Blog 19 Feb 17After a very busy few days last week, this week was a relatively straightforward affair and it gave me an opportunity to catch up with correspondence and phone calls, along with preparing for next week’s Tynwald sitting, which will incorporate the annual Budget for the Isle of Man.

Still in the office for 8.15am on Monday morning despite a lighter workload, but it gave me an opportunity to start working on my Budget speech. I am always surprised as to how long it actually takes to draft speeches and to research topics, in order to ensure that the information is accurate.

At 10.05am I discovered that I should have been in a meeting with a member of the public, which wasn’t in my diary (my mistake). Fortunately, the meeting was with the Income Tax Division so I was able to run over to the other building.

At 10.40 we headed back to Legislative Building for a coffee, in order to discuss his thoughts on resolving a serious fraud, which is putting additional pressure on his business.

At 11am I continued to prepare for the February sitting of Tynwald. At 13.15 I headed downstairs with the Speaker, Mr. Juan Watterson to greet the teachers and children from Onchan Primary School – year 5. It was a fantastic tour of the Legislative Buildings and Chambers, which included a wonderful ghost story at the end that certainly made the children and teachers jump.

At 15.00 I continued working on my Budget speech before leaving the office at 17.30, but I didn’t head home as a number of MHK’s were meeting up for tea. Isola was the venue on this occasion and the group included Julie Edge, Martyn Perkins, Lawrie Hooper, Bill Shimmins, Jason Moorhouse, Clare Betterison, Alex Allinson and myself. It was a great night out and certainly something that we should try to continue over the next five years, given the pressures and stresses of the role.

Finally got home at 21.00.

In the office on Tuesday for 8.20 and after sending several e-mails I got prepared for the House of Keys sitting. At 9.45 I headed down to the Chamber. Again, it was a short question paper with only seven questions, but it certainly wasn’t a quick sitting.

We had the first reading of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2016 and second reading of the Beneficial Ownership Bill, which turned into a serous debate, especially between a Minister and a backbench MHK. We also had the Second Reading of the Fraud Bill 2017, which was straightforward.

The House then went through the Clauses stages of the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2017, which had 63 clauses and the Equality Bill 2016 that continues to be broken into small sections. On Tuesday we managed to only complete 61 Clauses before the House finished at 17.00.

The whole House of Keys went into Committee for only the second time in its history today. The Committee tool is an excellent new addition available to House of Keys members, and it enables MHK’s to ask multiple questions to the Minister and officers.

It is especially helpful when considering the Clauses stages of a particular Bill.

Lunchtime on Tuesday was taken up with a presentation from the Isle of Man Chamber of Commence.

Tuesday evening I helped a Constituent who had ongoing heating issues and continued drafting my Budget Speech, but called it a day at 19.30.

No meetings scheduled on Wednesday but I still went into the office for 8.25, and the first task after making a coffee was to practise my speech for the Committee looking into the 2016 House of Keys General Election later on in the morning.

I also took the opportunity to print off my Agenda Pack for the February sitting of Tynwald.

At 10.15 I headed down to the LegCo Chamber to say hello to Niall Carey and a colleague from the Isle of Man Post Office, who were so helpful during the election.

I went back to the office to collect my speech and notes before heading to back to the LegCo Chamber, in order to give my evidence to the Tynwald Select Committee looking into the 2016 House of Keys General Election.

I felt the process went well, I wasn’t nervous on this occasion. I have given evidence once before to a Tynwald Select Committee as an Onchan Commissioner re. Local Authority Housing.

I also gave an interview to Manx Radio before heading back to my office for 11.35. I only just got back to my desk when the phone rang, someone called into the office (unscheduled) and asked for a meeting. Fortunately, I was free, so spend an hour listening to his concerns regarding the functions of a Committee which I also sit on.

At 13.30 I attended a Presentation on Public Sector Pension Reform, which included the usual questions and answer session.

At 14.40 I was back at my desk and continued to write and research my Budget speech, but took the opportunity to leave the office for 17.00.

Thursday was again a fairly straightforward day, in the office for 8.20 and after sending a couple of e-mails before I headed up to Nobles Hospital at 9.00 with Dr. Alex Allinson, MHK for a photograph in respect of a kind donation of new hospital equipment.

We headed back to the Legislative Buildings, via McDonalds as Dr. Allinson bought everyone Sausage, Bacon & Egg Muffins for a meeting at 10.15, when a number of MHKs met up to look through the Tynwald Order Paper for February.

At 11.30 Julie Edge, MHK and I had a meeting with a Constituent regarding a number of safety concerns in and around the Onchan village.

At 12.30 I had a meeting with a Constituent regarding the current legislation in respect of littering and flytipping around the island. Once the meeting had finished, Daphne Caine, MHK and I went down to the Sea Terminal in order to look over the Area Plan for the East.

I had an enjoyable walk back to the office before I headed over to Nivison House with Tim Crookall, MLC for a discussion on work permits. Finally got back to the office for 16.00, which gave me time to start writing this week’s Blog before heading home for 17.15.

Early start on Friday, I attended the Isle of Man Construction Forum Committee Meeting, which started at 8.00. I left the meeting at 10.00 and headed back to the Legislative Buildings to attend a quick briefing with Tim Crookall, MLC.

At 11.00, Tim and I attended a meeting with the Manx Motor Cycling Club in order to help resolve a number of issues and concerns. At 11.40 Tim and I also met with the head of motorsport within the DED, in order to discuss a meeting being held on Monday.

At 12.15 a constituent called in to discuss Isle of Man Overseas Aid and the excellent work undertaken by local groups and organisations. At 13.00 I stopped for lunch and took the opportunity to discuss several topics with my colleagues, including Miss Isle of Man and the General Election.

At 13.45 I headed over to the Manx Museum before travelling to Peel to look around the House of Manannan and its facilities. It was an excellent tour and gave us an opportunity to consider what upgrades might be required in the future, but the venue appears to be busier then ever.

Got back to the office for 16.40, which gave me time to send a few e-mails and messages before heading home at 17.05.

At 18.45 I headed south to attend the Southern 100 Launch with DED Minister Laurence Skelly, which was an excellent event and again I received a very warm welcome.

As for the weekend, I need to finish my Budget speech, which is starting to turn into a novel. Tonight Ellen and I will be attending the Southern 100 Annual Dinner, which promises to be a very special evening.