Benjamin Awkal October - December 2018
At the end of September I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Parliamentary and Assembly Officers Conference. This included presentations on legislative scrutiny, jurisdictional co-operation, data protection, and scrutiny and policy development. The presentation by Dr Adam Evans, Second Clerk to the House of Commons Defence Committee, on how he and his colleagues had innovatively facilitated a transnational bipartisan evidence session with their French sister committee on the topic of joint British-French missile procurement, was particularly interesting.
I have now completed my paper on public defenders for the Constitutional, Legal Affairs and Justice Committee, as well as several other pieces of research, and have begun a lengthy and technical piece of work on Bail Legislation across the Commonwealth.
In October, I hosted a visit for students from University College Isle of Man. The students were given a tour of the
chambers and an explanation of how our legislature functions, and then attended questions in the House of Keys. Following this, the students and I had a round table discussion; during which they had the opportunity to discuss points of policy important to them, what they had found interesting that morning, and to ask questions about parliamentary procedure and the Manx political system.
On the Committee front, I have now attended several meetings, including multiple private oral evidence sessions, and a general oral evidence session with the Department of Home Affairs. I have completed drafting the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee’s Report on Mental Health and this has been laid before Tynwald; its recommendations are to be debated and voted on in January. Following evidence received in the course of that inquiry, the Committee will now be undertaking an inquiry into the important topic of suicide.
In November, Tynwald resolved to establish a select committee to investigate the provision of accommodation for vulnerable young adults and I have been selected as the assistant clerk to the Committee. Terms of reference have been agreed and the relevant government departments have been contacted for their insight into the topic. I greatly look forward to the inquiry getting fully underway in the new-year.
I have learnt an incredible amount over the past few months. My biggest challenge without a doubt, however, was taking 25 excitable brownies on a tour of the chambers, during which I answered more questions than most Members will in a career.