DCSIMG

Shake-up for the House of Keys

TYNWALD’S summer break ends next week when our politicians go back to work.

While many members will no doubt have completed departmental and constituency work during the period, the court hasn’t sat since the open air July 5 sitting.

One item for discussion is a proposal to radically redraw House of Keys constituency boundaries.

Currently, a constituency can have one, two or three members.

Under proposals from the Boundary Review Committee, the court will be asked to agree to have 12 constituencies, each with two members.

This would mean the traditional boundaries would have to be scrapped and it could cause friction as areas such as Onchan, which currently elects three MHKs, are divided between two Keys constituencies.

Members will be asked to direct the Boundary Review Committee to come up with a recommendation on how the boundaries should be drawn up by the June 2013 Tynwald.

The current system has been criticised for many shortcomings, including the fact that the last time there was a review was in the 1980s.

Since then, populations in different constituencies have changed considerably. For example, in Middle there are 3,794 voters while Glenfaba has 1,880. However, both return one MHK.

The fact that some people have three votes while others have only one has also been criticised as being against the ‘one person, one vote’ principle.

Among the other items up for discussion are a number of spending commitments.

The new Education Minister, Tim Crookall MHK, will ask for £1.773,000 for a ‘special unit’ for the Isle of Man College.

Environment Minister Phil Gawne wants £178,000 for site clearance and enabling works in Tromode. He also wants £631,000 for what’s described as a ‘salt barn’ - a facility for storing grit for icy roads in the south of the island.

Mr Gawne is also seeking £565,000 to stablilise the cliff at Ballure. A landslide earlier in the year disrupted the trams between Ramsey and Laxey.

Other highlights of the sitting will include the Chief Minister giving a statement about the government’s priorities.

Allan Bell has been in the post now for more than a year. His government’s biggest challenges are tied to the economy. The big drop in VAT income is the administration’s biggest headache.

The scope of government is likely to be a part of his statement. It is certain that more services will be transferred from the state to the private sector or to arm’s-length organisations, the extent of those changes have not yet been spelt out.

Another statement will be given by John Houghton (Douglas North). The MHK is chairing a committee looking into the amount of time and money that’s spent on civil legal proceedings. He will give a statement about that.

The Speaker Steve Rodan will move that the report on the select committee on local authorities should be received.

It was set up after a Petition for Redress of Grievance on Tynwald Day 2011, when a member of the public complained about a lack of a register of interests for members of local authorities.

The committee’s first recommendation is that there should be a new law to require all members of local authorities to register any interest ‘which could reasonably be regarded as bearing upon the way in which a member may carry out his or her duties’.

The second recommendation is that the definition of ‘relevant interest’ should be the same as for members of Tynwald, except that shares in UK companies need not normally be declared unless they become relevant to a matter under consideration.

The third recommendation is that the Department of Infrastructure should introduce legislation to require that all registers of interests held by local authorities should be open to public inspection.

Tynwald will also be asked to elect a new chairman for the public accounts committee.

Graham Cregeen (Malew and Santon) had held the position. But his promotion to the Council of Ministers means he’s no longer allowed the job.

The current members of the committee are Leonard Singer (Ramsey), Alfred Cannan (Michael), Brenda Cannell (Douglas East) and Geoff Corkish (Douglas West).

 

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