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Home Opinion Tynwald Weasel Words - Define 'early consideration'

Weasel Words - Define 'early consideration'

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In his December 2006 Written Statement in support of his candidacy as Chief Minister Tony Brown made specific reference to a Report "The Scope and Structure Of Government"

"The recent independent report on the Structure and Scope of Government, which recommends a major restructuring, merits careful consideration. However, I do not support the Corporatisation or Privatisation of the bodies as proposed. I intend to undertake early and full consideration of the report and to report back to Tynwald"

Note the last sentence. Despite being prompted with 2 previous questions about progress in reporting to Tynwald, Mr Brown, 15 months late r, responded to a question from Rushen MHK Juan Watterson (Keys 18.03.08) as follows:

Scope and Structure of Government

Report to Tynwald

1.2. The Hon. Member for Rushen (Mr Watterson) to ask the Chief Minister:

“In light of your promise in Tynwald (March 2007) to report on the Scope and Structure of Government during 2007 and your promise in January Tynwald that you would report in March 2008, when do you plan on fulfilling your promise to report?”


Question 2 and I call the Hon. Member for Rushen, Mr Watterson.

Mr Watterson:

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name.

The Speaker:

Chief Minister. Hon. Member for Castletown, Mr Brown.

The Chief Minister
(Mr Brown):

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would confirm that I have never promised to report on this matter during 2007 or, for that matter, at any other specific date. However, I have promised, in relation to this independent Report, which promotes a major restructuring of Government, that I will carefully consider the Report and report to Tynwald and I intend to do so when I have completed our careful consideration of this comprehensive and far-reaching Report, sir.

The Speaker:

Mr Watterson.

Mr Watterson:

Does the Chief Minister not at least accept that he said it was his intention to report in the terms set out in the Question and that he said, in his manifesto to be Chief Minister, that he would give this his early and serious consideration?

The Speaker:

Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister:

Yes, Mr Speaker, I have given it early consideration, which is ongoing, and it is being done very carefully. The implications of the Report, which is an extensive Report, is ongoing and I will report to Tynwald as soon as I can. The other point, again, I would remind Hon. Members, Mr Speaker, is that the last administration, when they had this Report undertaken, gave no promise at all to bring it to Tynwald, in fact basically noted it and it was left on the shelf. I just felt it was something we should at least consider: that is happening and eventually I will report.

The Speaker:

Hon. Member, Mr Karran.

Mr Karran:

Vainstyr Loayreyder, would the Shirveishagh not agree that the points that are raised within the Scope and Structure of Government Report need urgent attention, allowing for the fact that almost one in three people employed in this country have to have some sort of Government finance in order to keep them in employment and allowing for the fact that we have got something in the region of three times the level of public-sector debt for pensions, as far as the public-sector pension debt? Does not this Report help to address some of those issues that need to be addressed in this House to debate it?

The Speaker:

Hon. Member, I am not going to widen into broad areas of policy. Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister:

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The answer to the last part of the Member’s question is no, it does not. As far as the issue of the Report is concerned, the Report has far-reaching implications for the Isle of Man and its Government and how it is structured. They need to be looked at very carefully because it was undertaken by people who are not within Tynwald Court: they were independent of Government. As I say, the Report originally was only being shelved, it was not being implemented.

That was subject to whether or not any other persons who took my job wished to do it. Certainly, I said we should review it because there are parts in there that are acceptable and, again, as Hon. Members know, it is not acceptable to me to corporatise or privatise some Departments or sections, as recommended in that Report, but there are also far-reaching implications which quite clearly, Mr Speaker, have to be considered carefully and are.

The Speaker:

Hon. Member, Mr Watterson.

Mr Watterson:

Does the Chief Minister accept that he at least gave us a timetable in March last year and January this year as to when he would report? Is he now ditching that requirement or will he tell us when he is likely to report?

The Speaker:

Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister:

No requirement at all, Mr Speaker.

It was in my hands that I said I would ‘endeavour’... in fact I said I was ‘hopeful’ to report. However, again, as I am sure Hon. Members will appreciate, a Report of such an extensive range needs careful consideration, that is ongoing, it is not the only thing we are looking at and other matters do sometimes take priority over it. We are endeavouring to progress it and consideration is being given to it. It is not being ignored, but again, there are points in there that I fundamentally disagree with, as Chief Minister, and Members would know that before they elected me.


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