Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

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

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The Tynwald Effect

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Individuals or groups serving the public must balance two priorities: meeting their own needs as providers; and meeting needs of service users.

But this balance may tip. Providers can slide into being driven mainly by their needs rather than those of users. In literature on health and social services this is called the Niskanen Effect (after a leading researcher).

For example, a study carried of a city’s soup kitchen provision found that premises for volunteers to prepare and hand out meals were in middle-class suburbs where the volunteers lived and felt safe. Users bussed in from downtown were looked after, and then bussed back to where they belonged.

And a survey of the administration of a charity set up to assist blind men with retraining and resources to lead an independent life found many users reported providers were in practice less positive about encouraging independence than might have been expected. A major factor was the charity’s need to hang on to funding by holding on to its clients.

In national politics there is a cousin to the Niskanen Effect. For now, let’s call it the Tynwald Effect. Our political providers have needs to be considered before they turn to the needs of users (otherwise known as the electorate.)

Firstly, as opening prayers acknowledge, Tynwald is dedicated (at least in theory) to ensuring that ‘God’s will is done in this land’ (we’re no longer a Christian society, but so what?)

Then, to balance the supernatural, the demands of Mammon must be given due attention with legislation to keep business and financial services sweet.

Also, the political providers, like professionals the world over, have to consider their own dignity, incentives and perks. And in their case there is another and over-riding factor - the necessity of getting re-elected.

So where do we, the users, come into the equation and what should PAG be doing on behalf of the electorate to get the balance right? Over to you …


The role of the Chief Secretary in the Isle of Man

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[The following was written by a P A G member. It poses some fundamental questions about the business of government]

Have a look at the Summary of Proceedings of the Council of Ministers March 2009 and check out the minutes for March 2009.

The phrase 'a paper submitted by the Chief Secretary' occurs no less than 13 times for the March minutes alone. The CSO's office is small and I assume they don't have time to write 3 papers a week! As a matter of principle I would like to know:

a. Who instigates these papers in the first place?

b. How many papers submitted by the CSO are rejected by COMIN or are subsequently rejected by Tynwald?

c. Why aren't the CSO's 'papers' in the public domain?

d. Who generates the papers in respect of UK matters?The Ministry of Justice on behalf of other Whitehall departments?

All this seems very opaque to me. I know P A G is concerned about the 'Block Vote' but consider, that the Tynwald members are being asked to vote on legislation that is regularly emerging out of the ether! In the case of the March 2009 minutes the CSO submitted a paper on the Terrorism Finance Bill the minutes stated:

    'given the urgency for introducing the Bill the requirement to consult under the Code of Practice on Consultation be waived.'

Who made the risk assessment of this? The CSO, COMIN or someone in Whitehall?

My overall point is that the CSO presents as being the key political influence in generating actual legislation. I would like to know, for example, when she is going to submit a 'paper' on expediting the Access to Information legislation so that we can read all her other papers!


Weasel Words - Speaking Out

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You have to admire the dexterity of politicians weaving words in a tight corner, don't you?

Take the Government spokesman at October's Tynwald commenting on the latest misadventures of Iris (The Perils of Pauline had nothing on this lady).

No expression of regret for erratic navigation that has left the Government up shit creek without the proverbial paddle.

No reflection on what went wrong.

No determination that 'lessons will be learned', etc.

Simply the bald statement: 'We are where we are.'

A profound view, there's no denying.

We are all too aware they are where they are - we voted them in.

Almost makes you despair of democracy, doesn't it?




Weasel Words - Unexplained Absences

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(see above)

Taken from ‘Crowe v Cannell Tynwald 15.01.08 - Committee on Scrutiny Report 2007-8

Standing Committee on Scrutiny   First Report 2007-08

Amended motion carried

(5 members on Committee, but only 4 signed Report. Crowe didn't sign.)


Mrs Crowe:

Thank you, Mr President.

It is really in answer to a query from Mr Quayle about the fact there are four signatories to this Report, and not five.

The Hon. Court did appoint me to this Committee, but unfortunately, due to the timings of the meetings, I was nearly always engaged at the MEA Select Committee meetings, which take a rather long time generally, and was unable to attend any of the meetings of this particular Scrutiny Committee, and did send my apologies.

So that is the reason that I am afraid I did not feel able to sign the Report. I am sorry that I was not able to attend, .....................

So, in any case, I apologise to the Court for not being able to take part in the work of this Committee, but I was taking part in the work of another Tynwald Committee.

Mrs Cannell:

This is to do with Mrs Crowe, who has given her apologies to the Court, saying that she was in attendance at MEA Select Committees.

I have been circulated with a note and a list of the dates of the Select Committees of the MEA and also a list of the dates of the Scrutiny Committee. Indeed, of the four occasions we met, one clashed with the MEA Select Committee and that is in fact backed. So I do not know why Mrs Crowe never attended a meeting.



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:


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