Wednesday, 19 May 2010


We all know that Jersey has an obsession with money. So it should come as no surprise when a Public Accounts Committee Scrutiny Panel looked today at the Jersey Heritage Trust and discussed little else.

Apart from a few references to Marilyn Monroe and a failed plan to bring (fellow American) John Singleton Copley’s painting of the 1781 Battle of Jersey here, there was very little mention of specific artistic or cultural activities at all.

Of course, the Heritage Trust is bust and we would hardly expect a room full of accountants and business worthies to be too concerned with the needs of local artists, composers, actors, dancers, writers, musicians, historians, designers and others.

That the artists and all were absent from the meeting also says a lot about Jersey too. But how ironic that it took place in the Blampied room of the States Building with pictures of Jersey’s greatest 20th century artist hanging ominously over the proceedings.

None of this lot had presumably been collecting vraic recently – or ever?

Just for the record, Senator Ben Shenton chaired the meeting with colleagues Senators Breckon and Perchard and Constable Refault.
Mario Lundy (Director ES and Culture), Nick Danby, Jon Carter and Clive Jones (JHT) answered their questions and several more men in suits also sat around the table and interjected about money matters from time to time.

Women did not participate - except as secretarial scrutiny officers.

Also absent was any mention of international obligations with regard to culture. No great surprise there – but in two and a half hours surely somebody could have acknowledged Jersey’s supposed commitments under the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)? Had nobody ever heard of it?

According the Jersey’s 5th Report under ICESCR to the UN in 2007;

“The adoption of the Cultural Strategy commits the States of Jersey to a strategic approach to the encouragement of cultural activities.”

Unfortunately, as the discussions sadly revealed, the infamous Cultural Strategy document was just so much eye wash. There was no money to back up the grand ideas and the lack of commitment to the arts for arts sake was everywhere apparent.

Even the UN must be despairing of Jersey’s failure to incorporate ICESCR into local law as it has requested (Jersey has promised to keep the matter under review!). Nevertheless, the UN has advised that even without incorporation, Jersey has an obligation to comply with it and “to give it full effect in the domestic legal order.”

Jersey has conceded that it is an international obligation and will be taken into account by courts of law (see Benest v Le Maistre JLR 1998 p 213 C of A) and “in addition the States of Jersey will not enact laws which would put the island in breach of its international obligations.”

Jersey has also promised the UN that;
“Jersey government takes this Covenant into account in the formulation of legislation and policies that bear upon economic, social and cultural rights.”

Somebody should tell Senator Shenton and his team.

Anybody interested in reading Jersey’s 5th Report to the UN can find it lodged between the Reports from Guernsey and the Isle of Man by Googling the link on un report icescr. (Jersey’s report is on pages 335-397).

The next report from Jersey is due soon. NGOs and other groups are supposed to be encouraged to participate in its preparation!
We wonder what whoppers will be told to the UN and the people of Jersey this time?

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Senator Ben Shenton said...


Anonymous said...

Pearls before swine...