truth in that idea, for no two planets in our solar system are really alike, which is actually pretty amazing when you think of it.

The other country is that of peace, and that too is something we need to strive for.

And there's another country,
I've heard of long ago,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, 
and all her paths are peace.

Astronomy too, shows us our earth, fragile blue planet floating in the cold of space. As Carl Sagan said:

"It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Rehabilitation and Forgiveness - Part 3

“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”

At the core of Victor Hugo’s massive book “Les Miserables” is an intensely personal story. The book revolves around two people – Jean Valjean, convicted and sent to the galleys for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family, and Javert, the Inspector (and later political spy), who hounds him. One th galleys, he saves a man’s life by using his tremendous strength to life a broken beam so that the man can be pulled clear. This is noted by Javert, who is a supervisor.

The turning point for Valjean comes early. Released from imprisonment, but with a yellow passport showing he is a convicted felon, he has to make sure he reports to the police; he is effectively on bail. It is dark and late, and no one in the town where he finds himself will take him in. He has tried every door – but one. That is the door of the Bishop, who welcomes him in, and he dines with the Bishop and sleeps there.

But in the night, he takes the silver plates he has just eaten on, and steals away silently. He is brought back the following day by the police, who do not believe his story that he was given them by the Bishop. But, to their amazement, and to his amazement – the Bishop says that the story is true, and berates Valjean for forgetting to take the candlesticks. But as he now leaves, the Bishop reminds him that his life has been spared for God, and that he should use money from the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself.

The next major part of the story occurs when he is now Monsieur Madeleine. He is a prosperous factory owner, and becomes Mayor. He has provided employment for the town, and gives generously to charitable causes, including a convent. He saves a man’s life when a cart falls on its side by using his strength, just as he did in the galleys. The newly arrived Inspector Javert ponders that.

Javert sees the Mayor to tell him that he had reported him as Jean Valjean, but he could not be, because Valjean has been captured and is facing trial. Now Valjean has to face the choice: to leave the town, and all the good he has done, or to save a poor wretch, a halfwit, from being hanged in his place. Finally he decides to do the latter, and is on the run again with Javert in pursuit..

More trials lie ahead, but this is a story of a man who commited a crime once, and has redeemed himself every since. Even when he has inadvertently caused suffering, as when Fantine is dismissed by the factory supervisor, he tries to make amends, to care for her as she dies, and to look after her daughter Cosette like a father. At one point, he even saves Javert’s life when Javert is unmasked as a spy.

But despite this, the law, as personified by Javert, will hunt him down. He has broken the law, he has failed to report with his yellow passport in the distant past, and the law knows of no exceptions. As Charles Laughton says in the old black and white movie – “It’s no matter of mine. The law, good bad or indifferent, it’s the law”.

And so a good man, and a man whose story involves so much rehabilititation, is not seen as rehabilitated in the eyes of the law, but is hounded, almost to the end.

As Hugo notes:

“The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details ... a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end.”

Jean Valjean is finally caught by Javert, but asked to be allowed a brief visit to his home, to say goodbye. The law does not allow this, but Javert relents. Javert has to face the dilemma of justice and mercy, of what the law demands, but what justice says should be a higher good.

The lessons on the way, the other characters like Marius or the Thenardiers, all show us decisions to be made, and make us ask ourselves: how should we live our lives. Are we blind to evil? Are we participants in the evils of society? Do we address the issues of poverty? And do we learn the lesson that good people can still be hounded by the law, despite all that they have done to turn their lives around?

Hugo concluded by noting of his book:

“I don't know whether it will be read by everyone, but it is meant for everyone. It addresses England as well as Spain, Italy as well as France, Germany as well as Ireland, the republics that harbour slaves as well as empires that have serfs. Social problems go beyond frontiers. Humankind's wounds, those huge sores that litter the world, do not stop at the blue and red lines drawn on maps. Wherever men go in ignorance or despair, wherever women sell themselves for bread, wherever children lack a book to learn from or a warm hearth, Les Miserables knocks at the door and says: "open up, I am here for you".

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Alchemical Marriage

After yesterday, sadly not visible in Jersey, but seen elsewhere in England, today's poem is about the solar eclipse. Note that the Greek world "eclipse" means "abandoned". The Lydians and the Medes saw the eclipse as an omen, and ended their battle. This was on May 28, 585 BC, and the eclipse was predicted by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus.

The Alchemical Marriage

At Stonehenge, they await the day
And then the hour, the moment soon
As they chant, the light fades away
The sun is swallowed by the moon

Chinese astrologers saw this sign
As dragons devouring the light
A portent calculated, yet divine
The sun is eaten, fearful sight

The stars in their courses came
To stop the Lydians and the Medes
As the sun grew dark, lost its flame
Their war ended, peace concedes

Do not be fearful of the abandoned light,
An alchemical marriage of day and night.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Look A Like

Russell Labey, TV Astrologer (above)

Deputy Russell Grant of St Helier (above)

Do you think that Deputy Russell Labey and Astrologer Russell Grant look a like? Have you noticed how they have never been seen in the same place together? Could they be the same person? Is the answer to this riddle written in the stars?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

It's in the Genes


A very interesting study shows that genetically there is not a unique Celtic group of people in the UK. There is a map to go with it which gives clusters, and it also shows that there here is a genetic basis for regional identities in the UK. It also notes that:

“There is also a marked division between the people of Cornwall and Devon that almost exactly matches the county border. And the People of Devon are distinct again to those from neighbouring Dorset.”

“Although people from Cornwall have a Celtic heritage, genetically they are much, much more similar to the people elsewhere in England than they are to the Welsh for example,"

“"People in South Wales are also quite different genetically to people in north Wales, who are both different in turn to the Scots. We did not find a single genetic group corresponding to the Celtic traditions in the western fringes of Britain."

The report says: “DNA analysis of 2,000 mostly middle-aged Caucasian people living across the UK.”

In fact it was 2,039 people from rural areas, and the clever thing is that they were also selected by having all four grandparents born within 80 km of each other. As it says, it is effectively sampling DNA from the grandparents, whose average year of birth was 1885.

Towns and cities are known to draw in populations from elsewhere, so selecting by rural areas means a more settled population.

The further restriction by grandparents in the area means that there had certainly been no migration to the area since around 1885. So it means more settled than transient people are sampled for their DNA.

A similar strategy was followed by “Blood of the Vikings” survey of DNA from 2001:

“In the main, small towns were chosen and the men tested were required to be able to trace their male line back two generations in the same rural area – within 20 miles of the town chosen. The aim was to reduce the effects of later population movements, assuming that in between the Norman invasion of 1066 and the 20th century movement would have been limited.”

When they did “Blood of the Vikings”, Frank Falle also followed a similar but not identical strategy. He asked for DNA sampling from the Channel Islands, and was given the opportunity to get a surprisingly large number of samples.

The BBC report explained how he approached the subject, although it should be added that for those with Norman surnames, he also made use of family trees, something Jersey people can be obsessive about (I myself am related to the Le Marquand’s and Le Cornus, to name drop) – to ensure the people tested were of the “oldest stock”.

“The Channel Islands were once part of Normandy, a region of France founded by the Norwegian Viking Rollo. With the help of local historian Frank Falle, the UCL team decided to test the people of Jersey and Guernsey to see if any evidence of these early Viking settlers in France could be found in their DNA. The volunteers were split into two groups, those with Norman surnames, and those with English surnames. “

“The DNA of those with non-Norman surnames was found to be very similar to that from men in England. This was a mixture of Ancient Briton with those of the ‘invading’ populations. These invaders included both the Angles and Saxons who arrived in England in the 5th and 6th centuries and the Danish Vikings. These two types of DNA could not be distinguished but, like men tested in England, Channel Islanders with English surnames had a significant proportion of DNA from these ‘invaders’. “

“The DNA of those with Norman surnames was markedly different. These men were found to be very similar to the Ancient Britons. But on top of this ancestry was a hint of the Norwegian DNA signature, indicating that Rollo could possibly have had an effect on the genes of people from the Channel Islands today.”

The main DNA results for old families were:

Marker M170 = 30% of Jersey sample is Danish; 10% in Guernsey
Marker M173 = General Celtic DNA in Europe
Norse Viking DNA = 2% of sample in Jersey; 6% in Guernsey.

In his evening class, Frank gave part of the result as follows:

Old Jersey families have 60% Celtic DNA, and 30% Danish Viking.
Old Guernsey families have 70% Celtic, and 10% Danish Viking.

Another interesting result was that Frank said in a meeting of the History Section of the Société Jersiaise that there were three types of Neolithic DNA found locally from the Blood of the Vikings research and he speculated whether they related to the three types of local graves (passage, gallery, cist in a circle).

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Democracy - Now and Then

 The Jersey Way

“THE Bailiff called an urgent meeting with community leaders on Monday to ease tensions over proposed plans for Liberation Day – as Occupation survivors now threaten to boycott the 70th anniversary celebrations. Former Senator Terry Le Main, Daphne Minihane of Age Concern and St Saviour Constable Sadie Rennard – who have all expressed concerns about the plans to move the 9 May celebrations from Liberation Square to the People’s Park – met the Bailiff, William Bailhache, and Chief Minster Ian Gorst at the hastily arranged meeting.”


The first story to break on Liberation Day about a week ago when there were a number of people who were here during the Occupation saying they were not at all happy with the change of venue. The JEP reported that, and the following which was very much that the People’s Park venue and event would be going ahead – the tone of that was very much that the Bailiff and Chief Minister knew best! The pans were described by politicians as “brilliant”.

In essence, it was patronising to those people who had actually been here, and it must have been that much worse being patronised by people who hadn’t even been born at the time. So I can quite understand the present backlash against it, also reported in the JEP. The tone was perfectly caught by the letter from E D Rousseau:

“Most of the States Members were not even born then, yet they pretend to know what is better for us.”

“The powers that be believe that because it is the 70th anniversary, many more people will be attending. Well it’s pretty obvious that they are not thinking of those of us who were here during the Occupation. Do they really think we are all able to walk from Liberation Square to the People’s Park?”

I think the best quote came from Barbara Perkins (82):

The Bailiff has been going on about doing things the “Jersey way” but if this is the “Jersey way”, then I don’t think much of it.’

The People’s Park venue also means that the politicians who have met in the States Chamber earlier will have to make their way across Town. Do you think they will walk? I suspect that plans are certainly in place for the “upper functionaries” – the Bailiff and Crown Officers, the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers – to have transport to get them there.

I’ve heard nothing at all about transportation for those pensioners who were here during the Occupation, and who presumably have to make their own way. Fine years ago, when held in Liberation Station, there was also a meal held at the RJ&HS showroom in Trinity for the survivors of the Occupation, and a coach to ferry them about. Something like that would certainly go some way towards showing that if the main event venue is split between a brief flag raising, and events on the People’s Park, that due consideration is being given to those who should have been put first and consulted before making all these plans.

When it was first held in Liberation Square, no one could get much of a look in – that’s certainly true. But the last time, giant screens and speakers relayed the ceremonies to others on the large open space where the old bus stops used to be. That seemed to work very well in involving everyone, and why it could not have been done this time beats me.

Of course, the authorities assume that because it is the 70th, more people will want to attend than before. I think that is something of a chimera. As with every Liberation day, some people will take the advantage of a day off, or in most cases, a normal Saturday, and other events such as the Steam Fayre will also attract those people who want to go somewhere special – and Don Pallot’s legacy to Jersey is very special – but also enjoy train rides, Jersey wonders, looking at Vintage cars, land rover trials, organ playing, and the vintage Jersey cars and farm machinery – and who probably don’t want to hear a lot of speeches.

The best speeches in the past were those given in the States Chamber by those politicians who had actually been here during the Occupation – they had an authenticity that none of the other speeches had. I’ve read them, and they are great. They brought the memory of the day alive.

But I cannot think of anything worse than listening to long-winded speeches by some people who like the sound of their own rather plumy voices rather too much. And for a religious text, I suggest that the religious leaders bear in mind the good book – in particular, Job 16, verse 3: “Will your long-winded speeches never end?”

And in case you think this is exaggeration, some of the D-Day veterans had this to say about those ceremonies in 2014:

"I can also remember D Day , I am old too.. I bet instead of long winded speeches , I would have really wanted a comfortable chair in the shade and something to drink.. !! in fact if anyone organized such a thing again ever. Please cut short the ceremonial crap and have a tea where Vets can mingle with others ; chat ; relax, and the big wheels can feel (as they ought);honored to come over and meet the vets. sit down have tea or coffee."

"Veterans of the beach landing.; over 90 years old now ; seated on hard chairs in the hot sun without so much as a bottle of water..while the world leaders and royals took an hour to arrive and were seated on comfortable chairs on a shaded raised platform in the shade. boggles my mind. those vets are soldiers and toughed it out.. some looking exhausted , while dignitaries gave long winded .speeches. very unoriginal "tributes" for another. hour..and the aged Vets , the one's the occasion was honoring, sat on. in the heat.."

But as then in France, now in Jersey, those who were present at that moment in time have been almost treated like afterthoughts.

Youth Assembly

The Annual Youth Assembly took place, and the following propositions were on the table:

Beaulieu: Jersey should introduce blasphemy laws
Victoria College: The island should introduce stronger immigration controls
JCG: Written consent should be obtained before sexual intercourse
Hautlieu: Jersey should welcome Asylum Seekers
De La Salle: Disband the States Assembly

The De La Salle one was interesting because apparently it was using electronic means of decision making to bypass a States Assembly, so that everyone could vote on propositions. That is harking back to the origins of democracy in Athens, although that did only have a franchise which applied to free men, not slaves or women. But the difference is well explained in Fred Hoyle’s novel “October the first is too late”:

“Our hosts were concerned with the structure of the seas beyond the Pillars of Hercules, with what we believed about the nature of the world. How was our political life organized? They didn't like the idea of elected representatives of the people. To them it was important that every free adult member of the community should be permitted to vote on every specific issue. It was impossible to explain that the very size of our population precluded their own democratic system.”

The idea of an electronic version was mooted by the science fiction writer Philip K Dick, in his novella “The Variable Man”.

“This gimmick makes it possible for citizens to raise and decide issues directly. They won’t have to wait for the Council to verbalize a measure. Any citizen can transmit his will with one of these, make his needs register on a central control that automatically responds. When a large enough segment of the population wants a certain thing done, these little gadgets set up an active field that touches all the others. An issue won’t have to go through a formal Council. The citizens can express their will long before any bunch of grey-haired old men could get around to it.”

Of course there are attendant risks involved, not least that a majority could act as tyrant. The California scenario, which allows a certain leeway on behalf of citizens also presents problems – people pass decision to cut taxes, and to increase services, which is why the State so often teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

But there is also a fundamental problem in representative systems, where they break down, and people lose confidence in them. We can see this in the decision making “from above” regarding the Liberation day celebrations.

And this kind of decision making was well illustrated by a letter written by G.K. Chesterton against a correspondent, and in the way in which the “collective responsibility” appears to work, with the Council of Ministers making decisions and seemingly riding roughshod over the general public’s views, they are worth restating:

(1) I say a democracy means a State where the citizens first desire something and then get it. That is surely simple.

(2) I say that where this is deflected by the disadvantage of representation, it means that the citizens desire a thing and tell the representatives to get it. I trust I make myself clear.

(3) The representatives, in order to get it at all, must have some control over detail; but the design must come from popular desire. Have we got that down?

(4) You, I understand, hold that English M. P.s today do thus obey the public in design, varying only in detail. That is a quite clear contention.

(5) I say they don't. Tell me if I am getting too abstruse.

(6) I say our representatives accept designs and desires almost entirely from the Cabinet class above them; and practically not at all from the constituents below them. I say the people does not wield a Parliament which wields a Cabinet. I say the Cabinet bullies a timid Parliament which bullies a bewildered people. Is that plain?

(7) If you ask why the people endure and play this game, I say they play it as they would play the official games of any despotism or aristocracy. The average Englishman puts his cross on a ballot-paper as he takes off his hat to the King—and would take it off if there were no ballot-papers. There is no democracy in the business. Is that definite?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Things in General by A.C. Saunders

Some more from A.C. Saunders “History of Jersey in the 17th Century”. It is interesting to see local concern about visiting workmen taking jobs from locals was a concern back in the 17th century. Plus ca change!

I'll be looking at the subject of perquages (mentioned at the end) tomorrow.

Things in General
by A.C. Saunders

Various merchants of the Island having complained that Foreigners were setting up shops for the sale of merchandise in the Island " prejudicial to His Majesty's service and tending to the disheartening and discouraging of His Majesty's subjects the Natives there in the way of their trade and yong beginners who sett upp shopp when they discern strangers who Beare no burthen in taxes or like publique payments, injoye equall privileges with themselves."

The Lords of the Council by that order of the 28th February 166o, directed that no stranger other than a British subject should be allowed to set up shop in the Island.

Evidently the Islanders wanted the Island for themselves. It was their Island, and they were willing to fight for it and did not want the interference of outsiders. They had their own ideas and customs, and for many years afterwards, even until the middle of the 19th Century, they looked with suspicion at the advent of any stranger in their midst.

Even after the Battle of Jersey, at the court martial on the Lieutenant Governor, a witness stated that there was very little intercourse between the natives and strangers. The natives were satisfied with their own people, and they married among themselves, with the result that most Jerseyrnen are connected with each other by distant cousinships. 'They knew little about strangers, and cared less, but they knew everything about one another, and when they quarrelled, family records were raked up, often in vivid colours, and cast into the opponents camp. Thus in Jersey there were many family feuds, arising very often from small matters, which might have been settled by the use of a little common sense.

The Jurats were very careful to see that the judgments were according to law, and even today when a new law is passed, you will find it supported by penalties quite out of proportion to the offence. The Seigneurs were very quick in seeing that their proper rights were safeguarded.

Thus on the 25th January 1666, Nicholas Bisson was seen talking to two men, who were accused of having beaten and robbed some persons on the public highway. He fled, but was found guilty as an accessory and, as Seigneur of Dielaman, Hugh Lempriere seized his goods, and ejected Bisson's wife and family from their home.

Bisson meanwhile had fled to London to plead his case before the King, who having considered the case, graciously granted Bisson a full pardon. Unfortunately, before he could return home, he died in London of the Plague. His wife not being able to get redress in Jersey, appealed to the Privy Council, who directed the Bailiff, and Jurats, to see that the property should be restored to her, so that she and her children might enjoy the effects of His Majesty's pardon.

The Bailiff having presented to the Council a proposition for the right administration of Justice to the Island, the matter was referred to a committee, who were appointed to consider and draw up a set of regulations, and these were approved by an Order in Council dated 24th April 1668.

Evidently the Bailiff considered that his authority had been ignored by his brethren on the bench, for one of the regulations arranged for the attendance of the Jurats, and the proper respect they must pay to the Bailiff, and that any offender shall be suspended until he asks pardon for his offence.

That no Jurat shall resort to Taverns, or Cider Houses, on Court days on a penalty of five pounds tournois, half of which is to go to the accuser, and the other half to some charitable fund.

Steps were to be taken to shorten cases before the Court, which, under ancient custom, had to be dealt with within a year, but now were sometimes prolonged for several years.

It was also directed that when parties were pleading, they were not to be interrupted, but they are to be listened to in silence.

That the appeal by " Doleance " should he restricted by a fine, to he levied against those who fail to make good the " Doleance." Doleances were considered odious, and were used principally to dispute the judgments of the Jurats, who considered themselves insulted when such action was taken by those who failed to succeed in their cases.

That no one should vote for a Jurat, or Constable, except those who pay taxes, and contribute towards the support of the poor, and are masters of families.

That it was considered that the Clerk of the Court was very badly paid, although his office was one of- special trust, and it was therefore directed that his fee of one sou per Act, should be doubled.

Evidently the Court of the Island needed overhauling, for they had much work to do and serious complaints were being made about the delays in the settlement of the cases sent to them.

We have an interesting case in the year 1668. There was a wreck on the Jersey coast when the “Archangel" of Venice, commanded by Giacomo de Guidici, went ashore ; but by the assistance of local people a good deal of the cargo and stores were landed safely.

Richard du Hamel was particularly energetic in salving the goods, and pretending friendship for the Captain, who could speak no English. The latter thought himself lucky in having so good a friend and appointed him his agent. One Noah de St. Croix was a good Italian scholar, and so he was able to convey to the Captain what information he thought proper. But unfortunately for Guidici, he had fallen into bad hands, and du Hamel wanted to buy part of the cargo for 700 crowns, a fraudulent bill of sale was presented for signature, by which the Master disposed of the whole of the ship, and all the cargo and stores for that sum. Guidici and his owners were robbed of no less a sum than 7,000 livres tournois.

When it dawned upon the Italian that he had been robbed, lie appealed to the Privy Council and they, by their order of the 27th March 1668, directed the Bailiff and Jurats carefully to consider the matter, and if they found that du Hamel was guilty, he was to be severely punished according to law.

The case having come before the Court and Hamel not appearing, Guidici won and Hamel was fined twenty pounds. But the case was not yet ended for Guidici was warned that he would be in danger if he acted upon the verdict of the Court. So he again appealed to the Privy Council who directed on the 16th December 1668, the Bailiff and Jurats to see that he was properly protected in his person, and goods, from all affronts, trouble, and violence, during his abode in the Island.

In the year 1668, a petition was sent to the King showing that in the year 1661, Philip Vibert, Elias Grandin, Abraham Giffard, another Elias Grandin, Thomas Chigron, with Philip Pipon Master, all of the ship " Golden Lion " had been captured by pirates and taken to Algiers, where they were sold as slaves. Pipon had died and the petitioners asked that the names of the others might be entered on the list of captives to be redeemed.

On the 3rd September 1676, the people of the Eastern part of the Island had to face a great calamity. A boat belonging to Jean Le Huquet, had gone to gather wrack at Rousesteun. The boat struck a rock and sank and all the people on board were drowned. Their names were Edward Mallet, Jean Le Huquet, Abraham Le Huquet, Lorans Le Moigre, another Jean Le Huquet, Philip Renouf, Nicholas Noel, Pierre Giffard, George Germain and Jean Le Moigre.

The next day all ten bodies were found near the rocks called " Reposeur des Pierres," and were taken in two carts to St. Martin's churchyard, where they were buried, with all Christian rights, in the presence of their families and friends.

The Jersey trade was growing, but there was no accomodation for the vessels and the time had arrived when vessels were being required for foreign trade and therefore larger vessels were being built. Many people interested in the welfare of the Island, started a subscription to provide the necessary funds for building a pier at St. Helier, and on the 10th October 1677 the Privy Council issued an Order, directing that all sums so collected, and also the amount paid for licences on wool, should be used in building a pier at St. Helier and the work was commenced.

All people were not agreed on the necessity for the pier, and the matter being reported to the Privy Council, the Lords by their order of the 22nd April 1682, directed " that the building of ye peer now begun in the Island of Jersey would not be of that use to His Majestie service and advantage to the Island as was at first represented " and directed that the work should be discontinued. This came as a great surprise to those interested in the welfare of the Island, and the States determined to send a deputation to London, to point out the absolute necessity for a pier. Evidently the Jerseymen pleaded so well that the Privy Council was satisfied that the information they had received was wrong and therefore on the 8th March 1682, they issued another order, directing that the work should be continued without any further hindrance or delay.

In September 1665, the Bailiff, Sir Philip de Carteret died, and was buried on the 18th of the month in Grouville churchyard, with great pomp and ceremony. The Rector preached a sermon which lasted an hour and a half, describing the virtues of the departed. All the men of the regiment which he had commanded, attended with their guns and cannons, and fired over the grave, according to the ancient custom of the Island. The funeral was attended by all the gentry and people in the Island. They came to show their respect for a man, who not only belonged to an ancient family, but had been very much liked.

Sir Edward de Carteret was appointed Bailiff, the following November. He was the son of Sir Philip de Carteret. On the 30th May 1663, the Crown had granted to him, in consideration of the many valued services of his family, all the " perquages " or sacred roads and other waste lands in the Island.

The perquages were sacred roads to the sea. In former years, when " Sanctuary " was recognised as part of the laws of the Island, a criminal could take refuge in a church, and claim " Sanctuary." If he were willing to swear that he would abjure the Island, he was allowed to proceed to the sea, by one of these roads (Perquage) and take boat for France.

Durell in his notes in Falle's account of the Island of Jersey gives a full account of the ancient custom.

Each perquage was twenty-four feet broad, and if the culprit in going to the sea stepped out of the road, he was liable to be seized and lost the benefit of the sanctuary. There were twelve perquages in the Island, one from each parish church and therefore the grant was of considerable value. In the old records we find that Sir Edward sold most of his rights to neighbouring landowners.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Would her Majesty be amused?


“The Koran has “over 100 verses inviting people to violence” which Christianity “doesn’t have,” one of the Queen’s chaplains has claimed. Reverend Canon Gavin Ashenden, one of the Queen’s 35 chaplains, made his comments on Iain Dale’s LBC radio show. He claimed that the passages in the Koran “tell you to kill your enemies” and to “strike of the heads” of “those who disbelieve,” the Daily Mail reports. “

“Dale countered Reverend Ashenden by stating that many Muslims would describe their faith as “entirely peaceful,” and warned that his opinion could offend people who practice Islam. Reverend Ashenden said in response: “If they are offended by my quoting the Koran they are not offended by me, they are offended by the Koran.”

I find it extraordinary that a Christian Minister, and one of the Queen’s Chaplains – as he is always at pains to describe himself – should come out with such abject nonsense. Of course it is possible to “proof text” and drag out verses to support violence in the Koran, but the Old and New Testaments also provide plenty of scope for violence. I don’t think her majesty would be amused by what he has said.

“Wolf Hall” has just finished on the television, in which Sir Thomas More goes to death because his Christian principles do not accord with that of Henry VIII. And people have been taken and tortured and killed as heretics all by Christians over many centuries, all with various verses cited in support.

There are fewer verses in the New Testament, but there are still some which hark to violence

Luk_22:36 "But now," Jesus said, "whoever has a purse or a bag must take it; and whoever does not have a sword must sell his coat and buy one.

Rev_2:16 Now turn from your sins! If you don't, I will come to you soon and fight against those people with the sword that comes out of my mouth.

Mat_10:34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

But when you come to the Old Testament – which Christians still use in worship and reading – there is violence and bloodshed in plenty, all endorse by or praised by God.

One of the early Christians, Marcion, put a gospel of grace against one of law, discarded the Old Testament, and cut out of the New Testament anything which smacked of the bloodthirsty tyrant who seems to appear in the Old Testament.

It is certainly no wonder that Richard Dawkins found much to cite in “The God Delusion”, along with the burning of heretics, the burning or hanging of witches, the holy wars like the crusades, the French wars of religion – the list is full of examples in which Christianity uses verses from the Bible to justify violence.

In fact, a recent book, "‘Jesus Wars': Violence in the Bible vs. Violence in the Quran", Penn State professor Philip Jenkins notes that “Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible.”

About the only group which wholly eschews violence are the Quakers. If Gavin Ashenden was a Quaker, I might have more respect for him. Instead he comes from a church which has, in its Anglican incantation, seen those it regarded as heretics imprisoned, tortured, killed, and justified slavery. I’d ask him to look at the records of those Anglican Ministers – and there were many – who invested in the slave trade because it was a lucrative return for a small investment. I’d ask him to look at an Empire which used Christianity to further its domination of other countries.

Now I think that many Christians today would reject the use of verses that advocate killing those who do not believe and follow God, and I would hope that Gavin Ashenden does as well.

Christians today largely set aside these verses for various reasons, partly to do with historical context, the complex relationship between New and Old Testaments, and the ability to see some matters as events of their time. I don’t think that is all special pleading: I think that there is some merit in seeing development in religious thinking over time. As one writer put it:

"If we read the Bible as a proof-text, then we will find there are passages that command violence in God's name, and those that forbid it. However, if we instead step back, taking a larger narrative view that recognizes the Bible's developing trajectories, then we do not need to try and justify or embrace these violent passages any more than we need to cling to passages that advocate slavery (or food laws for that matter). Rather, we look to identify the upwards trajectory away from violence, oppression and dehumanization that the biblical record chronicles."

[With regard to Islam, I suggest a reading of "
Does Islam Teach Violence?"

But Gavin Ashenden does not allow the same leeway in Islam, where he treats it as a proof-text, and perhaps he should note the "proof text" approach also can cite these text from the Old Testament:

Exo_32:27 and he said to them, "The LORD God of Israel commands every one of you to put on your sword and go through the camp from this gate to the other and kill your brothers, your friends, and your neighbours."

Deu_32:42 My arrows will drip with their blood, and my sword will kill all who oppose me. I will spare no one who fights against me; even the wounded and prisoners will die.'

Isa_41:2 "Who was it that brought the conqueror from the east and makes him triumphant wherever he goes? Who gives him victory over kings and nations? His sword strikes them down as if they were dust. His arrows scatter them like straw before the wind.

Isa_66:16 By fire and sword he will punish all the people of the world whom he finds guilty---and many will be put to death.

Jer_46:10 This is the day of the Sovereign LORD Almighty: today he will take revenge; today he will punish his enemies. His sword will eat them until it is full, and drink their blood until it is satisfied. Today the Almighty sacrifices his victims in the north, by the Euphrates

2Ki_1:10 "If I am a man of God," Elijah answered, "may fire come down from heaven and kill you and your men!" At once fire came down and killed the officer and his men.

Eze_25:13 Now I announce that I will punish Edom and kill every person and animal there. I will make it a wasteland, from the city of Teman to the city of Dedan, and the people will be killed in battle.

Eze_16:38 I will condemn you for adultery and murder, and in my anger and fury I will punish you with death.

Num_21:2 Then the Israelites made a vow to the LORD: "If you will let us conquer these people, we will unconditionally dedicate them and their cities to you and will destroy them."

Num_25:17 "Attack the Midianites and destroy them,

Num_33:52 you must drive out all the inhabitants of the land. Destroy all their stone and metal idols and all their places of worship.

Num_33:56 If you do not drive them out, I will destroy you, as I planned to destroy them."

Deu_7:16 Destroy every nation that the LORD your God places in your power, and do not show them any mercy. Do not worship their gods, for that would be fatal.

Deu_20:17 Completely destroy all the people: the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, as the LORD ordered you to do.

1Sa_15:3 Go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Don't leave a thing; kill all the men, women, children, and babies; the cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys."

1Sa_28:18 You disobeyed the LORD's command and did not completely destroy the Amalekites and all they had. That is why the LORD is doing this to you now

2Ki_24:2 The LORD sent armed bands of Babylonians, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites against Jehoiakim to destroy Judah, as the LORD had said through his servants the prophets that he would do.

Psa_18:37 I pursue my enemies and catch them; I do not stop until I destroy them.

Psa_18:40 You make my enemies run from me; I destroy those who hate me.

Psa_59:13 destroy them in your anger; destroy them completely. Then everyone will know that God rules in Israel, that his rule extends over all the earth.

Jer_1:10 Today I give you authority over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant

Jer_50:21 The LORD says, "Attack the people of Merathaim and of Pekod. Kill and destroy them. Do everything I command you. I, the LORD, have spoken.

Jer_50:26 Attack it from every side and break open the places where its grain is stored! Pile up the loot like piles of grain! Destroy the country! Leave nothing at all!

Zep_2:5 You Philistines are doomed, you people who live along the coast. The LORD has passed sentence on you. He will destroy you, and not one of you will be left.

For further reading: