Friday, 7 May 2021

Occupation Reports from the Jersey Department of Labour – Part 1

For the month of May, I thought it would be interesting to post up Occupation reports written on the work done by the Jersey Department of Labour, as these delve into the fine grain of the German Occupation and how the Island coped with people, though no fault of their own, being unable to work because their businesses were no longer operating.

It is, of course, something which haunts us today, as something similar has happened with the pandemic, where people again have been laid off, or their employment has gone into a form of stasis due to the Covid lockdowns. Different times call for different solutions, but the problems faced in some respects are similar.

Occupation Reports from the Jersey Department of Labour – Part 1
Personnel of Department of Labour. Committee:

Deputy E. LE QUESNE (President).
Deputy J. LE MARQUAND.
Deputy P. LE FEUVRE.

HEADS OF DEPARTMENT:

Secretary:
Miss P. LE CAUDEY.

Secretary (Forestry Section):
W. W. RATTENBURY.

Supervisor (Building Contractors’ Section):
H. J. HAMLIN.

Accountant:
R. T. ALBISON

Transport Foreman:
F. SMITH.

An Appreciation.

In presenting this Report of the work of the Department during the period from July, 1940, to July, 1945, I wish to place on record the splendid help and assistance I have had at all times from my colleagues, Deputies I. Le Marquand and P. Le Feuvre, as also from the whole of the staff.

Faced with a difficult task, with no previous experience of the particular kind of work they were called upon to undertake, all have worked together as a team, always having in view the welfare of the large number of men and women entrusted to their charge, always endeavouring to make the lot of all working for the Department as acceptable as possible under the extraordinarily difficult conditions with which we were faced.

Apart from the heads of the various Departments and their assistants, we have been helped by several voluntary workers, who have placed their expert knowledge at the disposal of the Department. Amongst these I would particularly mention Mr. Colledge and Mr. Hackett.

Mr. Colledge has rendered, both to the Department and to the Island, services in regard to forestry and particularly re-forestation, which will be more fully appreciated as the years go by, and the trees he has selected and planted attain fruition.

Mr. Hackett, on the other hand, has placed his long experience as an architect and builder at our disposal, and has supervised the repairs and damage done both by the aerial bombardment that took place in 1940, as also by damage done through other causes during the ensuing years.

Mr. Wyatt, who has taken charge of the fuel distribution, is also one who has rendered valuable assistance. This gentleman’s vast experience in transport problems in many parts of the world has also been of great assistance, and in many other ways his advice and help have been much appreciated by the Department.

At the commencement of the Occupation the Department was fortunate in having at its disposal the unique organising ability of Mr. Geo. Le Cocq. His help was invaluable at a difficult time when hundreds of men were seeking employment and little or nothing seemed available. Mr. Le Cocq has had to relinquish his connection with the Department owing to pressure of work at the Social Assurance and Children’s Allowance Office, but he still carries on in connection with our Winter Relief Scheme.

Without the help of all those mentioned specifically and also that of many others who have assisted from time to time, it would have been impossible to carry on as head of this Department. I gladly pay tribute to their work and advice.

Edward Le Quesne,
President.

REPORT ON WORK OF DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR DURING OCCUPATION
JULY, 1940 TO MAY, 1945.

The Unemployed Workforce

The Department of Labour was formed with other Departments in order to meet the emergency arising from the occupation of the Island by the German forces in the month of July, 1940. Faced almost immediately with the task of finding employment for the men and women displaced in the various hotels, private houses, business premises, farms and docks, it had to commence work with no previous experience, no previously envisaged schemes of employment, and no alternative occupations in which to fit those displaced from their normal type of work.

Almost immediately the number seeking work began to swell, until in December, 1940, it reached a total of 2,300 men, and a large and growing number of women. Something had to be provided immediately, and the first scheme developed was one for road widening and road construction in various parishes of the Island.

The road leading around Portelet Bay, the Route de Noirmont, the Route Orange, the Coast Road at Les Platons, and the Road from Fliquet Bay to St. Catherine’s were at once either widened or re-surfaced and a promenade was constructed round the headland dividing La Pulente from Petit Port. A decision was also made to construct pavements on each side of the Five Mile Road, this work alone giving employment to some hundreds of men.

Unfortunately, hardly had the promenade round the headland from La Pulente to Petit Port been completed, when it was taken over by the Occupying Forces, and prohibited to civilians, but the main work remains, and will be an asset for all at the end of hostilities.

Again all the work on the Five Mile Road has been submerged in the construction of Forts and Barracks, again by the Occupying Forces.

A little later a scheme for the construction of a new road bordering the cliffs from Sorel to La Saline in the Parish of St. John was submitted by the Department of Labour to the Superior Council, and eventually received the sanction of that body.

This road, some two and a half miles long, covers a stretch of Island scenery never previously available to the great majority of the Island population, and the beautiful coast scenery should prove an added attraction to visitors to the Island. Many thousands of tons of earth and stone had to be worked and quarried, and this has given employment to a large number of men.

The whole of the land bordering this road on the seaward side has been purchased by the States, and this will be at the disposal of all who wish to avail themselves of this Island beauty spot.

For many years the most beautiful of Jersey’s valleys, known locally as the Waterworks Valley, was practically a cul-de-sac, having no proper outlet at its northern end.

The Department, after investigation, and having come to terms with the proprietors of the land required, decided to construct a road from the Dannemarche Reservoir to the farm known as Hamptonne.

This road now permits traffic through the valley, and will enable tourists and residents to use this secondary road as a direct route to the North of the Island.

Another road construction scheme undertaken by the Department was one joining by a 20-foot road, the main road near Le Vesconte’s Monument at Trinity, to the fine coast road at Les Platons. After completing the widening of the Route Orange, the Department again seeking useful work for the unemployed, decided to widen the road from L’Ancienté around the Corbière, past Petit Port Bay, and then to the old Railway Station at La Moye.

This work again enabled the Department to find work for a large number of men, besides which several contractors have been employed for a considerable time building walls, and retaining banks on the boundaries of properties acquired for this widening.

During the winter of 1940-41, numbers of men were employed cutting gorse and bracken for use as replacement of straw for the bedding of cattle, and another squad of men was employed gathering carraghean moss for use in medicines and ordinary table requisites.

The Summerland Factory

In order to find employment for the large number of women displaced from domestic service from the hotels and business houses, the Department approached the proprietors of the Summerland Factory, Rouge Bouillon, and eventually received their permission to re-open the Factory.

The Department referred this to the Superior Council who appointed a special Committee to control this undertaking, leaving the preparatory work of installing machinery, etc., in the hands of the Department of Labour.

This entailed a considerable amount of work for the Department, in the provision of circular saws, band saws, clogging tools, etc., but eventually everything being ready, the factory was opened, and apart from giving employment to some 300 to 350 women and girls, and some 30 men, it has been the means of supplying the Island with much necessary clothing and footwear, both of which would have otherwise been unobtainable.

Repairing War Damage

Early in July, 1940, the Superior Council decided to entrust the Department with the reconstruction and repairing of the damage done during ‘the aerial bombardment that took place previous to the occupation of the Island.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Grumbles from the Pulpit: The Fishing Battle of Jersey



Listening to the escalating row of Jersey / French fishing rights, I was not impressed with either side. 

Electricity Threats

On the French side, threats to cut off the Island's electricity supply are not without dangers in setting precedents elsewhere, in particular in relations between Germany and Russia. According to Clean Energy Wire:

"Germany imported 85.2 million tonnes of crude oil (the country also imports additional mineral oil products). Russia was by far the largest supplier in 2018, delivering 31 million tonnes, or about 36 percent of oil imports."

"Gas is imported to Germany exclusively by using pipelines. The construction of Gazprom’s contentious Russian-German Baltic Sea pipeline project Nord Stream 2 is underway, but has faced intense opposition from Germany’s European partners and the United States. Sanctions have halted progress for months, but by mid-2020 construction was in the final stretch."

Any precedent for using economic pressures on energy to force Jersey to capitulate run the risk that Russia may also take that as an approval for using economic pressure on any critics who import energy from them. How could the EU respond, given that France had threatened Jersey in that way?

Cutting Links

The closure of the French consulate in Jersey is a ridiculous step too far. It is the French consolate locally who is ideally placed to deal in how the relations between Normandy and Jersey have broken down.

Last year the American consulate left Chengdu after the Chinese government ordered its closure. The other reasons for closing consulates are usually the threat of terrorism, or where a state of war exists between nations.

Closing the French consulate as an act of anger was precipitate and foolish.

Licencing

At first the stories broke that French fishermen were unhappy with conditions imposed on their licences, but today on BBC Radio Jersey it emerged that they could have more expansive licences giving them the same rights they had before.... if their paperwork was in order. Otherwise, they would get a more restrictive licence until such time as the paperwork was complete.

Why is it that the notion of some jobsworth, sitting in an office, waiting passively for the paperwork comes to mind? 

Were those involved in processing the applications proactive, and did they contact the French consulate to see if they could improve matters? Did they tell the Minister so he could contact his French counterparts and try and resolve the problem? Did anyone think of doing this, and having a temporary licence after the French authorities were aware of the problem? 

If they did, there is a paper or email trail which must give details, and demonstrate that the French authorities were aware of the issues, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Perhaps an FOI can elucidate exactly what correspondence and communication took place?

But I can't help feeling that there is a feeling with some Jersey officials that "it's up to them". If a business operated like that, not being proactive with client's issues, they'd lose business. 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Beltane Blessings

















Beltane Blessings

Here we a-gather, upon the hill
In a setting sun, with dying rays
Where the air is cool and still
Come to set the straw ablaze

A dance begins, round and round
Through the flame, through the fire
Barefoot upon the earthy ground
Let our hearts soar and inspire

Daylight ends, and night comes
A Beltane burning, in fire light
Dance to beating of the drums
Our faces shining in the night

A fruitful year for families and fields
The blessings that Beltane yields

Friday, 30 April 2021

Edward Le Quesne: Parish Elections








Edward Le Quesne (1882-1957) was elected a Deputy for St Helier No 2 district in 1925 and held the seat until he stood successfully for the new office of Senator in 1948. This is an extract from a journal he wrote entitled “50 Years of Memories”, written sometime around 1949. 

Note that at the time he is describing, around the start of the 20th century, the Jurats were elected for life and on an Island wide mandate, the Rectors sat in the States, and the Connetables and Deputies are the only members still forming part of the States, although the Dean of Jersey sits in the States, can speak, but has no vote. 

There were twelve Jurats, replaced in the 1948 reform by 12 Senators, also elected on an Island wide basis but with 6 being elected every 6 years, while Deputies were elected every 3 years, and Constables every 3 years, but from the vacancy of the office holder, which meant all over the place, as some had died in office, and over the centuries it became very random. 

Now there is one election day, a four year term of office, and the Senators will no longer sit in the States, while the Deputies will no longer represent a parish but a "superconstituency", leaving the Parish representation to the Constables, who will now be the sole voice of their Parish in the States. As I am  politically a Distributist, and therefore a confirmed believer in the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, I'm pleased that remains.

Despite the prevalence of obvious bribery, it was an offense. Against bribery involved in elections, the UK passed the 1883 Corrupt Practices Act, but there was no Jersey equivalent except for the customary law offence of bribery, even though it clearly wasn't enforced well in Le Quesne's account. Only recently, bribery was placed on the statute books as a general offense, not just a political one, with Corruption (Jersey) Law 2006, replacing custom law. 

As Bedell and Cristin remarked:

The aim of the Corruption Law was to introduce comprehensive measures to combat bribery and corruption both domestically and internationally. A "start from scratch" approach was adopted, abolishing the customary law offence of bribery and certain existing statutory offences so that all such offences are dealt with by one statute.

The new law also put into perspective what did exist until 2006. There were a number of specific antibribery offences in various Laws (such as the States of Jersey Law 1966 and the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991) and there was a customary law offence of bribery, just about the only recorded incidence of which, since the Second World War, was Attorney General -v- Langtry.

In October 1945. Mrs. Langtry was convicted and fined £25 for offering a bribe, in the form of a £5 note, to the Chief Aliens officer in return for a permit to travel to England. (The Chief Aliens Officer, incidentally, declined both to accept the bribe and to issue the permit, and instead, reported Mrs. Langtry to the police.)

Parish Elections.
by Edward Le Quesne

Island and parochial elections were great events, and some of the things that happened at those elections hardly appear credible to-day. In most of the country parishes two parties existed, The Rose and The Laurel. Neither part had any political creed, in fact it is questionable as to whether two per cent of the electorate knew the difference between one party’s politics and the other’s.

But you had to be either a “ Laurel ” or a “ Rose ”, and whether your candidate was good, bad or indifferent, you were expected to loyally support him with all the resources at your disposal. Whether it was for the office of Connétable, Centenier, Vingtenier, Officier du Connétable or even Roads’ Inspector, no man who was not of your party must be permitted to obtain election without a contest. Elections were expensive, and if a close contest was expected large sums of money were expended to buy the votes of waverers, or of those suspected of being amenable to a “ pourboire ”, to induce them for once to forget their loyalty.

One man might be offered £20 for a heifer or cow worth £10; the opposite party, hearing of this, would probably increase the offer to £30, and having accepted the larger amount the elector would probably vote for the first. In some cases, when there was great doubt as to how a man would vote, he had to be kept away from the polling booth by some means, and a favourite method was to get him so drunk on election day that he could not possibly attend to record his vote. Another method was to get him intoxicated, placed in a boat and taken for a trip to Sark whilst the polling took place. I have known of families almost facing ruin due to the monies spent on getting their particular party candidates elected, often to posts for which they were entirely unfitted.

In a long political life I can recall many humorous incidents connected with Elections, some connected with Island elections for the juratship, some connected with election for municipal offices in the Parish of St. Helier.

There was a vacancy for the position of Jurat, and no candidate was forthcoming. Three of us were seated chatting in a local office. “ We must find a candidate ”, said one of my friends. “ I know a little fellow who would take if asked. Let us ring him up ”, the other friend replied.

We telephoned the gentleman concerned.

“ A large and influential deputation would like to call on you in order to seek your willingness to accept nomination for the vacancy on the Bench of Jurats ”.

 “ I would be delighted to receive you ”, came the reply. '

We were in a fix, but one on the phone and the two others running around, we eventually secured some twenty people willing to accompany us to the home of our candidate.

We were well received, refreshments provided, and the candidate, with tears in his eyes, thanked the deputation for the great honour and placed himself entirely at our disposal. Unfortunately another candidate appeared on the scene. The whole Island had to be canvassed. Free drinks at the Inns in each parish had to be arranged for on election day and cars provided to bring electors from outlying districts to the poll.

The election cost our candidate over £1,000, and unfortunately he was unsuccessful. But, trying again at a later date, he had better luck and an expense bill that did not, on the second occasion, exceed £800. To our sorrow he turned out to be one of the most useless members that ever donned the Red Robe. “ Sic transit gloria mundi ”..

Another case was that of a Centenier who had given many years of valuable service to his Parish. His time for re-election was approaching but no one had apparently appealed to him to again come forward. Sitting in an ofiice at the Parish Hall with a colleague he entered and complained of the lack of appreciation of his services. My colleague and I felt that something had to be done, so again by means of the phone and personal interviews we arranged for a deputation to meet at a local hotel in the afternoon, with the object of asking the gentleman to again come forward as a candidate for election.

The meeting took place, and much to our astonishment another gentleman, whose term of office had also expired, graced the meeting with his presence. The two gentlemen were called in ; and the appointed chairman having explained the object of the meeting, both gentlemen expressed their willingness to again accept office. One of them, in accepting, expressed his particular pleasure at the “ spontaneity ” of the request of ‘ his fellow-citizens. Refreshments were provided, but when the time came to pay, one of the candidates had disappeared, leaving the man for whom the meeting had originally been called to “foot the bill ”!

 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Dogs on a Lead from 1 May: A Shaggy Dog Story



Beach restrictions apply to dogs and horses from 1 May 2021. If you want to let your dog off the lead, this is only permitted before 10.30 a.m. or after 6 p.m. from this Saturday.

An old gardener I knew who lived in St Clement near the Parish Hall. His dogs were running loose at Le Hocq on the beach... and it was after 1st May. He was duly summoned to a Parish Hall enquiry. Did you know your dogs were running loose? Yes, but the law said they had to be on a lead. If you looked, you would have seen their leads dangling from them as they ran! They were on a lead. I just wasn’t holding it!

He was let off with a caution, and it was suggested, tongue in cheek, that he might like to join theb honorary police, as they could do with his legal expertise.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Grumbles from the Pulpit: One Law on Pay for Politicians








 The proposition, put forward by the Privileges and Procedures Committee, outlines how:  

  • Though States members can still set the framework for how their pay is decided – i.e. the independent body – they will have no say on the actual decision of what their pay is.
  • Members’ pay should be linked to an index.
  • An independent body or person should be commissioned to review the system each Assembly term.
  • That the law that keeps all States Members' pay equal should be repealed, so the independent reviewer can consider different options for different States Members
One law on pay for politicians... another for the public sector.

So why can't public sector pay be also linked to that index. That way politicians will not have any say in that either!

At the moment, politicians pay is recommended by an "independent" panel - all of whom are chosen to sit on the panel by the States.

As far as I am aware, Unions, teachers, nurses, etc are not involved in that panel, but only those people whose status, both economic and political, could be described as privileged. That's what happens when the States choose the panel!

Any independent body should be widely representative of all sectors of society, not narrowly confined to "the great and the good", who are insulated from experience at the coal face, working long hours for relatively little pay.

It seems to me that if politicians pay goes up, the public sector should go up likewise. As it stands, the SEB has in recent years ignored any calls for independent arbitration, simply laying down the law.

Different Pay Grades: Empowering Patronage and Privilege

There has also been angling for different rates of pay for some time, so that Ministers could receive more, and the Chief Minister more, as well as heads of Scrutiny.

In a small island, where the Chief Minister has powers of dismissal, this would be a charter which would enable patronage and privilege in a way that simply does not exist in (for instance), the UK, where there are far more backbenchers than members of the government.

If we are not careful, this could lead to a more presidential approach to leadership, with powers of patronage to sack and demote any critics and promote their supporters, backed up by the fact that demotion means loss of pay. It will be a step closer to an "elective dictatorship".

We have seen a lot of contempt for the electorate in the past year, and this I fear would only make matters worse.

Readers might like to consider Anthony King's remarks in ‘The British Prime Ministership in the Age of the Career Politician’, and consider how better pay and privilege given by a Chief Minister would affect the States:

The great majority of British politicians [nowadays] are career politicians. They eat, breathe and sleep politics. Most of them passionately want to be ministers; or, if they are already ministers, they want to be promoted in the ministerial hierarchy, and they certainly do not want to be demoted, shunted sideways or dismissed. It follows that the prime minister of the day is in an exceedingly powerful position. He or she is the monopoly supplier of a good, ministerial office, which is in … short supply and for which there is an enormous demand. He or she can exploit this monopoly position to influence the behaviour of backbenchers who want to be ministers and of ministers who want to be promoted and not to be dismissed … The career politician’s ambition is the ambitious prime minister’s opportunity.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Time and Tide















I've always liked Frank Sinatra's song "It was a very good year", and looking back at my life, and the locality I have lived for most of my life, I thought I'd try to do something retrospective, but involving the sea.

Time and Tide

The waves lap softly on my feet
Sandcastle, bucket and spade
Time for childhood to greet
Long holidays and lemonade

The waves lap softly on my feet
Stormy weather, spray flies high
Mid-Winter coming, falling sleet
Dusk approaches, seagulls cry

The waves lap softly on my feet
They will be here, long after me
Much older now, but it’s still sweet
Still I enjoy sky, sand and sea

The tide is high, and I’m moving on
And it will endure, when I am gone