Ministers Face More Steam Packet Questions

Several of this week’s written answers in Tynwald, unsurprisingly, relate to ongoing Steam Packet issues.

The issues raised ranged from legal advice to scheduling of services during the pandemic. The answers also included the terms of reference from the investigation ordered by the Chief Minister, however these can be found here.

Legal Advice 

The Chief Minister has said ‘there was no legal advice provided as to the policy decisions relevant to the direction notices issued to that company or as to its own operational protocols imposed to safely manage the crewing of vessels’ owned by the Steam Packet. 

He was asked by Liberal Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper if he would publish the legal advice received in respect of the coronavirus mitigation measures on the Isle of Man Steam Packet?

Mr Quayle said: ‘Officers in the Attorney General’s Chambers have been continuously available to provide legal advice at a number of levels relevant to Government’s response to Coronavirus since this time last year. Such assistance initially under the Proclamation of Emergency and more recently under the auspices of a Public Health response adopted by Government has included:-

  • the drafting of primary legislation, secondary legislation and reviewing directions notices;

  • at an advisory level as to the proper and lawful extent of the measures to be included, as a policy decision, in legislation and direction notices

  • as to the lawfulness of transfers of personal data as part of the state response to the situation, in particular taking account of GDPR requirements

He added: ‘The key issues with which Attorney General’s Chambers have been involved are (1) to ensure there is a proper and lawful footing for any exercise of powers (2) that the powers exercised are a proportionate response to the relevant risk and (3) to provide particular legal advice when requested by the issuer on direction notices issued.’

Exemptions

Mr Hooper also asked the Chief Minister who was responsible for issuing the entry certificates, exemption certificates, direction notices and other relevant documentation to the Steam Packet in respect of Coronavirus?

He said: ‘The Key Worker team, which is part of the wider Cabinet Office Covid Response Team, issue the entry certificates, exemption certificates, direction notices and other relevant documentation to all key workers, including the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. This is administered on behalf of the Chief Secretary, formerly under the Emergency Powers (Coronavirus)(Entry Restrictions) (No 2) Regulations 2020, and since December, under the Public Health (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020.’

Scheduling

Decisions on scheduling have been made partly, but not solely, by the Steam Packet since the start of the pandemic. Lawrie Hooper asked DoI Minister Tim Baker whether the gov has requested the Steam Packet maintain sailing schedules during the pandemic; and whether decisions on scheduling have been made solely company.

Mr Baker said that the DoI and the Steam Packet are ‘parties to the Sea Services Agreement, which determines the core elements of the island’s ferry services’. 

He added ‘As part of the ongoing negotiations to secure a variation agreement both parties identified changes in sailing schedules that it believed to be necessary. It is therefore the case that the department did request that some, but not all, sailing schedules were maintained as per the terms of the Sea Services Agreement and that decisions on scheduling have been made partly, but not solely, by the Steam Packet.’

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