Blog 7 Feb 18Almost back to full health on Monday, but the heavy cold going around the island last week definitely knocked me for six…

Putting any health issues to one side, it really was a case of head down this week and probably for the next couple of weeks as I work towards this year’s Budget, which will be held in Tynwald on Tuesday 20th February.

I know I have mentioned it several times in previous Blogs, but It really is hard to explain in just a few words the amount of time you need to find in order to prepare speeches for key topics such as Abortion, Equality, etc. and for the Budget each year.

Personally, I have definitely written more speeches, blogs and posts in the last two years then the rest of my life put together. That said, I am also looking forward to going back though my Blogs in 2021….

All MHKs do things slightly differently when it comes to the Budget or other key topics and I know some MHKs can stand up and deliver perfect speeches on the floor with little or no practice, time after time…

Chris Robertshaw, MHK is one of the best for using this type of approach and I am certainly not having a go. I work closely with Chris on the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, so I certainly know he has an eye for detail, but there is definitely an art to delivering that type of speech without forgetting any facts and figures…..

Personally, I still think Lawrie Hooper, MHK writes the best speeches amongst the backbench MHKs and Tim Baker, MHK isn’t far behind.

Again this is one of those little insights that potential MHKs need to know – you are expected to write speeches and you also need the ability to understand financial information, which isn’t easy.

Other MHKs like myself do a lot of reading and checking of details first, in order to ensure that information, facts and figures are correct before delivering any key speech, which is normally put down on paper.

Anyway, back to this week’s work schedule, Monday was about the 2018 Budget and my speech. I arrived in the office for 8.25am and after catching up with a colleague, I managed to draft and send out a couple of letters before getting straight into the Budget prep work.

I didn’t bother with lunch on Monday and the only break I had was to meet another MLC Candidate looking for support and dealing with four new Constituent enquiries, which involved making a few calls and drafting a couple more letters and e-mails.

At 13.30 I left the office to meet up with some Onchan Constituents in relation to an ongoing matter that I have been involved with for over 12 months. It is one of those situations that I am struggling to obtain a satisfactory solution for all parties, but I haven’t given up just yet…..

From there I drove to DfE for a tourism and agency update before returning to the office to look at some e-mails, make a few more calls and continue with my Budget prep work.

I left the office at 17.15 and after tea I dealt with a few more Constituency matters and I continued with my Budget speech work.

I was hoping to call it a day at around 19.00, but I received an urgent e-mail regarding the TT which needed immediate attention.

Finally finished at around 21.30.

Went into the office for 8am on Tuesday and the first part of the morning was spent sending out a couple of items of correspondence, printing the agenda pack for the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, along with catching up with colleagues on various topics.

Just before 10am we headed down to the House of Keys Chamber for today’s relatively straightforward sitting. There were 12 questions for oral answer and a further 6 questions for written reply, along with the First and Second readings of the Data Protection Bill 2018.

The sitting finished at 11.15am and from there I went straight into an urgent TT briefing with the MInister, CEO and other Political Members.

Back to the Tynwald building at lunchtime to catch up with a couple of things before going up to the Barool Suite for a presentation on the Landlord Registration (Private Housing) Bill 2018.

A very interesting Presentation and Q & A Session, and although the majority of landlords look after their tenants very well, there are a small number that don’t do enough and the time might be right for the Isle of Man to look again at this legislation.

The meeting finished at 14.30 and I then spent the next hour or so on the phone trying to sort out a Planning issue, along with a couple of other Constituent matters.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sending out emails and working on the Budget.

I left the office at 17.15, but still had a few more emails to draft once I got home.

I took the opportunity to work from home on Wednesday as I didn’t have any briefings or meetings scheduled.

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of working at home. At home you can work quietly and get things done, but the disadvantages are that you end up doing odd jobs around the house, such as ironing and cleaning etc.

Once I finished the personal tasks – including finishing off my new website, which is now live and worth a look at – it was still a pleasant day, but it wasn’t a day off as there was still plenty of reading in preparation for some meetings scheduled for tomorrow and Friday.

I had to go through the Manx Museum and the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee agenda packs, answer numerous emails and a couple of phone calls, but overall still an enjoyable day.

Back in the office for 8.20am on Thursday and the day started with me drafting a couple of letters and continuing with my Budget prep work.

At 10.30am I walked over to DfE for the scheduled TT briefing and an update with the Motorsport team, which lasted around 90 minutes.

Back to the office to collect my Budget pack and notes before having a meeting with Treasury officials as I wanted to ask several questions surrounding this year’s Budget.

Once I was back at my desk I dealt with a few emails and added a couple of lines into my Budget speech before having two more meetings with potential MLC Candidates.

At around 15.20 I walked to the Manx Museum for this month’s Board Meeting, but I had to leave at 17.40.

Managed to get home for 18.00 and after grabbing a quick tea I spent a couple of hours trying to catch up with emails and preparing for Friday’s Policy Review Committee.

Finally finished for 21.00

Friday was an incredibly busy day, which started with me driving up to Manx Radio for 8am, in order to do an interview on the extra practice sessions which are currently out for consultation.

The purpose of the extra sessions is to provide competitors with an additional practice session if a significant amount of track time is lost during first week.

I was also able to hang around and have a chat with James Davies – we were like the two grumpy old men in the Muppet Show, talking about politics and putting the world to rights!

Back to the office for 9am, at which point I bumped into Peter Karran outside the Tynwald Buildings so I invited him in for a coffee… it was good to catch up with Peter and hear his thoughts on the current intake of MHKs and the current challenges facing the Isle of Man at the moment.

He definitely still has a passion for Manx Politics and it was good to see him.

I had to leave Peter with Chris Robertshaw, MHK as I needed to catch up with DfE Minister, Laurence Skelly, MHK on the Manx National Heritage item.

Just before 10am I headed down to the Committee Room 1 for the Environment & Infrastructure Policy Review Committee meeting, which finished just before lunchtime. The meeting was on the Committee’s review of the remaining IRIS Schemes.

From there I went straight over to DfE for a working lunch and a presentation with the MInister, CEO and Political Members on the new Agencies models being set up and to give any feedback on a political level.

The meeting lasted around two hours and once I got back to the office I only had a few minutes to send a couple of emails before driving into Onchan for a few Constituent meetings.

I had two planned Constituent meetings relating to a Planning issue and the second meeting relating to a property that is in an extremely poor condition because of a serious damp issue.

I also had a discussion with a business owner in Onchan on various concerns and issues.

Back to the office for 16.20 in order to finally catch up with emails and phone calls.

I left the office at 17.10, but only to get changed and to head into the Onchan Village for the presentation of the Crosh Pobble Chonnaghyn Award, which was being given to Hector Duff.

Congratulations to Hector who continues to be an amazing ambassador telling his war time stories to students in various schools across the island and representing various war veterans’ groups.

Ellen and I both enjoyed just listening to some of Hector’s stories this evening from during the war and his life after the war as a policeman on the Isle of Man between 1944 until he retired in 1972.

A truly wonderful man and a very fitting tribute.

We bought fish & chips on the way home but I was glad to finish for 20.00.

I still need to catch up with correspondence over the weekend and continue with my Budget prep work.