Blog 22 July 18The final sitting of Tynwald for this Parliamentary session took centre stage ‬this week, and there were plenty of items worthy of discussion and debate amongst Tynwald Members on the Order Paper.

I was in the office for 8am on Monday, which gave me time to prepare for the annual Junior Tynwald sitting. This year I was the DfE Minister and answering a question on the island’s tourism industry.

At 9.15am we headed down to the Committee meeting room to say hello to the students from various schools from across the island who were talking part in this year’s Junior Tynwald.

At 10.20am we walked over to Tynwald Court for the sitting, which started with 15 oral questions. As in previous years, the level of questions asked by the students were excellent and included, Brexit, Cycle to Work, IOM Steam Packet, Housing, Student Fees, Recycling and plenty of other key topics.

There were also two Motions on the Order Paper relating to the Isle of Man becoming a Sovereign Nation and Modifying the island’s drinks culture.

The Junior Tynwald sitting finished just after 12 noon and it was straight upstairs to the Barrool Suite for a light lunch and a general discussion with students as to how they felt the Tynwald sitting went.

I was back to my desk briefly at 13.00 for a quick discussion with a colleague regarding the announcement that DOI might not give Rally Isle of Man the road closure orders, which meant the event in September was in serious doubt.

I then drove into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to the Eastern Plan, but I was back at my desk for 14.30.

After catching up with other colleagues I walked over to DfE for the Motorsport meeting at 15.00, which was a general catch up with the team.

I finally got back to the office for 16.50, which gave me sufficient time to send a couple of correspondence before I left the office 17.25.

Once home I needed to respond to any remaining e-mails and correspondence, but I was able to finish for around 19.00.

I didn’t sleep well on Monday evening, so I was up and about for around 4am drafting a few notes and going through the Tynwald question paper. Despite the lack of sleep, I was still in the office just before 8am in order to continue with my Tynwald prep work.

I also had a quick briefing with the DfE Minister regarding Rally Isle of Man and a couple of TT policy papers.

At 10.20am we headed down to the Tynwald Chamber for this month’s Tynwald session, which had an extensive Order Paper.

The Tynwald sitting started with 38 Oral Questions, along with an additional 18 questions for written reply, which took the Tynwald session up to lunchtime at 13.10.

In fact we didn’t get all the questions asked.

Straight after lunch there was a statement from the Post Office Chairman and Treasury Minister outlined some Supplementary Capital Payments.

Tynwald Court then discussed the Public Sector Pension Legacy Funding, which is probably one of the biggest decisions this administration will have to address before 2021.

It still angers me that previous administrations and publicly elected MHKs simply ignored the problem and refused to discuss potential options or put in place a course of action.

Unfortunately, all solutions will be painful for staff, the employer (taxpayer) and the general taxpayers of the Island.

It will probably take around 35 to 70 years to fully resolve the issues.

During the tea break at 17.00 there was a presentation to one of the Tynwald Messagers, Mr. Keith Fleming who was retiring after 21 years’ service to Tynwald Court and the House of Keys.

After tea and some cake it was straight back into the Chamber to debate another big issue facing this administration – how should we fund Nursing and Residential Care on the island in the future?

Unfortunately, most of my speech was already picked up by other Tynwald Members, but it is right that I also acknowledge the excellent work undertaken by the Policy and Reform Minister, Chris Thomas, MHK and his team on this particular Motion, which will give Tynwald Members six key policy options to take forward and discuss, although none of them are easy.

Personally, I can’t support the option that only protects the first £13,000 worth of assets – I feel the threshold is far too low and a higher rate needs to be set.

Day one of Tynwald finished at 20.35 and a few Members went to the Prospect for a drink and a chat, which is most definitely needed as your mind is still racing from the day’s activities from within the Court.

I finally got home for 22.00, but I still needed to send a couple of emails before finishing at 22.40.

Up and about from 6am on Wednesday, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with any outstanding e-mails before getting into the office for 7.45am.
Once I was in the office and had grabbed a coffee, I started to prepare some additional notes for the second day of this month’s Tynwald sitting, especially on the Waste Strategy that was being tabled by the Department of Infrastructure.

Wednesday’s Tynwald sitting started at 10.30am and the Tynwald Court went straight into key debates relating to the Waste Strategy, Single Use Plastic, Active Travel and a Select Committee report on Library Provision.

During the lunchtime break between the Tynwald sitting Julie Edge, MHK and I were invited up to Onchan School for a formal presentation.

I have posted a separate FB message on this item, just to keep the Blog down to a manageable size.

That said, it was a real privilege for us to able to make the small formal presentation to the students and the school, and the mosaic is a beautiful piece of art that will be displayed within Onchan School.

Straight back to Tynwald for the afternoon sitting that started at 14.30, and there was another massive debate on the Functioning of Tynwald, especially around the function and role being undertaken by Scrutiny Committees and/or the Executive.

The debate lasted well over three hours and in the end only one recommendation went through, and even that recommendation was amended.

Day two of this month’s Tynwald sitting finished at 21.20 and from there I headed straight home.

Once home I grabbed something to eat, but I still needed to draft various correspondence and emails, along with cancelling a couple of meetings scheduled for Thursday morning, before finally finishing at around 22.45.

I went into the office for 7.45am on Thursday morning, but only to complete a couple of quick tasks before driving back into Onchan for a meeting with a constituent and business owner at 8.20am regarding Rally Isle of Man.

From there I headed back to the office to park the car and I went over to DfE to sign some letters relating to the Classic TT.

Back to the office for 10am to go through a few documents ahead of the third and final day of this month’s Tynwald sitting, which started at 10.30am.

The sitting started with a debate on the Isle of Man Post Office, which was an excellent debate on a very difficult topic, as the business needs to evolve for the 21st Century.

The July sitting of Tynwald finally finished around 12.10, which gave me an opportunity to take Ellen to the nearby noodle bar for lunch and to catch up after a couple of very busy days.

From there I went straight down to the Sea Terminal for an urgent meeting between Rally Isle of Man, various Government officials and four Members of Tynwald, in order to discuss this year’s event that was scheduled to take place in September.

It was a very open and frank meeting, which lasted around 90 minutes. No official decision was made at the meeting, but hopefully a final decision will be made early next week.

I eventually got back to the office for 15.30 and the rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk catching up with things.

I left the office at 17.15 to grab some tea before attending the launch of the “Monitors4Kids initiative”, which was held at Cycle 360 in the Isle of Man Business Park this evening at 19.00.

The initiative is a parent-led campaign to end finger-prick testing for children with type 1 diabetes, which is also being backed by the Manx Diabetic Group.

To be perfectly honest we shouldn’t need a fund raising campaign for these items, they should be free of charge for kids.

Again, I have posted a separate FB message to keep this Blog to a minimum.

Finally got home for around 21.15.

Back into the office for 7.50am on Friday and straight into administrative mode trying to catch up with e-mails, correspondence and paperwork.

I also caught up with a couple of outstanding Constituent matters.

Just before 9am I had a meeting with a DfE officer to discuss immigration and the island’s work permit policy as I gather information ahead of the ILS Debate in September.

Given the poor weather, I cancelled my 10.30am meeting with a potential developer of one of the sites that appear in the recently published Eastern Plan.

With the meeting cancelled, I took the opportunity to call into M&S for some shopping.

Back to the office to continue working through various administrative tasks, which included drafting a few of emails to the AG on behalf of Constituents.

At 12.15 we walked over to DfE for a working lunch, as Political Members and the Officers reviewed and explored the Eastern Plan and the old Regeneration Scheme.

I stayed on at DfE for the second meeting involving the new Visit Isle of Man Agency, which started at 14.30.

The meeting lasted just short of 3 hours and after collecting my stuff I left the office at 17.40.

Visit Isle of Man Agency is still at a very early stage and will take some time to see some clear benefits from setting up the Agency for the overall of the tourism sector of the Isle of Man.
Just after 19.00 Ellen and I attended the Summer Celebration Concert being held at the Onchan Parish Hall, which was an excellent night.

The hall was full and the entertainment was fantastic, with so many outstanding performances, not forgetting the ice cream interlude.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

I also have a busy weekend scheduled with my Political Surgery on Saturday morning between 10am and 11.30am.

Next week I have a bit of a role reversal scheduled, but Constituents will have to wait until next week for further details….