Blog 14 Apr 17There is no mistaking that the current Manx Parliament is trying to address some very emotional and difficult topics in their administration, including Abortion, Children & Family Services and now Organ Donation.

My colleague Martyn Perkins, MHK was given leave to introduce by the House of Keys on 31st October 2017 to look at our Organ Donations, and the Consultation opened on 29th March and will close on 8th June 2018.

We currently have approximately 12,600 island residents that are registered on the UK NHS Organ Donor Register, but much more could be done.

The aim of this draft legislation is to make sure people are aware they can opt in (either by registering or doing nothing) or opt out, making both decisions easier to record.

I have posted a separate Facebook Post on this topic, but I hope Isle of Man residents will take the opportunity to share their views on yet another difficult issue that is long overdue for a serious review.

Another emotive topic, Euthanasia or assisted dying was also in the media last week and it could be back on the Tynwald agenda in the near future. The current Speaker Mr. Juan Watterson, SHK has already done much of the work in a previous administration, and I am currently working my way through a folder of information, legislation and data – so watch this space.

On Sunday last week I did an MTTV interview relating to the latest tourism Passenger Survey, which has been the main news topic over the last seven days.

Anyway back to this week’s activities and it certainly seemed like a busy and exciting week. I was back in the office for 8am on Monday and with schools still on holiday, it really didn’t take that long to get into the office.

I still needed to respond to some correspondence left over from the weekend, so I took the opportunity to deal with those enquiries first, along with having a general tidy up in my office.

A colleague also drew my attention to an item of correspondence which was sent to the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee. I then had a quick discussion with the Clerk and my colleague before ringing the correspondent to discuss the points being highlighted to the Committee.

At 9.45am I drove into Onchan to attend the Springfield coffee morning, which I always enjoy. The residents are very knowledgeable and they certainly follow Isle of Man politics very closely and always have a few questions ready for when I arrive.

Just before 11am I drove down into the village for a constituent meeting relating to an ongoing legal dispute. Legal disputes are very difficult and as MHKs we have to be very careful not to be seen to be giving legal advice, but at the same time trying to give support and information in order to help find a satisfactory solution to the problem.

The meeting lasted over an hour and once back at my desk I made several calls on behalf of the constituent, along with going through a considerable amount of paperwork which the constituent had given to me.

It certainly took up a considerable amount of time on Monday, but I do sometimes wish that disputes could be sorted out over a cup of tea and biscuit, and not in the Courts, which benefits no one….

I then walked over to DfE to collect an interview pack relating to the Visit Isle of Man Agency. I then spent the next hour going through the pack and preparing various notes.

In addition, I still had a number of e-mails to respond to, along with making further enquiries into pension payments for those tenants living in Social Housing. I then walked back over to DfE to sit on the interview panel as we look to appoint a suitable Chairperson for the Visit Isle of Man Agency.

The meeting finished at 17.00 and I had a quick briefing with the Director of Isle of Man Motorsport before returning to the office at 17.20.

I had just arrived home at 17.45 when I received a phone call from someone who wanted to discuss a tourism concern, which will require a follow-up email.

Straight after tea I still needed to make several more calls in respect of the ongoing legal dispute and to go through the DfE Agenda Pack ahead of Wednesday’s Department meeting.

Finally finished at 21.30.

Tuesday was definitely a day behind my desk….. I arrived in the office for 8.10am and other than going into town briefly and having some lunch, I was at my desk until I went home at 17.15.

I finished off going through a DED Agenda pack and also needed to review two funding requests on behalf of the Motorsport team.

I also drafted a couple of social media posts and dealt with several Constituency matters, including one relating to patient care at Noble’s Hospital, along with a Patient Transfer request from the UK, which will require a question in the House of Keys.

I also needed to address an ongoing housing issue and supporting a tenant who has some financial troubles.

Isle of Man tourism was still high on the agenda and I had an ongoing exchange of emails throughout the day with various people.

The ongoing legal dispute still required some additional help and input, and I spent part of the day preparing for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Oral Evidence session with Treasury on Wednesday.

In addition, I needed to review two further papers received from the TT Motorsport team.

I left the office at 17.25 and after a quick tea I headed down to the Cronk Y Voddy Men’s Club for a game of Billiards, which was the return match.

The match started at 19.30 and it was another fantastic evening. As I mentioned previously, this is an annual round of matches between the men of the Cronk Y Voddy Social Club and a team put together by Phil Gawne, which included a number of current MHKs.

Martyn Perkins, MHK and I played on Phil Gawne’s team and with the Chief Minister off island at the moment, the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney decided to have a game, which certainly made the evening a little more interesting.

It is a lovely little club, though it certainly isn’t luxury, but I am sure His Excellency had an enjoyable evening….. he was still there when I left at 22.30.

I managed to get home for 23.10.

I was back in the office at 7.45am on Wednesday and it was head straight down preparing for the PAC Oral Evidence session and the DfE Department Meeting.

Just after 9am I walked over to the DfE for the usual meeting between the Minister and the Political Members before going into the boardroom for the Department meeting, which started with two presentations.

The first presentation was given by the BioMed sector, which gave an overview of the industry and where potential growth and opportunities could be achieved over the next few years.

The second presentation was from the Manx Insurance Association who also outlined future opportunities and threats to one of the island’s biggest employment sectors over the next couple of years.

Once the presentations were finished it was straight into the main agenda, which was relatively light.

The meeting finished at around 13.00 and once back at my desk I had several missed calls. One call related to a planning application, which meant that I spent the next 30 minutes desperately trying to get some answers relating to a paper going before the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

I had just enough time to eat an apple before going to the PAC briefing ahead of the oral session, which started at 14.00 and 14.30 respectively.

The PAC Oral Evidence was with Alfred Cannan MHK, Treasury Minister, and Mrs Sheila Lowe, Chief Financial Officer and related to the Manx Budget.

The session finished at 17.00, which gave me just enough time to answer a couple of calls before going home at 17.30.

Once home I still needed to respond to a number of missed calls and after tea I needed to go through various media data and press releases ahead of a number of press conferences scheduled for Thursday relating to the tourism sector.

I also had a phone call from a Constituent who wanted to discuss immigration, which will require further review and possibly a meeting, which I will schedule for next week.

Finally called it a day at 22.15.

An early start on Thursday (7am), but I was able to work from home as I continued going through various notes and papers ahead of some tourism press conferences later in the morning.

At 8am I took Ellen to the Airport but I still managed to get into the office for 9am and the first job was to print off some planning information and notes from an ongoing issue that I have been involved with since being elected.

At 10am I walked just across the road to Murray House for a meeting with senior Planning Officers. As MHKs I think we all have ongoing Constituency work, most of which can be dealt with relatively straightforwardly by sending an email or tabling a question, but some items are continually ongoing and can take several months to find a satisfactory solution.

This particular planning application relates to enforcement, and as an MHK I am not trying to take sides, but at the same time I am trying to find a satisfactory solution for all parties concerned.

Back to the office briefly to collect some paperwork before walking over to DfE for a briefing amongst the tourism team relating to a new tourism campaign, which went live on Thursday afternoon.

At lunchtime we walked over to the main Government building for a series of media interviews, which related to a new three-year marketing campaign being undertaken by Visit Isle of Man and the tourism team.

The new campaign is entitled “The Extraordinary Story”, targeted mainly at older travellers, as well as young families and couples.

The new film is narrated by Island resident John-Rhys Davies:

The cost is around £50,000 and there will be a series of online, newspaper and digital advertisements.

The Visit Isle of Man team are hoping that visitors and locals will share their pictures and stories via #IOMSTORY

It is worth mentioning that the Isle of Man Tourism Sector has an economic value of around £12 million per annum, and that it also helps support various activities which are also enjoyed by locals.

The media interviews were completed by around 13.45 and once back at my desk I was able to catch up with some emails and phone calls.

I left the office early at 14.50 and once home I started to look at the Tynwald Order Paper, along with dealing with a couple of Constituency matters relating to pension payments and once again correspondence relating to doctor appointments and why it is taking so long for appointment letters to be sent out.

Both items required correspondence to be drafted.

I managed to call it a day at around 18.00.

With Ellen away I took the opportunity to get into the office at 7.15am on Friday, order to catch up with e-mails and correspondence.

The new tourism promotional video has certainly gone down very well, with over 20,000 views to date.

I also needed to review another application for the Chairperson for the Visit Isle of Man Agency and also tried to catch up with correspondence.

Most of Friday was spent in the Department for Enterprise with various meetings.

At 10am I had a quick pre-meeting ahead of the Chairmanship interview, which started at 10.45am.

After the finial interview, we had a discussion to select the Chairman.

From there we went straight into TT vision meeting and a discussion on several changes happening at this year’s event, which could be seen as bold – others could disagree. I guess only time will tell…..

I stayed on at DfE for an extra departmental lunchtime workshop, which focused on the Isle of Man as a location and looking at the wider challenges in attracting more people to the island but at the same time safeguarding Isle of Man workers.

A very interesting discussion, and lots of ideas etc.

At 14.30 there was a full Motorsport team meeting, and with the TT fortnight fast approaching, there are certainly plenty of items to be discussed.

The meeting finished at 16.20 and once back at the office, I printed off various documents and reports for the weekend. At 17.20 I called it a day and headed home.

Most of the weekend will be taken up with the Tynwald Order Paper and I have been invited to a rugby match at Vagabonds RUFC on Saturday afternoon, which will certainly be an interesting event.