Blog 1 Dec 19There is an excellent article on the Tynwald website this week that records that on 25th November 2019, Tynwald marked the 100th anniversary of the first election of Members to the Legislative Council by Members of the House of Keys.

In 1919, Tynwald passed legislation, which fundamentally changed the membership and powers of the Legislative Council. Prior to 1919, the role and membership hadn’t changed much since the Middle Ages, consisting of representatives of the Judiciary and the Church, along with the Lieutenant Government as presiding officer.

The changes could have been brought earlier after a series of committees and petitions back in 1911, but this was delayed because of World War 1.

How times have changed, and I know there are still those that feel very strongly that Legislative Council Members should be publicly elected, but that is definitely a debate for another day….

Personally, I feel we have some excellent MLCs at the moment doing a brilliant job without fear or favour towards the Council of Ministers or any Government Department, and long may it continue into the foreseeable future.

Another story that caught my eye this week was the question as to whether Dan Richardson should be able to continue living in a self-built cabin in a field in the north of the island.

After living on the site for over two years and receiving praise from the DEFA Minister, Geoffrey Boot, MHK for his sustainable lifestyle, the same Department has now taken Dan to Court for infringements on their land…

According to Manx Radio, the Douglas Courtroom was packed during the pre-trial review, but you have to question why it has taken two years to reach the Courts, especially if it was their intention from the outset.

I have a feeling that this particular story could really grab the public’s attention over the next few months.

As for last weekend, a good portion of the time was spent in the Manx Legion playing in the FA Cup of Pool, which had around 61 players entered. I eventually lost to the tournament winner 9-7 in the quarter finals, but it was great to catch up with so many old friends, which as usual involved a lot of banter and good humour.

Congratulations to Tom Miller in winning the overall event and to my good friend Garry Christian for reaching the final. Special thanks to Pete Crellin and his team for putting on a fantastic tournament.

That said, Ellen and I still managed to get out for a walk on Sunday morning in the Archallagan Plantation, which is always a pleasant walk that only takes around 45 minutes. With low hanging mist it certainly looked very eery and spooky in the plantation on a cold and damp Sunday morning.

We then drove to St John’s which gave me an opportunity to show Ellen the tree I planted in the Arboretum recently, which is now our family tree….

Anyway, let’s look at the rest of this week’s activities.

Everything that is good about this role as an MHK was summed up on Monday this week. I went into the office early in order to catch up with emails, which I unfortunately neglected on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, after spending the time at the Manx Legion playing in the pool tournament, as I have already mentioned.

Just after 9am I headed to the Mount Murray Hotel (Comis) for this year’s Manx Blind Welfare Society “Author’s Breakfast”. I genuinely look forward to this particular event and most events that involve the Manx Blind Welfare, especially when it is such an amazing charity that just happens to be based in the heart of Onchan.

The author this year was Robert Grice who spoke about the History of Hallmarking, Fraud and Theft involving precious metals, and you might mistakenly say that it sounds a bit of a dry topic for a very damp Monday morning, but I can assure you that it was actually a fascinating presentation.

We don’t give much attention to hallmarks when buying jewellery etc, but the origins of hallmarking go back to the 1300s, if not a bit earlier with Henry III in the 1230s…

A massive thank you to Ian, Debbie and the team at the Manx Blind Welfare Society for an excellent event.

From Mount Murray it was straight into the office at lunchtime to draft a template letter on behalf of a Constituent that needed some help to get their landlord to undertake some urgent repairs on their property.

I was then meant to attend a DOI meeting relating to the ongoing promenade scheme, but this was cancelled because officers didn’t have enough time to go through the revised schedule of works, which was perfectly fine because it gave me an opportunity to start looking at the House of Keys Order Paper.

Late afternoon I headed over to DfE for a Motorsport team meeting, which lasted just over an hour. I left the office slightly later than normal and once home I continued to work on the House of Keys Order Paper until around 20.30.

Tuesday started with me finishing off going through the House of Keys Order Paper before going down to the Chamber just before 10am.

Only 6 oral and 2 written questions for answer this week, which was followed by the Second Reading of the Regulation of Care (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill 2019 received their third reading.

Keys Members then went through the clauses stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019, which took a little bit of time.

The sitting finished at around 11.40am, which was followed by a photo in the main foyer of Legislative Building for the White Ribbon Campaign that is working to end violence against women.

Back to the office to return a couple of calls and to catch up with some admin before going up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation on Islam on the Isle of Man. Many thanks to Zakir for the presentation, I certainly learnt a few new things.

Once I got back to the office I needed to draft some letters, which I should have drafted last week.

The last hour or so was spent going through the DfE Agenda pack, which I finished off at home just after 19.00.

In the office for the normal time on Wednesday, and my first job was to go through some Visit Isle of Man Agency minutes before walking to DfE for the usual Minister and Political Members meeting.

No briefings ahead of the Department meeting, which meant that we went into the Order Paper, which was relatively light with only a couple of decisions to make.

Once the meeting finished DfE Members watched three short films, which should be in the public domain by the time my blog is published, along with attending a quick tourism meeting with the Minister.

Straight back to the Legislative Building and up to the Barrool Suite for a presentation by DEFA on the 2016 EU Bathing Water Directive, which was a follow-up from the recommendations highlighted by the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee last year.

The presentation finished just after 13.30, which gave me time to catch up with a couple of Constituent issues.

Just before 15.00 I walked back over to DfE for a meeting with the Southern 100 Club, and the last hour was spent in the office starting to prepare for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee.

With no briefings and meetings scheduled for Thursday I was able to stay at home to continue to prepare for the second evidence session that was to be taken in private on Friday morning. This meant a considerable amount of reading and drafting questions etc, but I was also able to take a peek at the December Tynwald Order Paper, which could take a couple of days.

It was fortunate that I was able to work from home, because Oscar (our cat) has been quite poorly since going to the vets last Saturday, so it gave me an opportunity to monitor him throughout the day instead of taking him straight back to the vets.

It must have worked, because he was back to his naughty best first thing on Friday morning…..

As I mentioned, Friday was all about a Committee session, but I still went into the office early to finish off the last few things.

The Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee met at 9.30am and the evidence session got underway at 10am and lasted just over two hours. As I mentioned last week, unfortunately I can’t give any further details at this stage.

Just after lunchtime I decided to walk home and spent the afternoon going through the House of Keys Order Paper and responding to several emails, but definitely not a difficult few hours.

As for the weekend, nothing planned but I do need to start looking at the December Tynwald sitting, especially when my calendar is filling up with various other events.

I think I am almost ready for Christmas this year, which has to be first….