21st June 2016 – Tynwald Court Sitting

Ran the gauntlet of demonstrators that we had been warned about. I have to say a very amicable crowd at the front of the building, pro abortion and pro life, but the pro life found out where members mainly entered and were handing out leaflets there.

A fairly packed order paper with some 34 items. Only there for the first day as now in Liverpool representing the IOM a the International Festival for Business.

13 questions for oral answer. Of interest the Lord Bishop asked the Chief Minister to what extent the island will participate in the UK Government Syrian Voluntary Person Settlement Scheme. In essence this means taking unaccompanied refugee children, a very noble aim and one that we can all support helping vulnerable children but the Chief Minister having taken much advice from both the UK and Scotland made the case that we simply were not prepared in terms of social services language difficulties etc and advice from across was we should not take unaccompanied children. I suspect this will come up again in due course.

A question about social security payment for private rental accommodation. I got the impression that it was another way at having a go at private landlords. We all want good housing standards but social as well as private landlords have properties that are not in good condition. As I see it if it wasn’t for the private sector there would be massive burden on the social housing sector.

There were further rumblings over the electoral register and people having been deleted and the Attorney General admitted that the whole issue needed revisiting with updated legislation.

Questions about home stay registration, which it appears has been successful, increasing available accommodation by over 16% for recent TTs this is now operated by Regency Travel with a £25 registration fee for one year and £45 for 3 years.

There were searching questions about the ongoing future of the Meat Plant and this years subvention which currently stands as £318,000, a new interim manager has been appointed and further strategy being developed. Personally I think this is a strategic asset for the island or our farmers will be at the mercy of export buyers and its closure would threaten our food security so it’s a matter of watch this space.

A question about the average waiting times for processing driving test applications and test dates, these are currently around 10 days for the paperwork process and normally between 4 to 6 weeks for a test but at present running at 7 weeks – on the long side as far as I am concerned.

Finally a question over whether housing tenants are consumers. A slightly ambiguous answer that they might be or might not be as landlords are not traders. I would have thought that private housing tenants were in a contractual relationship but apparently there maybe some protection offered, although this is debatable.

There followed statements on the future of Property Taxation, that is the new Self Assessment rating system.

Dependability Limited and their assessment process. The Minster had to apologies to Tynwald for the fact that 20 people had been processed by an unqualified individual, these are now being revisited with benefits restored until reassessment.

Minister of Health applied for a supplementary vote for an additional £9,943,000 being the overspend for the year end 31st March 2016. Apparently there has been an overspend for the last 15 years. We had some examples of how easy it is to spend additional money, for instance we spend £1.9 million a year for specialist care for just 16 people in the UK.

Minister of Health presented a case for the Salisbury Street Care Home, a new off the peg Nursing Home. It was agreed to purchase at £8,100,000 and will provide 68 much needed beds, 40 of which will be within the social allowance of £820 per week.

Castletown and Port Erin Fire Station reorganisation approved and supplementary capital allowances.

Today the Public Sector Pension Debate continues.