This week the Treasury Minister, Alf Cannan, MHK delivered his fourth budget of this administration, entitled a Budget of Focus.

I guess most people will only see the increase in personal tax allowances, child benefits and the increase in the upper levels for national insurance that are reported through the media etc, but as an MHK over the last couple of weeks I have had to live and breathe the pink book to look well beyond the Treasury Minister’s glossy headlines, in order to truly understand the financial position of the Isle of Man.

I am not a qualified accountant but as Tynwald Members you are expected to understand the Government accounts, along with the Pink Budget Book etc.

The House of Keys Speaker, Juan Watterson, MHK published an excellent article in the local press last week, which gives his personal thoughts on the Budget and questions if the process is truly democratic.

As a Department Member you certainly have an input into the Budget process, which normally involves a meeting with the Treasury team in November when you go through your submission bids etc – and that is no easy task….

I also know how hard DfE Motorsport has had to push this year to get some additional funding that we need to put on these key events.

Anyway, more on the actual budget shortly.

As for last weekend, “Storm Dennis” hit the island with more high winds and heavy rains, which once again flooded many parts of the UK, but the Isle of Man appears to have escaped the worst of the weather on this occasion.

My political surgery on Saturday morning was very quiet, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with a few things, but I do thank the two people that braved the weather to come and talk to me.

News also broke on Saturday afternoon that Caroline Flack, a well known television personality and former host of ITV’s “Love Island” had died, she was only 40…

I didn’t follow any of her programmes personally, but I know she was very popular presenter on ITV until she was forced to quit her “Love Island” role after the police charged her with assaulting her boyfriend last year.

Her tragic death once again raises the awareness around mental health issues, especially around the pressure of social media and life in general when things go horribly wrong.

We all have a story to tell, and one day I will tell mine about the difficulties, tragedies and failings I have faced over the last 50 years.

Unfortunately the reality is that life is unkind and cruel at times, but I guess the message here is to speak up and to speak out about mental health – and please please don’t suffer in silence….

On Saturday evening, Ellen and I attended the Southern 100 annual dinner at the Palace Hotel, which is always a fantastic evening. Not sure how to describe our fellow table guests, but it was a very enjoyable table with some wonderful people, a great night.

Roy Moore and Tim Glover from Manx Radio delivered some of the most hilarious interviews I have witnessed with Southern 100 Champion, Dean Harrison, along with Jeavon Walmsley and Des Founds, unfortunately most of it is unrepeatable…..

On Sunday I put the finishing touches to my budget speech, I also went through some documentation relating to the Area Plan for the East and continued to work through the rest of the Tynwald Order Paper.

In the office for normal time on Monday and with me spending a few hours over the weekend finishing off the budget etc, I was able to focus my attention on the rest of the Tynwald Order Paper, along with starting to go through the amended documentation published by the Cabinet Office in relation on the draft Area Plan for the East, which will take up a lot of time over the next week or so.

The rest of the day was mainly spent at my desk, but I did have to go into Onchan at lunchtime for two Constituency meetings, along with attending a Douglas Promenade Political Oversight Board meeting at 16.00.

I left the office at 17.15 and once home I needed to respond to a couple of phone messages, correspondence and to prepare a few additional notes for the Tynwald sitting.

In the office early on Tuesday to finish off any prep work for the Tynwald sitting. At 9.45am there was an urgent Tynwald briefing by the Treasury team, which related to FERSA (Final Expenditure Revenue Sharing Agreement) and the 1979 Customs & Excise Agreement.

Fortunately for us all, the UK has agreed the methodology applied in 2016, which means that the Isle of Man Is not facing another VAT black hole for the time being.

I really cannot overstate how big this particular decision is for the Isle of Man.

It also generated a small surplus of around £44 million, so hopefully some of those funds can support the most vulnerable in society during the next financial year.

This month’s Tynwald sitting got underway at 10.30am with the Treasury Minister, Alf Cannan, MHK delivering his fourth budget speech of this administration, which lasted just under an hour.

I thought the Treasury Minister gave an excellent speech on the floor of Tynwald.

I was very fortunate to be able to speak third just after the Chief Minister – again my nerves got the better of me at times, but when I listened back at lunchtime it didn’t sound as bad as I first thought – strange how your mind plays tricks on you….

Anyway, I have posted a copy of my full budget speech on social media.

I also enclose a link to the Government’s Pink Book for the next financial year:

https://www.gov.im/media/1368490/pink-book-2020.pdf

During the lunchtime break I also took part in the Manx Radio Budget programme, as well as attending the Baker Tilley Budget presentation in the Barrool Suite very briefly, along with returning a couple of phone calls.

Straight back to the Chamber at 14.30 to continue with the 2020 Budget debate, which lasted around five and half hours. At 17.25 there was a short tea break before we went through Order Paper 2, which also related to the Budget process.

By 20.00 Tynwald had managed to complete Order Paper 2 and 22 of the 24 items on the main Order Paper.

Once home I still needed to respond to a couple of emails, but I still managed to finish for around 21.00.

Back in the office for 8am on Wednesday for day two of this month’s Tynwald sitting, which got underway at 10.30am.

Before the sitting I took the opportunity to start working on a new project and to catch up with the correspondence.

The Tynwald sitting started with 22 oral questions and 24 written questions, which took us up to lunchtime.

At 13.00 in the Barrool Suite Andrew Stewart on behalf of DfE gave Tynwald Members an excellent presentation on “Locate Isle of Man”, which is trying to encourage more people to re-locate to the Isle of Man to invest, live and work in our beautiful island.

I enclose a link to the website, which is definitely worth a visit:

https://www.locate.im/

Back to the Tynwald Court at 14.30 for the final two items on the Order Paper, the first one related to a Public Petition on Fireworks, which was being brought by Mr. David Cretney, MLC.

Tynwald approved the Motion, and a Committee of three including Kate Lord-Brennan, Daphne Caine and myself was set up.

The final item was a Motion from Jason Moorhouse, MHK and related to the Post Office Closures, which was thrown into the long grass until June.

At the end of the sitting the President of Tynwald gave a glowing tribute to David Cretney, MLC who will be retiring from Manx politics after 35 years representing the people of Douglas South, along with a couple of years as a Douglas Councillor.

The “Minister for Fun” has been a champion of the elderly and the most vulnerable in our society and certainly left some big shoes to fill….

I certainly wish him well in his retirement and for the future.

I left the office just after 17.00, but I still needed to go through the Visit Agency Board Pack before calling it a day.

Back in the office for 8am on Thursday to catch up with a few things before walking over to the DfE for the Visit Agency Meeting, but I had to leave part way through, in order to attend a meeting with my colleague Daphne Caine, MHK on Dark Skies.

Back to DfE to finish of any remaining business with the Agency before going into a further meeting relating to a Super Car Tour Event taking place later on in the year.

Back to the office briefly before going up to the Barrool Suite for a CPD training session on the “Consultation Process”. The rest of the afternoon was spent at my desk working on a couple of projects before leaving at 16.50.

Just enough time to get changed into a suit before Ellen and I attended the Manx Museum for an evening of celebration by some of the children that are currently in care on the Isle of Man.

A massive thank you to the Voices in Participation Council for the very kind invitation to support some young Superheroes who shared their untold stories through art, song, poetry and music, in order to raise awareness and to help change perception towards those children that find themselves in care.

A very inspiring evening with some extraordinary “Superheroes”.

Finally got home for 20.30.

On Friday I started at home working on various things, along with going through the House of Keys Order Paper for next week.

At 11.15 am I received some correspondence from the Chief Minister, Howard Quayle, MHK delivering the horrible news that the Home Affairs Minister Bill Malarkey, MHK had lost his battle with cancer.

The Chief Minister gave Tynwald Members an update on Tuesday morning ahead of the Budget, but it doesn’t make the announcement any easier to accept, especially when we are a small family in Tynwald in many ways.

Personally, I have known Bill for around 30 years on and off, but I have especially enjoyed spending time with him and Pamela during the TT fortnight over the past three years.

A very proud Manxman that worked hard within his Department and on behalf his constituents; Ellen and I pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Other than going to Manx Radio for an interview and calling in to see a Constituent, the rest of the day was spent at home catching up with things.

As for the weekend, I still need to draft various emails and I will be continuing to work on a few projects.