A very difficult and emotional week in many ways, and definitely a heavy week for reading and researching various topics, along with starting to prepare for the Budget, which will be debated in Tynwald on 20th February 2018.
I also finished the week very much under the weather with a heavy cold, but to be perfectly honest I just feel totally exhausted and rundown this week.
Anyway, I was in the office for 8.15am on Monday and the first job was to put together a few notes and ideas for my speech that I was asked to give to the Rotary Club of Onchan on Monday evening.
I was also hoping to have my Abortion speech finished over the weekend, but I still wasn’t happy with the final draft on Monday morning given the importance of the topic, so I continued to read though numerous reports and debates.
Just before 10am I headed into Onchan for a Constituent meeting relating to parking concerns in lower Onchan, and thereafter trying to secure a reserved parking space on ill health grounds.
Back to the office to finish off my Abortion speech…..
I also took the opportunity to print off a couple of big reports, including the DfE agenda for Wednesday which ran into more than 304 pages.
At lunchtime, I met up with an old Local Authority colleague for lunch, which gave us an opportunity to catch up over a bowl of noodles.
I must have received more than thirty e-mails throughout the day from various abortion groups or individuals, but I did respond to almost all them during the course of the afternoon.
I also met two more potential MLC Candidates looking to secure MHK support for the forthcoming elections.
I might have already mentioned this previously, but I will not be formally nominating, seconding or assenting to any Candidates for these elections, mainly because I feel the role of an MLC in the Manx Parliament needs to be defined before the elections, but I will probably be voting for some of the Candidates when it comes to the elections in the House of Keys on Monday, 12th March.
The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up, drafting a couple of letters and e-mails on a range of topics. I also started to work my way through my DfE agenda pack, but only managed to read about 20 pages…
I left the office at 17.15, which gave me time to grab a shower before heading up to King Edward Bay Golf Club for 18.15 as I had been asked to make a small presentation to the Rotary Club of Onchan on my first year as an MHK.
A wonderful evening, good food and excellent company….
I managed to get home for 21.20 and after catching up with e-mails I called it a day at 22.30.
Unfortunately, I received a difficult email at tea time on Monday evening relating to the TT, which meant that I didn’t sleep very well overnight and I also had the Abortion Bill running though my mind.
This meant I was busy drafting a suitable response, along with other notes and correspondence between 3am and 4.30am…
Still back in the office for 8.20am, head down preparing for today’s sitting of the House of Keys, along with making several calls on behalf of Constituents.
Just before 10am we headed down to the Chamber for the sitting, which was a heavy agenda including the Second reading of the Abortion Reform Bill 2018.
The public gallery was completely full with supporters for and protesters against the draft Bill, but before the Abortion Bill was debated there were 22 oral questions and a further 8 questions for written answer.
I had several questions down for oral answer myself, including Planning Conditions, Drink Drive offences, Housing issues and those paying more than 30% of their disposable income just on local authority rent.
We then moved onto the Abortion Reform Bill 2018 and despite the Chamber being filled to capacity, you could have heard a pin drop when Dr. Allinson, MHK gave his opening remarks during the Second Reading.
As I mentioned in my Keys speech, I found this particular Bill very difficult at times, especially when reading through correspondence received from Constituents, reviewing legislation, going through committee reports or simply researching the topic in depth.
As an MHK I received hundreds of letters, post cards and messages from pro-choice supporters, anti-abortionists or simply from Constituents who wanted their views to be heard in a particular way – for which I am extremely grateful.
During my own research, I came across the Tynwald debate in February 1994, in which the AG at the time outlined a horrific case from 1938 involving a young girl aged just 14……
I definitely found it extremely difficult to deliver my own speech in Keys on Tuesday at times, and I genuinely hadn’t realised how much this topic has affected me personally, mainly through reading many of the stories and messages I have received over the past 12 months.
That said, it was a real honour to be in the Chamber on Tuesday, just listening to the speeches and respecting the opposing views on a topic that has been ignored by too many previous Manx Parliaments.
We adjourned at 13.00 for lunch but there was a presentation to Members given by the Cabinet Office relating to cross-Government administration. I had to leave the presentation slightly early in order to send a few e-mails and make a couple of calls.
Back to the House of Keys Chamber at 14.30 to hear the remaining speeches before Dr. Allinson gave an excellent summing up at the end of the debate. The Second reading passed with unanimous support – the clauses will be looked at in detail in the next stage of the Bill.
The sitting finished at around 16.40, which only gave me a few minutes to return a couple of e-mails before leaving the office at 17.20.
Once home I continued to draft various emails, posting my Abortion speech online, along with continuing to work through my DfE agenda pack.
I can only offer sincere apologies to three or four Constituents who contacted me on Tuesday, but I will pick the matters up at the weekend.
Finally finished at 22.00 and I definitely felt very emotional and tired after a long day….
With a busy schedule on Wednesday, I went into the office for 7.45am in order to finish off going through the DfE agenda pack before the Department meeting.
Just after 8.30am Tim Crookall, MLC and I walked over to DfE for an urgent TT meeting, as we try to find a solution to yet another problem facing the Motorsport team – the meeting was a follow-up on the email I received on Monday.
Over the past 12 months it has appeared to be a continuous stream of problems, issues or hurdles to overcome with major stakeholders behind the scenes relating to the TT and the Festival of Motorcycling.
I guess most people only see the finished products, held over the last week of May and first week in June, and in August.
Straight after that meeting we headed into the usual meeting between the Minister and the Political members, in order to go through the heavy agenda and to discuss any initial concerns.
At 10am we had our Department meeting, which started with three key presentations from the Isle of Man Media, a new idea being explored by the Department and one from the Isle of Man Post Office.
Unfortunately, the fourth presentation was cancelled and will be held on another day.
The presentations finished at lunchtime and it was straight into the agenda pack, which included several items that required detailed discussions amongst the Board Management team.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to bring the meeting to an end at 13.10 as there was a presentation in the Barrool Suite scheduled for 13.30.
Back to the Tynwald Library to collect and sign for my 2018/19 Budget Pack, I also managed to eat some lunch in around six minutes, before running up to the Barrool Suite for a Budget presentation by the Treasury Minister and his team.
The presentation finished at 15.30 and from there I had a quick chat with the Chief Minister before getting back to my desk for 16.00.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on the phone or catching up with e-mails.
I left the office at 17.20 and once home I continued to catch up with correspondence before finally finishing at 19.30.
I was hoping to attend the public meeting at the Manx Legion Club on the changes to the system of funding for those in nursing and residential care, but unfortunately I had started to come down with a heavy cold.
Despite still feeling under the weather, I went into the office at 8.20am on Thursday and the early part of the morning was spent drafting a few letters, which should have gone out last week.
I also took the opportunity to start reading through the my 2018/19 Budget Pack and looking through some historical figures and data before I start writing any speech.
At 10am Malcom Blackburn called in to discuss CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) and the excellent work currently being undertaken by the organisation, and to outline their future plans.
I then had two more meetings with potential MLC Candidates looking for support.
I had just enough time to send out some correspondence, then drive into Onchan and Douglas to complete a couple of personal errands, before driving to the Douglas Crematorium for 14.00, in order to attend the funeral of Garff Commissioner, Robert “Bobby” Moughton.
I also attended the reception briefly after the service to say hello to a few old friends and to say farewell to a good friend, but I was back at my desk for 16.30.
I still managed to catch up with some e-mails before joining the Onchan Beavers at 17.30 for a tour of the Tynwald Chambers, which finished at 18.30.
I really did enjoy the tour and it was definitely the highlight of what had otherwise been a horrible afternoon…..
Unfortunately, my heavy cold wasn’t much better on Friday morning but I still went into the office for 8.15.
With no meetings or briefings in the morning, I took the opportunity to catch up with correspondence as I drafted and sent out a number of letters, including some thank yous, replies to invites and general letters in response to Constituent matters.
I also started to draft my Budget speech, which I guess will be an ongoing project over the next couple of weeks.
At 12 noon I walked to DfE, which enabled the Board Members to complete the Agenda pack that was held over from Wednesday.
I could only stay for an hour, as I then met two more MLC Candidates looking for election.
The rest of the afternoon was spent going through the Budget information.
I left the office at 17.10.
Nothing planned for the weekend other than trying to get rid of this heavy cold and watch the Rugby Six Nations.