I sent a simple message for a freedom of information request recently, which was obviously topical:
"Please can you list events taking place on The People’s Park for which the Bailiff’s permission was given in 2013 and 2014 and 2015."
The reply I received was as follows:
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 28 January 2016 relation to People’s Park.
This request was made under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011. The information requested, however, is not held by a department which is subject to the law but rests with the Bailiff’s Chambers which is not subject to the Law.
The information you have requested may be held by the parishes and so you might wish to send your information request in writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or to: Parish FOI, East Wing, RJA & HS, Trinity, JE3 5JP
You can also find out more about making an FOI request to the parishes at www.parish.gov/foi
I have since sent the same request to the Parish FOE email address.
But is it right that the Bailiff’s Chambers should be outside the Freedom of Information Law?
After all, public events which take place are "by permission of the Bailiff", but now it appears we cannot ask for details on those events - or equally for a list of events refused with the reasons given.
It is clear that in the UK, the speaker and the events relating to that office, and even the speaker's costs - travel, entertainment etc - can be subject to a freedom of information request.
See, for example:
Yet in Jersey, the Bailiff and the Bailiff's Chambers are not subject to the Jersey Freedom of Information Law.
Isn't that a loophole which should be plugged? Shouldn't we have a little more transparency on what our own speaker in the States does, especially in the 21st century?