Blog 5 Mar 18The draft Abortion Reform Bill 2018 was firmly back on the agenda this week with consideration of multiple Clause amendments open for consideration and lengthy discussion in Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting.

This draft Bill is now going through a particularly difficult section, but it is vitally important that any legislation update is fit for purpose and actually provides the right level of support, which was clearly missing from the current legislation.

I am not entirely sure how best to describe Monday….. I was in the office for 8.15am and I spent the first hour going through a fund raising website of a keynote speaker before walking over to the Manx Museum for a trustee training session.

The training session was on fund raising on behalf of a charity or an organisation, which was far more interesting than I had originally expected. Unfortunately, I could only attend the morning session but it covered the procedures, principles and guidelines for raising funds etc.

I left the training session at 12.20 to walk back to the office to send a few e-mails before heading up to the Barrool Suite to meet the West Midlands Quality Review Board.

I certainly took the opportunity to pass on various issues and concerns raised by Constituents over the past twelve months, in particular patient transfers.

The meeting finished at 14.45 and I then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to catch up with e-mails, along with going through various correspondence and the Abortion Reform Bill Amendments and Clauses again ahead of Tuesday’s sitting.

I also had a long telephone conversation with Travel Watch Isle of Man ahead of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee Oral Session on Friday morning.

I left the office at 17.15 and once home I dealt with a Constituent matter relating to Credit Card Applications. I then started to prepare for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee meeting on Friday, which will take oral evidence from the DOI Minister and CEO, along with Ann Reynolds.

As Chairman of the Committee I always feel I am duty-bound to be absolutely 100% ready for each session, but time isn’t an MHK’s friend…

Finally called it a day at 21.30.

In the office for 8.15am on Tuesday for what was another difficult and emotional day as the House of Keys gave further consideration to the 2018 Abortion Reform Bill.

As I had already prepared myself for Tuesday’s sitting, I was able to spend the early part of the morning continuing to prepare for the Committee session with the DOI.

At 10am we headed down to the House of Keys for this week’s sitting, which started with nine oral questions, along with fourteen questions for written reply.

There was also the first reading of the Anti-Money Laundering and other Financial Crime (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018, along with the third reading of the Data Protection Bill 2018.

The House then addressed the main topic on the Order Paper, which was the Consideration of the Clauses stage of the Abortion Reform Bill 2018.

Once again the House of Keys went into a Committee of the Whole House, and although it is still a relatively new function available to the Manx Parliament, it is really turning into a fantastic tool as it enables elected Members to debate in greater detail and for discussions to flow back and forth, along with Members being able to ask multiple questions.

The quality of the debate on Tuesday was again outstanding and it was a pleasure to listen to the arguments for and against this emotive topic. I have posted a separate article on this item.

The morning sitting finished just after 13.00 and we had less than 20 minutes to grab some lunch, as we needed to be in the Barrool Suite for a presentation on the Anti-Money Laundering and other Financial Crime (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 at 13.30.

The briefing finished at 14.00, which gave me just a few minutes to send a couple of e-mails before returning to the House and Keys to continue with the debate on the draft Abortion Bill.

The Keys sitting finished at 17.50 which has to be one of the longest House of Keys sittings for many years.

There was definitely a high level of concentration needed for going through each Clause and Amendment carefully.

Finally got home after a long, difficult and tiring day for 18.15, but I still had various e-mails to send, along with returning a couple of calls before calling it a day 20.00.

Wednesday turned into a very busy day, in the office for 8.10am as I continued to prepare for Friday’s Committee session with DOI officials including a review of the Isle of Man’s Open Skies Policy.

Just before 10am I drove to Peel Road to meet DOI officials in respect of an ongoing Constituent matter, which I have been trying to resolve satisfactorily for over 15 months.

It was an excellent meeting, but I am just not sure I can deliver the outcome that the residents are looking for, which is disappointing.

Back to the office to do a quick interview with Manx Radio.

There was also a continuous stream of phone calls from Constituents throughout the day relating to an ongoing medical case, parking and the poor condition of a property in Onchan.

At 12 noon I headed up to the Barool Suite for a briefing on our Harbour Strategy, which included an update on the Deepwater Berth.

I left the meeting slightly early at 13.50 as I needed to continue preparing for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee meeting, which started at 15.15.

Another good Committee meeting as we discussed the topics and format for our Committee session with DOI on Friday.

The meeting finished as 16.50, which only gave a few minutes to send a couple of e-mails before leaving the office at 17.15.

Still a few emails to draft at home before calling it a day at 19.45.

Thursday was always going be a difficult today, so I wasn’t surprised that I was up and about at 4.30am reading through my speech for Malcolm Hulme’s funeral at 11am at St. Peter’s Church.

In the office briefly for 8.15am before driving back into Onchan for two quick Constituency meetings. The first one related to a salt bin and the second one related to a tourism planning application, which I followed up once I was back in the office.

I went back to the office to collect my iPad and notes before driving to St. Peter’s with Ellen for Malcolm Hulme’s funeral.

It was a wonderful funeral and reception given the circumstances.

The service at St. Peter’s was very fitting as Canon Clive Burgess captured Malcolm’s life beautifully and also read out a very heartfelt message on behalf of Malcolm’s daughter Jodie.

Not entirely sure how it happened, but I had a strange feeling that my iPad was going to fail during my eulogy, which it did…… very strange. I guess Malcolm wasn’t one for compliments or taking the credit for the team that he certainly led as the Chief Executive and Clerk to Onchan District Commissioners.

Back to the office for 14.00 in order to send a couple of e-mails and messages before walking over to DfE for a TT and Motorsport briefing, in order to discuss and obtain an update on various contracts, sponsorships and general items ahead of this year’s event, which will be here very soon.

The meeting finished at 16.30 and once back at the office I spent the last hour trying to catch up with correspondence and several missed calls before leaving the office at 17.30.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Committee meeting with DOI had to be postponed late on Thursday evening……. I am sure that all the work I have done this week won’t be wasted and can be used when the new meeting is scheduled.

My calendar for Friday was a lot lighter, and with no Committee meeting in the morning I was able to do some Constituency work.

I had received quite a bit of correspondence over the last couple of weeks in respect of various road works in and around Onchan, so I took the opportunity to take a look myself.

Still managed to get into the office for 11am and the rest of the morning was spent trying to catch up with administration, correspondence and e-mails.

Ellen and I had lunch in the noodle bar in Athol Street but I only had 30 minutes, because I had a meeting with an MLC Candidate at 13.00.

The next couple of hours were spent printing off and preparing for this month’s Tynwald session and drafting correspondence to all the MLC Candidates ahead of Monday’s elections.

At 15.40 I had a meeting with a young student who came to lobby me over the TT Scoreboard, along with telling me about the petition she has started online. It was an excellent meeting, and I was very impressed with her presentation and answers.

Top marks for having the confidence to come into the Legislative Buildings and for lobbying an MHK in respect of something she was clearly very passionate about, and age certainly wasn’t a barrier.

As MHKs we should be encouraging more of our young students to share their thoughts and ideas as to how a future Isle of Man should look.

Still some time to send a few e-mails before heading home at 17.15.

A busy weekend ahead, I have two Constituency meetings early on Saturday morning and we are looking forward to attending the Mayoral Ball on Saturday evening.

On Sunday I have a Constituent meeting at lunchtime before heading down to the Villa Marina for the Manx Darts Festival presentation on Sunday afternoon.