House of Keys
A fairly full order paper with some 14 oral questions and 4 for written answer.
Two for my department. The first dealing with the availability of isotope testing for traceability of beef and lamb produced on the island. I was pleased to be able to report that this testing is available through agreement with the East Anglia University and it has been used on a limited basis although no prosecutions have resulted as problems revealed were around mislabelling which were dealt with informally.
With the introduction of a new provenance label in May and interestingly the Countryfile programme describing the Isle of Man as a foodie destination, proof of providence, particularly with regard to meat, will become more important to residents as well as visitors who should expect local meat to be produced locally!
The second question about letting agents fees, no doubt prompted by Scotland banning them and the UK/England talking about the same. We are in the process of reviewing the Estate Agents Act 1975 which authorises letting agents and part of the consultation process will involve asking people about the future of letting agents fees, deposits etc.
At present OFT receive few complaints about letting agents and most of these revolve around disputes around deposits.
Other questions of interest, the Chief Minister was asked to explain where the £973,000 to support Syrian refugees was coming from. Once again he reinforced the message that like other crown dependencies we do not have facilities on Island to deal with potential problems with refugees and as such it was better to contribute directly rather than attempt to rehouse a very limited number of people who would in any case have come from the UK where they have already claimed refugee status.
The Chief Minister was also asked what the annual cost of operating our Brussels office is and he gave a very precise answer, in the previous year £169,119.29 out of a budget of £188,000 and this year so far it’s cost £158,720.84 out of budget of £189,000. We know from the previous administration and also matters revolving around Brexit that the Brussels office does produce a number of useful reports and do lobbying on our behalf. As long as the EU features in our political landscape in terms of protocol 3 and the UK, it is important that we have the ability to lobby in Brussels and have an ear to the ground.
Legislation within the order paper:-
Bills for first reading; Legislative Council Elections Bill 2017 following a House of Keys Standing Order Committee Report. This paves the way for altering the way in which the Legislative Council is elected following on from embarrassing proceedings in the near past.
Bills for second readings; Statute Law Revision Bill 2016, passed unanimously.
Bill for third reading; Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2017, passed unanimously.
Consideration of clauses; Fraud Bill 2017, all passed.
More controversially the Beneficial Owners Bill 2017 where a number of amendments were moved but the Bill is now passed its clauses stage.
Finally the third session of clauses from the Equality Bill 2016 and in particular schedule 21 which deals with employment and is almost a Bill within a Bill. A number of Amendments were moved, many of these were perfunctory, no major alteration to the Bill so it is now ready for it’s third reading.