Tynwald Sitting

A fairly full order paper with a number of substantial items requiring debate.

 

Some 15 oral questions and 4 written questions. 3 oral questions for me – the first with regard to the disposal of former coal gas sites. I was able to offer assurance that these are the subject of interest from three areas in my department, The Health and Safety at Work Inspectorate, The Environmental Protection Unit and Planning and Building Control.

 

The second, a question regarding progress made with the Climate Challenge Mitigation Strategy, this was approved in July 2016. I pointed out there has been a general election, as well as preparation for the Programme for Government to identify priorities. Meanwhile, whilst this has led to some slippage the core initiatives are alive and well and we have recently restructured the department to develop an Ecosystems Policy Group charged with delivering the key objectives.

 

My personal feeling is to get people to buy into cleaner technology and less fossil fuel requires cost benefit to enable a win win situation and these technologies are now becoming available.

 

The third, a question regarding government policy on biomass for communal heating systems. We now have 6 schemes up and running, it’s fair to say there have been teething problems particularly with regard to woodchip size and quality as well as bunkering problems.

 

We are now working with users and hope that most of the problems are behind us. The present schemes are now using nearly 900 tonnes a year reaching a critical mass in terms of scale. The use of biomass ie trees produced on island insulates users against fossil price fluctuations and in addition helps the environment. There are a lot of trees coming to maturity and Phytophthora has resulted in a  large amount of diseased larch being available for fuel. This is all circular money but of course it must stack up in cost terms for the site operators.

 

The main paper contained a number of lengthy debate items not least the review of the functioning of Tynwald looking at the recommendations by Lord Lisvane.

 

Fortunately members decided to adopt a pragmatic approach and after long debate went with an amendment that in essence refers all the recommendations, which are lengthy and interrelated, to a Select Committee of which I will be a member.

 

My take on the situation is that this report was prepared under another administration with a completely different culture, we now have 12 new members, a completely different feel to government and as such if the report was prepared now the conclusions maybe completely different.

 

The committee will enable evidence from new members that may well result in pragmatic changes to the way we function but not kneejerk wholesale change. As I found working with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association we are seen as a beacon parliament and the last thing we want to do is regress rather than move forward with positive evolution.

 

The report from Tynwald standard and members interest committee contained some substantial and interesting  recommendations.

 

The final item we debated before recess at 8.45pm was the Select Committee report on the organisation and operation of the general election.

 

All but one of the recommendations were accepted and that one revolved around making marked registers available to candidates from previous elections and this we were advised conflicted with data protection principles.

Published On: June 22nd, 2017 / Categories: Uncategorised /