P19/2011 as amended by my amendment P19/2011Amd and Deputy Monty Tadier's amendment to my amendment P19/2011 Amd. to establish a Committee of Inquiry to investigate any issues which remained unresolved in relation to historical abuse in the Island.
It might help readers to take a few steps back to see how the States arrived at its decision.
When the news broke about the alleged abuse in the Island there were calls for a public inquiry to discover how the abuse could have remained "undiscovered" for so many years. In an attempt to placate the concerns, on 27th March 2008 the Council of Ministers lodged R27/2008 which made a commitment to establish a Committee of Inquiry in accordance with Standing Order 146 in order to investigate any issues which remained unresolved in relation to historic abuse in the Island.
At the end of November 2010 the States Police reported that their investigations had been completed. I promptly lodged an Oral question for the States Sitting on 6th December asking the Chief Minister to inform Members of the actions he proposed to take to address the concerns emanating from the Police investigations. In response the Chief Minister made a statement in which he said the Council of Ministers would discuss the matter and would bring forward a report to the States.
On 1st February 2011 the Council of Ministers lodged its report R8/2O11 which in essence informed Members that it considered the matter closed. As a consequence Senator Le Gresley lodged his proposition asking the Council of Ministers to reconsider its decision. I was of the view that the Council of Ministers would be happy to re-consider but would stand by its original decision.
As one can see in R27/2008, the Council of Ministers of the day made a commitment to establish a Committee of Inquiry if a number of matters had not been resolved. In my view the matters had not been resolved and it was incumbent on the present Council of Ministers to establish a Committee of Inquiry to address those matters. I therefore lodged my proposition which actually called for Committee of Inquiry if Members were not satisfied that the original matters had been addressed. Deputy Tadier added another matter which the States approved along with some of the matters in my amendment.
As can be seen above 27 Members supported the Proposition as amended. Of the 11 who voted against 6 are current Ministers including our now Chief Minister Senator Gorst. It has been a long and torturous road and it is obvious that the "Secrecy Culture" still exists with all sorts of lame excuses being advanced to avoid an open investigation or inquiry. Since last March a number of questions have been asked relating to the progress of the Terms of Reference which will have to come back to the States via a proposition but progress has been extremely slow.
Last year the Chief Minister gave an assurance that those Members who had been closely involved with the matter, which were myself, Senator Le Gresley and Deputy Tadier along with a representative of the Care Leavers Association would have a part to play in drafting the Terms of Reference. Last June it was agreed that Verita would be engaged to bring forward proposals to assist in drafting the Terms of Reference and the subsequent Proposition. In late October Verita forwarded its report to the Council of Ministers and as per the agreement the three States Members were given a copy.
Although the Verita Report is supposed to be confidential, as mentioned in a previous Blog there is nothing controversial in it and I believe it should be made available to the public. Since receiving the Report I understand that the Council of Ministers has not consulted with any of the people who had been assured that their views would be sought.
At the last States Sitting, in answer to a question from Deputy Shona Pitman who had asked for a progress report, Senator Gorst stated that the matter was in hand and he hoped that something would be lodged by the end of March.. Given they way that the proposed Electoral Commission proposition has been hi-jacked one is left to wonder how the proposed Committee of Inquiry will turn out.
A couple of Blogs ago I commented on the golden handshake saga which has been in the public domain for months with little interest shown by the media. Therefore it is amusing reading the JEP whose reporter's have got all exited because somehow they have persuaded Senator Gorst to come clean and admit the done deal. It does seem to be a bit late in the day to be claiming a victory when the battle has been fought by the so called Meddlers. One wonders why the JEP did not support those Members who lodged dozens of questions attempting to get to the bottom of the Police Chief's suspension and the key role played by the recipient of one of the golden handshakes. The recipient as Chief Executive also had oversight of the protracted suspension of the Hospital Consultant which cost the tax payer well over two million pounds, and also the Incinerator Euro debacle which we are told was even more costly.
Now that the JEP has at long last taken in interest in the matter it is hoped that they will be asking more questions such as why no one was taken to task over the mismanagement of the former police chief's suspension particularly as it was against the advice of the Crown Officers and has cost the tax payer well over a million pounds.
I welcome the news that the Auditor General will be investigating the matter and it will be interesting to know whether the Chief Executive Officer's original terms and conditions were amended during his tenure of office and if they were, who authorised it.
At next week's Sitting the States will be asked to approve P4/2012 which is an amendment to the Standing Orders which requires the Greffier of the States to publish the register of interests of elected members on the States Assembly website and permits the Greffier to make further arrangements for publication of the register. The amendment will come into force one month after it is adopted by the States.
On 4th May last year I lodged P69/2011 asking the States to agree that the Register of States interests be published on line. It was a simple request given that it is possible for anyone to call into the States Bookshop and copy the details. However as usual there was dissent from some quarters and PPC was not really jumping up and down with support as one can read in its Comments. Even though its Chairman abstained, my proposition was approved by 35 votes to 9 with 2 abstentions. The necessary drafting has now been completed and hopefully the new House will stand by the decision made in June last year.
One interesting point to come from the debate was the concern that Bloggers may pop into the Bookshop, copy the info and then publish it on line. It is good to note that States Members are becoming aware of the influence that Bloggers are generating and is even influencing their decisions.