Blog 24 feb 18The focus of attention this week was most definitely on the second Budget speech from the Treasury Minister, Alf Cannan, MHK.

In recent years I would normally look at Manx Budgets as to how they will affect me personally or how much it will actually cost me, which I guess is the typical view from the man or woman in the street.

As an MHK we normally get the Budget information just under three weeks prior to the sitting of Tynwald Court, which is very much appreciated and as elected Members we must respect the confidentiality of the budget information until the actual day.

It definitely takes at least a couple of weeks to read through all the information, cross reference facts and figures against previous years and to try and break down the actual Budget information – basically all the details behind the big announcements or glossy headlines.

With my Budget Speech already completed and having spent part of the weekend going through the rest of the Tynwald Order Paper and catching up with correspondence from Saturday’s Political Surgery, I was able to take most of Monday off.

You are never actually off work in this role as there are always e-mails waiting for response, calls to take and notes to write, but it still was an enjoyable and reasonably lazy day.

Confidence remains key in this role as an MHK and unfortunately mine has taken a few knocks over the last few weeks. I am sure that I will bounce back but I definitely need to keep an eye on my stress and confidence levels over the next couple of weeks.

That said, I certainly don’t want to give the impression that people can’t contact me or approach me for help or advice at the moment. Like most front of house jobs, it is important that you leave your own troubles at home and focus on the customer or Constituent in this case, and I am always happy to do so.

My troubles are also quite small compared to many of the people who take the time to contact me….

However, I am proud that my Blog is a living document, which shows the highs and lows in this incredible role, plus I am writing down a few lines for my own benefit for when I look back in 2021, just to remind myself.

Anyway, I was back in the office for 8am on Tuesday in order to finish off any prep work for the Tynwald Sitting, which started at 10.30am.

The usual question time was held over until Wednesday morning and we went straight into the 2018 Budget debate with the Treasury Minister delivering his second Budget, which was followed by a debate that lasted over five hours.

A full copy of my budget speech is available on a separate post. It was a very interesting debate with a couple of excellent speeches, especially from Lawrie Hooper, MHk once again.

As a lay person and a non accountant, you can only read the financial information as you see it, and in my opinion it was definitely a Budget of two halves. It was a very difficult judgement call, a 50/50 split in my own mind when it came to the final vote.

I have always tried to be forward thinking or a glass half full person, so I gave the Treasury Minister the benefit of doubt, despite his own negative comments and general put downs during the summing up of the debate.

Manx Politics certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted and you have to be prepared to take some serious knocks, especially if you dare to challenge the current Government line or highlight any shortcomings in their policies.

However, I do understand that voting against any Budget shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In recent years, votes against the Manx Budget have normally been done on principle or to grab a quick media headline. Therefore it is important that people actually look at the speeches made by those Tynwald Members, in order to see if they simply voted against the Budget on principle or for media coverage or if they actually presented strong evidence as to why they should vote the Budget down.

In my eyes Lawrie Hooper, MHK gave a very detailed response as to why he voted against the Budget and you have to respect that decision. It definitely would be wrong if we only highlighted the good parts.

In my opinion, it was more important that I drafted a fair and a balanced budget speech, which I felt I achieved. I was trying to focus on the many positive elements found in this year’s Budget, along with highlighting the many negative items, especially around those individuals now retired and those just above the benefits level.

Lunchtime on Tuesdays was taken up with the Baker Tilly Budget lunch, which was held in the Barool Suite and included the Manx Radio Budget Debate.

We finally finished at 20.00 and I headed straight home as I felt extremely tired from the day’s activities.

I think I was asleep for 21.30.

Unfortunately, I had another sleepless night on Tuesday, I was up and about at 3.30am so I took the opportunity to draft some of this week’s Blog before heading back to bed for an hour at 5am.

Back into the office for 8am on Wednesday to prepare for Tynwald, which went into a second day. I also listened again to my own budget speech and to be perfectly honest I felt it was ok, it was balanced and fair.

At 9.50am I attended a short meeting of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee to discuss our ongoing reports, some of which will be published shortly.

Once the meeting finished we headed down to the Tynwald Chamber for today’s sitting, which started at 10.30am.

With all Budget items addressed yesterday, we headed straight into the 16 questions down for oral answer, along with the ten questions down for written reply.

There was then a very long debate once again on the Functioning of Tynwald, especially around whether the Bishop should or should not retain his vote.

With Tynwald business not finished by lunchtime, Tim Crookall, MLC, Ann Corlett, MHK and I walked over to the Court House to meet a potential MLC Candidate at 13.00.

We also took the opportunity to grab some lunch, duck wraps and chips….. highly recommended.

Back to the Chamber at 14.30 to continue the debate on the Functioning of Tynwald. The Rt Rev Peter Andrew Eagles – The Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man gave an excellent speech, which certainly helped me to cast another difficult vote.

I intend to write an extra piece on this in more detail under my new feature called ‘Inside Politics’ over the weekend.

After a very good and long debate and after several amendments, in the end Tynwald agreed that the Bishop should retain his vote.

David Cretney, MLC also had a Motion in Tynwald this week asking the Council of Ministers to appoint a champion for older people and the lonely. Although he didn’t get support for his original Motion, it was amended and the Council of Ministers have been asked to look again at this appointment.

The President, Hon. Steve Rodan MLC then gave some wonderful tributes to the outgoing MLC’s Mr D M Anderson, Mr M R Coleman, Mr C G Corkish MBE, Mr J R Turner and Mrs J P Poole-Wilson.

This time next month we will hopefully have five new members in the Legislative Council, but one might be re-elected.

The sitting finished at 18.10 and I was glad to get home.

In the office early on Thursday at around 8am and no meetings and briefings scheduled I was able to sit at my desk and catch up with any outstanding matters.

The morning went by very quickly as it normally does and I was able to draft and send out various letters and e-mails.

I also had various discussions with colleagues, especially Ralph Peake, MHK as we discussed the Budget and putting a few ideas on the table to improve next year’s Budget process.

Part of the afternoon was taken up drafting a couple of articles for Social Media, along with helping a Constituent with a work issue.

I left the office at 17.15 and after tea I took the opportunity to read through the Isle of Man Earnings Survey report 2017, which is a very interesting document before I called it a day at 20.00.

Friday I was able to stay at home and just take things easy, but I also took the opportunity through a couple of reports.

At 18.00 Ellen and I attended the opening of the new Kenyon’s Youth Centre, which is located within the Community Centre in Onchan. The club might be a little smaller than what is required but the guys have done an amazing job to get the club ready for opening.

We left at 19.00 as I was taking Ellen to Mrs Yang’s Chinese restaurant for her birthday.

On the way home I read that Lawrie Hooper, MHK had been sacked from the SAVE Team by the Treasury Minister for voting down the Budget down. A very silly decision in my opinion, we certainly don’t want a Tynwald full of nodding dogs….. we need scrutiny and accountability, not forgetting engagement….

Nothing scheduled for the weekend.