GOVERNMENT’S annual report, which looks at the achievements made in the last year to achieve the goals set out in the Strategic Plan, was received by Tynwald members at this month’s sitting, but not without criticism of bureaucracy.
Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK tabled the report –the final one of his administration – to be received.
He acknowledged it was printed before the news came about the £75m VAT blow and in light of that, Bill Henderson (Douglas North) said he believed future reports should contain a ‘core section’ on financial planning.
Mr Henderson also referred to the island’s ‘chequered history’ with the UK, saying: ‘We are going to have to meet our neighbours on a more firm footing from here on in.’
He said raising income was a ‘matter of urgent priority’ and the Department of Economic Development was at the centre of that. Turning to social legislation, Mr Henderson said government needed to revisit the Employment Act which says an employee still within their 12-month probationary period can’t appeal against unfair dismissal.
He said the usual concern raised was that if the law was changed employers would not be able to dismiss those on probation who were not pulling their weight. This, he said, would not be the case as provision would always be written into the probation contract for that eventuality.
And Mr Henderson told Mr Brown bureaucracy within government needed to be streamlined and he queried why, when we are in the 21st Century, Tynwald’s work was not almost entirely done online. For example, he said allowing members access to Tynwald documents online during sittings would save a huge amount of paper/reports and compilation time.
David Callister MLC picked up on the bureaucracy point, saying he did not understand why there had to be so much legislation passed.
He said the more legislation there was the more bureaucracy was created.
Mounting a robust defence of the achievements of his government, Mr Brown pointed out the report was to look back at achievements and was not a tool for planning ahead. He said government should be proud of the steps it had made for its people and the economy.
He agreed with Mr Henderson that the role of the DED was hugely important, saying: ‘We have to be out there fighting to get the business.’
Mr Brown told Mr Callister that one of Tynwald’s main functions was to make legislation and that if he didn’t understand that then he didn’t understand the point of Tynwald.
Members received the report: 22-2 (Peter Karran and Juan Watterson) in the Keys and 8-0 in LegCo.