Thursday, 12 November 2015

In the States

Senator Maclean: whistling in the dark?

In the States

Sir Humphrey Award Winner for 2015

In answer to a question by Deputy Jackie Hilton about the discrepancy between figures given for the return on the Finance Centre building, Treasury Minister Alan Maclean had this to say:

“The figures provided in my recent press release reflect the forecast gross development value of the Jersey International Finance Centre development on disposal, less the forecast gross development cost, as adjusted for inflation, over the development period.”

“These figures are, therefore, not directly comparable with previously stated estimates of returns, but were produced on a current price basis. However, if inflation is removed from this latest valuation then the figures broadly support previous estimated returns and, for the avoidance of doubt, include contamination and remediation costs”

I don’t think she understood it, and I’m not exactly sure I do either. As a piece of verbal sleight of hand which says basically that the reason the two figures for the value of the Finance Centre don’t match up was because they used different measures of measuring, and if you wave a magic wand, they are roughly the same, after all!

And for his next trick, he will demonstrate that the projected 140 million pound black hole is in fact a supernova!

In the meantime, because the States of Jersey Development Company has dragged its heals on documents to the Scrutiny Panel, the Panel’s report has been delayed. So who do you blame? Scrutiny for being late in its report, and allegedly losing three potential tenants for the Finance Centre, or the States of Jersey Development Company, for not giving out the information in a timely manner.

If you are a master conjurer, you wave a wand, and blame Scrutiny, of course.

The elephant in the room is now the “Evans document”, this piece of a letter which has been doing the rounds. If anything is likely to put off potential tenants, that is. It was sent, I believe to all States members, and is also on Facebook.

It makes damming accusations about costs, and any potential tenant reading that would wonder on the viability of the scheme, especially if any “sweeteners” that UBS may have been given were not available. By failing to address it, Senator Alan Maclean is actually doing more damage that delays would.

Watch out for the conjurer’s next trick on that one!

Radio Times

This morning there was a report on waiting lists. The BBC said they had contacted the Health department, but no one was available to speak, including the Minister. This happens a lot, but Senator Green suggests otherwise in this exchange.

Senator A.K.F. Green:

The simple answer again to this is quite simply that I was not asked to appear on the radio. I listened [Interruption] ... there was no request from myself or other Ministers on many occasions to appear. But some of us have on occasions taken the invitation when we have had one. I spent an hour myself a few Fridays ago, a very enjoyable hour - it went very quickly - with Deputy Mézec, discussing the Medium Term Financial Plan. I know that my colleague, the Minister for Treasury and Resources, did something similar and my colleague, the Assistant Chief Minister has done that, but we can only respond when we are invited to do so. I listened to the comment, I think it came from Deputy Tadier on the radio, that no Minister was available. No Minister was asked that day.

Deputy M. Tadier:

I will follow on from that - such is the advantage of having a party. It is strange, because we were told by the BBC that they had asked Ministers and that they had either got no response or, in one case, there was a statement put out: “We are not going to come into the studio but we would like you to read out this statement” and I can see the BBC correspondent nodding upstairs, so somebody is not telling the full facts here. On this occasion I seem to be more ready to believe the BBC when they say they have asked Ministers and that none of the 10 or indeed 20 or so Assistant Ministers can find time; yet the 3 official opposition party members can find time in their busy schedules to come on the radio when asked to. So who is telling the truth? Is it the Minister or is it the BBC?

Senator A.K.F. Green:

I will leave that for the Member to decide. He seems to have made up his mind already.

The report on BBC Radio came this when it was also noted that frustrated islander Roger Rabet had called BBC Radio Jersey when his cataract operation was delayed and confronted the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst on the Politics Hour. Senator Gorst promised to look at the issue and Mr Rabet will now have his operation on Thursday.

The day after, a spokesperson for Health – but not the Minister who is keeping a very low profile all of a sudden – pops up and tells BBC Radio Jersey that the timing of the operation and speaking to the Chief Minister was “just a coincidence”.

Isn’t Lady Luck wonderful!! Or should we say that "Gorst moves in mysterious ways"?


In an exchange reminiscent of “Yes Minister”, Deputy Hilton asked Andrew Green about the Council of Ministers and migrants coming to Jersey. Read this exchange, and the final comment by Senator Green tells you absolutely nothing at all. Jim Hacker could not do better! The Senator obviously is picking up pointers on the art of subterfuge from the Treasury Minister. Does he realise how silly he sounds? Do Ministers ever answer the questions, or does evasiveness become second nature to them?

Deputy J.A. Hilton:

It has been several weeks since the matter of whether Jersey should accept refugee families has been discussed. Can the Minister update Members on the current position and does the Chief Minister acknowledge there is a significant degree of concern being expressed by Islanders at the possibility of Jersey accepting refugees into the Island?

Senator A.K.F. Green:

I cannot update the Member any more than the written answer that was given by the Chief Minister to Deputy Mézec. All I can say is that we are in discussion at the moment with the U.K. Government and we will keep Members informed as and when we have news. I do acknowledge though that the Island, probably like the Assembly, is split on this issue. The media wrongly last time suggested that housing the refugees in social housing would not be a problem. That was not suggested. What was suggested last time was that if, and if is only after a States debate, if the U.K. Government agree that we have a useful role to play, if this Assembly then agrees that we should play that role, housing would be provided by offers that we have already had from high-net worths and others to provide accommodation within their private accommodation. I cannot really enlighten the Deputy any more but I do acknowledge that the Island is split down the middle on this.

Deputy J.A. Hilton:

A supplementary. The Chief Minister has just acknowledged that the Island is split down the middle on this. Is he able to tell us whether the Council of Ministers is speaking from one voice on this matter?

Senator A.K.F. Green:

The Council of Ministers is one voice that we should explore the issue.

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