New arrangements are being developed in Tynwald to ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of the Isle of Man Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the Public Accounts Committee and other permanent scrutiny Committees met recently to discuss how parliamentary scrutiny might be organised during the COVID-19 emergency period.
Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, said ‘after a month’s breathing space to deal with the initial response to the crisis, the Island’s parliament must be mindful of its duty to scrutinise. This will be most effectively done through the existing mechanisms, adapted for the circumstances; as Government must move more quickly, so must scrutiny.’
It is proposed that there will be a weekly public session at which Committee Members will have the opportunity to hear evidence on specific topics, connected with the emergency situation, from Government Ministers and officials. Topics might include: the repatriation of residents; financial support; preparedness and response; advice, policy and decisions; communication; and the exit strategy.
The sessions will be streamed via the Tynwald website, with a Hansard produced in the usual way. Having heard the evidence, the Committee will consider initiating debates in which the evidence can be considered by Tynwald as a whole. The Chair commented that ‘it is hoped that providing an opportunity to discuss topics in more detail will assist Government in communicating not just what has been done in response to this emergency but some of the reasoning and expert advice relied on when making decisions.’
The first session will take place at 11am on Friday 1st May when the topic will be returning residents. Current Members of the Public Accounts Committee the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, Chris Robertshaw MHK, Rob Callister MHK and Jane Poole Wilson MLC will hear from: Chief Minister, Hon Howard Quayle MHK; Chief Secretary, Will Greenhow; Chief Executive, Department for Infrastructure, Nick Black; Interim Chief Executive, Department of Health and Social Care, Kathryn Magson; Interim Director of Change and Reform, Cabinet Office, Kirsty Hemsley; and Head of External Relations Team, Sam McCauley.
To listen to the session visit: http://www.tynwald.org.im/business/listen/Pages/19-20.aspx