Blog 4 Nov 18The Abortion Reform Bill was back before the House of Keys on Tuesday and I would like to think that we are now on the homeward straight for getting this important piece of Legislation updated.

I think Dr. Alliinson, MHK has done a very professional job in bringing the Motion through the House of Keys, working with officers and political members on multiple levels, not forgetting the vital role played by the general public and the Legislative Council.

More on that later….

With regard to this week’s activities, I had two Constituency meetings on Saturday morning, which required various correspondence to be drafted and sent to Government Departments.

Again I felt this week was relatively quiet before things change over the next couple of weeks and it probably won’t slow down now until the Christmas break.

I heard someone mention the other day that it was less than eight weeks until Christmas – it has been a wonderful year, but it has gone by so fast….

I also woke up on Monday morning with the wonderful news that Ellen’s sister, Eve and her husband, Stewart had a baby boy in the early hours…..

Lots of names mentioned but nothing confirmed as I am writing this part of the Blog on Monday evening. I certainly wish them all the very best for the future and hopefully we will get an opportunity to meet up over the Christmas holidays.

I was in the office for 8am on Monday and it was a very easy day, which started with the usual catch up with correspondence.

Prior to be elected in 2016, there were a lot of comments around Civil Servants and Departments not really engaging with elected Members. As I mentioned in my MTTV interviews, I have only experienced the positives so far from working with most officers.

That said, I find one Department, or one section of a Department to be more precise, is particularly difficult at times, although I feel that is simply down to a lack of staff etc, but on the whole most Departments are very engaging.

A report in the UK this week stated very clearly that the former Home Secretary Amber Rudd was seriously let down by Civil Servants. They actually named the Civil Servant, which is very rare in UK politics….. anyway, the Home Secretary lost her job and the rest is history.

Personally, I still believe that one senior Minister from our previous government was seriously let down by the CEO, Political Members and Officers at the time, and it is fair to say that they won’t reach their true potential in Manx Politics.

What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that Officers and political Members have to work as a team, you definitely have to trust their judgement at times and any professional advice given, while still holding them to account, which is never easy.

On occasions you even get a response over the weekend, which definitely makes your job as an MHK so much easier and it does reduce the number of questions that I actually need to table in Tynwald or the House of Keys.

Anyway, I got a couple of good responses to my enquiries over the weekend on behalf of Constituents – so a massive thank you to those Departments.

Just before 10am I headed into Onchan to attend the Springfield Coffee Morning, but I was back at my desk for around 11am.

From there I started to draft several letters on behalf of an Onchan Club, which I promised to draft several weeks ago but just couldn’t find sufficient time.

At 12.30 I took full advantage of the good weather and decided to walk home, which only took around 50 minutes.

Once home I started to go though the Abortion Reform Bill 2018 and the amendments being brought back from the Legislative Council, along with going through the question paper etc…

I also went through some proposed changes to the European Union and Trade Bill 2018, which will go through the Clauses Stage in the House of Keys on Tuesday 6th November 2018, which should be an interesting sitting…

Finally finished for the day at around 16.00, but I was also able to work on a few projects, which will keep me busy over the next couple of weeks.

In the background, Philip Hammond was delivering his second UK Budget as the Chancellor, which was an interesting budget.

Lots of give-aways this year and not many tax rises being applied, you can certainly see that it was a Budget with one eye on a possible UK election on the horizon.

Back in the office for 8am on Tuesday as we prepared for this week’s House of Keys Sitting, which got underway at 10am.

The first job was to read through a Court Judgement, which related to a phone call received on Sunday afternoon….. the work included several calls to the Courts.

Prior to the sitting, I also had a general catch up and sort out in and around the office before heading down to the Chamber, which started with six oral questions and 10 written questions.

The House of Keys public gallery was full, as Members then gave further consideration to the Abortion Reform Bill 2018, which included 66 amendments brought back from the Legislative Council.

However, most of them were relatively straightforward and minor, which highlighted what a great job the House of Keys actually did.

There were also three further amendments from Mr. Robertshaw and Mr. Quayle, which were all supported by the Keys.

The whole sitting lasted less than an hour, but it was still a very important Keys session, especially when I look back in 2021 and this important piece of legislation has received Royal Assent and is accessible to the women of this island, and for generations to come…..

With the House of Keys finishing relatively early I was able to go into town before going up to the Barrool Suite for 12.30, in order to attend two presentations.

The first presentation was given by Lucy Buxton who is the Communication & Support Manager from the Manx Deaf Society.

I first met Lucy during Tynwald Day this year, and she certainly gave one of the best, if not the best presentation to Members on Tuesday afternoon.

Very inspiring, passionate and the Society has come a long way since Lucy got involved and I fully support British Sign Language becoming a recognised language in its own right over the next 18 months.

The second presentation was on the European Union and Trade Bill 2018 as the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture outlines their concerns ahead of the UK leaving the EU on 29th March 2019.

The Council of Ministers and certain areas within Government are clearly very concerned that backbench MHK’s will be voting down the Bill during the Clauses stages.

Personally, I have changed my schedule for next week, in order to ensure that I am actually on island for this important debate in the House of Keys on Tuesday 6th November.

Although I have no intention of voting down this vital piece of legislation, it is important that I take part in the debate and fully support the amendments being tabled by my colleague Lawrie Hooper, MHK, which will provide the safeguards needed going forward.

The last couple of hours on Tuesday were spent at my desk drafting a couple of letters, along with going though a Motorsport paper.

Headed home for 17.10.

I was looking to take Wednesday off to complete a few tasks around the house, but I received some correspondence from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) late on Tuesday evening, which meant I needed to go into the office on Wednesday morning.

I had a meeting with one of the Tynwald Clerks at around 8.30am, and this related to an event coming up next week in Jersey. It is fair to say that the actual CPA programme which I will be taking part in is a lot more detailed than I first thought and it will require a considerable amount of work to be undertaken over the next couple of days.

My Blog next week will have full details on the actual event.

I still left the office at round 10.45am and a took a couple of hours off but the rest of the day was spent on the CPA project and responding to various emails, along with a couple of calls.

Just before 19.00 I drove to the Onchan Scout Hall for a meeting with the Executive Committee regarding an ongoing funding event.

Back in the office for 8.15am on Thursday and the first job was to read through a Motorsport Paper, along with reading through a tourism development paper.

At 10am I headed over to DfE for a tourism briefing with the Director of Tourism, which was a general catch up.

The rest of the morning up until 13.00 was spent at my desk working on the CPA event, which requires considerable research and information comparing the Isle of Man and Jersey Parliaments.

At 14.00 I headed over to DfE for a Tourism meeting, which reviewed various funding applications for a number of events being held in 2019.

I was back at my desk for 16.30 just to finish off a few things before heading home at 17.15.

After tea I continued to work on my CPA conference before finally finishing at 21.00.

I was originally wanting to stay at home on Friday morning, but I decided to get into the office for 8am as I needed to continue with my CPA project work, along with drafting five or six letters.

Suddenly it was 10.45am and I needed to head into Onchan, as I had agreed to do a second shift on behalf of the Royal British Legion – Onchan Branch.

The weather outside the Post Office was once again very cold, but certainly better than last week.

A massive thank you to the Onchan Post Office for a lovely cup of tea, which was very much appreciated.

The two hours went by in a flash. I got to speak to a lot of people and I was also able to switch off for a couple of hours.

Laura and Assaf from the Poker Stars group replaced Tommy and me at 13.00, which allowed me to get back to the office to catch up with a few things.

At 14.00 I had a meeting with two of the three Tynwald Clerks on the CPA Conference, in order to ensure that I am fully prepared.

After that, the rest of the afternoon was spent in the office and included a couple of meetings with MHK colleagues.

As I finish off this week’s Blog, I am hearing that my new nephew might be called “Isaac”, but that might change, as they still have to register the name officially.

Saturday looks set to be a busy day as I need to prepare several speeches and notes for the CPA Conference.

I also have two functions to attend on Sunday – the first event is Mann at War, which is being held at the Manx Museum and the second event is a special celebration Evensong for the Royal British Legion – Onchan Branch at St Peter’s Church.