Wednesday, 7 October 2015
PRESS RELEASE ON BEHALF OF DEPUTY TADIER – 7th October 2015
Deputy Tadier has said that there are no hard feelings after the Bailiff, William Bailhache, misunderstood a comment made during a States Debate in which Deputy Tadier was presenting a Reform Jersey amendment seeking to reverse some of the cuts to benefits being put forward by the Social Security Minister, Deputy Susie Pinel.
‘In my speech, I stated that we all look to different inspirational figures for our moral and political guidance (be they philosophers, economists or reigious figures). I named two such figures – the American moral and political philosopher John Rawles and Jesus Christ, both of whom talked about the need for social justice and looking after the poor, the sick and vulnerable.’
‘I used the example of the well known motto “What would Jesus do? (WWJD)” or “what would Rawles do?”, before stating, rhetorically (and ironically), “Of course, Jesus would be at the Tory Conference or an IoD dinner.” Before I could finish my train of argument – “Or would he?” I was interrupted by the Bailiff, who said my comment was offensive and asked me to withdraw the comment. I did not as the comment was not offensive, but standard political discourse - as he would have found out had I been allowed to continue. This was a contravention of my parliamentary privilege and it is an important principle that elected members be able to express themselves freely without fear or prejudice.’
Talking about the Bailiff’s intervention, Deputy Tadier said, ‘The Bailiff is not the Pope, and like all of us, he is fallable. He simply got the wrong end of the stick on this occasion. Had he followed Standing Orders to the letter (see below 109 /3 and 4)) he would have asked me to clarify my comments rather than asking me to retract them, and he would have understood the point I was making. Thankfully, after the hour’s recess, the Bailiff had obviously thought better of it and I was able to contiune where I had left off.’
‘I am grateful for the solidarity shown by States Members, particularly the Chief Minister, who came to my defense, saying he did not think the comments were offensive, simply a political illustration and maybe a direct challenge to the Chief Minister’s policies as a Christian.’
‘The whole thing was quite Kafkaesque. I bare no ill feeling to the Bailiff. I was just slightly frustrated at being impeded in doing my job, in this case, of robustly fighting the Government’s austerity measures.’
Others have made comment that this is not the first time that the Bailiff has overstepped the mark into the political, and it is likely that this latest episode will add to growing calls for the States to be chaired by someone other than a senior member of the Judiciary.
109 Presiding officer's power to direct withdrawal of offensive etc words81
(1) If the presiding officer believes that the member of the States speaking has used offensive, objectionable, unparliamentary or disorderly words, the presiding officer shall direct the member speaking to sit down.
(2) If a member of the States, believing that the member speaking has used offensive, objectionable, unparliamentary or disorderly words, has, on a point of order, drawn the attention of the presiding officer to them, the presiding officer shall direct the member speaking to sit down.
(3) The presiding officer may ask the member who was speaking to explain
the sense in which he or she used the words.
(4) The presiding officer shall then determine whether or not the words are
offensive, objectionable, unparliamentary or disorderly.
(5) If the presiding officer determines that the words are offensive,
objectionable, unparliamentary or disorderly, he or she –
(a) shall direct the member to withdraw the words; and
(b) may direct the member to apologise.
(6) The member must withdraw the words and, if so directed, apologise.