December 2020 - Kieran Skehan
During my first few months at Tynwald, I have learnt an enormous amount about the functioning of parliamentary democracy on the Isle of Man. My short time here has been hugely varied, the office is always extremely busy and no two days have been the same.
I have spent a large amount of time learning about the legislative process. This has meant understanding all of the steps that are involved in moving a piece of legislation through Tynwald. I was able to spend some time with legislative drafters in the Attorney General’s Chambers to find out how they take a policy idea or concept and craft it into a Bill before it begins its journey through Tynwald. I also took the time to watch a live sitting from the public gallery in all three chambers, an invaluable first-hand experience of all of the stages that legislation passes through in the branches, before a final version is decided upon and sent for Royal Assent.
I have also been heavily involved in committee work, taking on the role of assistant clerk to the Economic Policy Review Committee. I have been able to attend all of the committee’s meetings and oral evidence hearings, carried out research for the committee and assisted with the drafting of a report to be debated in Tynwald. Committees are an important part of the Isle of Man’s parliamentary system, as they are one of the main means through which the work of the government is scrutinised. Committee clerks are there to support members to ensure that they are able to carry out their duties, and it is very rewarding knowing that I have been able to play a part in helping members to fulfil their parliamentary roles.
I was able to spend a few days with our Hansard team, getting to have a go at producing Hansard for both Tynwald and another jurisdiction as part of the international service offered by Tynwald. Hansard is a transcript of the proceedings of the three branches, as well as of committee oral evidence hearings. Hansard is a useful resource as it opens up access to debates for those unable to attend as well as being an important historical document for future use. During my brief period with the Hansard team, I learnt just how much work goes into producing even the shortest transcript accurately.
I have also spent time carrying out research queries for Tynwald members to support their parliamentary work. As a small parliament, we do not have a large team of researchers with individual subject specialisms. The result is that we never know what is going to come across our desks next, and I have been able to learn about a variety of interesting subjects that I would not have otherwise considered.
The first part of my internship has been a big learning curve. I have enjoyed finding out about how Tynwald functions, I have been given some big responsibilities and am looking forwards to the rest of my year here.