23rd February
House of Keys sitting what looked like a chunky order paper reduced dramatically with the withdrawal of the Town and Country Planning Amended Bill 2016 and Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2016. There were a number for amendment tabled and no doubt some negotiation will go on prior to them coming forward at the next Keys sitting.

Some interesting questions – How many people will not be part of digital inclusion. This is to do with access via the internet and apparently we have almost the highest rate of access to computers in the world, in excess of 92% but still approximately 10% of the population have not used computers. Government training and incentives are there and it is hoped over the next few years nearly everyone will have access.

It would appear that there are an increasing number of petitions of doleance with regard to planning matters. I asked the question which seemed quite relevant to exactly how many there had been in the last five years, the answer is six. I didn’t think this is necessarily a cause for concern.

A lot of discussion resulted from questions to Manx Utilities as to whether we were to see lower electricity prices to reflect the drop in oil and gas prices. A very confusing reply but the essence is there are going to be small reductions in the domestic tariff from 16.25p to 16p, 8.75p to 7p per unit but a 20 plus percentage increase in the daily standing charge from 15p to 19p per day. A similar scenario to Manx Gas and one that is going to result in an overall increase for most consumers of around 85p per month or £10 per year. Not what we were expecting to hear bearing in mind the dramatic fall in fuel and gas prices!

Lunchtime briefing on Wellbeing the Benefits of Moving beyond GDP. An interesting concept and one that has been championed in the UK by David Cameron putting wellbeing above physical wealth. Not a bad concept and worthy of consideration but I did feel that some of the statistics where questionable, particularly when it comes to wellbeing flat lining despite an apparent increase in wealth in many countries. I did question how they assess wellbeing and also the fact that once peoples basic needs are met and they become wealthier it is difficult to get them to say they feel better as there is a tendency to reflect on those less well off.

The proposition was that we could become the first country to put wellbeing at the forefront of our policy making.