Attac Jersey is a Member of the International Tax Justice Network. We are Members of the Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions for the Benefit of Citizens, (ATTAC) and the Tax Justice Network, (TJN). The aims of both organisations are to research, educate and campaign to further public awareness. We are seeking to alleviate poverty through the creation of just taxation systems to fund social goods.

Friday, October 5, 2012


 
When I mentioned earlier this week that I had been nominated for an accounting award I have to admit I did not think there was a hope I might win it – but this evening I as the guest of the Association of International Accountants at their annual Founders’ Lecture, at which event I was, much to my surprise, given an award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Accountancy Profession.
Why was I surprised? There are three reasons. First, by no means all in the profession like what I do. Second, I was up against people from the IASB and Deloitte - both of whom have serious backing, I would have thought, and third this was a popular vote. Popularity isn’t something some think I have courted.
But win I did, and I admit I feel slightly humbled and quietly pleased as a result. I would not be honest if I said otherwise.
I promise you I didn’t do a Gwyneth Paltrow when offering my thanks. But apart from thanking the AIA for their courage in nominating me, and their members for the courage to vote for me, I would, inevitably like to thank some other people now.
This award recognises “a significant contribution to the profession, showing leadership, determination and commitment.”
I guess a decade of pretty determined campaigning is some commitment. I could not have done it without my wife, Jacqueline, who has sacrificed a lot to tax justice. And my sons, now 11 and 10, have never known a dad who hasn’t had a keyboard pretty much constantly at his side. I thank them all.
John Christensen also deserves special thanks. Prem Sikka introduced us almost exactly ten years ago – and since then we’ve worked together in the most creative working relationship of my life. I am not the easiest man to work with, I suspect. If anyone deserves thanks for being a constant companion when ploughing the furrow of tax justice then John it is.
But we could have worked in vain if so many organisations in the UK and beyond had not shared the idea of tax justice. It’s impossible to name them all, but some stand out. Publish What You Pay were very early adopters of country-by-country reporting, which in accounting terms is, I guess my major contribution to debate. They’ve now taken it near to being US and EU law for their sector of concern. Global Witness were their constant partners in that work. And Christian Aid – from whom Joe Stead was present last night giving part of the Founders’ Lecture – have been major players in promoting the broader version of country-by-country reporting and tax justice more generally. And then there is the team in TJN itself. To all, my thanks.
And just a moment’s reflection is called for. Why have a given a decade to this cause? The answer when it began was simply that there were billions of poor people in the world whose lives could be improved if only major companies and wealthy individuals could be persuaded to pay their taxes in full in the right place at the right time.  That might be in a developing country. As we were just beginning to realise in 2002, these countries were losing out badly not just to corruption but also to massive capital flight and tax losses as a result of the activities of multinational corporations in particular, many of whom were and are using secrecy jurisdictions to hide the money they make in those developing countries from view and so leave them in aid dependency and their populations in poverty. Country-by-country reporting – which I first wrote about in January 2003 – has always been intended to ensure that the people of those countries can enjoy the resources that are owed to them, managed by their own democratic governments to ensure they can have education, health care, infrastructure and the right to a good life that we in developed countries take for granted.
If only the accountancy profession would adopt this standard it could, I think, overnight do more to relieve poverty than any the single agency ion the world. It’s to the professions continual shame that the International Accounting Standards Board still blocks such a move, backed by the Big 4 accounatnts and the largest companies in the world. I don’t have to make up a conspiracy theory about their blocking this move that could relive so much poverty: the conspiracy is real.
And so too is the coordinated action of the world’s accountants, lawyers and bankers who promote the abuse that is sold from tax havens. When we know that markets can only function properly when there is transparency and when we know that democracy is dependent upon everyone playing their part, including by paying their taxes, some in all three of those professions are doing their best to undermine effective markets and destroy democracy by creating the opacity that hides the free-riders and the criminals from view. I do not differentiate them: they both wreak havoc on life prospects in developing countries but just as much here in the UK now, where austerity would not be needed if only the tax gap was closed, which is partly dependent upon a concerted attack on tax haven abuse.
These things are possible. We need not lose maybe £95 billion a year to tax cheats and we could tax the $21 trillion hidden in tax havens around the world. It just takes political will.
I did not choose the job I do: it seemed to choose me. If I’ve brought leadership, commitment and determination to it, and have shown a way in which accountancy could deliver a better world, even if it has yet to do so, then I’m pleased to have had the chance to do so. But I won’t be happy yet. Not whilst children die unnecessarily because large companies hide the cash that could relieve their symptoms out of sight in a tax haven where they have no clue what to do with it – as Apple do with the $117 billion they now hold offshore. And I won’t be happy whilst people in this country suffer cuts, the destruction of education, the NHS, pensions and public services all because the government refuses to invest in bringing tax cheats to book.
The choices too many companies and too many governments are making are the wrong choices. I’m grateful for an award, but I won’t be stopping until we get the right choices: the choices that the accounting profession should be making to ensure that the lives of the 99% and not just the 1% they consider to be their most important clients are improved by the profession’s actions and choices.
So the work goes on. I’ve promised my wife I’ll retire in my 80s if need be, and not before. I’m here for some time yet.

Friday, September 21, 2012


DO THE CONSTABLES DO THEIR FAIR SHARE OF WORK IN THE STATES?
Source data for propositions is “propositions by classes of member.xlsx” for Clothier charts is “lesconnetables – 1999.xls” for all other charts and tables is “lesconnetables3.xls”
1 questions
The 12 Constables, in 2009, were 12 out of 53 members = 22.6%. If you remove Ministers, who I believe do not ask Written Question, or if they do, ask them very very rarely, you have 11 Constables out of 43 non-Minister members = 25.6%
The 12 Constables, from 20th january to the 13th July 2009, asked 1.98% of the Written Questions.
The 12 Constables, from 20th january to the 13th July 2009, asked 2.40% of the Oral questions with notice

I think these figures speak for them selves. I know that I asked questions relating to specific issues which I was concerned about, specific propositions I was bringing, and political goals which I was pursuing. I also asked questions arising from concerns of constituents.
The almost total absence of questions from the Constables does make you wonder if they are concerned with specific issues, need information relevant to propositions they are bringing, have any political goals, or are prompted to find things out as a result of constituents’ concerns!


2 speaking in the States
On 2/3 of States days, from April 28th to 16th July 2009, over half of the 12 Constables did not say one word in the States:


The chart on the previous page shows that as a class of member, the Constables contribute less to debates and question time than other members. Remember that this chart is not about length of speeches but simply about whether members say ANYTHING AT ALL.
Of course there are outliers in each class of member. Thus there are Constables who contribute far more, and others who contribute less, than the average Constable, just as there are deputies who do likewise. This chart gives an overall picture, based on a very large sample – 19 days of sitting.
The chart on the next page gives a diffferent take on the same theme. It shows how many contributions each Constable, Deputy, and Senator make in a sitting, ON AVERAGE. The comment about outliers applies here too, of course.

 

LETTER TO J.E.P.           -   RE CONSTABLES       -     
            SEPTEMBER     2012      

FROM   TED VIBERT

1 Osborne Court
First Tower
St. Helier
Jersey
Dear Sir,

Your editorial, headed “democracy not just efficiency” (3rd September) contains many statements that are so inaccurate, illogical and the result of muddled thinking, that it would be doing a great disservice to your readers to let them go unchallenged.

Your editorial uses the word “democracy”, making a clear assumption that your newspaper believes that the States of Jersey is a democratic institution. In fact, it is a most undemocratic government assembly that requires more than “tweaking” but needs a total overhaul to make it democratic.

This was also the view of the distinguished Clothier Panel 12 years ago.

The Clothier panel’s proposals, of course, were scuppered by the turkeys- including the chairman of the current Electoral Commission who was then the Bailiff and should not have been interfering with political matters- who didn’t want Christmas to come. And their vociferous opposition made sure that Christmas never came and so saved their political skins.

It is clear from the content of your editorial that the writer has a strange idea of what makes a democratic government. Putting it in its simplest terms, democracy is a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives.

History is redolent with examples of how this noble aim has been consistently prostituted by corrupt and unscrupulous politicians who have gerrymandered boundaries to give one party an advantage over others; who have used force and intimidation as well as threats of retribution if people did not vote for them; who have disenfranchised voters by various means, to reduce their voting power against them; stolen voting boxes with thousands of votes going missing; bribed voters with cash or goods(often alcohol)and so on.

They can all claim to be” democratic” in that they represent “a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives”.

But we all know that government achieved in this way is corrupt and totally. undemocratic
An essential requirement for a democratic assembly is that all members should be elected by the people and all should have an equal or near equal number of electors in their constituencies.

Any analysis of the make-up of the States of Jersey can only conclude that by having three different types of members, voted in by fifty three vastly different size electorates, is just as undemocratic as the ones I have detailed.

The Constables represent the worst case The 18,000 registered voters of St. Helier are represented by 1 Constable and the 1,228 registered voters of St.Mary also have 1 constable--- yet both have the same power within the States.

The four urban parishes of Jersey --St. Brelade, St. Clement, St. Helier and St. Saviour-- have 4 Constables in the States representing 40,133 registered voters-which is 1 Constable for every 10,330 voters.

The other 8 parishes have 8 Constables for 21,608 voters- or a Constable for every 2701 voters.

This means that if eight Constables from the small parishes vote against a proposition and the four constables from the urban parishes vote for it, the 40,133 lose out to the 21,608. If you editorial writer thinks that is democratic it is clear that he is guilty of muddled thinking.

Whilst on the question of the Constables being in the States, your editorial states “despite a vociferous minority, there is no evidence of any public demand for the removal of the Constables and no compelling reason why there should be”.

Your writer offers no evidence whatsoever that there is “no public demand for the removal of the Constables “. That is because the contrary is true. The very clear indication of the public view is contained in submissions made to the Commission where the majority of submissions favour their removal. In this we share the views of the eminent and intellectually powerful Clothier Panel who thought the same.. .

Between 1998-2000 this group of UK based QC’s , local lawyers, a top local businessman and a prominent member of a local farming family, and the islands long term economic adviser, headed by a leading UK lawyer , High Court judge and Britain’s first police Ombudsman met for over 200 hours, heard 132 witnesses and received 161 submission. This panel concluded that the Senators and Constables should not be in the States and there should be one class of member in equal constituencies drawn along parish boundaries.

I would add that the job of the Electoral Commission, should not be about assessing “public demand” but should be about producing a form of government that is fit for purpose for the century in which we live, a system of government that is fair and removes ludicrous components that do not stand up to serious scrutiny.

The test of” public demand” will be when the Commission puts forward their proposals, which will go to the States for debate and then to a referendum.

This referendum should be run by a Committee of outsiders(no politicians) and certainly not by the Commission, which is already patently biased by having a chairman, who has expressed strong views about retaining Constables, the Constable of the smallest parish and a Deputy, whose father was the Constable of St. Helier.

No one will be surprised if this Commission proposes that the Constables should remain in the States.

Your editorial raises Constables almost to the level of sainthood. He declares that “their life experience and general common sense provides an important balancing factor in a single chamber assembly.” Can he be seriously suggesting that the 12 Constables have any more life experience or common sense than all the other Members of the States?

Your editorial writer gets even more ridiculous when he writes “their removal would probably deal an ultimately fatal blow to the parish structure on which so much of Jersey’s special identity and community spirit depends.”

He offers absolutely no evidence as to why this would happen.

After all, the Constable is the head of the parish and is answerable to his parish assembly. He heads a team of volunteers from procureurs to honorary police, roads committees and youth workers.

He is answerable to the parish assembly for all of his actions and it is the parish assembly that is the strength of the parish system. They set the rates and approve expenditure. The Constable heads the administrative team which issues dog licences, gun licences, driving licences, and is responsible for the welfare of the young and elderly.

 The condition of the minor roads of the Parish are also his responsibility as is garbage and bottle collection and the annual brancage.

He takes a close interest his parishioners and is expected to visit those who have golden weddings and who reach serious old age on their birthdays. He fully supports the parish entry in the Battle of Flowers and, on battle night, will usually be found sticking on flowers. All of this activity will ensure that our parish system survives. Nothing will change in this area if the Constable is not in the States.

Removing Constables from the States would also enable them to have their police powers returned. These were removed some years ago when it was decided that it was wrong to mix police powers with being a politician. By removing Constables from the States, they will be able to revert back to their role as head of their honorary police further strengthening their community role.

Any suggestion that the parish system will be weakened if the Constables are removed has no basis of fact whatsoever and is simply scaremongering.

It has also been argued by the Commission chairman that if the Constable is not in the States, who will speak up for the parish on any matter that affects them. But every Parish has a deputy in the States and that is their job.

St. Helier has ten Deputies, St. Brelade 3, St. Clement 2,St. Saviour 5 and if the Constable is removed, can it reasonably be argued that there will be no one to speak for their parishioners. The suggestion is nonsense.

Your editorial also states that “each of the 12 parish heads is uniquely well placed to understand and act upon the views and needs of the local communities he or she serves”.
In fact, he’s no better placed than the Parish deputy.

Yours sincerely

Ted Vibert

Monday, September 3, 2012


    12.00 TUESDAY 28th AUGUST


NEW RESEARCH INTO WORK DONE BY CONSTABLES IN THE STATES

New research sent to the Electoral Commission and released today shows that the CC ask fewer questions, table fewer propositions, contribute less to debates and hold fewer positions of responsibility than other members.
The research looked into how much work was done in 2009 by different classes of States member. It confirms the findings of the Clothier Report carried out exactly 10 years before. Charts of the Clothier results have also been sent to the Commission.
The Constables ask around 2% of Written Questions and 2.4% of Oral Questions whilst they are 25% of the non-Minister membership of the States. Per head, they bring 1/3 as many propositions as-the senators, and 1/4 as many as the Deputies, if you set Ministers to one side. On 2/3 of 19 States days measured, over half of the 12 Constables did not say one word in the States. 3/4 of the Senators are Ministers or Assistant Ministers; 1/2 of the Deputies and 1/4 of the Constables. Of the 7 chairmen of Scrutiny/PPC/PAC, 3 are senators, 3 are deputies, and 1 is a Constable.
Former Deputy Daniel Wimberley, who commissioned the research, said: “one has to ask the question, why did the Commission refuse point-blank to do what Clothier did, and carry out this research itself? Was the Commission protecting the Constables?”
In his submission Mr. Wimberley also points out that most Constables are not elected:
They (the Constables) are mostly not elected in the normal sense of the word. Some become Constables unopposed. Many remain Constables unchallenged. This suggests that their role is seen as non-political, which is borne out by their being in the States ex officio.
I think it is generally accepted that they are seen primarily as ‘mother or father of the parish’ and only secondarily as politicians – people who decide on policies, programmes and laws affecting the whole island. This is not a criticism, just a statement of fact.”
The submission also says: “their presence in the States contradicts the principle of fair representation - that each vote shall be of equal weight. With the Constables in the States some voters are worth very much more than other voters. . . . .” The former Deputy points out that the Constables of the 8 least populated parishes represent fewer people than the one Constable of the most populated parish and yet those eight Constables have eight votes compared to the Constable of St. Helier’s one vote.
It is difficult to see how the Constables can be kept in the States,” said Mr. Wimberley, “seeing as they do less work than other members, they are mostly unelected, and they are undemocratic.”
ENDS
Contact Daniel Wimberley 482898 / 861085 / 07797 857 336
Attached: Mr. Wimberley’s Main Submission part 1
Mr. Wimberley’s Main Submission, Appendix 1


NOTES

For Picture Editor: charts of all key facts about the work done by Constables and others in the States are in Appendix 1



DO THE CONSTABLES DO THEIR FAIR SHARE OF WORK IN THE STATES?
Source data for propositions is “propositions by classes of member.xlsx” for Clothier charts is “lesconnetables – 1999.xls” for all other charts and tables is “lesconnetables3.xls”
1 questions
The 12 Constables, in 2009, were 12 out of 53 members = 22.6%. If you remove Ministers, who I believe do not ask Written Question, or if they do, ask them very very rarely, you have 11 Constables out of 43 non-Minister members = 25.6%
The 12 Constables, from 20th january to the 13th July 2009, asked 1.98% of the Written Questions.
The 12 Constables, from 20th january to the 13th July 2009, asked 2.40% of the Oral questions with notice

I think these figures speak for them selves. I know that I asked questions relating to specific issues which I was concerned about, specific propositions I was bringing, and political goals which I was pursuing. I also asked questions arising from concerns of constituents.
The almost total absence of questions from the Constables does make you wonder if they are concerned with specific issues, need information relevant to propositions they are bringing, have any political goals, or are prompted to find things out as a result of constituents’ concerns!


2 speaking in the States
On 2/3 of States days, from April 28th to 16th July 2009, over half of the 12 Constables did not say one word in the States: 





Daniel Wimberley: Main submission, part one

Note to commissioners: this first part of my main submission focuses on just one class of member - the Constables. I will deal with all other issues in part two.


Summary

It is my firm belief that the Constables should not be in the States. This would not weaken the parish system, quite the reverse.
The arguments are very clear. First, their presence in the States contradicts the principle of fair representation - that each vote shall be of equal weight. With the Constables in the States some voters are worth very much more than other voters.
Second, they are mostly not elected in the normal sense of the word. Some become Constables unopposed. Many remain Constables unchallenged. This suggests that their role is seen as non-political, which is borne out by their being in the States ex officio.
I think it is generally accepted that they are seen primarily as ‘mother or father of the parish’ and only secondarily as politicians – people who decide on policies, programmes and laws affecting the whole island. This is not a criticism, just a statement of fact.
This issue of the Constables not being elected is linked to the question of democracy within the parish system and how the parish system can and should be rejuvenated.
Third, and no doubt linked to the preceding, the Constables, as a group, do not do their fair share of States work. I present detailed evidence to show that this is so, just as it was 10 years earlier, when Clothier did the same research.
This is highly relevant when there is so much talk about reducing the number of States members. It also raises the question of remuneration. They are not paid for the work they do in their parish, for which they are “elected”, but they are paid, the same as other States members, for doing the work which they do ex officio.
So there are real problems with the Constables being in the States. They contradict the principle of fair votes; they more often than not are not elected in the normal sense of the word; and they do not do the same amount of work as other members.
Those who defend the position that they should be in the States mainly argue from tradition and they say that the Constables being in the States is a vital support for the parish system. They also say that the Constables represent the views of their parishioners in some special way.
I suggest that we must be mature and discerning in our approach to tradition, not slavishly following it but selecting what to keep and what to discard. I show that maintaining and enhancing the parish system depends in no way on the Constables being in the States. And I show that the notion that they represent the views of their parishioners in some special way is deeply flawed.
I close by pointing out the political function of the Constables and why it is so important to the ruling group that they stay in the States. I do this so that it is completely in the open what is at stake here politically. 1 This helps the public, the Commission, and anyone reviewing this process for whatever reason later on.

1 For example, it helps to explain why the Electoral Commission was changed by the States, at the prompting of Senator Bailhache, now the chairman of the Commission, to be non-independent. I would prefer not to be cynical like this but unfortunately all the other signs point the same way. I look forward to being proved wrong.

JERSEY ELECTORAL COMMISSION-Submission










SUBMISSION TO
STATES OF JERSEY
ELECTORAL COMMISSION






From: Ted Vibert
August 30th 2012
INTRODUCTION

This Commission has been set up because of widespread dissatisfaction with the way in which our government has been functioning since the Clothier recommendations of 2000
The Clothier panel was put in place because many States members at that time believed that trying to run a sophisticated community through 24 Committees was inappropriate for the year 2000 and onwards.
Senior States members of that era realised that decision –making through the process of 24 Committees needed to be reviewed and in 1987 a management study was commissioned by a firm of independent accountants and management consultants in an attempt to streamline and speed up the business of decision- making by the States
Their report led to the creation of the Policy and Resources Committee whose intended function was to draw together the various Committees and regulate the interaction.
As the Clothier Report noted (p19 4.4)
This has not proved to be a cure for the ills in the system because the P&R Committee did not have the authority which is necessary and so cannot require committees to follow established policy”.
Between 1987 and 1999 the States struggled on trying to make the Policy and Resources situation work effectively. Then, on 2nd March,1999, the States approved a proposition to appoint a body to review all aspects of the Machinery of Government in Jersey.
This panel consisted of Sir Cecil Clothier KCB, QC; Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, KCB; Professor Michael Clarke, CBE DL ;Mr. John Henwood MBE ;Dr. John Kelleher: Mr. David Le Quesne; Mrs. Anne Perchard; Mr. Colin Powell,OBE; and Sir Maurice Schock
Panel head Sir Cecil Clothier, as well as being a distinguished judge, was Britain’s first Ombudsman.
This panel heard 132 witnesses and received 161 written submissions and it met for approximately 200 hours.. It held meetings with officials from the Isle of Man and Guernsey, held a public meeting in St. Helier, advertised extensively for evidence and sampled public opinion (Mori Social Research)
I would respectfully suggest that this Commission read their report thoroughly for their findings are, in my view, as relevant today as they were then and were arrived at following a huge amount of effort by what can only be described as a highly intelligent and august body of people.
Without wishing to be disrespectful to this Commission, I am sure even they would accept that, along- side of that panel, their knowledge of constitutional law, Jersey society and the way the States of Jersey is constituted is no better than the Clothier panel.
Which raises the question as to how an impartial Commission can reach any different conclusions to that reached by the Clothier panel?
.
It also raises the question as to why the major recommendations of that panel were not accepted by the States. These major recommendations were:
  • The role of Senator should be abolished
  • Constables should cease to be in the States
  • The Committee of Constables should be consulted whenever their Parish is particularly affected
  • An electoral commission to be set up to re-assign the vacant seats among the parishes.
  • All members of the States to enjoy the same title Member of the States of Jersey(MSJ).
  • The States Assembly should consist of between 42-44 members
  • The Bailiff should cease to be the president of the States and a speaker of the House should be selected from States members( also the view of the recent Cardswell Inquiry into the Role of the Bailiff)
The 44 recommendations are to be found on pages 41-43 of the Clothier Report.
The panel also outlined that the committee structure should be scrapped and seven departments ( ministries) should be created, each with a Minister and two assistant ministers. These ministers would form the Council of Ministers; the chairman of which should be the Chief Minister.
So why did the major recommendations – the removal of Constables and Senators -fail to materialise. In simple terms, the turkeys didn’t want Christmas to come. Put even more simply, it was naked self-interest. The Senators did not want to lose their positions and neither did the Constables.
The combined voting strength of the Constables and Senators (24) plus the country deputies made it impossible for these reforms to be carried in an assembly of 53. If they supported the proposals it would have meant them losing their seats in the States and with that their income.
.The Jersey States then decided to do the worst possible thing which was to “cherry pick” the Clothier proposals.
The Clothier panel warned them against this, saying
Our recommendations amount to a comprehensive plan for the revision of the Machinery of Government in Jersey. We hope that the plan will be implemented as a whole, rather than piecemeal. Employing, for the last time, the metaphor of machinery, it is no use assembling some parts only of a machine and expecting it to work”.
In fact that was precisely what happened and the result is the mess that exists today.
The architect of that decision to “cherry pick” the Clothier proposals despite the warning that what was being recommended was a “comprehensive package” was this Commission’s chairman .
In an infamous letter of 14th February 2001 to the Policy and Resources Committee Sir Philip declared that
The panel (Clothier) suggests that their plan should be implemented as a whole. ~For my part, I can see no compelling reason for treating the recommendations as an indissoluble package. This suggestion seems to me to be a denial of a member's responsibilities. They are perfectly entitled and indeed have a duty to examine the recommendations on their respective merit and decide which of them should be adopted and which should be rejected or accepted in part Members. The suggestion that the Panel’s recommendations are so perfectly formulated that they must, all without exception, be embraced seems to be to be very questionable indeed.”
This advice was quite extra-ordinary given the fact that the States had commissioned a report from a Panel held in high regard whose brief was to examine what was wrong with Jersey’s system of government and after two years of meetings and receiving submissions, written and oral, from a large cross-section of Jersey society and which had produced a complete package of reform which the Panel warned was a complete plan and should not be tampered with.
By giving his official seal of approval to “cherry pick” the Clothier plan- which the States did- he effectively neutered the reform process, the result of which is we now have a system of government that is totally unsatisfactory.
THE ROLE OF THE COMMISSION CHAIRMAN IN HELPING TO THWART THE CLOTHIER PROPOSALS.
This Commission should be aware that advising the States that they should cherry pick the Clothier proposals was only one element of the former Bailiff’s opposition to the Clothier proposals which resulted in scuppering most of the reforms proposed by Clothier. In an unprecedented incursion into politics, Sir Philip wrote a 15page letter spelling out his views on the proposals put forward by the Clothier panel. This letter was sent to the media and received huge coverage and it was also distributed to all States members.
I have attached a copy of this letter to this submission so that members of the Commission can read how the chairman thinks of the various reforms suggested and to realise that these are long- held views that are deeply ingrained in his thinking. Any suggestion that he is impartial on the question of States reform is simply ludicrous and they should treat his position with circumspection.
I believe it is important that members of this Commission should be reminded of Sir Philips conduct in respect of the Clothier Report and the strongly held views that he has so publicly expressed.
There is a widespread view in the island that the Commission chairman is hopelessly conflicted on the issue of States reform. No normal jurisdiction would allow anyone so conflicted to sit on a body reviewing this crucial subject about which he has expressed such strong views, let alone chair it. I was not intending to make a submission to this Commission as I viewed it as a tainted body but decided that I had a public duty to put forward the views expressed in this submission.
. EVOLUTION OR REVOLUTION?.
Some people have argued that a country’s Constitution is something precious and should only be altered gradually. The Commission chairman himself holds this view and has stated that the
the Clothier proposals recommends changes which amount to a total re-constitution of the States Assembly which has evolved gradually over the past 500 years”.... a complete rupture with the past...revolutionary proposals of this kind, as opposed to a more evolutionary approach, need careful and measured appraisal”.
For Sir Philip to suggest that Jersey’s constitution has evolved gradually over the last 500 years is totally misleading. Up to 1948 that may have been the case for back then the Jersey States consisted of 12 Jurats, 12 rectors and 12 Constables for over 200 years but later 17 deputies were added.
Jurats were elected primarily to be judges of the Royal Court but it was not a democratic situation. A candidate for Jurat, prior to 1948, had to be a native of the island, he could not be a brewer, a butcher, a baker or an inn-keeper and women were barred from holding this office Neither could he be a catholic, a Jew or a” freethinker”.. A candidate for Jurat also had to have £30 worth of assets and an elected Jurat held the office for life.
The 12 rectors sat in the States by virtue of their office and were unelected. The 17 deputies were elected in a “normal election,” The Constables like-wise.
In 1948 a Committee of the Privy Council proposed a massive reform of the States of Jersey which removed the 12 Jurats and 12 rectors and replaced them with 12 Senators, 12 Constables and 28 Deputies The first Senators were to be elected on an island-wide basis and 4 would sit for a period of nine years, 4 for six years and 4 for 3 years; Constables for 3 years and Deputies also 3 years.
In addition the role of the Jurats was updated and restrictions on religion, finance, locally born and gender were removed. They would serve six years with two retiring each year
Those huge changes could hardly be described as evolutionary but were clearly revolutionary. The Jurats are one of the most ancient offices within Jersey’s social. legal and administrative structures yet the States of 1948 took the view that despite this they should not be involved in the political process The same applied to the Rectors

The Commission of1948 effectively decreed that Jersey’s form of Government in 1948, despite its long and ancient traditions, was ” no longer fit for purpose” and they replaced it with a totally new structure, which remained in place for 56 years until 2004
Had the Commission chairman been the Bailiff back in 1948 no doubt his love of tradition ,which he appears to put above what is appropriate to the times, might have led him to campaign against these changes He probably would have complained that these changes were ”a total reconstruction of the States of Jersey which has evolved gradually over the past 500 years” and called them“ a complete rupture with the past” and “ a constitutional arrangement and a system of government of such long standing should not be so casually discarded.”(which is how he described the Clothier proposals of 2000).
But it was felt by the States of 1948 that the changes proposed were right for their time--- 1948 which was 64 years ago. The population of Jersey then was 57,310. Today it is 97,857, an increase of 40,547 or 70%. Back in 1948 governing Jersey was simple compare d to the complexities of today. The island now finds itself part of the complex business world that is truly global whereas back then it was a simple agricultural society.
In 1948, States business took one morning a fortnight with Committee meetings once a week.
Between 1948 and 2000, there have been some minor changes to the construction of the States-like the addition of one more Deputy for St. Brelade. And, of course.. Members of the States are now paid.
Whenever the question of States reform is raised there is a tendency for some people to get extremely “precious” about the island’s constitution, arguing that a constitution it is something very special, particularly if it has stood for hundreds of years and should only be changed gradually over time. The Commission chairman has gone as far as suggesting that a constitution is “shaped by tradition and history, and is a living organism”.
He has also argued that “a community that ignores the weight of history does so at its peril. Its history and its heritage are part of its individuality and its soul...we should remain connected to our past and concentrate on adapting our institutions. There is nothing inherently wrong about being different.”
To suggest that altering the way in which the States operates by as massive a change as that of 1948 was somehow ignoring the islands history and heritage is simply ludicrous. The ultimate aim of this Commission should be to produce a blue print that will make the States of Jersey a democratic organisation where every person who stands for election is voted for by an equal number of voters and has an equal chance of success.
This and only this should be the aim of this Commission.
.I hope this Commission does not put tradition and history before fairness and practicality and takes note of the decision of 1948 and act positively to produce a plan that is fit for purpose
.
SO WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE MAKE-UP OF THE STATES OF JERSEY?
This Commission has the task of advising the States of Jersey of changes that should be made to the make-up of the States Assembly. To do this, it is necessary to decide what is wrong with the make-up of the Assembly and what should be done to rectify what is wrong.
In my view the Clothier panel had it exactly right in their conclusions and the proposals they put forward to implement change.
There is little doubt that the way in which the States is constituted is totally undemocratic. No Assembly can be called fair when there are three different classes of members representing totally different numbers of people yet all have the same influence and power
The Constables are a classic example. If you look at the table Parish by Parish table (where I have removed those who are under 16) it can be seen that the residents of the Parish of St.Helier have one Constable to represent 29,027 voters or 18,019 registered to vote whereas the 1,463 population or1, 228registered voters of St.Mary also have one Constable to represent them.
The four most populated parishes, St.. Brelade, St. Clement, St. Saviour and St. Helier have only 4 Constables to represent a total of 56,926 potential voters and 40,333 registered voters- representing an average of 14,980 voters per Constable
The remaining 8 Constables represent 26817 or 3,352 per Constable.
These figures illustrate how blatantly unfair the current situation is and how unacceptable it is.
.The same applies to the Senatorial position where 4 Senators have to appeal to a voting population of75,820 or 62,041 registered voters- -- 15.541 per Senator.
The same applies to Deputies where the number of electors can range from 4,122 to !,136 per deputy.
It is a basic requirement of a democratic society that each member of a government body should represent an equal or near equal number of people. This can only be achieved by removing the Constables and Senators from the States as it would be impossible to equalise their representation im any fair way. That alone would mean the States should have only one class of member( as Clothier recommended).
The constituencies would be along Parish lines but with adjustments to bring the numbers into some form of equality.- a 1%tolerance would be acceptable.
There are a number of other reasons why Constable and Senators should be removed from the States
THE CONSTABLES

The greatest blight on democracy within the structure of the States are the Constables. They are elected specifically to be the head of the parish administration. As such they head up a team which includes the honorary police force of centeniers, vingteniers and Constable Officers plus the Procureurs. In modern terms they are, in effect, the managing directors of the parish and are responsible for all parish administration from setting the rates to ensuring that expenditure does not exceed income. They are also responsible for issuing gun licences, dog licences, the parish roads (through a roads committee ) and ensuring that their electoral register is kept updated. They are responsible to a parish assembly which has to approve expenditure and the level of rates plus any controversial matters that may come forward that concerns the Parish. The Constable cannot act on his own when it comes to important matters within the parish as the Parish Assembly controls what a Constable can do.
They become States members by virtue of their election as Constable. However it is unusual for a Constable to be challenged in an election unless he/she has alienated the parishioners in some way. In the last election, for example, the Constable of St.Saviour lost his election to a political newcomer whose only claim to fame was the ability to sing “Beautiful Jersey”. He had angered his parishioners by supporting a proposal to build a community club in a large field.
In St.Brelade, the Constable lost his seat partly because his parishioners felt that he was spending too much time working on States business in his role of Minister for Transport and Technical Services.
When a Constable retires or a vacancy is created by a death, there is never a rush of candidates to take the role. Generally speaking candidates come from within the parish’s political hierarchy This gives a candidate a strong support base against which someone outside of that system finds it difficult to compete. It is not a level playing field. Whilst that is possibly acceptable for a parish role, it is totally unfair for an election of a States member
. .A sitting Constable has a quite unfair advantage over a challenger. As head of the parish, he/she becomes very well-known within the parish boundaries. Being at the apex of the parish hierarchy enables him /her to build support from a powerful group of parish officials and their supporters, When a challenger appears and if the sitting Constable has done nothing to alienate his supporters the challenger finds himself on a veyy unlevel playing field. It is a totally unfair situation.
This unfairness, combined with the unequal number of votes for each Constable. should preclude them from being part of the States.
THE ARGUMENTS TO KEEP THE CONSTABLES IN THE STATES
The Commission chairman has argued that
their standing would be reduced. They would chair the Parish Assembly but even there ,their influence would be greatly diminished.They could not carry forward the views of the parishioners. The ancient title ’pere de la paroisse or’ father of the parish’.that is the protector of those in need of protection, would become empty of meaning. ~Their role would become relatively minor and secondary to that of their parish deputy or deputies who alone would have the power to represent parishioners in the States.”
To suggest that by changing the status of the Constable by removing him/her from the States “reduces their standing and greatly diminishes their influence within the Parish” is pure speculation and supposition. There are those who argue that removing them from the States would enable them to spend more time working on Parish matters and their parochial position will be enhanced
If one accepts the argument put forward by the chairman of the Commisison” “that they would chair the parish assembly but even then their standing would be greatly reduced can only mean that the Chairman believes that all other functions carried out by the Constable become unimportant if the Constable is not in the States. This is an argument put forward totally without any evidence or examples of how this could be.
The Commission chairman has also suggested that if a Constable is not in the States ,his parishioners would have no one to put forward their views in the States. One has to ask—what is the Parish Deputy doing?. That is one of their jobs.
In the case of St.Helier, they have 10 deputies to do that job; St. Brelade has 3;St. Clement has 2; St. Lawrence has 2; St. Saviour has 5. The other seven parishes have a deputy each. How can anyone argue that if the Constable is removed ,the parishioners won’t have anyone in the States to represent them is not supported by the facts and is simply untrue.
.
The Commission chairman also argues that
the long tradition of the Connetables convening parish assemblies to guage public reaction to significant matters under consideration in the States (the original reason for lodging a proposition au greffe) would come to an end.”
That long tradition ended years ago and it hardly ever happens today as the chairman well knows
The chairman has also made the following statement:
This diminution in the status of the office of Connetable could have more serious consequences for the parishes themselves. The ancient pyramid of honorary officers with the Constable at the apex have an important part to play in local administration and in the life of the community....their removal(from the States) would not only diminish the standing of the Constable but would also risk a weakening of the influence of the parish in island life”
The counter argument to this is that if the Constable is removed from the States the ancient pyramid of honorary officers with the Constable at the apex remains intact and unchanged regardless and will continue as before and will continue to have an important part to play in local administration and in the life of the community.
Again, the contention that the parish system would be weakened if the Constable is not in the States is unsupported by any factual evidence but is unsubstantiated supposition which does not stand up to rational argument.
A SECOND CHAMBER OF CONSTABLES.
I am aware that proposals have been put forward to the Commission that a second chamber consisting of the 12 Constables should be introduced. The purpose of this would be for the Constables to be the equivalent of a scrutiny panel. They would have no vote on matters within the States but would put forward their views on various matters and review proposed legislation. I believe this view has been put forward to make it more palatable to the States for the removal of Constables from the Assembly.
This should be resisted by the Commission. The last thing the island needs is another level of Government
It is to be hoped that the Commission will not be tailoring its proposals based on what it thinks would be acceptable to the States but puts forward an honest appraisal of the current situation based on the facts and not on emotion and tradition.
THE ROLE OF SENATORS. .
Senators were introduced to the States in the 1948 reforms and it would appear that this was to replace the Jurats, who were elected by a form of an island-wide vote. .They were to have a 9 year term which was eventually reduced to six years so that was a distinct advantage over other members. In the 2011 changes, when two Senators were removed from the States,their terms was reduced to 4 years for all members.
Much has been made of the “all-isand mandate” as if this bestows on a Senator some form of advantage in the House. But it does no such thing. A Senator elected with 17,000 votes, when he takes his seat in the House ,has absolutely no greater power than a Deputy elected with 350 votes or a Constable returned without even facing an election.
In the absence of party politics every elected States member has a mandate from those who vote for them. It makes no difference in the long run whether this mandate is a from an island base or a parish constituency. In the end, they are all equal. So whats the point of having Senators.
The Clothier panel concluded that
The very title of Senator is inappropriate, suggesting as it does, some kind of revising or upper house, such as found in other jurisdictions . We received no convincing evidence that there was s significant difference between the nature and content of the Senator’s role and that of the Deputies. In an island about 9 miles long and about 5 miles wide and with excellent communications, we found the distinction between Senators and Deputies less than plausible and in practice there is little difference in the contributions to debate of either category of representative. Nor can the Senators do anything which the Deputy cannot also do “
This should be the view of the Commission and the role should be abolished.
AN ISLAND- WIDE VOTE
There have been a number of submissions proposing that all members of the States should be elected on an island-wide vote. Even if the proposed number of members is reduced to 40-42 it is likely that an island wide election would result in a ballot paper containing over 150 names. Such a system would b totally unworkable.
In addition to this, members elected on an island-wide basis would find it impossible to have a close relationship with their electorate compared to constituencies with much smaller numbers.
HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD BE IN THE STATES

This should be decided by the number of members that form the Council of Ministers and the assistant ministers. If the Council of Ministers consists of 10 members and there are 12 assistant ministers, this means that there are 22 members making up “the executive”. It would be totally undemocratic if there were more members in the executive than outside of it. Therefore 26 would seem a proper number to have outside of the executive making a house of 48.
Based on a voting population of 75,820 the 48 deputies would have an electorate of 1574.
What- ever figure is proposed, it is essential that the number of States members outside of the executive is greater than the number in the executive. That- and only that- should be the guiding criteria for the Commission to consider.

OTHER MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED BY THECOMMISSION.

The Commission should accept the principle that only people who have been elected by the people should have a seat in the States, other than the Greffiers. The Bailiff should not be the president , as decreed by both the Clothier panel and the more recent Carswell Panel .
The Dean should not be there. He has no place in the seat of Government. That he is permitted to take part in debates and attempt to influence the members is a travesty. No one has elected him to that office

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



Former Bailiff is likely to lead reform programme

Monday 9th January 2012, 2:56PM GMT.
Senator Sir Philip Bailhache
Senator Sir Philip Bailhache
WEEKS after calling for a drastic reduction in the number of States Members, Senatorial poll-topper Sir Philip Bailhache seems poised to lead the States reform campaign.
The former Bailiff has confirmed that he wants to chair the Electoral Commission, and says that work needs to start soon to get the work done in time for the 2014 election.
After the Privileges and Procedures Committee agreed last week to change the rules to allow politicians to sit on the body, Senator Bailhache appears likely to get the job of leading it.
He topped the Senatorial poll on an election platform based on States reform in which he advocated axing some Members’ seats, and is the preferred nominee of Chief Minister Ian Gorst.
Asked whether his established views would stop an open discussion of the reform options, Senator Bailhache said: ‘I do not think so. I have expressed provisional views about what the solution might be but I think most intelligent people in the Island have expressed views about the reform of the States over the years.


 Deputy Montfort Tadier

From Deputy Montfort Tadier, Vice Chairman of PPC
These comments are my own, and do not represent the view of the Committee as a whole:
I am a member of PPC and I certainly do not endorse this.
 I outlined my position very clearly in my manifesto, in the States and more recently to the committee that the Commission should remain Independent, as agreed by the States last year.
 This was supported by Deputy Judy Martinl. It is nothing personal, but NO States member should be leading the review, let alone those who have expressed clear views about their desired make up of the future States.
Sir PB’s position is one of regress, not progress, making the ultra conservation voice in the States, entrenching the disproportional power of the Constables further.
 If he is allowed to chair the commission (which the States has already agreed should NOT include states members on it) there will certainly be a battle of attrition.
 On the plus side, it will no doubt speed the formation of party politics in the island.
If Sir Philip were not a politician, then fine, he would have a valid claim to chair the commission, but when he became a States Member, with clearly stated intentions for the future of States reform, he must abide by the decision of the commission.