Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Open Letter To All States Members.
The Jersey Care Leavers Association (JCLA) has sent an Open Letter to all States Members which we reproduce (and support) below.
"To All States Members
Today you will make a decision on the extra funding for the Jersey Care Inquiry. It is to be hoped that this decision is taken wisely and with great consideration for the bigger picture that any failure to agree to this Proposition would have in several instances.
1. The impact on the very courageous victims who have come forward with their evidence to the Inquiry. This has been extremely harrowing for some who have had to re-visit the abuse suffered whilst in the ‘care’ of the States of Jersey. To reject the extra funding would, to all intents and purposes, be yet another rejection for the victims. This they do not deserve. What they do deserve is answers and closure.
2. To reject the Proposition would be unprecedented, particularly at a time when Historic Child Abuse is a very high profile issue in the UK at the moment. Does Jersey also want to be seen to still ‘covering-up’ its failures in this very sad and sorry saga?
3. The ‘reputation’ that Jersey’s Establishment are so keen to preserve will be well and truly damaged even further. The repercussions will be far reaching and the matter will never go away, or move on if the Inquiry is thwarted in any, way, shape or form from undertaking what they have been tasked with in its fullest format.
We would also ask you to support Deputy Tadier’s amendments, particularly the removal of paragraph (c) (ii) which we feel does potentially restrict the Inquiry in terms of scope and its independence. Whilst no-one would argue that prudence in financial matters is very important the ‘capping’ aspect sits uncomfortably and begs the question, can the Inquiry operate as they would wish without having to make allowances due to the restraints put on it? Nobody with an interest in this Inquiry would like to think that this could be the case. The Inquiry must be allowed to continue as they think best, whilst exercising regard for expenditure. Likewise, and perhaps more so, States agents, lawyers et al should be exercising the same caution.
One matter that does rather stick in the craw, whilst not directly related to the Inquiry or proposition, is the amount States Lawyers have received in relation to the Compensation Scheme versus the compensation actually paid to Claimants.
Paragraph (c) (v) is bizarre as the Committee of Inquiry have already been making use of various ‘reports’ etc. In fact, it is States departments which have, on occasion, held up this process by not always being co-operative in the provision of requested documents. It is such actions that undermine the Inquiry and add unnecessary cost to the tax payer. As such, this paragraph is unnecessary and its removal should be supported.
Whilst we appreciate the motives of the Chief Minister in bringing this proposition, and seeking to bring on board those who are concerned about costs, we have been disappointed by the machinations that have taken place with certain Members of the Council of Ministers.
It is sad that this document has been lodged by the Chief Minister solely and not by the Council of Ministers as a collective. Furthermore, we were disappointed to find out that certain Ministers were asking to meet us to discuss ending the Committee of Inquiry altogether. As such, we have experienced renewed mistrust for the Government and what appears to be their divided stance on matters of child abuse, exposing the cover-ups that allowed it and potential political interference.
The Northern Ireland Inquiry encountered problems in that their estimated costs also rose quite considerably . Below is a quote from the Belfast Telegraph that would indicate that the money did not have to be ‘fought’ for.
'Costs for an inquiry into historical institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland could reach £19m, the Assembly has been told.Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt, who chairs Stormont's OFMDFM committee, said MLAs had been informed in September that predicted costs had doubled from initial estimates.
The Strangford MLA added: “On the estimated costs of the inquiry the committee sought clarification from the department whether the figures in the financial and explanatory memorandum of between £7.5m and £9m remained accurate.
“Officials advised the committee that the estimated costs had been revised upwards — doubled in fact to £15-19m to take into account the complexities of the inquiry and the associated legal costs.”
Mr Nesbitt said he was assured the necessary funds would be made available from the OFMDFM budget'.
It would appear that the reasons highlighted in red equally apply here.
Finally a final figure of £50m has been mooted by Senator Bailhache. Interestingly there has been no indication as to how this figure was arrived at, no break-down of costs, or who actually provided this information. Scare-mongering is easy, but as with anything facts are required as proof.
We sincerely hope that there will be no opposition to this Proposition and that there will be wide support for the amendments put forward by Deputy Tadier.
Please think of the human tragedies involved here. Do we really want, or need to go here ever again?"