A Tynwald committee is to explore the sea services agreement and the Treasury’s role as shareholder of the Steam Packet.

The committee was formed after an amendment to Jason Moorhouse’s bid to see the Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority consider regulating the company.

However, while Mr Moorhouse was unsuccessful, Tynwald instead decided to back Dr Haywood’s amendment to establish a select committee of three members that will take evidence from the Steam Packet board and ‘relevant government departments’.

The committee will include Dr Haywood, Ann Corlett and Jason Moorhouse and its report should be submitted by the last day of September 2024 and debated by the December 2024 sitting. Speaking in Tywnald, Dr Haywood said: ‘I think I share with other honourable members a growing sense of frustration, the apparent lack of understanding by the Isle of Man Steam Packet board about the political, social and economic impacts of their operations.

‘It would seem obvious to me that either direct political representative into the board with or without a vote would help the board to understand some of the ramifications of the decisions they take and to help them avoid future public relations disasters, such as issuing fire and rehire notices in the days before Christmas.’

The Government’s role with regards to the Steam Packet has been under scrutiny recently, with chair Lars Ugland issuing a letter to Tynwald members in October 2023 over concerns about an ‘increasing level of political interference in the company’.

These concerns were raised during a recent dispute with the union Nautilus International, in which the company wished to implement ‘live onboard’ terms to its employees’ contracts of employment.

This dispute led to Nautilus union members voting in favour of industrial action which resulted in the Steam Packet having to halve the amount of its daily sailings.

Both parties have agreed to go to arbitration if necessary and were due to meet for talks facilitated by the Manx Industrial Relations Service (MIRS) this week.