Blog 20 May 18It was definitely a big week for Manx Politics with the purchase of the Steam Packet Company, a statement by the Health Minister relating to those affected by problems at the island’s Breast Care Unit and what is the best Sewerage Strategy for Peel in the West of the island.

These were just to name a few of the items on this month’s Tynwald Order Paper, which also included a Committee Report into Endoscopy Services at Noble’s Hospital in which the ex-Health Minister was heavily criticised.

Having worked part of Saturday and most of Sunday continuing to research the history of the Steam Packet Company, I certainly went into the office more relaxed than I was expecting to on Monday morning.

That said, I still feel that it was unacceptable that backbench MHKs and Legislative Council Members were only given seven days to review all the available information, research the topic and draft a speech.

I sincerely hope that in the future the Council of Ministers do not lose sight of the fact that we are all elected to make these difficult decisions on behalf of the people of the Isle of Man….

It certainly put me and some of my backbench colleagues under incredible pressure over the past week, but it was worth it in the end.

Anyway, I was in the office for 8.15am on Monday and I went straight up to the Legislative Council Members’ room to discuss the Steam Packet and IRIS Motion on the Tynwald Order Paper.

With so much attention given to the sale of the Steam Packet, my inbox was filling up fast and I spent around three hours on Monday responding to various emails and correspondence.

Just before 10am I drove up to Onchan to attend the usual coffee morning with some of the residents of Springfield Court, but I was back at my desk for just after 11am.

At 11.30am I attended a briefing scheduled by Kate Beecroft, MHK in which someone outlined an alternative option in respect of purchasing the Steam Packet Company.

Only a handful of Tynwald Members went to the presentation and there were certainly some valid points being made during the presentation, but overall I wasn’t convinced that the option was in the best interests of the island going forward.

The meeting finished at around 13.00, which gave me an opportunity to grab some lunch.

I then spent the next few hours at my deck catching up with correspondence and emails, along with preparing for the Tynwald sitting and finishing off any speeches and questions etc….

I left the office at 17.15 and after tea I continued to work on Tynwald related matters until 20.00.

I was in the office for 8.15am on Tuesday for this month’s Tynwald sitting, which had an extensive Order Paper.

Prior to 10.30am, the morning session was spent going through various speeches, questions and the Order Paper.

Again, it is one of those little points that you either ignore or don’t think about before you are elected, but many people need to practise their speeches because you will certainly be under considerable pressure in the Tynwald Chambers sometimes.

Hopefully, over time it will get easier but it is far from easy at times.

Just before 10.30am we headed down to the Tynwald Chamber, which started with 18 oral questions with a further 7 questions for written reply. In addition, there were two Supplementary Order Papers.

The Health Minister then gave a statement about those women recently affected by the problems at the island’s Breast Care Unit, which is a serious concern, especially for those 26 women referred back for additional treatment.

Just before lunch on Tuesday the Treasury Minister, Alf Cannan, MHK gave a very clear speech as to why the Isle of Man should purchase the Steam Packet Company in 2018, and not wait until the User Agreement ends towards 2020 or 2026.

I have posted a couple of separate messages on my Facebook relating to the sale of the Steam Packet Company, including a copy of my Tynwald speech.

The debate continued after lunch.

In total the debate on the sale of the Steam Packet Company lasted around three and half hours, but in the end the sale went through at a cost of £124.3 million.

Early evening I presented the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee report into the Regional Sewerage Treatment Strategy Phase 2.

Again, I have posted a separate message on my Facebook to keep my Blog down to a reasonable size or as someone mentioned the other day, my Blog should just be long enough to enjoy a coffee…!

It was definitely a baptism of fire for me as an MHK in the Tynwald Court. Firstly, because it was the first time I have actually presented a Policy Review Committee Report to Tynwald, which included delivering a long speech.

Secondly, the Report didn’t receive the Council of Ministers’ support, which meant it was always going to be an uphill battle to get any support on the floor of Tynwald. I am extremely grateful for the support we received, especially from Ralph Peake, MHK.

It is a difficult topic and there is clearly no appetite to have the IRIS scheme reviewed again, but personally I have to go back to my election promise that:

“I consider myself a truly independent candidate and I will work towards a common goal to ensure that all matters tabled before me are considered openly, professionally and that all decisions are made without fear or favour.”

Rightly or wrongly, the Committee felt that the MUA did inadvertently weight the costs for the Centralised option against the Regional option.

Anyway, time to move on but the debate is definitely worth listening to online via the Tynwald website.

The Tynwald sitting finished just before 21.00 and from there I had to run down to the Villa Marina for this year’s ISLEXPO, which was launched with a lively Founders’ Feast in the Garden Hub, which was an excellent evening.

We even got a round of applause from the other guests, but I think that related more to fact that we were over an hour late and they were waiting to serve dinner…

Special guest David Schneider, who is an actor, comedian and director was on hand to provide the entertainment, which focused around social media.

Finally got home at 23.45 after a very long day…..

Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night, I guess I had Tynwald still running through my head, especially the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee debate.

So at 4.30am I took the opportunity to draft a couple of social media posts relating to the purchase of the Steam Packet Company, so that was one less thing to worry about.

I was back in the office by 8.15am on Wednesday catching up with correspondence and going through a few documents ahead of the Tynwald Sitting that went into a second day.

Unfortunately, this also meant that I missed ISLEXPO this year.

At 10.30am we walked down to the Tynwald Chamber for day two of this month’s sitting, which started with the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee and the consolidation of the Endoscopy Services at Noble’s Hospital.

There was also a Motion brought by Kate Beecroft, MHK in respect of St Thomas’ School and Scoill Vallajeelt, which went into the afternoon session.

All business was finished for 15.50 and once back at my desk I was able to catch up with correspondence before leaving the office at 17.15.

I took the night off and watched a film….

In the office for 8.20am on Thursday, but only briefly to send a few e-mails before driving back into Onchan for 9am to meet up with a local business man who I first met last year.

It was a really good discussion but it was another case that shows it is never too early to contact your MHK if you find yourself in any trouble.

We don’t have all the answers, but we can certainly give support and advice wherever possible. This particular issue is definitely one case that I will be picking up and getting some answers on behalf of the business and the individual in question.

The meeting finished just after 10am and from there I went into lower Onchan to look at some roadworks, which a number of Constituents have mentioned to me this week.

I also had to deal with a Housing Application issue on behalf of another Constituent.

The Positive Action Group asked all Tynwald Members recently how much of their time is spent on Constituency work. It is an incredibly difficult question to answer, as it changes from week to week.

Personally, I know when a Constituent calls me they have normally exhausted all other options, and I genuinely feel privileged when Constituents call me and take me into their confidence.

I got back into the office for just after 11am, in order to start drafting a number of letters relating to various topics.

At 12 noon I walked over to DfE for a Visit Isle of Man Agency meeting as we continue to review how the Agency meetings will be structured.

Back to the office just after 13.00 briefly to finish off the letters being sent out before returning to DfE for a tourism sector catch up meeting at 14.00.

Finally got back to my office at 15.10, which enabled me to catch up with any remaining emails and to speak to the Director of Hospital Services, in order to discuss an ongoing concern and to schedule a meeting later on in the month.

I left the office 17.25 and once home I started to review the findings of a tribunal case, which was a follow up from my Constituent meeting in the morning.

I also needed to review some correspondence received relating to a medical negligence case.

Finally finished at 20.30.

In the office at 8.10am on Friday for what was a relatively straightforward and very pleasant day. Finally caught up with any outstanding e-mails and correspondence from earlier on in the week.

At 10.30am I had a meeting with a Constituent who lost money in an investment scheme, which is never easy to deal with.

Just after 12 noon I headed up to Manx Radio with Clare Bettison, MHK and Chris Robertshaw, MHK in order for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee to discuss its report and the Regional Sewerage Treatment Strategy for Peel.

I also did an interview relating to the three TT travel partners recently appointed.

Back to the office for 13.10 but only to collect some money and my coat before walking to the War Memorial. Once there I met up with the official and supporters from the Eastern Live at Home Scheme who were doing their annual sponsored walk to the Summerland Site.

It was a real privilege to be able to say a few words and to set the walkers on their way. I also took the opportunity to join them as it was such a beautiful day, along with walking back to the office.

Once back at the office I started to go through my DfE Agenda Pack for next week but still left managed to leave the office at 17.15.

After tea Ellen and I drove down to Ramsey to support the Kirk Michael Chamber Orchestra who put on a lovely concert at St Paul’s Church.

I also have a busy weekend schedule with my Political Surgery on Saturday morning between 10am to 11.30am, along with a Constituent meeting straight afterwards.

On Sunday I will be visiting the Cruise Ship in Douglas Harbour and attending the Onchan Commissioners Civic Service in the afternoon, which is being held at St. Anthony’s Church.