Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

Open, accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society for all.

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Open and Accountable Government

Our first aim as declared within our charter.



Freedom of Information Act 2015 receives Royal Assent

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That was the announcement given at the start of June Tynwald but no celebrations yet, as before the public can make use of it, an Appointed Day Order is required. So watch out for that!

Also remember to start with FOI requests can only be submitted to DEFA and The Cabinet Office.

In the meantime to find out information from the rest of government we must resort to the 1996 Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

That's what one PAG member has recently done to the Department of Infrastructure - here it is:

 

News on legislative changes

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What satisfaction there was in October 2007 when Tynwald received the Government Strategic Plan 2007 – 2011. Three items from P A G’s Charter were listed in the Legislative Programme. These were Bills for:

  • Access to Information
  • Ombudsman
  • Auditor General

All for introduction by July 2008. Great news we thought, but how naive we were as earlier on the same day a question had been asked of the Attorney General about his Chambers workload. He admitted:

‘The legislative programme contained within the Government’s Strategic Plan shows, according to my calculations, some 58 new Bills which should be introduced before July of next year. That is clearly an impossible task......... ’

Seven months have gone by without comment from the government that the proposed legislation is clearly an impossible task. The Chief Minister was asked by Peter Karran (May Tynwald) about progress of a Freedom of Information Act. In a very short exchange, with no hint of an apology Mr Brown answered:

‘As the Hon. Member knows, the Government’s Strategic Plan, received by Tynwald Court in October 2007, includes a commitment to provide the public with a statutory right of access to Government information In keeping with that commitment, an Access to Information Bill is currently in the drafting  process and is scheduled for introduction into the branches in the legislative year 2008-09, sir.’

When pressed about timescale Mr Brown said:

‘I am not able to give that undertaking at the moment, Mr Deputy President, as there is a considerable amount of work to be done on this, and also, of course, we will want to ensure, as far as we can, that the Bill, when it is presented to the House, is in fact in the format that we believe is appropriate for the Isle of Man.’

He went on to say:

‘As far as I am concerned, my administration has been as open as any, if not more open, in terms of some changes that we have made. I have nothing to hide from the public. I am quite happy that information is made available to the public. In fact, that continues to happen. We do not need legislation to make available to the public information that is right for them to see.  The legislation is important: it has been given priority by the Council of Ministers. It is a substantial piece of legislation and a lot of work is going on.’

‘There have been problems, as Hon Members know, in the changeover of staffing within HM Attorney General’s Chambers. However, the work is ongoing and, as I say, it is the intention of the Council of Ministers to hopefully introduce this Bill into the branches in the legislative year 2008-09.’

What confusion and contradiction!

A promise from Government regarded as ‘an impossible task’ by the Attorney General.

The Chief Minister saying that the legislation is not actually needed and yet at the same time regarding it as important and a priority.

We may therefore see this piece legislation sometime in the next 14 months, but that’s only “hopefully” according to Mr Brown.

We surely know what that get out clause means!

 

 

Ombudsman News October 2007

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In the October 2007 sitting of Tynwald John Houghton asked again about the introduction of an Ombudsman.

Although the answer was positive, it should be noted that,in answering another question the Attorney General stated that it was no exaggeration to say that his Chambers are completely overloaded with work, with 58 Bills to be drafted before July 2008.#mce_temp_url#

Chief Minister Brown has issued information to members of Tynwald in response to a Manx Radio interview P A G had on 'Morning Mandate' (10 July 2007) and on 'Talking Heads' the following day. This may be viewed here.

It is encouraging that P A G gets recognition, dare one say acceptance, by the Minister. It's interesting that Petitions for Redress of Grievance will continue and also that an Auditor General is promised.

 

Good Government in the Isle of Man!

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The question of how well we are governed rumbles below the surface of Manx political life.
 
Peel resident, Trevor Cowin, has been openly critical of departmental behaviour for a number of years and gratifyingly has been influential in gradual improvement.
 
This time he's taken his concerns to the Lieutenant Governor!
 


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