Tynwald welcomed two Shetland Island guests during a two-day information-gathering visit.
Mr Tavish Scott, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland and Councillor Malcolm Bell, Convenor – Shetland Islands Council had travelled to the Isle of Man against the background of widespread debate about Scotland’s constitutional future. They had expressed a wish to learn from the Isle of Man’s experience as a Crown Dependency and to study the legislative processes of Tynwald, in particular the practicalities of managing parliamentary business in a system where most elected Members are Independent.
The visit was prompted by discussions between Mr Scott and the Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Steve Rodan SHK while attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) conference in Edinburgh earlier this year.
Spread over a day and a half, Monday October 29th and Tuesday October 30th, the programme saw the officials meet with Mr Speaker and the President of Tynwald, the Hon Clare Christian MLC, attend sittings of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council and deliver a presentation to Members on the Shetland Islands that included an account of the region’s successful wind farm project. Their visit also provided opportunities to meet with the Chief Minister Hon Allan Bell MHK, the Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture Hon Phil Gawne MHK, the Minister for Economic Development Hon John Shimmin MHK, the Treasury Minister Hon Eddie Teare MHK and Mr Mark Shimmin, Chief Financial Officer to the Treasury.
Mr Scott said: ‘At a time of intense debate about constitutional change for Scotland our approach is look at and learn from other jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man to identify how best to secure our future as islands. If we stand still, we shall get left behind.’ Mr Scott remarked on the ‘powerful evolutionary process’ of the Manx legislative system, in particular fiscal powers developed since the 1950s, while Councillor Bell remarked on the robust relationship established between the Isle of Man and UK central government that demonstrated how the Island was succeeding in ‘retaining and enhancing’ the means through which it was determining its economic future.
The visit had proved ‘very useful and valuable’, the meetings held with government ministers illustrating, said Mr Scott, ‘the Isle of Man’s self confidence that comes with change. Shetland, like the Isle of Man, has always looked outwards…”insular” doesn’t work.’
Mr Speaker said: ‘At such a pivotal time in Scotland’s history we have been pleased to welcome Mr Scott and Councillor Bell to Tynwald, not only to offer an insight into our legislative and parliamentary procedures but also to learn of the advances Shetland is making in areas such as alternative energy technology and its fishing industry. Once again our membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has served as an invaluable means through which to connect and develop relationships with parliamentarians and officials from other jurisdictions.’
For further information contact:
Deputy Clerk of Tynwald
Legislative Buildings, Douglas, IM1 3PW
Tel: 01624 686303