A fairly short order paper, some 14 oral questions of which 12 were tabled by Mr Karran. Members voted to suspend standing orders to allow all questions to be answered as it is unfair on other members when Mr Karran’s copious questions are carried forward and squeeze out current questions from other members.

To be fair a number of his questions were very relevant, revolving around children and our adoption services and how parents who have had problems are able to prove themselves fit to regain custody of their children. Some interesting replies. I will be pleased when we are able to lay the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee inquiry into children and family before Tynwald, hopefully in June.

An interesting question on what happens if and when the Post Office is corporatized will it be competing unfairly with other providers with cross subsidy from profits generated in other markets.

Supplementary questions revolved around how Government could control senior staff salaries after corporatisation. I have to say this is one of my great concerns as it often seems that corporatized bodies that are basically still Government owned have no Government control over salaries and there is a tendency for senior staff to vote themselves much larger salaries for doing the same job.

From my prospective at present there continues to be no imperative to corporatize or privatise the Post Office whilst it is making Government a profit.

Mr Singer asked about the definition of Active Farmer with regard to ADS payments and the Minister believes that this will reduce the amount of ADS payment where farmers are not actively farming but there were no specific figures

A further question brought forth supplementaries about the lack of nursing homes on Island and there maybe future grants available for their development. We are certainly lacking nursing homes at present and something needs to be done in the short term.

The only other business revolved around consideration of council amendments to the Highways Amendment Bill 2015 which were none contentious and passed unanimously.

Lunchtime – Tynwald briefing by Isle of Man Steam Packet following the work we have done on the Strategic Sea Services Working Group. Members of the Committee including myself are no longer restricted in the information we can disclose and the presentation revolved around Isle of Man Steam Packet proposals for extending the present user agreement and also the future of a new Liverpool landing stage.

There is still some work to be done but I am hopeful that the offer of new vessels around 2020 plus retention of a reserve ship and a commitment to a competitive fare structure will result in an agreement that is good for customers, the Isle of Man generally and gives the Isle of Man Steam Packet a future as they employ a lot of people on island, have an island based management and having spent some time looking at comparative fares on others routes some of which are heavily subsidised in Scotland mile for mile the Steam Packets new proposals look competitive and realistic.

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