When this draft law was adopted by the States on 3rd May 2011, nobody could foresee that just three years later, the control of States Housing and the fate of all its tenants would have been transferred into the hands of a private company (Andium Homes
) run by overpaid political cronies. I regard that decision (to create Andium Homes) as a disgrace. This is the administration of public housing we are talking about, which sets it apart from the activities of other companies like the utilities, with which I am less concerned overall. Andium should have been included in the Schedule 1 FOI list from day one of the new law. The final debate on this is probably a fait accompli
already, because any attempt to add Andium Homes or other entities at this very late stage will no doubt come up against the COM argument that Andium and the others haven't been given sufficient notice and would therefore need much longer to prepare for the introduction of the FOI. How much of Housing policy does Andium control? For example, who deals with things like the States rental waiting list- Andium or a States Department? Does anybody know?
The FOI proposition (P.39/2011) that was adopted in 2011 ran to an enormous 166 pages. On page 19, it says (quoting an earlier 2005 proposition) "The Law would not apply to States-aided independent bodies"
but doesn't specifically define which bodies this refers to. At paragraph 3.4 on the same page, it says:
The Committee is satisfied that it is not generally necessary to include States aided independent bodies, as these may be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General,. However, the Committee has decided to have an enabling power in the Law so that it is possible to cover them at some point in the future. This would require a policy on access to information from States-aided independent bodies, and communication with them so that they are aware that they may be included at a future date. The Committee wished to make it possible, where a body is in receipt of funding, at least half of which is from the States in one or more years, and which carries out statutory functions, or which appears to exercise functions or carry out a contract service of a public nature, for them to be covered by the Law. However, the Law will not apply to them, until they are added to the Schedule 1 by Regulation. There is no immediate plan to do this, but the Law is drafted so as to allow this to happen in the future without amendment to the primary Law.
Yet earlier at 3.2, it says:
The Law provides that a body corporate or a corporation sole established by the States by an enactment will be covered by the Law, although not necessarily immediately.
Confusing or what? http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2011/13704-37486-1532011.pdf
There are an awful lot of bodies in Jersey that receive funding from the States in one form or another. How much does Jersey Opera House and Jersey Arts Trust get? Even Durrell Zoo gets millions in soft loans. Then there is the Overseas Aid Commission- that is entirely taxpayer-funded and in recent years they have been involved in overtly political decisions to exclude certain charities like Christian Aid from receiving grants if they have dared to criticise Jersey's status as an offshore finance centre.
It has taken 10 years and I believe more than two dozen different drafts just to reach this stage, so my concern is that the States won't get around to adding more of these bodies to the FOI law for another decade or more.
have conveniently been excluded too, even though their position as public authorities gives them access to very private information about every islander (if they request it) from the so-called 'Big Brother database'
- officially called the Register of Names and Addresses
, which was set up in tandem with the new Housing and Work Laws (in force since 2013). The information held on that register about every islander includes their name and residential address, date and place of birth, date of arrival in Jersey (if applicable), their gender and their Social Security number. So the parishes can access that but we can't access anything about them until maybe in the year 2025 (if we're lucky) the States finally gets around to including them in the FOI Law too. http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/Pages/Hansard.aspx?docid=907c3fbd6e93be15141830030329a8d1_StatesAssembly#_Toc292892817