Blog 27 Oct 19A lot of different activities going on this week, but certainly not at the same level of stress that I have felt over the past couple of weeks.

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne also visited the island on Friday to carry out various functions including the opening of the Ramsey Park hotel extension, Harbour Bridge in Peel and the Market Hall in Douglas.

More on the Royal visit later….

It was also announced this week that DfE and the motorsport team have confirmed that they will not be running the TT Zero class in both 2020 and 2021.

Not an easy decision, especially when Michael Rutter won last year’s event with a fantastic lap of 121.91MPH, which goes to show the progress of this particular race since 2010.

When the class was first introduced back in 2010 there was a bounty of £10,000 for the first team that could achieve a 100mhp lap around the world famous TT course. That goal was achieved in 2012 by Michael Rutter once again, but in recent years the number of entries has fallen sharply and the gap between the top two machines and the rest of the field continues to increase.

We also have to be mindful of the fantastic contribution made year on year by an army of volunteers, which enables us to put on these events.

Hopefully over the next couple of years the motorsport team will be able to work with all stakeholders associated with this event, in order to look at introducing true “zero emissions” machines from 2022, taking into account any change towards cleaner technologies (all-electric, bio-fuel, hydrogen fuel cells etc), possibly broadening the options, the number of entries and potentially securing the long term future of the race.

There are also a few more changes that will be announced shortly, so watch this space….

As for this week’s activities – my surgery on Saturday was very quiet with only a handful of people calling in, but still an enjoyable surgery. I was able to have a wider discussion on 5G, which the island is currently reviewing.

On Saturday evening Ellen and I went to the Gaiety to see “The Adams Family” the musical, which was a fantastic production.

Not sure what we were expecting, but the actual show was brilliant and it was great see our theatre full of children and families having a great night out.

Congratulations to everyone involved and for putting on such an amazing show.

On Sunday morning we managed to head out for a walk but most of the afternoon was spent working on a few things.

With no meetings or briefings on Monday, I took the opportunity to stay at home because I needed to read through various pieces of legislation that will be going through the House of Keys over next few weeks.

These included going through the draft legislation for Public Sector Pensions, Regulation of Care, Domestic Abuse, Limitation (Childhood Abuse) and the Children and Young Persons Bill.

I also needed to start working through the DfE agenda pack, which ran to almost 350 pages.

Just before 18.00 I went to Hawthorn Villa for our quarterly meeting between Onchan Commissioners and MHKs. I make no apologies when I say that I find these meetings difficult at times, and I feel sorry for those very few Onchan Commissioners that continue to try and serve the people of Onchan.

Various topics were discussed, including the Groudle Glen Waterwheel, Speed Limits, Adoption of certain Roads and Footpaths, Rates Reform, draft Area Plan for the East, Local Authority Rents, Planning and Flooding.

I finally got home for around 20.30.

The House of Keys reconvened on Tuesday morning after the summer recess, but it certainly feels a lot longer.

The early part of Tuesday morning was spent in the office going through emails and a couple of Department papers. We then headed down to the House of Keys chamber for the sitting, which started with 9 oral questions and 2 written questions.

The Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill 2019, Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 and the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill 2019 all received their first reading.

Chris Thomas, MHK presented the second reading of the Public Sector Pensions (Amendment) Bill 2019 before Dr. Alex Allinson, MHK moved the second reading of the Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill 2019, which had a couple of excellent contributions, especially from Lawrie Hooper, MHK.

The final item on the Order paper was moved by Martyn Perkins, MHK who asked once again for leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to amend the law relating to consent for organ donation and for connected purposes.

Once the sitting had finished, it was straight up to Manx Radio for an interview on TT Zero, which, as already mentioned, has been put on hold for the next two years.

From there I headed into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to an ongoing planning issue, but more importantly how their overall objections and complaints have been handled by DEFA and the Planning Department.

Finally got back to the office for 3pm to up catch with correspondence and the general workload. I left the office slightly later than normal and once home I needed to continue working through the DfE and Public Accounts Committee packs until around 21.15.

I also had the House of Commons debate running in the background as the UK Government successfully managed to get the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill though its second reading, but any sign of victory was short lived as MP’s then rejected a proposal to examine the Brexit Bill in just three days….

I think most people would agree that three days to scrutinise 110 pages of legislation is not long enough, especially this particular piece of legislation that will shape the UK for many years to come.

‘My money is now on a December UK General Election now, possibly on 5th or 12th December.’ – I wrote those words on Tuesday evening and since then the UK Prime Minister has tabled a motion for next week asking for a General Election on Thursday 12th December…..

I have a feeling that his letter to Father Christmas asking for a General Election will be ignored when MP’s vote on Monday next week.

Back in the office early on Wednesday as I continued to work on the Public Accounts Committee agenda pack before walking over to the DfE for the usual political and board meetings.

The board meeting started with a DfE budget / finance update, which was followed by an update from the Isle of Man Shipping Registry, which included the proposed fee schedule for 2020.

We then had a brief discussion on 5G and the island telecommunications strategy, which will be presented to Tynwald members in due course.

By the time we went through the DfE agenda, which included several Department decisions, it was well into lunchtime.

A quick hour in the office drafting a couple of emails before attending the Public Accounts Committee meeting, which lasted almost three hours.

The main topic of discussion was the Government’s Procurement process, as the call for evidence had certainly generated a considerable amount of replies, which the Committee needed to review.

Once home I still had several emails to draft before finishing.

With a couple of meetings cancelled on Thursday morning, I was able to go though various motorsport reports ahead of a meeting scheduled with the Manx Motorcycle Club later on in the day.

Mid morning I headed over to the Palace Hotel on the promenade to meet up with the Chairman of the International Professional Pool Association (IPA) before this weekend’s big eight ball pool tournament gets underway formally on Friday lunchtime.

The event will also be streamed live via the BBC Sports website over the weekend, starting at 13.00 on Saturday.

It was also good to catch up with the IPA team who were still busy setting everything up.

IPA professional and local residents David Addinall and island snooker champion John Kennish lead the top players representing the Isle of Man over the weekend.

Back to the office to meet up with a good friend who was looking for some general advice, which I was happy to give.

I also needed to respond to several Constituent issues before attending a Tynwald briefing on Domestic Abuse.

Unfortunately, I had to leave that meeting slightly early in order to attend a meeting with the Manx Motor Cycle Club, which lasted more than two hours.

An excellent meeting but also a very difficult meeting as we looked at the relationship between the MGP and the Classic TT, along with looking at changes which should be made ahead of 2022 and going into the future.

A massive thank you to the Manx Motor Cycle Club for attending the meeting for input, which is very much appreciated.

I continued to work on a few things at home, but it wasn’t a late finish.

I had originally scheduled to take Friday off in order to attend part of the IPA pool event, but I received a phone call from Government House a few of weeks ago inviting me to attend the opening of the new extension at the Ramsey Park Hotel by the Princess Royal.

The day still started with me going into the office for the first couple hours before driving to the Palace Hotel to make sure any last minute issues had been ironed out. Although I haven’t been involved in the actual event or the setting up the venue, I couldn’t help just making sure everything was set up and ready to go.

From there I headed straight down to Ramsey and the Park Hotel ahead of the Princess Royal arriving. I was asked to be there for before 11.30am, but Princess Anne was running late and didn’t actually arrive until after 12.45, which gave an opportunity to catch up with the previous Chief Minister, Allan Bell and other people.

The pecking order of formal handshakes with the Princess Royal was something to be admired, as everything had to be done in the correct order and process etc….

I was in group three with the President of Tynwald, the Treasury Minister, the two Ramsey MHK’s and the previous Chief Minister, Allan Bell.

The Princess Royal and I spoke briefly on the Isle of Man’s tourism sector, along with her enquiring if I was Manx born.

Once Princess Anne had unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and started to head West for other engagements, the Park Hotel had arranged a wonderful lunch for the guests, but unfortunately I had to give my apologies as I was scheduled to play in the IPA event at 14.00.

I arrived back at the Palace Hotel for around 14.40, so I was extremely grateful that the organisers had held back my game, which I then lost 6-2.

Back to the office for an hour or so before heading home for tea and then going back down to the Palace Hotel for my second match in the IPA event.

As for the weekend, I will need to catch up with correspondence and I am sure that I will also be supporting the IPA on Saturday and Sunday.