Saturday, 31 October 2015

A Summoning

It's Halloween today, and this poem draws upon ancient traditions of theurgy, and also the lore of Peln.

A Summoning

Of memory past, of lives now gone
I summon thee, these stones tonight
To sing once more the sacred songs
Come here beneath this star lit night

Of the ages past, of the wisdom old
I summon thee, from the sea and sky
To give us this courage to be bold
Come to us where the ancients lie

Of bones of dead, of ancient time
I summon thee, by Saturn’s light
To join with us the past sublime
Come and smite the barrow wight

In thin places, we touch the veil
Of ashes lost, we tell the tale

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Great Exhibition of 1871

From the Jersey Topic of 1967 comes this article. I had no idea that there was a "Great Exhibition" in Jersey. Apparently agriculture was still the most important sector of the economies of Jersey and Guernsey in 1871 and the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition, which was visited by 30,000 people at the Victoria College showground, was a cattle show, featuring cows from both islands.

But the loan collection on display was far wider in scope. In the loan collection were specimens of the delicate workmanship of China and Japan, comfortable furs and fossils of the North; jewels and gold of Australia and of Peru; and a thousand other things brought to our shores by enterprising seafaring men who have extended commerce to the most distant parts.

I've appended the lyrics for "The Chough and the Crow" by Joanna Baillie (11 September 1762 – 23 February 1851). She was a Scottish and dramatist. Scattered throughout her dramas are also some lively and beautiful songs, The Chough and the Crow in Orra, and the lover's song in Phantom.

The Great Exhibition of 1871 by Peter Cook

It was marked by 'a great and universal tide of successes'. In the eyes of Channel Islanders It rivalled the great exhibition at Crystal Palace.

Open for three weeks, it drew 30,000 visitors to the grounds of Victoria College and on the opening day the crush was so great that officials had to retire from the Bagatelle entrance "whereupon several people, it is believed, taking advantage of the confusion managed to enter without payment."

The purpose of it all was to encourage trade and commerce. But the Victorians were prudish about admitting it. The Jersey Express noted: "Such exhibitions will prove a source of pecuniary benefit, though this is but a narrow and sordid view which few will advance as a weighty argument in their favour."

More important than the `narrow and sordid' commercialism of it all was the pomp and ceremony. The scene on June 28th, 1871 was a splendid one. Mist and heavy rain had dampened everyone's spirits as workmen put the finishing touches to the great halls but the sun shone brightly on the day itself.

The gates of the College grounds opened to the public at 11. Banners floated from the College towers, the roof of the pavilions and the horticultural tent. There were gay decorations on the annexe and the annexe to the annexe which had been hurriedly erected, shedding for the cattle had been put up all round the school pitches and the College cricket field held an assortment of horses, cattle, poultry, dogs and agricultural implements.

Along Bagatelle Road a procession of officials lined up awaiting the Governor of Jersey, His Excellency Major-General Guy, who arrived with military punctuality at 12 noon. The procession then marched forward-the honorary police of St. Helier, the exhibition committee, secretaries of departments, committees of departments, naval and military officials, guests, visitors, Deputies, Constables, rectors, judges and both Bailiffs-and simultaneously the Jersey Philharmonic Society band struck up with Auber's exhibition overture, a performance which was reported as being `slightly marred by the high wind'.

When His Excellency entered the main pavilion the Jersey Musical Society choir sang the 100th psalm. Then there were speeches followed by the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's `Messiah', anthems and chorales by Bach, Handel and Beethoven, plus a piece called `It is a good thing' composed by a Jersey music teacher, Edwin Lott, who doesn't seem to have been overawed by the company of great composers.

When His Excellency declared the exhibition open, Colonel Touzel signalled the St. Helier battery of the Royal Jersey Militia who were stationed in the rear of the College. They fired a salute. At least those who saw the signal fired a salute. The rest followed soon after and the pavilions resounded to ragged gunfire for a full five minutes.

Afterwards His Excellency and the exhibition President, Mr. C. P. Le Cornu, marched through the halls. They admired the exhibits and also a Royal statue donated by Queen Victoria. The bust was a prize piece and :rested as such by the secretary in his report-'Her Gracious Majesty the Queen has signified her royal pleasure and readiness to take part in the exhibition and though, not able from State engagements and other important arrangements, to be Herself or any other member of the Royal family, present at the opening, yet most graciously gave directions that a Marble Bust (after a design of her Royal Highness the princess Royal), of the late Prince Consort, unnamed the Good, should be forwarded to race the exhibition." For three weeks Prince Albert the Good stared down on all-comers.

On the evening after the opening day a grand banquet took place at the Queen's Assembly room, room, Belmont Place. It was a stag party. 120 gentlemen sat down to mock turtle soup, filleted soles, boar's head with pigeon pies; mayonnaise of lobster or boiled chicken and bechamel sauce, gooseberry tarts and cabinet puddings. It was just as well there were no ladies. If they'd survived the meal, they certainly wouldn't have survived the speeches.

There were 25 Toasts to H.M. the Queen, H.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Army, the Navy, the Jersey Militia, the Guernsey Militia and the Governors of Jersey and Guernsey, were followed by thanks and the mention of the Bailiffs of Guernsey and Jersey who then replied, a speech by the Attorney General in praise of the Dean and clergy to which the Dean responded, the President of the exhibition who stood up to loud cheers and gave a long, long speech, which was only punctuated by frequent cries of 'hear, hear', the Treasurer, G. Le Gros, proposed the health of the Vice Consul of France and Baron de Cussy, the Vice Consul, begged the company to accept his heartfelt thanks and a good deal more. then there were Col. le Couteur, Mr. Rouget from Guernsey, the Rev. Le Maistre, who was cheered when he called the exhibition a 'labour of love', Mr. Nicolle from Guernsey, Mr. Bishop and the Rev. Brehaut, Mr. W. H. Le Feuvre, Dr. Dickson, Mr. W. G. Reid, Mr. H. L. Manuel an' Capt. Sausmarez. Finally the President proposed a toast 'to the unity of Channel Islanders' and McKee's stringed band took over for the rest of the evening.

Interest in the exhibition continued though crowds began to 'tail off' towards the end. To the late Victorians it all represented an impressive sight. The inaugural pavilion had been set up in front of the College. It had a lofty pagoda-style roof and open sides, the pillars were gaily draped with foliage and ornamented with shields bearing the Island crests. Behind the pavilion was the horticultural tent and in its centre a massive fountain sending up continuous streams of water from four dolphins "each bestridden by a chubby little water cupid nursing a fish."

Then there was the show yard-Victoria College's cricket pitch---for the agricultural exhibits peopled by a raucous collection of animals including a laughing jackass and showing off to good effect the latest examples of 'agricultural machinery in motion'. Besides the agricultural and horticultural sections, separate pavilions were devoted to poultry and dogs, art and industry, and loan collections.

The Loan collection in the College's hall seemed 'like a fairy palace' to one newspaper reporter. It was full of objets d'art. Unfortunately the palace had its deficiencies. Paintings, antiques, statues and costumes were crammed into every corner though this wasn't the Committee's fault. The same newspaperman hastened to explain that "the defective light which in some places prevents objects being seen cannot be laid to the Committee's charge." Still it was a defect in the exhibition's fairy-like aura.

In the midst of all this magnificence the judges were faced with the job of awarding prizes. They did so with impartiality so that both Channel Islands had a satisfying half-share. And they backed up the awards with reasoned judgement. On one occasion the Jersey Express informed its readers that "one of the judges in this class, a gentleman eminently qualified to give an opinion, remarked that he had no idea that there was anyone who could prepare butterflies for the hair in the manner done by Mrs. J. Barnes."

If the judges were surprised by the standard of Channel Island artistry, some of the decisions they had to make seem even more surprising. No doubt the Mesdames Benest deserved a top prize for 'exhibiting some very elaborately embroidered underclothing' but who could really be expected to choose between the merits of Messrs. C. and J. Pallot's corn crusher and Mr. Thomas Corbett's oil cake breaker. And was Mr. Kilner's model grab link a superior example of craftsmanship compared with Mr. H. K. Lipscombe's collection of fancy biscuits in a tin?

If the choice was difficult, the judges did have some compensation. One morning's work included sampling exhibits of beer, liqueurs and wine, which was then spoilt by a combination of vinegar, confectionery and chewing tobacco. And still the judges emerged with sound, reasoned decisions. "In 'Ale and Beer' we highly commend Messrs. Quirk and Randall, the former for invalid pale ale, the latter for good, wholesome beer," they decided.

After due consideration, another prize went to Mr. Beaume because "we feel it our duty to award a silver medal for a collection of cordials and liqueurs of great excellence, manufactured by himself." One imagines Mr. Beaume's stock was somewhat depleted by the passage of this stimable jury.

To go with the exhibits, there were several grand spectacles. Pride of place went to Dr. Fournier, of Paris and St. Mark's Road, who lectured on agricultural chemistry. He won a silver medal but he was disqualified in another class on the grounds that "it was not practical to test the utility of his chemical products."

Agriculture as a whole was well represented. Altogether there were 550 entries requiring 2,446 ft. of shedding covering a total of 40,000 sq. ft.

There were also some bizarre exhibits. Two items in the agricultural tent were described as representing "the furs and fossils of the far north" and the "rude but useful implements of the all but savage tribes of the South Seas."

 The exhibition continued through the summer days of early July. It had been opened with a blaze of publicity and it had to be closed in the same manner. The great Channel Islands exhibition of 1871 ended as ceremoniously as it began. Each member of the exhibition committee made a final speech and their eloquence was only interrupted by the chanting of the Jersey Philharmonic Society's choir.

After the secretary had made his report, the company sang `See the conquering hero comes'; after the agricultural report, there was a rousing chorus of `All among the barley'; after the horticultural secretary's speech, everyone joined in 'the happy market gardener's song'; and after the last word had been said on the subject of dogs and poultry, the audience tackled the numerous verses of a song called 'The Chough and the Crow'.

by Joanna Baillie

The chough and crow to roost are gone,
The owl sits on the tree,
The hush'd wind wails with feeble moan,
Like infant charity.
The wild fire dances on the fen.

The red star sheds its ray ;
Uprouse ye, then, my merry men !

It is our opening day.

Both child and nurse are fast asleep,
And closed is every flower,
The winking tapers faintly peep

High from my lady's bower ;
Bewildered hinds with shortened ken
Shrink in their murky way ;
Uprouse ye, then, my merry men !
It is our opening day.

Nor board nor garner own we now,
Nor roof nor latched door,
Nor kind mate bound by holy vow

To bless a good man's store ;
Noon lulls us in a gloomy den.

And night is grown our day ;
Uprouse ye, then, my merry men !
It is our opening day.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Political and the Pastoral

“There are still no plans to publish a report into how the Jersey church handled an allegation of sexual abuse of a vulnerable person by a churchwarden, despite a delegation from Jersey meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this month.”

“Chief Minister Ian Gorst met the Archbishop along with Lieutenant-Governor General Sir John McColl and Bailiff William Bailhache in Canterbury at the start of the month to try to resolve the issue – Senator Gorst has previously said that he wants the Steel report to be published”

(Bailliwick Express)

My first thought on reading that story last week was incredulity that the Chief Minister – a political role – should be involved in Anglican Church politics. I know the Dean sits in the States (and is remunerated for his time in the Assembly), but I have disquiet that the Chief Minister seems to have gone on a private jaunt, not at the bequest of the States (no vote or proposition was made), and yet gone as Chief Minister, rather than in a private capacity as Mr Gorst.

Someone has to pay for that little jaunt, and I wonder who is. I have put in a request to find out, as it seems to be of interest to the taxpayer, who will probably pick up the tab.And now have the results

What the travel costs of this journey were? And how they were apportioned?:

Chief Minister Ian Gorst £251.34 (funded by the Chief Ministers Department)

Lieutenant Governor Sir John McColl £281.54 (funded by Office of the Lieutenant Governor)
Bailiff William Bailhache £281.54 (funded by the Bailiffs Chambers

So it was not funded privately by the individuals concerned in from their own purse. It does seem a rather casual attitude to departmental expenses which are, after all, for official States business, and this does not exactly seem to fit that remit.

Ian Gorst on BBC Radio Jersey was saying how the terms of reference included publishing the final version, suitably redacted, in the public domain. He suggested that all parties involved in drawing up the terms of reference had agreed to that.

However, he failed to mention that the lady at the centre of the report had not been privy to drawing up terms of reference, and did not wish to revisit a very traumatic time in her past by having it published.

That is very important, because it suggests that the Bishop of Winchester might have pastoral reasons for keeping the report under wraps, because it could damage a vulnerable adult. Even if he doesn't have those reasons, they are still good reasons for not publishing. The pastoral card should always trump the political one, at least if you read the New Testament, Jesus acts that way.

That is something also not mentioned by the Dean of Jersey when he was speaking on BBC Radio Jersey.

Church people in positions of authority – clergy, churchwardens, lay readers etc in Jersey have just finished safeguarding training, and are presently rolling out safeguarding materials to websites and church notice boards also mention this, and there and leaflets are also being put at the back of churches.

Just a few churches, the last time I checked, were somewhat dilatory about getting these notifications about safeguarding done, but many had done so, and more were due to, and almost certainly have done. Training has also been done. This is good news and should be welcomed.

Now one of the things mentioned in the safeguarding policy is the care which needs to be taken with vulnerable adults. This is quite an important section, and was carefully drafted.

And yet, despite the damage that the Steel report being made public could do to a vulnerable adult, the Dean seems determined to press ahead with the call for publication! It seems that double standards apply, or at the very least, that what putting safeguarding in practice has not been thoroughly thought through. It is not enough just to have the policy: it should be put into action, even if that means putting the Steel report aside. Church politics should not take precedence over pastoral care. Safeguarding must not just be tick-boxes.

Of course, reason for restricting publication would be legal matters or data protection issues. If the report was likely to face a legal challenge, for example, from the author of the Korris report, that might well delay publication until the legal issues could be resolved. After all, it could cause professional reputations to be damaged, and that is the sort of matter which could lead to a writ for libel – defamation of character.

And as it is a UK report commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, it should be probably be subject to "Maxwellisation". This is a procedure in current British legal practice where individuals due to be criticised in an official report are sent details of the criticism in advance and permitted to respond prior to publication. It’s meant to stop any factual errors – or misinterpretations – getting into the public domain.

This means that in principle any interested parties should have been sent a copy of those parts concerning them for comments. And, of course, this has almost certainly not been done.

It was interesting that despite the case being pressed for the report going to the public domain, the Dean appeared to intimate, on BBC Radio Jersey, that he would at present be quite happy for the report to be just sent to a privileged number of people – the Chief Minister, the Bailiff, maybe one or two others - and of course himself.

“I’d rather like to read it”, he said, giving the impression in his tone that nothing he wanted more to do was to sit down with a mug of cocoa in an comfy armchair by the fireside one evening, and peruse it.

But the way in which reports have a very nasty habit of leaking out – a letter from the Bishop to the Dean being one example – shows that this approach is simply not safe. One senior layman - Sir Philip Baihache - (brother of the Bailiff) was criticised for reading confidential files on a plane trip in view of others on the plane, who were shocked by that lack of care. And leaks are selective: usually designed to damage. That's not good as an example of pastoral practice.

The Church in Jersey has shown in the past that it is not to be trusted with confidential information. I’m not saying the Dean would leak it, but in all likelihood be leaked by someone, probably believing they acted for the best intentions, but selectively. The road to hell may well be paved with well intentioned leaks.

And does it really matter? We are told that churchgoers are concerned, but I have yet to meet many who are. For most, the orderly routine of church services continues as before, and if the prayers now include the Bishop of Dover rather than Winchester, that is hardly a major or disruptive change.

I notice that Christenings, Weddings, Funerals, Family Services and Communion continue very much as they have done. It begs the question: is it really that important in the grand scheme of things? Isn't it time to just forget about it and move on? 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Terminological Inexactitude of Sir Philip Bailhache

Sir Philip Bailhache has responded to the calls by Montfort Tadier and Philip Ozouf to remove the Bailiff from the States, by saying:

“The Bailiff fulfils no political function in the States, he plays no part in the framing of the passage of laws other than sitting in the chair to make sure the debate is fair and in accordance with the rules. So far as the court is concerned, the Bailiff does not sit in court on any matter where he is presided over the States so I don't think that part of the dual role is a concern so far as the question of democracy is concerned. The important thing for a speaker of any parliamentary assembly is, he or she should be independent and the Bailiff is undoubtedly independent.”

But as a former Bailiff, Sir Philip should be well aware of the situation. He is being extremely disingenuous. His own brother, when Deputy Bailiff, stated in the States that:

“Under Standing Orders the arrangements are that when a Member wishes to lodge a proposition he or she needs to have the consent of the Bailiff before it is an option.”

This was also picked up by the Carswell report on the role of the Crown Officers in the States. The report notes that:

"Outside the Chamber, the Bailiff has to consider draft propositions and draft questions, which he must admit unless they contravene Standing Orders. The Bailiff may on occasion discuss these matters with individual members of the States. If questions are not properly framed, the Greffier or the Bailiff will regularly suggest amendments to address the defect and allow the questions to proceed."

"It was represented to us by a number of respondents that although the Bailiff must apply Standing Orders in all decisions which he makes and is bound to give all members an opportunity to speak when they express a wish to do so, he nevertheless exerts a degree of political influence by the manner in which he carries out his function."

"Members of the States may also suppose that the Bailiff has allowed political considerations to affect his application of Standing Orders, particularly when he has ruled against their submissions."

Former Deputy Bob Hill made this plain in an interview he had with the Carswell committee:

"There are problems where conflicts are clear, and my first conflict came when soon after being elected as a member of the States and we had a big debate on the sixth form college. And I felt really that there was an opportunity here for us to have an overall sixth form college, and I tried to lodge an amendment to include Victoria College as part of the sixth form college system, and it was refused. But, of course, I did argue with the Bailiff [Sir Philip Bailhache] and said, "Well, with respect, sir, you are Chairman of the Governors of Victoria College as well". He said, "Well, that doesn't come into it" and I said, "You allow me to put an amendment in about the ladies' college, but not allow me to put an amendment in". He said, "Well, I make the final decision".

"Sir, I learnt at an early stage that there was no right of appeal, because that is the situation. You make your application to the Bailiff, and the Bailiff says you can have something or you cannot. That is the same for amendments and propositions in questions so, if one wants to ask a question, at the end of the day, it is the Bailiff that has the ultimate decision as to whether you can ask it or not."

In his written submission, Bob Hill summarised the lack of appeal against a decision, which might be conflicted:

"At present the Bailiff is responsible for approving requests from Members when lodging questions, both oral and written, propositions, amendments and making personal statements. If the Bailiff rejects the requests there is no ability to appeal against that decision. I have personal experience and the current arrangements should not continue."

Being something of a traditionalist, I’m actually in favour of keeping the Bailiff in the States, but there need to be two significant changes:

Firstly, the Bailiff’s veto, as outlined above, should be removed. It should not be right for an unelected member of the States to have the say over whether members’ propositions can see the light of day. This must go, and soon.

Secondly, the Bailiff needs a more detailed reference guide based on the United Kingdom Hansard and their speaker's guidelines, so that when he pontificates on whether something is “unparliamentary”, he stands on solid ground, and not just personal taste (based perhaps on his own religiosity).

It does seem strange that Jersey makes a point of following the UK parliamentary guidelines for etiquette in some respects - for instance, following Erskine May, the parliamentary 'bible', in respect of attire, but ignoring customary practice in the UK Parliament when it suits.

If the argument for attire is that we should follow "the mother of Parliaments", then why the inconsistency with the use of language? Contrariwise, if Jersey follows its own practice and precedents, which are at odd with the UK Parliament, where is the justification for citing the UK Parliament as an authority for attire?

It is also worth reflecting on the submission "Use of unparliamentary language" which was written evidence submitted by the Clerk of the House of Commons, Robert Rogers in June 2012. He says:

Expressions which are unparliamentary and which normally call for prompt intervention from the Chair include:

(1) the imputation of false or unavowed motives;

(2) the misrepresentation of the language of another and the accusation of misrepresentation;

(3) charges of uttering a deliberate falsehood;

(4) abusive and insulting language of a nature likely to create disorder.

The Speaker has said in this connection that whether a word should be regarded as unparliamentary depends on the context in which it is used.

But he goes on to add:

The Chair does not generally intervene on matters of taste, but Members may take a collective view; and I have from time to time seen an individual Member, by the way he expressed himself, damage himself more in the estimation of the House than he damaged the target of his accusation.

and further comments:

It is not very sensible in my view to return to the "taboo" list of supposedly naughty words. On the one hand this would ignore the all-important issue of context; and on the other it would provide perhaps irresistible temptation to some.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A Climate of Concealment

There is a scene in “Yes Minister” where Jim Hacker goes “walkabout” without the guiding present of Sir Humphrey and talks to members of staff without Sir Humphrey being present. Sir Humphrey is extremely annoyed and tells the Minister he cannot just go off meeting people in the department, as meetings need to be arranged and proper records kept.

That couldn’t happen in real life – or could it? Paul Le Claire’s testimony to the Jersey Care Inquiry reveals a culture in which bad management was concealed, and in which, incredibly, he was forced to apologise for “checking up on officers”.

Of course, if the officers in question had been providing a true statement about the situation, there would have been no reason for him to bring the subject up at all, except to praise them. I venture to suggest that if that had been the case, there would not have been any criticism of him!

This particular story dates back to a time before Ministerial government, although one wonders how much of a difference that actually made. He was a member of the Health & Social Services Committee from June 1999 until 2005.

This is an extract from his statement, made to the inquiry, and in the public domain on their website. One serendipitous side effect of the Jersey Care Inquiry is that it puts into the light a number of practices which show what really was going on “behind closed doors”.

For the historian, this is a godsend, as it sheds light on what it was like to be a member of a committee, how the committee operated, how accurately records of meetings were kept, and the dangers of relying on briefings from officers who either themselves had been mislead by underlings, or who were themselves being duplicitous.

In such a climate, it is clear that the best way of getting things done was probably to take a less confrontational approach, which is certainly what Dick Shenton would have done if Paul Le Claire had told him. There are probably ways and means of telling officials that the reality had better catch up with the minuted assurance.

But that really should not be the case. If an official tells a committee that something has been done, he should have checked that it has been done, and certainly he should not assure the committee it has when it has not, or accept an apology when it emerges that it has not. This extract shows that there needs to be independent ways of checking whether officials are being accurate in what they are saying.

A Climate of Concealment: The Case of the Renal Ward
by Paul Le Claire

One matter which illustrates the culture of cover-up within the States is the way in which minutes were taken of meetings of the Health and Social Services Committees and others on which I served. On numerous occasions, I witnessed situations where the note taker would be asked to put their pen down and not record certain parts of the meeting. This usually happened when something controversial was being raised, or something that could potentially damage the reputation of the States.

The note taker would literally be told ‘This is not for minuting’ and the clerks who were taking the minutes would put their pens down. I know that this happened in relation to the X children briefing which I refer to later. I know that clerks who were usually from the States Greffe were often given this instruction during committee meetings.

One specific area of concern that I had whilst a Deputy and Senator related to the renal ward at the General Hospital. Concerns had been raised about the quality of care and provision in this unit at the hospital and, due to the nature and seriousness of those concerns, I started to look into the matter further. I carried out a visit to the renal ward and, having spoken to staff at the hospital, it became clear that the ward did not have the right equipment to do the job properly and the ward was at serious risk of not meeting appropriate standards.

When I started looking into the renal ward, I thought that I would get a pat on the back for listening to concerns and looking to do something about it. However, I soon came to realise that this was not the case.

I later reported back to the Health and Social Services Committee about the concerns that had been raised. I reported that I had visited the renal ward and had been told about the lack of appropriate equipment and that other safety standards were not being adhered to. I was assured that the matter would be looked into and would be dealt with. My report to the committee resulted in the renal ward issue being placed on the agenda for a future Health and Social Services Committee meeting.

Before the meeting where the renal ward issue was to be discussed, the committee members received a copy of the agenda. This was not unusual - an agenda would always be sent out before the committee meeting took place. The agenda for this particular meeting confirmed that the issues at the renal ward had been resolved, and that James Le Feuvre, the Manager of Corporate Services who was in charge of this agenda item, would provide the committee with an update at the committee meeting.

Having been told that the renal ward issues had been resolved, and by chance having arrived early for the meeting, I decided to visit the ward to see how matters had improved since I last visited. However, when I turned up at the ward one of the nurses immediately said to me ‘What are you doing here?’ I thought this was a strange reaction. I therefore confirmed that I was visiting to see how the ward was running, now that everything had been fixed. It was at this point that the nurse confirmed that the matters had not been resolved and that only one thing, on a list of many, had actually been rectified.

I was very concerned by this as there had been a list of numerous matters that needed to be addressed at this renal unit and the committee paper which had been written some two weeks before clearly said that all matters had been addressed. I therefore decided to raise this at the committee meeting

During the committee meeting, Mr James Le Feuvre, spoke on this item and updated the committee and confirmed that the issues at the renal ward had been resolved. Senator Dick Shenton was very pleased with this update and therefore suggested that the meeting move on to the next agenda item.

However, before the committee were able to move on, I confirmed that I had visited the ward and had been told that nothing had been resolved, save for one matter. When I had finished announcing this to the committee about the renal ward and the contradiction in the papers,

Senator Dick Shenton literally took a breath and dropped his pen on the desk. There was silence from the rest of the committee. Senator Dick Shenton then said, ‘I can’t have members of my committee checking up on officers’. By this he meant that he was not happy that I had questioned the account given by James Le Feuvre, namely that all of the matters at the renal ward had been resolved.

At this point, Mr Graham Jennings the Chief Officer for the Health and Social Services Department spoke up and agreed that he didn’t want ‘his officers undermined’.

I considered resigning from the committee at this point but I decided that it would be best for me to stay quiet for the time being so that I could stay on the committee to see what else was going wrong, and not being dealt with. I would like to point out that I was a young politician at this time, surrounded by many who had been in politics for many years.

Ten minutes after I had been effectively ‘told off’ by the committee for what I considered was doing my job, I was intimidated into apologising to James Le Feuvre for having gone behind his back to check up on what he had told us.

Therefore I was apologising to someone who had lied to the committee and covered up the fact that nothing had been done to resolve the problems at the renal ward.

Several years later when Senator Shenton himself was in need of the services of the renal unit, we met at Overdale Hospital with the patients. As a result of this meeting he was successful in securing a substantial private donation to fund another kidney dialysis machine.

Speaking afterwards to me at that time, he referred to the incident where we were misled as a committee and said had I spoken to him privately about the matter instead of raising it in the committee meeting, he would have been able to do something about it.

Senator Shenton was a very capable and likeable man whom I hold in high regard but this admission of his underlines the fact that nothing can be done overtly given the climate of concealment that is pervasive within the Civil Service and the General Hospital in particular.

Monday, 26 October 2015

A Local Hero: RIP Mitch Couriard

Mitch Couriard died last week. He was very much a “local hero”, and one who brought out the better side of society, of being an example of service to the community in a really genuine manner.

He originally qualified as an electrician, but after a number of years of voluntary service with the Jersey Youth Service and took a position at the Department of Education. He was one of Jersey's torchbearers in the 2012 Summer Olympics torch relay.

Couriard was a member of the Honorary Police having been elected to serve as a Vingtenier for the Vingtaine du Mont à l'Abbé in Saint Helier, Jersey. He was also president of the Honorary Police Association.

His "beat" included Victoria Avenue, meaning that he was delegated to manage policing for the annual Battle of Flowers held in August - an event that continues to attract crowds of 10,000 or more. As such he was one of the most visible members of the island's Honorary Police. He was awarded membership of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's birthday honours list of June 2002 jointly for his services as a civil servant and his honorary work.

On 18 August 2015, Mitch married his second wife Kaye Temple at Southampton Hospital. Couriard died of cancer, aged 61, at the Jersey Hospice on 23 October 2015.

Education minister, Deputy Rod Bryans said: "I arrived in Jersey in 1976 and if I were asked to recall three most distinctive characters that sum up Jersey Mitch Couriard would be one I would immediately call to mind.

"He was always there. All of us have experienced turning up at a junction on a dark wet night to be pointed in the right direction by Mitch. I think the whole island owes him a debt of gratitude."

“A big man with a big heart who just seemed to be everywhere. Whether it was Battle of Flowers, Jersey Live, or just manning a road on a cold night, Mitch's passion to help people made sure he was always there.”

“His tireless, compassionate work with the Youth Service had a profound effect on all of those people who met him.”

“Today people openly wept in the Education department. It showed the deep respect they held for him and how much they were affected by his loss.”

Danny Scaife, the current president of the Jersey Honorary Police Association, said: "It is very sad news for the honorary police in St Helier, for all the people that worked with him and for the island because of all the years he gave in service. Even if they didn't know him perfectly, everybody knew something about Mitch, they instantly recognised him. It is a massive loss to island life as he is somebody who can't be replaced."

Principal Youth Officer Mark Capern paid tribute to his colleague “This is a very sad day for the Youth Service. Mitch gave over 40 years’ service and had an impact on so many young people. He was passionate about the youth service and the positive impact it could have. One of the projects he was most proud of was the development of Crabbe because of the unique opportunities it offered young people. So many islanders will have fond memories of Mitch as they were growing up. We will miss him very much.”

The Portrait

Each year Jersey Heritage chooses a well-known Islander to immortalise and this year the panel chose the above well-known face.

With his signature bushy black beard, Mitch Couriard was a well known 'face' of Jersey, working as a Vingtenier with the St Helier Honorary Police. The artist who undertook this portrait commission is former television show artist, judge and author of 'Take Art', Christian Furr. Furr's recent portraits include Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor for Westminster Cathedral and British tennis ace Tim Henman.

The portrait was unveiled at Jersey's Museum on 2nd May 2013.

Sunday, 25 October 2015



And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimae'us, a blind beggar, the son of Timae'us, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, he is calling you." And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" And the blind man said to him, "Master, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10: 46-52)

In Jesus day, the blind, the deformed, and the leper were considered unclean, and excluded from society, hence the blind beggar being outside the city gates.

We don’t have quite those taboos today, although as the States demonstrated with voting down free bus passes for those disabled, we can still easily exclude members of our society who are vulnerable and on the margins. But we have others.

I was watching a TV programme about the 1980s, and the way in which public information films and popular culture instilled a climate of fear in all manner of things.

One of the most extraordinary public information advertisements, by today’s standards, is the one in which AIDs is dealt with. It tells people they cannot catch it from sitting on a toilet seat, shaking hands, using the same communion cup, using the same spoon for stirring tea, etc.

And in 1987, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that people also believe that AIDS can be contracted through kissing, being sneezed on, donating blood, using the same drinking glass, and sitting on a toilet seat.

A clip from Eastenders illustrated the same paranoid fear when Dot Cotton, learning that an acquantaince of hers is gay, refuses to drink a cup of tea he has made for her, because of a fear of infection.

The book “Sexual Behavior and HIV/AIDS in Europe: Comparisons of National Surveys” compiled in 1998 called these “False Transmission Routes”. It noted that:

“Depending on the survey, the respondents were asked how they perceived the risk of HIV transmission through such everyday activities and situations as kissing (on the mouth, on the cheek), drinking from someone else’s glass or eating off someone else’s plate, eating food prepared by a person with HIV/AIDS, sitting on a toilet seat, shaking someone’s hand or touching someone, playing with a child with HIV, using someone’s razor blade or electric shaver, using public toilets, being bitten by a mosquito or other insect, being bitten by someone, and so on.”

In particular it notes that:

“Kissing and drinking from someone else’s glass bring two fearful HIV vectors into play, namely, saliva and, via sores in the mouth, blood. The problem of using toilets is related primarily to the body fluids that may be found on the toilet seat, that is, blood, semen, and urine”

It notes that:

“It may be difficult for a part of the public to understand the subtleties of scientific discourse which suggest that while HIV antibodies can be found in the blood, saliva, and urine cannot be transmitted this way.”

Older readers may remember Princess Diana's commitment and dedication to raising the profile of HIV which helped challenge the stigma of the virus.

She often publically wore a red ribbon and was the first prominent public figure in the UK to be pictured holding the hand of a person with AIDS in his hospital bed. This iconic image was seen by millions all over the world and had an amazing effect in challenging attitudes towards people living with HIV and breaking down stigma and misconceptions.

This was in the late 1980s, when many people believed it could be contracted through casual contact. She also visited a leprosy hospital in Indonesia and touched the bandaged wounds of patients. Both brave acts challenging taboos.

What is I suppose frightening is how such ignorance persists even today.

In 2013, Scotland on Sunday had an article entitled “HIV Awareness Gap Leads to Unfounded Fears of Infection.”

It notes that:

“The poll from the charity Waverley Care found that more than one in ten people wrongly believe the disease can be spread by kissing and spitting while a small proportion of respondents thought that sharing a glass, touching a toilet seat and coughing or sneezing posed a risk of passing on the illness.”

Whereas in fact:

“The virus can be spread only through unprotected sexual intercourse, the transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and potentially between a mother and child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.”

It seems we still inhabit a culture of fear and ignorance where those we designate as unclean are shunned.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The High Road

Katalin is off exploring Scotland on a tour this half-term, so this poem is written specially for her.

The High Road

My bonnie lass, is over the sea
Off to Edinburgh city she goes
Send a postcard, don’t forget me
And don’t forget warmer clothes

My bonnie lass, up to the Highlands
And down by the Lochs, she goes
Take me a photo, love in your hands
And enjoy the mountains of snows

My bonnie lass, off now to Skye
The island of magic and dreams
The Sea Eagle soars up with cry
Oh, sing me a song by the streams

My bonnie lass, journeying afar
Come back, my wandering star

Friday, 23 October 2015

Excavation shows Fisherman’s Chapel Site was used before

Having a clear out, I came across this rather interesting cutting from the 1980s JEP. The wall paintings mentioned have indeed been restored, and are one of the finest in Jersey. Dr Rodwell looks very young!

Excavation shows Fisherman’s Chapel Site was used before
By Chris Lake

The archaeological dig at the Fisherman’s Chapel Brelade, is coming to an end.

Within the next few days the archaeologist in charge, Dr Warwick Rodwell, will be completing his work and the site will be filled in again and the flooring replaced.

Considering that a great deal of the history of the chapel was destroyed in 1926, when the Rector, the Rev. J. A. Balleine, removed most of the buried remains and replaced them with concrete to underpin the building's foundations, Dr Rodwell has been pleased with the amount of historical evidence that has remained.

Almost certainly the building was used in the 14th century as a mortuary chapel, where the remains of an influential Island family were buried. There is some speculation that this was a branch of the de Carteret family, but as yet this has not yet been confirmed.

Prayers would be recited daily for the benefit of the departed souls and their pictures were added to the mural on the ceiling above.

This will be restored to some extent in July when a team of experts from Germany visit the Island.

The biblical setting and the colours used over 600 years ago are still remarkably vivid. Below the paintings, deep in the day, are the skeletal remains of some of the people the mural portrays. Ten complete, or partly complete, skeletons have been unearthed, and the bones of three of them, including those of a young child, have been left uncovered at the far end of the chantry building.

Near to these bones is a large round pit, blackened at the edges, which was used in 1753 to cast the bell for St Brelade's Church. The bell was used until 1883, when a- replacement was needed.

The mouth of the bell, made by Jean Catel, has a diameter of 27 1/2 in. across. From the middle of the 16th century, and after Edward VI's government had forbidden the purchase of prayers and the use of chantry chapels, the Fisherman's Chapel fell into disuse.

Yet it remains as an important, piece to the jigsaw of the Island's past.

From an archaeological point of view, the most interesting evidence that Dr Rodwell has unearthed relates to the building's predecessor.

For, some way below the 14th-century stone floor, is another piece of flooring, older, and not as even, but undoubtedly evidence that the Fisherman's Chapel was not the original building on the site.

The scraps of an older grave also suggest that many centuries ago a man of importance was buried on this spot, which then' became sacred to his memory.

In time his name and importance were forgotten, but the use of the site as a burial ground remained until the prohibitive Acts of King Edward VI.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Evidence and Corroboration

Evidence and Corroboration

Former police officer Anton Cornelissen has been giving quite a lot of interesting evidence from 1996 when he was seconded to the Child Protection Team, and the police were investigating the case of Jervis-Dykes, a teacher at Victoria College accused of sexually abusing pupils in his care.

An index file went missing, and later was found hidden in the locker of a senior officer, Roger Pryke. Roger Pryke had left the force because of ill health, which is why his locker was being cleared out. He is now deceased, and cannot be questioned as to his motives.

One question remains: if he wanted to really hamper the investigation, why did he not remove the records and destroy them? One reason might be that he originally intended to return it, once it had been purged of any records he thought were dangerously close to the mark.

Mr Cornelissen mentioned how three officers, John De La Haye, Trevor Garrett and Roger Pryke, had all indicated they did not want the case to be investigated. He claimed that many of his colleagues were ex-Victoria College and felt he "was dragging their school through the mud."

There was also the case of the St Helier Yacht Club at South Pier where it was alleged that Mr Dykes had taken pupils to socialise, teach them navigation, and supply them with alcohol. However, when Mr Cornelissen went there with Chief Inspector John De La Haye.

He said that Mr De La Haye had gone inside, as a member, reviewed the club log book, and given the dates that Dykes had been there – but told him that he was alone – “I was not allowed to attend at the Club without his presence, or to view the log book.”

Thanks to the good offices of the Club Secretary and Chairman, who could not understand reasons why he should be prevented from viewing the log book, he was able to see the book, and saw that Dykes had been there, and signed in others, although no names were given. However it was clearly a plausible assumption they had been pupils of the school, although it should be noted that the log does not tell that, and it must be supplemented by the testimony of pupils.

This contradicted what he had been told by Mr De La Haye, and he also discovered that that a group of senior officers, among whom were numbered Mr De La Haye, frequently attended at the Yacht Club together, and were apparently sailed together.

This does not necessarily mean a conspiracy in the sense of an organised plan to cover up over Jervis-Dykes, and Stephen Sharp found no evidence for that. But it does indicate a culture in which the ties of school loomed large, in which there would be a certain resistance from individuals against looking into matters, and informal conversations which led to the same result.

In this respect, it could have simply been enough to share an assumption that the good name of the school should be protected, and the cliché about not washing line in public upheld. That would have been enough to account for all the mischief which occurred.

Referring to his statement, Mr Cornelissen said he had authored an email in 2007 setting out some of the difficulties he had experienced investigating Victoria College at the request of Mr Harper, never believing for a second that it would subsequently be made available for public consumption because he disclosed it to former Senator Stuart Syvret who published it on his blog.  He said this was an example of Mr Harper’s lack of integrity. This has been extensively reported on the BBC.

However, as reported on Rico Sorda’s blog, Lenny Harper - contacted by "Team Voice" replied and actually denies leaking the document: “It was not I who leaked the email. Mr Syvret has received many, many, States documents from whistle blowers, some of them from anonymous sources.”

And in the same email, Lenny Harper says:

“However, Jersey famously (or infamously) leaks like the proverbial sieve, and any number of people could have leaked that email to Mr Syvret, including Mr Cornelissen himself.  He had more to gain than I from the leak.  What benefit was it to me?”

It should be noted that the contents of the email evidently got to Stuart Syvret who published in a blog posting called “Letter from Exile 11” in 2010, but that this was also long after Mr Harper’s retirement in Autumn 2008.

It is certainly possible that it found its way to Stuart Syvret via other route. And the late publication suggests it was not something he had immediately in 2008.

However it found its way to Stuart Syvret, it remained under wraps until 2010, when, from his self-imposed exile, Stuart Syvret decided to share more of the material he had available to him. Syvret tells of meeting Mr Cornelissen in 2011 and being thanked for the publication of the email. A careful reading of his notes, and those on his original blog, show that what he doesn’t tell is the source of the leak.

While Mr Cornelissen is to be praised for being so frank about the hampering of the investigation, his surmise that it was Lenny Harper who leaked the email should not go unchallenged, and the media reports should have made it clear that this was unsubstantiated either by Mr Harper or Stuart Syvret. It is a matter of evidence and corroboration.

There’s a similar hiatus in the reporting of the evidence by Brian Carter who worked as a Civilian Investigator on Operation Rectangle.

He noted that there were also difficulties getting cases to court because of the need for corroboration. This has been reported on the news. However, what has not been emphasised so much is that he stated that many of the older cases they came across would make it to a courtroom today.

In this respect it is worth noting Wendy Kinnard, as Home Affairs Minister, tried to get the law changed regarding the "corroboration rules"

That law, on which Frank Walker's Council of Ministers refused to budge, and which Wendy Kinnard decided to resign on a matter of principle, gave the situation in which a warning must be given to a jury over uncorroborated evidence from certain types of witnesses - children, sexual assault victims and other defendants.

It was only altered by the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 3) (Jersey) Law, which was lodged in 18 October 2011. Hence a number of cases which may have been dropped on the grounds that they would certainly fail might conceivably have proceeded to prosecution. The change in the law must surely change the position on "more likely than not".

The change in the law was voted on 17 January 2012, and became law in March 2012. It passed by 41 votes, with no abstentions, but some absences from the sitting.

Deputy Roy Le Hérissier asked if more convictions had come about as a result of the changed law in the UK and elsewhere, and Sir Philip Bailhache, acting as rapporteur for this order, replied that: "I am not sure that I can give Deputy Le Hérissier any specific information about the number of cases which have led to convictions in other jurisdictions as a result of the changes in the corroboration rules, but logic would suggest that the absence of the requirement for corroboration has made it easier to bring guilty men to justice and I cannot, I am afraid, say more than that."

More on this can be read here:

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Don't Ignore the Over 75s

I read in the Jersey Hansard recently:

“What discussions, if any, have taken place with the relevant authorities to investigate the possibly of the BBC funding free TV licences for the over 75s in a similar arrangement to that which has been announced in the UK?”


“The BBC has agreed to take on the cost of free television licences for over-75s in the UK. This will be phased in from 2018/19 with the BBC taking on the full costs from 2020/21, at which point the BBC will decide on the future of free TV licences for over-75s in the UK.”

“Jersey Government officials are in contact with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on this matter. In early discussions it was established that the agreement between the UK Government and the BBC regarding over-75s licences only applies to over-75s in the UK and not to the Crown Dependencies. This is partly due to the fact that the social security systems of the jurisdictions are separate.”

“There has been further correspondence between Jersey Government officials and the DCMS to explore the options available for a similar agreement between the BBC and the Government of Jersey. Discussion with DCMS and the BBC are continuing on this issue, as well as on the future of the BBC and the renewal of its charter.”

The BBC has agreed to take on the cost of free TV for the over 75s mainly because the UK government has told them to. I hope our discussions are not just looking at options, but also looking to lay down the law in the same way. It would be rather pathetic if supine discussions led to the Channel Islands being the only places in the British Isles where the BBC just collected TV licences for the over 75s.

I notice that Guernsey - which provides free TV licences to all over 75, not means tested as in Jersey, says:

"The recent announcement of the proposed change in the UK, with a requirement that the BBC should bear the cost of the free licences for over-75s, may well change the position locally."

And in the Isle of Man, we have this recent news:

"Plans to provide free television licences for over 75s in the Island remain firmly on the government agenda, the Treasury minister insists. Eddie Teare today told Tynwald the BBC has been asked to include the Isle of Man in proposals to offer exemption to those over the age of 75, a move which would be phased in from 2018. Mr Teare said it would help meet one of the Manx government's three principles - to protect the vulnerable."

Essentially, the UK will change the law so that an agreement is in place forcing the BBC and not the UK government has to fund the over 75s licence. The BBC will accept this: they have little choice.

What would they do if we told them they would have to fund the deficit because we would follow the UK suit? Would they pull out of transmission in the Channel Islands, knowing that people with satellite signals would still be as able as those in Normandy to watch free of charge? Would it be worth losing all the under 75s who would continue paying an annual charge of of £145.50?

I think it is time for tough negotiations; we owe it to the elderly.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Silence and Questions

The photo shows John de Carteret in very 1970s fashion and hair style! He became a St Lawrence Deputy at the age of 28 in 1975, and went on to serve a six year term as a Senator. During that period, he was originally a sharp critic of the States, but gradually as time went on, appeared to move gradually more over to the establishment side, which was probably why he failed to be re-elected as Senator, losing the popular support which propelled him into office. But he retained his interest in politics, tried again in 1999, and returned very much to his more radical roots.

In the States, we read the following notice of his death recently:

"Members will have noticed that Mr. John de Carteret sadly died over the weekend. Mr. de Carteret was elected as a Deputy in St. Lawrence in 1975 and served one term of 3 years, as it then was, in that capacity. He was subsequently elected as a Senator in 1978 when he topped the poll. During his time in the States he was known as a fluent contributor in debates and he served on the establishment of the Gambling Control and Overseas Aid Committees. He retired from the States in 1984, although he obviously did not lose his enthusiasm for politics, standing again, unsuccessfully as it turned out, in the 1990s." (Hansard)

Members approved this, and showed their approval in the customary manner by standing for a minute's silence.

It's s shame that the silence was not filled with this letter from 2008 being read out just after the notice of John de Carteret’s death. It is a letter written by the former Senator, in which he surveys the political landscape of 2008, and notes how little change occurs in Jersey politics. Given the elections of 2014, it is clear that not much has changed since, either:

I have never understood why the Jersey voting public are not actually prepared to vote real change into the States. Over many years between elections the public will whinge and moan but always re-elect the vast majority of States Members back for a further term. We will see two or three new Senators and a few new Deputies who, once elected, forget all the election manifesto promises or even worse (as in most cases) find themselves completely out of their depth or join the establishment.

Politics is the relief of great motivation fused with drive for achievement and the challenge of debate, sometimes against impossible odds or so it seems at the time. The lack of will to change by the public must either be apathy or we must assume that the population by and large are happy with our current States Members and their performance.

Many years ago I spent four months researching and two and a half hours on my feet in the States Chamber as a Senator trying to toughen up States policies in pay and employment in the public sector. I was defeated and soon afterwards met with the then Senator Cyril le Marquand. I asked him how does one get the States to get tough and change unacceptable practices which would not last five minutes in private enterprise? His reply was, ‘When they run out of money, John’.

Now is this what we are heading for because at the moment the practice seems to be tax and spend, but for how long?

That is rather prophetic, as the States is in danger of running out of money, and yet, as Kevin Keen found out, as in Yes Minister, each little empire is jealously guarded by its Sir Humpreys and their silo mentalities, retarding any attempts to work together, and making a mockery of that cliché that Ministerial government was supposed to bring – “joined up government”.

From 1983, Minutes of the States, this is also worth reviewing, as matters have changed little since:

Senator John Philip de Carteret asked Senator John Clark Averty, President of the Establishment Committee, the following questions – “The declared policy of the States carried out through the Establishment Committee has been for many years to appoint local people to top jobs. This has been the policy repeatedly put forward at elections by senior politicians who have been responsible for carrying out this policy as Committee Presidents

Is the President telling the public that there is no-one in Jersey who is capable enough to head his Department?

Excluding the Income Tax Department and States Treasury, could the President tell the House how many local applicants have been appointed Chief Officers since he became President? 

Is the President aware of the disquiet among civil servants about continual outside appointments and what does he intend to do about it?”   

Monday, 19 October 2015

Senator Alan Maclean and Senior Citizens

Senator Alan Maclean and Senior Citizens

“We owe a great deal to our senior citizens who made our Island the very special place that we enjoy today.”

“In other societies the senior members of a family are treated like ‘royalty’ and honoured for their wisdom and experience.”

“It is essential that senior citizens are afforded the respect and care that they deserve after years of paying their taxes and contributing to our community.”

“Inflation and especially the rising costs of food and fuel are impacting on retired people living on fixed incomes. We must ensure that help is available and targeted in a fair and dignified manner to those in genuine need.”

“There needs to be a special focus on our senior citizens to understand their needs and ensure that the vulnerable and less well off are supported in a fair and dignified way.”

- Election Manifesto: 2014

Christmas Bonus removed – where the previous Minister for Social Security, Francis Le Gresley, worked out a means of retaining it at a reduced sum, against demands to scrap it, Susie Pinel proposed and succeeded in scrapping it altogether.

Senator Alan Maclean voted for scrapping the bonus. So much for the “respect and care that they deserve after years of paying their taxes and contributing to our community.”

Of course his response would be to say it is not targeted to those in most need – so why not amend the proposition to make it means tested? The failure to do so I think illustrates the hollow nature of his manifesto.

The replacement puts the money back in the pot where it supposedly can be targeted to those most in need, although as there is no detailed chain of cause and effect, I am somewhat suspicious of that. Usually when money goes back "in the pot", that is the last we see of it. Clearly former Senator Le Gresley didn’t see it that way: something direct is always better because you can see it making a difference.

There was an amendment to the Medium Term Plan by Deputy Judy Martin: After the words “as set out in Summary Table C” insert the words “except that the net revenue expenditure of the Chief Minister’s Department and the Treasury and Resources Department should be reduced in 2016 in the sum of £90,000 and £67,000 respectively and the net revenue expenditure of the Social Security Department be increased by £157,000 to fund the continued provision of means-tested free television licences for the over-75s"

Funding for TV Licence for over 75s – which is means tested, only retained by one vote. Whether the Minister, Susie Pinel, honours this is another matter! But means testing means that it is given only to those in genuine need, which is what Senator Maclean wants.

Nevertheless, Senator Maclean voted against this, despite the fact that it clearly fits the remit of help that is “available and targeted in a fair and dignified manner to those in genuine need.”  

In fact, a careful review of his manifesto notes these caveats which abound – help should be “available and targeted”, and it is “the vulnerable and less well off” among the pensions who should be helped. But in this case, the TV licence is means tested, so it is for precisely those people - targetted – and yet he voted against it.

And pensioners have also recently lost Prime Talk, a subsidy that allowed retired people to get a cheaper home phone line. It has been replaced with a new Senior Home Service, which gives a home phone number but over the mobile network, using a special handset. There will also be an increase in call costs as PrimeTalk customers paid 7p for half an hour, the new charge will be 2p/minute.

Alan Maclean’s silence has been deafening on how this affects the elderly. There seems to be little evidence of a “special focus” from him “on our senior citizens to understand their needs”, despite Daphne Minihane, of Age Concern, saying that it is a lifeline, especially for the elderly who are housebound.

Restrictions on free travel for pensioners have been suggested by Transport Minister Eddie Noel.

This has not reached the States yet, but should it, I would lay odds that Senator Maclean would vote in favour, notwithstanding his manifesto enthusiasm for the idea that pensioners should be “treated like ‘royalty’ and honoured”.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

An Anglican Alphabet - J

Although originally a Guernseyman, Barry Giles was Rector of St Peter for 28 years before retiring in 2000. He died in 2009 in Eastbourne.

This article was penned in the 1992 Pilot, when the Anglican Church in Jersey was seen as very stable. In retrospect, his comment that "It may not be perfect, but then that is the fault of the personnel." seems almost prophetic about the disruption caused by the fall-out between the Bishop of Winchester and the Dean of Jersey, a dispute in which personalities loom large.

He mentions that the Dean has not always been attached to the town church. In fact, the Deans were often Rectors of St Martin and Grouville when the Governor resided at Gorey Castle. Anthony Swindell, recently retired Rector of St Saviour suggested that perhaps the church should look back to that past, but probably the infrastructure of supporting staff is now so firmly embedded in St Helier that a move would not be easily possible.

An Anglican Alphabet - JBy Barry Giles

J is for Jersey

Who is to know when the Church of God was brought to the Island of Jersey? There were British Bishops at the Council of Arles in the year 314. St Martin was at Tours during the second half of that same century and surely it was his monks who founded three ancient parishes in these islands, dedicated to him.

In spite of "legend" it may be that Christianity had reached Jersey before Helier, Sampson and Magloire (Mannelier) came in the sixth century.

Throughout the following centuries the Bishops of Coutances guided and directed the life of the Church in these Islands. Someone once told me, but I have no evidence, that a certain house in Jersey had the duty of ensuring that galleys were bridged, in order that the Bishop's horse arrived dry-shod!

The Reformation brought change. Between 1490 and 1569 these Deaneries were transferred like yo-yos from one Diocese to another by the Pope. But little notice was taken, even after the Kingdom of England repudiated the Bishopric of Rome: It is amusing to note that a Rector of St Brelade in 1500 took the precaution of being appointed by the Bishop of Winchester on 1st January and by the Bishop of Coutances on 20th January. Finally on 11th March, 1569 by Order in Council; Queen Elizabeth I declared the Deaneries of Jersey and Guernsey to be part of the Diocese of Winchester.

Presbyterian influence

As has been described in previous learned articles in The PILOT, Presbyterians took hold of Jersey and Guernsey in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is an extraordinary fact that no Bishop visited these Islands between 1569 and 1818, 249 years without a Bishop in a Deanery professedly part of the Church of England. True, for nearly a hundred years of that period a Bishop might have had short shrift in many of our churches - as did some clergy who tried to reintroduce the worship and the practice of the Church of England.

Slowly but surely, from the time of the introduction of' he Canons and Constitutions Ecclesiastical for the Island of Jersey, promulgated by King James I in 1623, the influence of the Church in Jersey grew.

Rectors were, and must have been for centuries before, intimately connected with the civil government of the Island as well as their parishes. It was not until 1948 that they ceased to be members of the States of Jersey. They are still, as it were, co-chairmen of parish assemblies, taking the chair when those assemblies deal with ecclesiastical .matters, and are called Ecclesiastical Assemblies.

The Dean has a peculiar position within the Church of England. Historically Bishops; even before ' the Reformation, did not venture to Jersey frequently. By that very fact the senior Rector's duties, and above all authority, took on special responsibility. By 1180 the Island had a Dean. Over the centuries that appointment, gaining in importance, became a royal rather than an episcopal one. The Dean of Jersey ranks after the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff in the list of Crown appointees. He is sworn before the Royal Court prior to his institution and induction as a Rector.

The office of Dean has become that of the Rector of St Helier over the past century or so, but in theory he could be Rector of any of our twelve ancient parishes. He is the president and judge of the Ecclesiastical Court, which is an integral part of the Island's legal system. He issues .to marriage licences and faculties, which enable fixed items be placed in churches. He appoints two vice-deans, one of whom acts in his absence.

The word "peculiar" has two meanings: special, and odd. The Church in Jersey, of Jersey is peculiar in both senses. Because of its history and geography it has developed in some ways, in special and strange ways-It is and always has been the Church of the people of this place; part of that one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, teaching and preaching the Word of God and administering the Sacraments of God. But, it has a uniqueness which is "of itself."

Few clerics, or "good churchmen and women" can at first fathom its peculiarities. The extraordinary fact is that it works. It may not be perfect, but then that is the fault of the personnel. For some 1,600 years it has ministered to the people of Jersey and has been and remains the vehicle by which God's love and Good News is mediated. It may be odd, but we are very special.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The End of the Story

Books are often inspirations for my poems, and this one is lightly based on Joan G. Robinson's wonderful children's book "When Marnie was there".

Republished as a Collins Modern Classic, this is a magical book, set on the Norfolk coast, and so evocative of times and place, and the world seen through the eyes of a small orphan girl, coming to terms with her past, and a more distant past. The Times Literary Supplement called it "The most striking novel in its genre since Tom's Midnight Garden".

The End of the Story

The sandpipers cry “Pity me, pity me”
Little grey brown birds across the sands
Sand castles washed away by the sea
Mourning lost past, the shadow lands

The beggar girl upon a distant shore
Selling sea lavender, coming to stay
At that great house, opening the door
When Marnie was there, across the bay

Nothing is ever truly lost, and a place
Where sky and water merge into one
We will meet once more, face to face
The greater journey to be begun

The windmill is turning in the breeze
And I hear its whisper in the trees

Friday, 16 October 2015

Brothers in Faith

Reflecting on the conflict between Deputy Montfort Tadier, and the Bailiff, William Bailhache, it is worth reflecting on an earlier exchange in 2008:

Deputy G.P. Southern Here we are today debating that very thing. We are told there is no alternative. “Thank God there was an alternative last week” some people are saying. So we could safely…

The Bailiff: Deputy, I am not sure the expression “Thank God” in that context is an appropriate parliamentary expression.

Deputy G.P. Southern: Can I use the expression “Thank heaven,” Sir?

The Bailiff: You are invoking the deity.

Deputy G.P. Southern: May I use the expression “Thank heavens”?

The Bailiff: “Thank goodness.”

Deputy G.P. Southern: “Goodness,” all right. Thank goodness it was there a week ago

The Bailiff in question was Sir Philip Bailhache, brother of William. And we see here the same strange and almost puritanical religious belief which cannot even allow idioms such as “Thank God” to be used in a States Debate.

It is even more notable because the idiom was never taken as unacceptable when others were sitting in the chair, such as the Deputy Bailiff, Michael Birt, or the Greffier, Michael De La Haye:

In 2006, Senator Terry Le Main said: “When the Housing Committee met in the past it was nothing to sit all morning listening to hardship cases and every politician in this Assembly was involved in many of these cases. Thank God that has now past.”

The Deputy Bailiff did not call him up for inappropriate language.

Again in 2008, the Deputy Bailiff did not prevent Terry Le Main for saying: “Quite honestly, I have got my lovely house at home and most of you have got your lovely homes and thank God I can leave here at night and go in my home and close my door and live in decent comfort.”

In 2007, the Greffier did not bat an eyelid when Deputy Paul le Claire said: “Thank God, the Housing Minister does not close his doors at 5.30 p.m. because this was about 8.00 p.m. You will remember it well when I brought the lady down with me. She was crying her eyes out.”

And in 2009, the Greffier did not correct Deputy Southern for his language when he said: “Member of the States reason to think: “Well, could that happen to me, and if so, how would have I reacted?” or even to say: “Well, thank God it happened to him and not to me” in some cases.”

It is only Sir Philip Bailhache who reacted with extreme sensitivity to what is now just an expression of relief, which the dictionary will tell you is now as devoid of religious connotations as saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes, and has been for many years. Even when Shakespeare uses it in Much Ado About Nothing - "Yes I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man, and no honester then I", it has little religious meaning.

The Deputy Bailiff of the time, Michael Birt, and the Greffier, Michael De La Haye did not take issue at all..

So perhaps it is not surprising that Sir Philip should not only take issue with “Thank God”, but on another occasion, reject the use of the word “Godforsaken”, again from Geoff Southern. Again, the word has become idiomatic, the the dictionary tells us that it was "Originally: (chiefly of a person) abandoned by God; consigned to evil ways, depraved, profligate. Subsequently: (esp. of a place) lacking any merit or attraction; desolate, dismal, dreary."

Sir Phillip's attitude, like that of his brother recently, seems curiously like that of the Puritans of the 17th century or, more locally, in Jersey, that of the severe Calvinists who took control after the Reformation; for they too had a very acute sensitivity to such phrases. Of course, back in the 17th century such idioms still had religious connotations which they have lost today.

Incidentally, such language as "Thank God" has become a commonplace in the House of Commons for many years, long predating even Sir Philip Bailhache.

Here are a few examples:

Examples of “Thank God”

HC Deb 14 May 1835 vol 27 cc1071-112

Dr. Lushington And I am speaking on that same subject. On this point, thank God, there can be no misunderstanding between us.

HC Deb 20 July 1914 vol 65 cc173-93

Mr. T. M. HEALY Thank God we have a House of Lords.

HC Deb 04 April 1913 vol 51 cc708-81

Mr. BURNS: The next point is the finance. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir F. Banbury) is a financial expert and authority. Thank God, I am not.

HC Deb 10 February 1914 vol 58 cc53-152


The Angel of Death has, thank God, not been yet abroad in this dear land of ours.

HC Deb 13 April 1927 vol 205 cc385-517


We have still the Road Fund, thank God, intact, but he has gone very near doing away with it. Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer is capable of standing up, I think he is getting very wobbly on this particular point, urged on, no doubt, by the Treasury.

HC Deb 24 February 1927 vol 202 cc1965-2012


People may scoff, the Sassenach may scoff, but it still, thank God itI remains true that the dearest thing to the heart of a Scotsman or a Scotswoman is independence. There is nothing they cherish more.

HC Deb 01 June 1927 vol 207 cc403-517

Sir ELLIS HUME-WILLIAMS: I often observe in this House that, when an hon. Member has forgotten what he is going to say, or cannot think of anything else, or wishes to rouse a little enthusiasm, he generally says, "Thank God, I am not a lawyer!" I have not heard the expression as yet during this Debate, but I confess there have been occasions when I have felt inclined to join in the thank-offering.

HC Deb 18 February 1927 vol 202 cc1275-361


Mr. Cook, in a speech on 3rd June, said: "Thank God for Russia," and he added that there was a cheque for £270,000 received last week, that the Central Co-operative Societies in Russia had sent £40,000, that the Central Russian Union had sent £70,000, and so on.

HC Deb 17 March 1977 vol 928 cc635-766

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I pay the hon. Gentleman the compliment of saying that I followed his argument right through. I thought he was very clear. I disagreed with every word of it.

Mr. Kinnock Thank God for that.

HC Deb 02 December 1975 vol 901 cc1609-45

Mr. Les Huckfield (Nuneaton)

I can only say that their policies have pretty well laid waste the whole of the industrial Midlands since they have been in Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Thank God they have not been in Government.

Mr. Spriggs Do not thank God. Thank the electors.

HC Deb 27 July 1977 vol 936 cc647-67

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

However, time is a great healer and after a suitable interval for consideration the Liberals have got together somewhere in the Central Lobby, where I understand that there is adequate room for them to do so and, indeed, on neutral ground.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight) Thank God there are only two days left.

Examples: Godforsaken


HL Deb 16 July 1901 vol 97 cc551-69

I refer to the Admiralty because that is one of the most deplorable buildings ever seen in this country, and you have thrown away one of the best sites. You had, opposite, the Treasury building, that beautiful pedimented building; all you had to do was to put up a similar building on the other side. Instead of that you put this God-forsaken, nondescript thing, which is a disgrace to London.

HL Deb 26 June 1973 vol 343 cc1840-969


I know that Maplin—or Foulness, to give it its more properly descriptive title—is a God-forsaken place as it stands; beautiful in its loneliness would grant, but not a good place for contractual development, and we shall find that the ten-year period needed before it is anywhere near completion will soon be exhausted.

HC Deb 28 March 1901 vol 92 cc95-163


If the French were to vanquish us, and if we were to be told, after being harried and having our houses all burned down, that we were to receive a little sum of money out of the French Treasury, and that we must thank God that we were going to have occasion to cease to be Englishmen to become Frenchmen, we would not consider the terms liberal.

In order to meet that, what does the Colonial Secretary propose to do? He sent out a Commission to discover whether South Africa was a fitting place for English colonists. Probably anybody on this side of the House could have told, him that a more God-forsaken place for English colonists did not exist

HC Deb 13 July 1978 vol 953 cc1895-906

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire) There is one point that I want to make, Mr. Deputy Speaker upon the Bill. The national debt, as I understand it, was created in the year 1694. Two hundred and eighty years later, in 1974, after two and a half centuries of war and two world wars, it had reached £40,000 million. But it took only four years of this god-forsaken, dreadful Government to double it. It is now £80,000 million.

Mr. Fairbairn But I also happen to represent those who live in an area of 8,000 square miles, which is one and a half times the size of Northern Ireland. Before Labour Members make silly remarks let them reflect on that. But thank God that I represent those people. I represent one-thousandth of the people of this country.

HC Deb 05 May 1978 vol 949 cc715-24

Mr. Fairbairn

The Bill is saying that the Minister shall have, by arbitrary decision—or on advice, if he cares to put it that way, by some Godforsaken tribunal of his creation—the power to say that the conduct or behaviour of a person on one occasion is a 723 reason for him to declare that that person shall no longer be entitled to do his job

HC Deb 11 July 1978 vol 953 cc1445-67

Mr. Pardoe

Why have the Government suddenly changed their mind? We shall want some firm comment about that from the Chief Secretary, because he is supposed to be in charge of the Inland Revenue—though it is a God-forsaken job to have, I must say.