Tynwald is back (pause for applause) and what a sitting they have lined up this month as the world’s oldest continuously running sitcom returns properly after its New Years Covid special.
With the Island Plan, questions on masks and some rather interesting motions, this looks set to be a fun sitting.
Kicking off with questions, Jason Moorhouse and Chris Thomas dominate the early part of the list with questions around masks for school children, travel on and off the island and the September 2021 bond launch.
Later questions come from Marlene Maska MLC, who is asking about conservation areas and Douglas Head, Mr Moorhouse is back with more questions on make, Dr Michelle Haywood is asking about university maintenance grants and Tim Glover is asking about teacher and school staff morale, mental health services and long Covid.
Should we reach the end of the question paper in time, or if an extension is supported, Claire Christian will ask how Manx Care is supported people suffering with long Covid, Speaker Juan Watterson has questions about education psychologists, Mr Thomas will ask about the Sir Jonathan Michael review into healthcare and Mr Moorhouse will end the opening segment of the show with a question on retracted information round a pool in Castletown.
The start of the order paper is interesting as two ministers are responding to reports which they themselves wrote.
First up is DEFA Minister Clare Barber who will be making a statement on the regulation of the safety and quality of cow’s milk. Now you may remember that a while ago, when Mrs Barber was leading the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, her committee was highly critical of DEFA.
That report said DEFA ‘should develop and implement a rating scheme for food producers, based on the publication of the results of tests and inspections carried out for each food business and any other relevant information’. It will be interesting to see how Mrs Barber’s dept addresses the concerns raised by Mrs Barber and her fellow committee members.
Following on from Mrs Barber, Justice and Home Affairs Minister Jane Poole-Wilson will be making a statement on the island’s legal services. Just like Mrs Barber, Mrs Poole-Wilson chaired a committee, the Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee, which was rather critical of the state of affairs on the island. That report said the Isle of Man Law Society’s role as both regulator and representative of advocates was ‘old-fashioned and potentially poses a reputational risk to the Isle of Man’.
Both of these statements should make for compulsive viewing.
After this we have a couple of appointments to clear, Rob Mercer MLC calling on the gov to review its Strategy for Offshore Energy Production and a few other fairly minor motions.
The big event really is the supplementary order paper where members will asked to agree to further extend some Covid regs, which could prove interesting given reports that England is set to let most of theirs expire, oh and we have the Island Plan.
It will be interesting to see how members deal with the plan, but we can probably expect to see some speeches criticising a lack of time to consider it, some others praising its scope and range, a couple raising the lack of tangible measures of success at this stage and then it will be passed.