Below I list the oral questions that I have on the Order Paper for next Tuesday 17th January. Pitched to both ‘Chief Minister’ Ian Gorst and Chairman of PPC Constable Simon Crowcroft not surprisingly they both focus on the appalling attempt to sell out the States large majority decision of only March 2010 to put reform in the hands of a fully independent Electoral Commission. See my last post for the full details.
QUESTION 1: Deputy T. M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Chairman of the Privileges and Procedures Committee –
“Will the Chairman advise whether the recent decision by the Privileges and Procedures Committee at its January 4th meeting to seek the agreement of the States to reverse its majority decision to have a fully Independent Electoral Commission and allow it to be chaired by a States Member was made unanimously and if not would he advise which Committee Members voted in favour of the proposal?”
QUESTION 2: Deputy T.M. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of Chief Minister
“What justification does the Chief Minister have for withdrawing his support for a fully independent Election Commission, and proposing instead that his Assistant Minister chair the Commission, especially given that this was a factor in garnering the support of several Members in his election for Chief Minister, and will he now be offering his resignation as a consequence of going back on this commitment?”
NOTHING BUT THE BALD TRUTH WILL DO!
Forget the rubbish about a clear four to two vote that was claimed in the JEP. If my good – but clearly misguided friend, Simon Crowcroft says anything other than the truth i.e. that the decision to risk sacrificing all of Daniel Wimberley’s excellent hard work on the alter of Senator Philip Bailhache’s colossal ego actually was passed by just one crucial vote – that of Philip Bailhache - then the words ‘Sir, the Chairman is misleading the House!’ will be echoing around the Chamber. I’m sure I will have no need…
As for ‘Chief Minister’ Gorst it is really quite difficult to imagine what his response will be. It should be something like a short and humble: “I’m really very sorry. I apologise. I have gone back on my word about inclusive government. I have gone back on my word about revealing the details of the disgusting ‘golden handshakes’ paid out under by predecessor. I have been pressured to go back on my word to support a fully independent Electoral Commission. But today I am going to show that I do have some backbone and say “Sorry Philip, I’m not going to let you hijack this after all!” Should we hold our breath? Sadly I doubt we should…
SHONA’S ORAL QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1: Deputy S. Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Minister for Social Security –
“Will the Minister advise whether there have been long-standing problems within his Department concerning the loss of documents, data being mislaid and conflicting information given out to the public from different members of staff, if so, what measures will he be implementing to resolve this situation?”
QUESTION 2: Deputy S Pitman of St. Helier will ask the following question of the Minister for Housing –
“What action if any, is the Minister taking to ensure that Housing Trusts take responsibility for maintenance matters?”
TWO PROBLEMS THAT REALLY DO NEED SORTING URGENTLY
The only answer to Shona’s first question can really be an emphatic yes – and it really isn’t acceptable. It is also equally true to remember that this problem has not been of Senator Le Gresley’s making. It has been inherited from the former Minister, Senator Ian Gorst who proved wholly ineffectual in both accepting this and rectifying it. To be fair this was probably not helped by him choosing an Assistant Minister who was spectacularly useless, the now thankfully ousted by the public, former Deputy Angela Jeune.
Hopefully Francis can give some assurances that he is finally going to sort things out. I mean, promising young cancer victims that the Department will meet the cost of resultant dental care – then going back on this. Just how low can government sink?
The second question is one that should have been tackled way back when the ‘partnerships’ with Housing Trusts was first set up. It wasn’t and I and a number of others have spent a great deal of time lobby the various Housing Ministers over the last three years to put it right. I am actually confident that Deputy Andrew Green will do what his predecessors failed to do so badly.
TREVOR’S WRITTEN QUESTION
Given the JEP’s disgraceful and desperate attempt to reinvent Det Sup Mick Gradwell as some kind of ‘whistle-blower’ these three questions to Home Affairs Minister, Senator Ian Le Marquand about the ‘Abuse Enquiry’ are a nice little wake up call. I say ‘Abuse Inquiry’ rather than ‘Historic’ Abuse Enquiry because we really shouldn’t be buying into the media PR nonsense that this is all something old and long ago that doesn’t matter any more.
It isn’t. It is current. Just ask the victims still suffering everyday while clowns like Ben Shenton, Jimmy Perchard, Sean Power and co try to muddy the waters with innuendo about the News of the World. Which reminds me? Come on boys, you had a lot to infer about Harper and wholly un-evidenced ‘leaks. Surely you would like to write in and condemn what we now know about the behaviour of Mr. Gradwell? Or is that…different?
I’ll leave further comment until after we have the answers. Though the one about how much of our taxpayers’ money the Minister has spent and how many convicted/disciplined Police Officers we have had as a result looks like it may be absolutely fascinating…
As for my other written question to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee this is an issue that I have pursuing for a long time, Not that you would know it from the JEP reporting! I will obviously be supporting Deputy Roy Le Herissier’s proposition but I think this work needs to be championed by PAC too. It is, after all, our taxpayers’ money that the Establishment Party is giving out to keep the silence of so many failed senior Civil Servants. It needs to stop and politicians and whoever else be held accountable.
“As a part of the Historic Abuse Inquiry did the investigators research and consequently obtain a full list of all individuals who were, at any time, on the Board of Governors of Haut De La Garenne (whether in paid or purely voluntary roles) under each of the various authorities under which the facility operated during the period of investigation?
Were all those individuals still living subsequently interviewed and, if so, will the Minister provide Members with a full list of those interviewed or advise where such information can be viewed?”
“Will the Minister provide details of how much money has been spent on external inquiries and reviews in respect of alleged disciplinary issues since November 2008 and how many police officers, if any, have been convicted of any criminal or disciplinary charges as a consequence?”
“What investigations, if any, have taken place in respect of the allegations that States of Jersey Police officers acted illegally during the investigation of the case of Curtis Warren and others; and if there has been an investigation, what was the total cost and the outcome?”
“Will the Chairman advise whether the Public Accounts Committee intends to investigate and subsequently publish a report into the amount of taxpayers’ money used under the last Council of Ministers, under Senator T.A. Le Sueur, to provide ‘golden handshakes’ to senior Civil Servants leaving their posts early; further still, will the Committee be investigating the absence of detail on such payments within published States accounts?”
SENATOR PHILIP BAILHACHE – A MAN WHO HAS SPENT TOO MUCH TIME WATCHING ‘DOWNTON ABBEY’?
Disappointed that instead of improved transparency the new ‘critical friends’ running Scrutiny are going to make all of their non-hearing meetings closed to the public? Perhaps I can suggest an alternative? Get down to the next PPC meeting instead. Why? Well, if nothing else you will be able to see that regardless of what he spouted on the hustings, lecturing States Members about ‘respecting’ others what Senator Philip Bailhache says in public is very, very different to what he actually does!
Indeed, no wonder he wanted the media – and just as importantly Daniel Wimberley and I who were also watching proceedings - removed before he would speak! Luckily this demand was challenged by Deputy Judy Martin or we would still not know exactly the low and underhand manner in which this horrible, arrogant little coward really works.
What am I talking about? Well, not content with trying to hijack the independent Electoral Commission (as documented in my last post) now Bailhache even wants to try and dictate who can sit on other sub-committees! Worse, sub-committees only being set up because he is too lazy and pompous to include them in the Electoral Commission’s work as Daniel Wimberley had set out in his successful proposition! Even worse again, of course, he wanted to try and have another member prevented from participating but wanted it done in secret so no one would be any the wiser! So much for all that pious talk of ‘respect’ eh Senator?
The target of the Egotistical One’s spite today was Deputy Geoff Southern. He had foolishly offered his services to contribute to a sub-committee being set up to look at election laws, campaign timescales etc. Bailhache’s objection? Southern (like my wife, Deputy Shona Pitman of course) had been prosecuted and convicted for the awful, heinous ‘crime’ of assisting a few elderly/disabled people to complete an application form to request that they could be registered for a postal vote in 2008
Of course, this isn’t a ‘crime’ in any known democracy in the free world. In fact it is actively encouraged. The candidate assisting the elderly/disabled person to apply to be registered to be able to participate in the democratic process is, of course, long gone by the time they are actually sent their voting slip several days later.
But leaving that aside Bailhache had then had the appalling arrogance and downright gall to insultingly compare Southern’s action with an analogy of ‘If you created a criminal law commission to look at burglary you wouldn’t invite a convicted burglar to join the commission.’
As I really had to ask of the PPC Chairman and this pompous little man when Daniel, the reporter and I had to leave for part B of the agenda. Having put forward my own name for the sub-committee hopefully we would be able to look at the legitimacy of such non-Human Right compliant local laws? Even more so the fact that why Deputies Southern and Shona Pitman were taken to court for ‘crimes’ they had stood up in the States and openly said that they would be left no option but to commit out of principle, wasn’t it funny that two other individuals in the very same St. Helier No. 2 district in 2008 did exactly the same – but didn’t get prosecuted.
Hell – Southern was even originally charged with one of these individual’s offences! We still have the relevant police documents. The only difference? The other two weren’t in the JDA. Just for the record one individual had a five letter name beginning with the letter ‘A’. The other is detailed as having a three letter name beginning with the letter ‘R’ and is also described as having a beard. FACTS…
Still, sickening as all of this hypocrisy and spite is at least the ‘Historic’ Abuse Committee of Inquiry should be safe from hijack. I mean you, wouldn’t invite a former Attorney General who allowed a convicted paedophile to be sworn into the Honorary Police on to a body set up to investigate best practice on child protection matters would you…
Keep the Faith