Blog 5 May 18After a busy weekend, I was able to take a few hours off on Monday morning.

Last Saturday Ellen and I went to the Isle of Man Housing Matters 10th Anniversary Charity Spring Ball, which was being held at the Woodbourne House, Douglas.

I have already posted a separate message relating to this item, but it was a wonderful charity event and it raised over £8,000 on the night…..

Most of last Sunday morning was spent preparing for Manx Radio’s Present Politics programme, which looks back over the previous month.

As guests, we don’t normally get an insight to the topics the presenter might raise during the hour long debate, but going through the news feed over the past month normally prepares you well for the programme and the Mannin Line, which can be more unpredictable at times.

After the programme, I stayed back to do a couple of additional interviews relating to kerbside recycling collections and property prices, but I finally got home at 14.45 and I was able to spend a couple of hours in the garden to finish off an enjoyable Sunday.

Monday started with me responding to various e-mails from around 7am before I started painting the decking outside and the front door of our cottage, but I still needed to take a couple of calls.

All we need now is some good weather….

Part of Monday afternoon was spent going through the mountain of paperwork in respect of ongoing work being undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee at the moment.

The House of Keys Speaker, Hon. Juan Watterson, SHK is definitely trying to keep us busy.

Anyway, it was still an fairly easy and enjoyable day on Monday.

Back in the office for 8am on Tuesday morning and I went straight into catch-up mode with several e-mails requiring urgent attention. One related to holiday accommodation in Castletown. I also needed to read through a Motion for Tynwald that required a signature, along with walking over to DfE to sign various letters being sent out in connection with the TT festival.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys Chamber for this week’s sitting, which started with seven oral questions including two being asked by me, and those related to an article issued by Zoopla and to kerbside recycling schemes.

There were a further three for written response.

We then moved on to the Isle of Man Abortion Bill 2018, which was given its third reading. Personally, I felt it was an emotional moment given the amount of time, effort and energy put in by Dr. Allinson, MHK and other MHKs, the Legal Drafter and the AG’s Chamber to ensure that the Bill went through the right level scrutiny and due process before it was passed to the Legislative Council.

Looking back in 2021, I am certain that I will remember this moment with great pride and the fact that I was able to support this very important piece of legislation on behalf of all women across our island, now and in the future….

There was also a Motion brought by the Arbory, Castletown and Malew Member, Graham Gregeen, MHK with regard to the election of the Chief Minister, which basically means the Chief Minister will be elected in the House of Keys in the future and not in Tynwald – therefore excluding the Legislative Council from the vote.

The sitting finished at 11.40, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with some correspondence and e-mails.

After lunch I started to go through the Manx National Heritage Master Planning document ahead of the Board Meeting on Wednesday. This document forms part of the overall review of the organisation, and how it might look in 25 years’ time.

I also went through the MNH Agenda pack as I had very little spare time on Thursday.

At the same time, I tried to listen to the House of Commons debating the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill tabled on Tuesday in Westminster.

Some MPs were trying to use the opportunity to force the British Crown Dependencies, including the Isle of Man to have an open and public register of beneficial owners relating to Companies. Fortunately this was defeated, but by a handful of votes.

It could have also created a potential ‘constitutional crisis’ between the UK and the Isle of Man.

Other British Overseas Territories, such as the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, will be required to introduce a register revealing the beneficial owners of assets held in their jurisdictions.

The Chief Minister, Howard Quayle and Senior Manx Government Officials certainly did an excellent job on behalf of the Isle of Man during their trip to Westminster on Monday.

That said, further dialogue and engagement with the UK Government will be needed in the coming months and years, especially when the UK exit Europe.

I left the office at 17.15 and after tea I got straight back into the Public Accounts Committee paperwork, but was able to finish at around 19.30.

Back in the office for 8.10am on Wednesday and most of the morning was spent working on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and drafting various questions for the next Oral Evidence Session, which will be with the Director of Services at Noble’s Hospital, Mike Quinn.

Just before 9.30am I drove up to Falcon Cliff Terrace to look around a Baillie Scott property, which has changed very little over the past one hundred years – it almost felt like I was stepping back in time…

It is a beautiful property, but it needs a lot of work to properly restore it. It was a good opportunity to look around before any decision is made by Manx National Heritage.

I was back at my desk for around 10.45am, in order to continue working on the PAC questions. At 12.30 I walked over to DfE for a quick meeting with the CEO as we looked over a particular grant awarded to a company last year.

I was back at my desk again by 13.00 and from there I started to look through a Council of Ministers response to the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee First Report into Regional Sewerage Treatment Strategy – Peel.

It certainly makes interesting reading and I am expecting a tough couple of hours in Tynwald on Tuesday 15th May.

I also printed off the applications received from potential members looking to join the new Visit Isle of Man Agency.

At 15.00 I had a meeting with the newly appointed Visit Isle of Man Chairman, along with the Head of Tourism, in order to discuss various issues surrounding the Agency and to pencil in various meetings.

I was back at my desk for 16.30 in order to catch up with e-mails and to continue reading the Council of Ministers report re. IRIS.

I left the office at 17.10.

After tea I continued to work on the Council of Ministers report re. IRIS and the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee Report, which will certainly take up considerable time between now and the Tynwald sitting. I also took the opportunity to prepare some letter templates, but I finished for the day at around 20.00.

I was back in the office at 8am on Thursday for what was going to be a very busy day, but also very enjoyable.

My first job was to put together four letters that needed to be sent out, fortunately, I had already drafted the template on Wednesday night in order to save time.

I also needed to review a funding request relating to a sporting event hopefully taking place later on in the year.

At 9.30am I headed down to the Tynwald Library to meet pupils from Onchan Primary School who were taking a tour of our parliament. The Library staff always give an excellent tour, and I even learn a few things myself along the way.

After the tour, the students undertook an actual sitting of the House of Keys, which includes prayers, questions and then debating actual Motions and these related to the removal of homework for all island students and for the Isle of Man to set up a professional football team on the island.

I left the tour slightly early at 11.25am to walk over to Murray House to attend a meeting with the Head of Planning and a Constituent, in order to discuss an ongoing planning decision and their concerns surrounding interested party status.

The meeting lasted over ninety minutes, but I felt it was a productive meeting and I am extremely grateful by the approach shown by the planning department towards the Constituents’ concerns and this particular planning application.

Unfortunately, the meeting overran and this meant I was running slightly late, but I still managed to grab a very quick sandwich on the run before heading down to the Tynwald Library at 13.15 for the second tour of our parliament with a different class from Onchan School.

I was only able to stay for around an hour on this occasion as I needed to be at the Manx Museum for a trustee meeting at 15.00. The first part of the MNH meeting was an informal meeting amongst the trustees to discuss the organisation and the ongoing review, and how MNH might look over the next 25 years.

At 16.00 the MNH trustees and the executive got together for their monthly meeting.

Once again, I had to leave the meeting slightly early at 17.40 and once home I needed to return a couple of missed calls, along with catching up with some correspondence, before calling it a day at round 19.00.

Wide awake at 4.30am on Friday morning, so I took opportunity to catch up with e-mails. One particular e-mail was sent to the Department of Education relating to school catchment areas in Onchan.

I still managed to get into the office for 8.15 am, which gave me the opportunity to print various documents and reports for this month’s Tynwald sitting. I have a feeling most of my bank holiday weekend will be spent going through the Order Paper because there do appear to be several big reports with lots of recommendations to consider.

At 9.30am I headed over to DfE for the meeting with the newly elected Chairman of the Isle of Man Visit Agency, along with the Head of Tourism, in order to go through all the application forms received from potential board members.

It was a good meeting and hopefully we have selected a diverse board that can represent the Isle of Man tourism industry across all sectors.

Back to the office just before lunchtime but I didn’t stay at my desk long as I needed to walk over to the Court House in Athol Street for 12.30.

It was definitely one of those weeks, as I was again around 10 minutes late arriving.

This was mainly because Manx Radio’s Talking Heads programme on Friday was discussing Manx Radio’s TT Funding, which comes from DfE.

Unfortunately, the comments in the first 20 minutes were completely one sided, therefore I had little option but to call in to the programme and to give a balanced view in what are difficult negotiations.

Once I arrived at the Court House I met up with two MLC’s and a non-exec director from Manx Telecom and we discussed various topics for a couple of hours over lunch.

I went back to the office at 14.30 to catch up with things and to discuss a few topics with colleagues.

At 15.20 I headed down to Victoria Street to look around the new Barclay’s Eagle Lab, which hopefully will be open towards the end of June.

The Barclay’s Eagle Lab is a Community resource and hopefully it will help nurture and support future business leaders on the island. The building is situated in the old Manx Telecom shop in Victoria Street and will be a fantastic facility when it is finished.

Back to the office to deal with a couple of Motorsport issues and to finish printing off any documents and information needed for the weekend.

I left the office at 17.10 and went home briefly before driving down with Ellen to the House of Manannan for the opening of local Cartoonist Phil Woodford’s exhibition just after 18.00.

We finally got home at around 20.00, along with a couple of bags of chips from Peel, which were very nice.

Although it is a bank holiday weekend, I still have a lot of reading to do, along with preparing a few speeches for this Tynwald sitting.