Lobbying Westminster would be ‘waste of money’ - Bell

DIFFICULT TIMES: Chief Minister Allan Bell

DIFFICULT TIMES: Chief Minister Allan Bell

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IT would be a waste of money lobbying Westminster to see if peers and MPs would help the Isle of Man, according to Chief Minister Allan Bell.

Mr Bell and chief secretary Will Greenhow faced questions on priorities of government and freedom of information at Wednesday’s Economic Policy Review Committee meeting.

The session was the first of a series which will cover all government departments during the next year, focusing on both economic and constitutional matters.

Mr Bell told committee chairman Ramsey MHK Leonard Singer, Dudley Butt MLC and Howard Quayle MHK (Middle) he felt government economic and social priorities had not changed over the past six months.

‘We are in difficult times,’ he said.

‘The world and European economies are under considerable pressure and this has an impact on the Isle of Man.

‘Our priority is to galvanise government to realise that economic growth is central and all departments are aware of the impact on the economy of their decisions. We must promote the Isle of Man,’ he said.

Mr Bell said economic policy had remained broadly the same, specifically that growth was the key to generating funds which in turn would help to protect social services and support the vulnerable. though he said the precise nature of the services offered may need to change.

Mr Quayle said he had spoken recently to members of the House of Lords who were unaware of the impact on the island of changes to the VAT-sharing agreement.

Asked if he had any plans to lobby Westminster, Mr Bell said: ‘I do not consider it a priority. It would be a waste of money.

‘We make regular visits to London to promote the Isle of Man and meet ministers. I have already had several visits to London and after Easter we plan to increase it.’

Mr Bell said his government had representatives who reported back regularly from bases in London, Brussels and Singapore. He said the representative in Brussels engaged with the EU on behalf of the island and influenced decision making.

Questions on the promised Freedom of Information Bill drew the session to a close with Mr Bell telling the committee a bill was expected before the end of the year.

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