Benjamin Awkal - September 2018
My name is Benjamin Awkal , I am a recent law graduate and
in August I began a twelve-month parliamentary internship in the Office of the
Clerk of Tynwald. I have a keen interest in government, public policy and
international law and aspire to a career involving policy – hopefully in the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At the beginning of the summer I held an offer
to study a graduate degree. However, after successful application to the
position of Parliamentary Intern, I postponed further study, understanding this
internship as a unique and valuable opportunity to further develop my research
skills, knowledge of the political process and government, and also important
Following an introduction to Tynwald’s offices, chambers and
staff, I was familiarised with the operations of its Chamber and Information
Service (CIS) – of which I am a part. I initially undertook some basic research
tasks, including on the 40th anniversary of the Odin’s Raven voyage
and Youth Parliaments. Since then I have progressively undertaken research into
more substantive topics, including Public Defender Services, the Constitution
Amendment Act 1919 and the history of the Legislative Council.
In addition to my research function, I have taken over from
Samantha as the Assistant Clerk to Tynwald’s Social Affair’s Policy Review
Committee. In this capacity, I have taken up the completion of the draft report
for the Committee’s enquiry into the provision of mental health care on the
Isle of Man. This task has been particularly interesting, allowing me to
quickly develop a working knowledge of the functioning of parliamentary
committees, utilise my pre-existing knowledge of mental health law, and to
contribute to the improvement of public services in an area of great importance.
It has also been challenging, with over
a years’ written and oral evidence requiring analysis before I could really
begin work. However, I have found the process educating and interesting, and I greatly
look forward to acting as the Assistant Clerk to the Committee, and others, in
the near future.
In mid-September, I was fortunate enough to attend the
Public Accounts Committees Networking Event hosted by Tynwald. At this event, politicians,
clerks, and auditors from multiple commonwealth jurisdictions met to discuss
their work on Public Accounts Committees; this included presentations from
delegates and round table discussions (for which I acted as a rapporteur).
Attending and assisting at the event was a rewarding experience; allowing me to
quickly learn a great amount about how Public Accounts Committees investigate
the use of public funds by the executive, and also the specific operational and
structural differences between Committees in different Commonwealth
Finally, this week, I had to step up at the last minute and
take a public tour of Tynwald’s chambers. This required me to employ some (perhaps
rusty) public speaking skills as well as to brush up on my knowledge of the
history of Tynwald (a mere one-thousand years).
I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks; completing my
substantive research tasks, undertaking more Committee work with the opening of
Tynwald in October, and, undoubtedly, the many other ad-hoc tasks which arise
daily in a small parliament.