Positive Action Group - Possan Jantys Jarrooagh

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

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Tynwald Debate on the end of the reciprocal Health Agreement

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The following has been lifted from The Manx Herald (click here for the full text)

Related:    Tynwald 'Early Publication' Report

Liberal Vannin Leader, Peter Karran MHK, expressed disgust at the fact that members had been provided with a thirteen page document that had no real costings or actuarial information and did not address the basic information that the national parliament should have had over such an important issue which affects one of the most vulnerable sections of our society. He put forward an amendment, basically asking the Council of Ministers to investigate the introduction of an off island transport levy. The income from this would have been used to buy an insurance scheme to cover this section of our community.

He went on to say that what came out of the debate just highlighted the concern that he has about the ministerial system being a one party state by patronage. This was illustrated by the fact that he could not get a seconder for what was, in reality, the only suggestion on the floor, so it was never discussed. It would have been a sensible way forward that would not increase the financial liability to the DHSS, which already has enough financial problems, and would not incur any addition to the head count in public sector. He went on to say. “My amendment would have forced the DHSS to have come back to the December sitting of Tynwald with something and would have forced them to justify their inaction. We saw, once again, crocodile tears from so many members of Tynwald who claimed that they wanted to do something over this situation but were too afraid to break the Council of Ministers party line.”.

David Cannon MHK put forward an amendment that in essence said that whatever the cost we must have medical cover for all our people travelling in the UK and that the funds would have be found from somewhere. Only six members voted for this amendment.

In the interests of transparency and so that you may make an informed decision in 2011 we publish details of the vote on Mr Cannan's amendment:

For in Keys (6)
Karran, Cannan, Houghton, Cannell, Gill, The Speaker
Against in Keys (16)
Quirk, Earnshaw, Brown, Crookall, Anderson, Craine, Bell, Quayle, Teare,
Malarkey, Braidwood, Corkish, Shimmin, Cretney, Watterson, Gawne.
For in LegCo (2)
Waft, Butt
Against in LegCo (6)
Callister, Crowe, Downie, Christian, The Lord Bishop, Lowey

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 March 2010 14:25

A Whistleblower's Guide

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If you would like to 'blow the whistle' on some event or issue you feel deserves public scrutiny, here are some guidelines for best practice, to protect you and your story from the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 12:55

UK MPs Expense scandal

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Your Right to Know by Heather BrookeNo one can avoid the media coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal in the U K. The Daily Telegraph was responsible for releasing the details, but in fact all the legwork was done by a young, self employed, investigative journalist, using the Freedom of Information Act.

Heather Brooke's investigation lasted several years. She was relentless in probing the secretive Westminster world of politicians expenses and eventually led to the exposure of the "John Lewis list".

To hear how Heather Brooke used F O I to uncover the information listen to a recording of a talk given by her to The Centre for Investigative Journalism Summer School 2008. It lasts about 20 minutes and is a fascinating insight to the background behind the Telegraph's apparent scoop.

Heather’s talk is about half way along this recording, after some short applause for David Gordon. Please click on the image to the right for information about her book on this subject.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 12:50

PAG Constitution

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At the AGM of 27th April 2009 The PAG Constitution was altered to reflect our activity. The four amendments were restricted to Section I. Objectives.

That section now reads:

Section I. Objectives

1. The Positive Action Group shall be a not for profit Association open to all individuals who meet the qualifications for membership as detailed in Section III.

2. The objectives of the Positive Action Group shall be:

(a) To promote awareness and understanding of politics and citizenship

(b) To encourage members of the public to participate actively in politics by taking part in discussions, making their views known, voting, standing for office and holding public office.

(c) To encourage an increase in the percentage turnout of the electorate, by raising awareness of the importance to the electorate of exercising their democratic right to vote - a consequence of which will be that they can help to shape and secure the future of the Isle of Man.

(d)To bring to the attention of Tynwald Members, the Government of the Isle of Man, or any other appropriate bodies, issues or matters of public interest raised by members of P A G; and which may include submissions in response to public consultation exercises

(e) To raise funds for the purposes of furthering the aims of the Association.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 13:12

Access to Government Information

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A year ago this piece of information "Liechtenstein - false teeth and stamps are its main exports" prompted P A G to ask this question to the IoM Post Office:-

'I am trying to find out the turnover of the Philatelic Bureau, but could not see it listed separately in the sets of accounts you recently emailed me. I note that an aim for the coming year is "The profitable operation of a philatelic bureau for the marketing and sale of postage stamps and coins to collectors" . Could you please advise me the turnover for the unit for the last 5 years?'

Simple, you would think, but oh no commercial confidentiality prohibited release of the figures and the request turned into a real saga involving Mr Speaker, the Chair and Board of IoM Post Office and High Bailiff Michael Moyle (acting as Commissioner).

See what happened by reading his findings. Please do spare a few minutes as the Commissioner's findings exemplify shortcomings in the prevailing attitude to information requests under the existing Code.


The British-Isle of Man All-Party Parliamentary Group

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You may have heard of this Westminster All-Party Parliament Group whose purpose is:

"To promote and foster good relations and co-operation between the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom".

But who is in it?

Details of this group are provided here. P A G has contacted the Group to make it aware of our existence. To find out about other All-Party Parliamentary Groups click here.


Legal News

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News on legislative changes we would like to see....

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.’ and 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!


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