There is serious business to be done in the House of Keys today, with three significant pieces of legislation down for debate.
The headlines will most likely be grabbed by the Domestic Abuse Bill, which, as the title suggests, will give a legal definition of domestic abuse - and bring with it a punishment of up to 14 years in prison. It would also give the police powers to issue emergency protection orders.
Many will see such legislation is long overdue, but it makes it no less welcome. The bill is due for a second reading, when the principles will be debated.
There are two more bills at the same stage of scrutiny.
The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill will remove the time limit on personal injury claims that could be made by victims of child abuse. Again, this is likely to receive strong support.
Meanwhile the Children and Young Persons (Amendment) Bill will update the law to provide for procedures on how deaths of children are reviewed to ensure any health or welfare issues are recognised.
There is one new piece of legislation due for a formal introduction via a first reading, the Income Tax Bill. Although it had yet to be published as the Examiner went to press, this is listed as a ’rolling annual item’, to keep laws up to date. It might be seen as a pleasant change to see a House of Keys agenda where the legislative programme is dominant, as opposed to grandstanding in question time.
MHKs, certainly, appear to be happy to play ball, as this week’s queries may not be regarded as the most exciting, although at least one is of some interest.
Lawrie Hooper (Liberal Vannin, Ramsey) wants to know what plans are in place for pensions to be collected by card or cash should the services be withdrawn from ’Isle of Man post office locations’.
The mere fact that reference is now being made to ’Isle of Man post office locations’, rather than just saying ’post offices’, is a rather sad indictment of the likely future of what were once permanent pillars of the community structure.
Other subjects for question time are how rehabilitation of offenders is measured, updates on housing pilot schemes and rail travel and where the government promotes the success of Manx athletes. Written questions cover freedom of information, growth in the construction sector, pensions, benefits and data protection.
A small note, with reference to the earlier recognition of important legislation being progressed, that might prevent us getting too starry eyed.
In the Keys last week, the Property Services Charges (Amendment) Bill was due to undergo detailed scrutiny, but the clauses stage did not go ahead. It has not resurfaced today.
We have no reason to doubt it will appear again, but, who will this delay please more, the tenants or the landlords?
Meanwhile, the Lord Lucan Bill, previously known as the Communications Bill and still awaiting Keys’ consideration of Legislative Council amendments, remains missing in action.
And speaking of the Legislative Council, at least one member will be busy today.
Tanya August-Hanson has four questions tabled. Assuming Attorney General John Quinn is still speaking to her following her attempt to remove certain aspects of his parliamentary rights last week, she will ask him for a progress report on the Mental Capacity Bill.
Other upper chamber colleagues will be asked to provide information on the situation with regard to the Adoption Bill, what legislation is in the pipeline to help accommodate vulnerable young people and whether there are plans to bring forward animal welfare legislation.
The Regulation of Care (Amendment) Bill is down for a second reading and scrutiny of its clauses.