Blog 16 Sept 18In this role as an MHK you get the odd week in which there just aren’t enough hours in a day, and this week was definitely one of those, especially with the amount of reading I needed to do for various meetings scheduled throughout the week.

To be fair, it does also work the other way, as we get quiet weeks, normally leading into a holiday period such as Christmas and Easter etc, but this time is normally used to catch up with projects and constituency work.

I still managed to get a few hours off over the weekend, but I was then in catch-up mode for the rest of the week.

On Saturday I drove up to the Onchan Community Hub for 8.45am, in order to set up the room for the Eastern Area Plan drop-in session between 9.30am and 12.30pm.

In the afternoon I also attended the Onchan Horticultural Show, which was held at the Elim Church in Onchan, where Lady Gozney was on hand to make the formal presentations.

On Sunday, Ellen and I took part in the Coast to Coast walk from Douglas to Peel in aid of the Manx Blind Welfare Society.

A hearty cooked breakfast from “The Caff” certainly helped on Sunday morning and we managed to complete the 12.3 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes. There were over 100 people starting the walk in Douglas with an extra 20 joining us in St John’s, and it was also a real privilege to be able to start the whole event off with a few words to everyone.

A special mention to my colleague Daphne Caine, MHK who completed 12.4 miles in 2 hours 44 minutes, which is a truly fantastic time.

Hopefully, we can encourage a few more of our Tynwald colleagues to join us next year….

I got into the office slightly late on Monday as I took the opportunity to work from home for the first hour, but I still got into the office just after 9am.

The first job was to make a few changes to my ILS debate speech, which I finally finished over the weekend. The rest of the morning was spent at my desk trying to catch up with emails and other administrative tasks.

At 12 noon I was scheduled to attend a meeting at the Post Office in respect of its five year strategy, but I had to give my apologies as I needed to catch up with things.

I left the office at 12.40 to attend a series of Constituent meetings that had built up over the past couple of weeks, which included a couple of site visits.

First stop was a couple of sites in Onchan relating to road markings, potholes and a parking issue.

I then attended a regular meeting with a group of Constituents relating to planning issues, which is now becoming frustrating as the weeks go by.

A complete review of our planning system is long overdue and I have now asked the Department for an urgent meeting.

From there I visited a constituent who wanted a general catch-up relating to the TT, MGP and the Rally Isle of Man etc.

I finally got home for 16.15, which gave me time to catch up with some more emails.

After tea I started to go through a mountain of paperwork relating to various meetings this week, but I called it a day at 20.00.

Back into the office first thing at 8am, but I only just had enough time to print off some documentation before driving up to Hospice Isle of Man for 9am.

Anne Mills, CEO invited me up to look around the facilities, the building and the wonderful work undertaken by a dedicated and professional team of staff, which are supported by an army of volunteers.

Hospice Isle of Man supports more than 350 patients each year, and I was genuinely blown away by the level care and support offered to the people of this island.

Certain parts of our Isle of Man Health Service could certainly learn a thing or two from our Hospice Service.

My visit around Hospice lasted around 2 hours – a massive thank you to Anne and the staff (including volunteers) for making me feel so welcome.

Watch out for “Wallabies gone Wild” in 2019…… which is being supported by Hospice next year, and I am hoping that we can tie it into our Tourism Strategy next year.

From the Hospice I drove straight into the Onchan for a meeting with a local church leader, which was a general catch-up and long overdue.

I managed to get back to the office 12.10, which gave me just about five minutes before my next meeting, with Michael Josem, who was going to support my speech against the Motion at the ILS debate on Wednesday.

The meeting only lasted around 30 minutes as I needed to start going through the DfE Agenda paper ahead of Wednesday’s Department meeting.

I then received a phone call from Manx Radio asking if I could do an interview on the Cruise Industry. Fortunately, I was free but I definitely couldn’t afford to lose the time. Anyway, I walked down to the Sea Terminal to do an interview with Seonad-Siobhan Duggan, Cruise Consultant.
This year the Isle of Man has seen 28 Cruise Ships and there are 38 Ships already booked for next year, which will add an additional 12,189 visitors to our shores, along with 7,000 crew.

Back to the office by 15.15 and the rest of the afternoon was spent continuing to go through the 168 pages of the DfE Agenda pack.

I also needed to draft and send around 20 emails on various topics before I left the office 17.15.

Just enough time to drop off a few things at the house before going into Onchan village to visit a Constituent who wanted to discuss a medical issue.

Finally got home for around 19.00, and after grabbing a quick tea I still needed to finish going through the DfE Agenda pack, along with drafting a couple more emails.

Once those tasks were completed, I then needed to start going through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) agenda pack, and it was almost impossible to get through the amount paperwork before the meeting.

Finally finished for around 22.00.

In the office for 7.45am on Wednesday and the first job was to send out a couple of letters and to practise my ILS speech a couple of times.

Just after 9am I walked over to DfE for the Political meeting amongst the Members, but without the Minister.

At 10am we had the Department meeting, which started with an update from the four new DfE Agencies.

The Department meeting finished at 13.00, at which time I needed to catch up with several missed constituent calls, along with various outstanding emails.

I also needed to go though the final couple of sections of the PAC agenda pack before heading down to the Committee room for the meeting that started at 14.00.

It was a heavy agenda for the PAC meeting, which lasted over two hours.

Back to the office briefly, before heading home at 16.50.

Just enough time to grab a quick shower and to change into a suit before driving down to the Palace Hotel for the 2018 ILS Debate at 17.20.

A big thank you to the IOM Business Network and Chris Eaton from the ILS Group for the invitation to attend the Debate and speak on the Motion, which was:

“This house believes that due to the Island’s rapidly ageing population and historically low rate of unemployment, all restrictions on immigration and employment should immediately be lifted”.

Michael Josem and I were speaking against the Motion and I felt it was an excellent debate with some very good questions from the floor before the final vote was taken.

Despite what certain people continue to put on social media, as an MHK and as a Manx resident I firmly believe in our immigration and our work permit system.

The Isle of Man’s current Immigration rules come from Section 3 of the UK’s Immigration Act 1971 that were extended to the Isle of Man, so we are limited in what changes we can actually make in respect of immigration.

The Council of Ministers have an element of power to make immigration rules, in order to regulate the entry into, and to stay in the Isle of Man – but that is about it.

Work Permits are a different story, and it is all about balance…..

Work Permits in certain areas should only be relaxed if there is clear evidence that changes must be made. I use the hotel sector as an example, as there was clear evidence that hotels etc were struggling to find key workers, which was having a serious impact on the tourism sector.

In DfE we made the process easier and provided a fast online application platform, but without reducing the level of scrutiny or basic checks that hoteliers must untake to protect this island.

Anyway, congratulations to Bill Shimmins, MHK and Caren Pegg for convincing the audience to vote in favour of the Motion, but actually the vote was far closer than I originally expected.

The debate finished at around 20.00 and the guest speakers were then invited to dinner, which was held at Harbour Lights in the Sefton Hotel.

I finally got home for around 22.30 and after sending a few emails I called it a day at 23.10.

I genuinely enjoyed the debate and the whole evening, which was excellent.

In the office for 8am on Thursday and I went straight into reading the Manx Museum and National Heritage agenda pack.

At 9am I walked over to DfE for a Political meeting amongst the members to discuss a TT issue. Back to the Tynwald Building at 10.10am for a meeting with the Vintage Motorcycling Club, which was a general catch-up after Jurby Day this year.

The meeting would require a follow-up email to be drafted and sent.

Once the meeting finished at around 11.20am, I thought I had a spare hour or so to myself, but on my way back to the office I found a couple of visitors wandering around our building, but none of the officers were available to give him a quick tour of our Parliamentary Chambers.

So I spent the next hour showing our guests around the building and the Chambers etc, which was very enjoyable and hopefully they will leave the island with some good memories.
At 12.40 I drove along the Promenade to meet up with Paul Moulton to do this year’s MTTV interview.

From there I headed back to DfE for a Motorsport meeting, which started at 14.30 and once the meeting finished I rushed over to the Manx Museum for the monthly Trustee meeting, which started at 15.00 but I was 15 minutes late.

The first hour is always the informal meeting amongst the Trustees before the MNH Executive join the meeting at 16.00.

I had to leave the meeting slightly early at 18.25 in order to get home, changed, and out again for 19.30.

Tynwald’s Public Accounts Committee had organised a networking event here on the Isle of Man.

There were around 30 delegates attending the event on Friday, which included members and officers from the House of Commons, National Audit Office, Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales, Parliament of Malta and even a member from the Parliament of Ukraine.

A 19.30 I attended a welcome dinner, which was being held at the Ticket Hall in Douglas.

There were only around 15 to 20 people but it was a wonderful evening, and I spent most of the evening talking to two members of the Scottish Parliament and Yuri who has travelled from the Ukraine Parliament.

Before questions are asked, all delegates paid their own expenses and everyone paid for their dinner on Thursday evening.

I finally got home for 22.45.

In the office at 7.45am on Friday in order to prepare for the Public Accounts Committee Network event, which started from 9.15am.

After the welcome speeches, the first session was on “How do the remit and powers of the PAC affect its impact”. There were also a few round-table discussions and updates on the CPA UK’s Commonwealth Programmes, along with a presentation by the Isle of Man Small Countries Financial Management Programme.

The day finished with a tour of Legislative Buildings and our Parliamentary Chambers, but I left the event slightly early in order to complete a few personal tasks.

Finally got home for around 16.00.

Further details of this weekend’s activities will be posted next week.