WE’RE not against pinching good ideas!
That was the quip – said only half in jest – from Lord McNally, Minister at the UK Ministry of Justice with responsibility for relations with the Crown Dependencies, as he praised the diversity of the Manx economy during a two-day visit to the island.
He said his attendance at the Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence on Thursday night confirmed to him the island’s strategic vision and economic diversity from manufacturing to e-gaming, financial services to tourism.
‘That is the kind of diversity which can make sure that you have not got all your eggs in one basket and not be dependent on one sector. You’re able to spot a niche market.’
He said that rather than ‘taking cheap shots at each other’, there was great potential for the UK and Crown Dependencies to work with each other to our mutual benefit.
‘There are areas we have a mutual interest, in space and space technology. We’re not against pinching good ideas! There are lessons we in the UK can learn.’
Describing the quality of the Manx civil service and political leadership as ‘extremely high’, he said if there was a tendency in Whitehall department to treat the Crown Dependencies as ‘country cousins and bumpkins’ then they would be in for a ‘very short sharp shock’.
Lord McNally, who has been in post for two-and-a-half years, said there was ‘now a very clear idea’ of how relationships between the UK, the Isle of Man and the other Crown Dependencies should be developed.
He said his aim had been to ensure that all departments in Whitehall were ‘aware of and alive to the interests of the Isle of Man’ and that the Chief Minister and his colleague had direct access to all the relevant ministries so ‘things don’t get clogged up in the Whitehall machine’.
Are relations with the UK better now? ‘I hope they are,’ he replied.
Chief Minister Allan Bell said during Lord McNally’s visit there had been discussion to ‘clarify a number of points’ and there had been ‘agreement on the best way forward’.
‘I wanted to know how the financial services sector is recovering,’ explained the UK Minister.
Recalling his first visit to the island as a seven or eight-year-old, sailing from Fleetwood on the Mona’s Isle, he said before he left he wanted to relive one childhood memory by taking a trip to Groudle Glen.