A report by the environment and infrastructure policy review committee criticising the government’s harbours policy will be debated in Tynwald today (Tuesday).
One of the recommendations is that there should be a ’strategic review’ of the island’s harbours and options for development, and a report sent back to Tynwald.
But the Council of Ministers has indicated it will oppose this recommendation, arguing that Tynwald only debated - and approved - the current harbours strategy last year.
The strategy included a £70 million upgrade of Douglas harbour, alongside £10 million of ’urgent maintenance’. The latter of those two the committee believes should still go ahead.
Before Tynwald members get to that, however, Post Office chairman Julie Edge will seek the go ahead from Tynwald to make changes to the pension provision at the authority, closing access to current benefits for new entrants from the end of this month, changing funding requirements and to establishing a defined contribution scheme for new staff.
The main part of the order paper for today’s sitting actually gets under way with two statements, first from Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas, about the Tynwald Commissioner for Administration and then one from the above mentioned environment and infrastructure policy review committee’s chairman Marlene Maska - it is not clear whether to the harbours report.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the social affairs policy review committee, David Cretney, will seek to have a debate on the director of public health’s annual report - and also to get Tynwald to debate it each year as a matter of course.
The report itself acknowledges that the island suffers ’health inequalities’ and calls for a ’high level board’ to be created to identify and tackle them.
This month’s sitting also sees moves by different Tynwald members to launch select committee investigations into petitions for redress of grievance.
The ancient right of members of the public to present petitions at the foot of Tynwald Hill, once a year, is well known. But for any further action to be taken, it requires a Tynwald member to pick the matter up and seek further investigation.
At this sitting, the petitions that are being picked up cover concerns at the rules on ’interested person status’ in planning applications, the rules on ’adverse possession’ under the Land Registration Act, and a call for proper laws covering the rights of grandparents to have access to their grandchildren.
Tynwald has to agree to the investigations before they can go ahead.
The sitting, as ever, gets under way with the oral questions. Former Peel MHK Tim Crookall, now an MLC, has questions relating to his old constituency. Given that the town’s two current MHKs are both government ministers, they are not normally in a position to table questions, so he may feel he needs to do table questions instead of them - and, in some instances, also to them.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer - a Peel MHK - will be asked by Mr Crookall about the continuing concerns over the removal of silt from Peel harbour, as well as the number of times the flapgate has failed.
Other subjects to be raised include the tender process for the Radio TT contract, respite care for older people, counselling offered by the Department of Health and Social Care, whether islanders will be included in a flood reinsurance scheme and what resources the Department of Home Affairs has allocated for staff training in preparation for the introduction of laws that will make a specific offence of domestic abuse - set to come in once a bill has passed through the branches of Tynwald.
The written questions cover everything from how quick the government is to pay out tax refunds to how many payments were made to Manx Radio in addition to its annual subvention. Other matters covered include road safety, pre-school breakfast clubs, oncology waiting times and the Laxey floods.