Monthly Archives: May 2017

47th British Islands and Mediterranean Region Conference – Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

On Friday last week along with fellow Minister Malarkey and colleagues MHK’s Jason Moorhouse, Bill Shimmins and Roger Phillips, we took a torturous two flight nearly 10 hour journey to Gibraltar for the above conference.

 

This is the second BIMR Conference I have attended, the first being in Jersey last year. Both Bill Shimmins and myself were tasked to speak in the first two plenary sessions on Monday. Both of our presentations revolved around strengthening of the regions in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as well as the role that small branch play, the Isle of Man being such a small branch with the Channel Isles and other jurisdictions like Gibraltar, the hosts.

 

Further presentations by other parties revolved around Brexit, hardly unexpected particularly as Gibraltar voted 96% to stay in the EU and has a frontier labour force that powers the Gibraltar economy, some 12,600 people a day crossing the border to work in Gibraltar.

 

However, very interesting to hear the different perspectives on Brexit from two of our fellow members Cyprus and Malta who will remain in the EU, among the pessimism and also confusion it was apparent that there was some optimism and putting the Gibraltar situation to one side the work that our Chief Minister is doing is being mirrored in other jurisdictions to make sure that we are able to take advantage of any concessions or agreements that the UK negotiate and that putting it simply, we are not forgotten.

 

There is a general feeling that the Commonwealth, particularly our region, will become increasingly more important as a replacement for the EU, this is something I have been keen to promote since the Brexit vote and even if it comes to World Trade Organisation (WTO) arrangements and there are tariffs, we tend to forget that tariffs work both ways. As the EU is a net importer into the UK if they want to impose tariffs against our trade, and I use that word loosely as a lot of our agriculture and fishery product goes to the EU, then the UK can operate a receptacle similar tariff agreement which will have more effect on European countries than on the UK and will of course collect a pot of money that can be redistributed. However let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.

 

All in all it was a very useful meeting and as always there was a lot of networking going on which gave us all a better understanding of our own parliamentary system as well as the challenges we are facing.

 

I am pleased to report that out of all the parliaments that represented there, I felt that ours was best organised, in most cases had the least number of members per head of population and following the Westminster model with proper Hansard and scrutiny seems far better suited and adaptable than many.

 

The ironic thing about the Lisvane report and single legal entity which we are shortly going to debate is that one of the Jersey representatives said they are considering moving to a system that has a legislative council, in other words two chambers!

 

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Thursday 18th May

Council of Minister meeting. As always confidential but a productive meeting with some good debate.

 

Afternoon sitting of the House of Keys to select the new member for the vacant position on the Legislative Council.

 

The candidate I proposed came second. Congratulations to Mrs Jane Poole Wilson who will now serve for the next 7 or so months until four positions come up for vacancy in the electoral cycle.

The votes are – Jane Poole-Wilson – 14 votes. Alan Wright – 6 votes. Paul Beckett – 5 votes.

An evening engagement attending the annual Manx Fisherman Mission, an organisation I knew little of but now do. I must applaud them for the good work they are doing in the fishing community when fisherman encounter difficult circumstances, illness or hard times.

 

I was able to give an overview in what I hope was a positive vein in the progress we are making with the IOM Fisheries.

 

Picture – Chairman David Faulkner

David Falkner

Wednesday 17th May – Groudle Glen Visit

 

 

Following a question to me in Tynwald yesterday with regard to Groudle Glen, as we were not sitting this morning I visited the Glen with two of my Officers walking the same from the Whitebridge entrance to the coast. I am pleased to report that the area leased by DEFA is in good heart and apart from a couple of minor defects in the walkways and some Japanese knotweed, I was pleased with the overall condition and appearance of the Glen.

 

We discussed rerouting part of the boardwalk which has been continually undermined by water erosion, this is ongoing with the owners and Onchan Commissioners acquiescence but will require planning in due course.

 

From Lhen Coan Railways Station to the coast, the footpath was in poorer condition and we will be working with government colleagues in DOI and the owners to try and secure a better surface.

 

Looking at the waterwheel itself it is indeed a unique feature and whilst renovation structurally would seem an easy option Onchan Commissioners are presently considering the future. The timber structure would be quite easy to maintain but from cursory inspection it is obvious the structure sits on a number of iron supports which appear badly corroded and would be very expensive to replace. Vehicle and machinery access to the Glen is very restricted to say the least.

Groudle Glen 1 Groudle Glen 2 Groudle Glen 3

Country Life Article

How farm animals shape the countryside.

It’s an interesting and topical article, particularly as we now have island wide biosphere status. Many people not involved in farming don’t realise the importance of farmers husbandry of the land in preserving the appearance of our beloved island.

Some farmers do exercise a measure of altruism but the reality is we need a viable farming industry to continue maintaining our countryside.

Country Life 1 Country Life 2

 

Tuesday 9th May

 

House of Keys Sitting

Another short order paper which suited me well as I had a lot of DEFA business to deal with later in the day.

 

One oral question for me re the marketing strategy for the Meat Plant, it gave me an opportunity to clarify that Government does not run the Meat Plant, it is a company run by a farmers cooperative and as such, whilst we do provide technical support, marketing is purely down to the company.

 

It also enabled me to explain a little more about the tender process for future operation of the Plant which is now progressing to the procurement stage.

 

There were two questions to my fellow MHK in his role as DOI Minister, not unsurprisingly about the further delay in the Foxdale Road scheme which will see an extension of another 7 weeks after the brief opening over the TT period. To be fair much of the delay has been down to unexpected complications with the utilities rather than the DOI workforce itself.

 

Other matters were a Bill for first reading, Customs and Excise Bill 2017 and a Bill for third reading Statute Law Revision Bill 2016, both passed unanimously.

 

At 1200 I facilitated a members meeting with potential MLC candidate Alan Wright from Peel, all three candidates were available.

 

Lunch with the Right Honourable Sir Christopher Geidt, Private Secretary HM the Queen, with my fellow Ministers. An opportunity to extol the virtues of the Island as well as send some important messages back to HM Government.

 

Afternoon Single Legal Entity presentation to members, the second such presentation. I am serving on the sub committee and the meeting teased out some interesting concerns among members particularly with regard to dramatic change with associated cost and the potential distraction when trying to deliver the new Programme for Government.

 

The rest of the day spent dealing with department queries including fisheries and silt disposal.

Monday 8th May

 

Morning – my first visit to the Government Analysist Lab. It’s pleasing to see that we carry out so much work in house which means results come quickly, which is important when it comes to things like drinking water quality, food and drink etc

 

Lunchtime – road traffic licensing presentation. An interesting insight into how we licence our taxi’s and speculation over the future regime.

 

Afternoon – the Attorney General’s Office discussing planning appeals and improving our approach to petitions of doleance in connection with planning.

 

Sunday 7th May

 

If this weather holds we are going to get a reputation as the sunny Island.

 

With much publicity around the food provenance label launch late last week with particular emphasis on the food journalists who were invited, started to yield results with a number of very complimentary tweets and articles about the island generally and us becoming a foody destination.

 

Attended St Johns School Summer Fayre, which I thought was a bit early but the Head did point out that when they have held it later in the year ie last year, it rained so they seemed to have got it right this year.