Tynwald study visit informs and surprises TCI delegation
On his return to the Turk and Caicos Islands (TCI) House of Assembly following a study visit to Tynwald Hon. Kyle Knowles has said he will be reporting to his fellow Members: ‘What you think you know about the Isle of Man…you don’t.’
One of a five-strong delegation from the British Overseas Territory, Hon. Knowles was speaking at the conclusion of a study visit from June 13 to June 17, the programme for which was arranged by the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office.
He continued: ‘We have been grateful for the opportunity to learn about the Isle of Man’s relationship with the United Kingdom and Tynwald’s tricameral system. Importantly, we have learned a great deal about Tynwald’s scrutiny processes and procedures, which we view as best practice on which we can build.’
Hon. Shaun Malcolm echoed Hon Knowles’ views. He said: ‘Before we arrived, we thought we knew about the Isle of Man; that it was a Crown Dependency, so, like the Turks and Caicos Islands – a British Overseas Territory – it had a relationship with the United Kingdom. But we have learned far more than that.’
He continued: ‘The hospitality extended to us has been excellent. We have been received most generously by everyone we have met. We have learned a great deal, observing how the Isle of Man manages its internal affairs and, from this, we have seen how we can achieve more and move towards greater autonomy.’
TCI House of Assembly opposition member Hon. Edwin Astwood said: ‘For me it was particularly interesting to learn how Tynwald functions – given that most Members of Tynwald are not affiliated to a political party – and to observe proceedings in the three chambers.’
Turning to research resources, Hon. Knowles said: ‘We have been most impressed by the level of access to research Tynwald members enjoy. For us, lack of resources is a major issue. If we are to serve the electorate the best we can, we need adequate research resources and how to secure them is something we will be exploring on our return, citing Tynwald as an example of what can be achieved.’ Hon. Shaun Malcolm added: ‘We are effectively our own researchers, which can make it challenging for us to carry out our responsibilities fully’.
The study visit programme also provided an opportunity for delegates to meet the Mayor of Douglas, Janet Thommeny, an occasion which prompted TCI House of Assembly deputy speaker and head of delegation Hon. John Malcolm to observe: ‘It was interesting to hear about the separation of responsibilities and functions between local and central government.’
He continued: ‘I have been struck not only by the Island’s unique relationship with the United Kingdom but also by the Isle of Man’s rich culture, history and heritage – this really resonated with us when we visited St John’s. I was also interested to hear how effectively Tynwald is engaging with the electorate and responding to the latter’s growing expectations of their elected members.’ Hon. Shaun Malcolm added: ‘Our current parliamentary system, however, is such that it places constraints on how we are able to deliver our mandate to the people.’
In conclusion he said: ‘We have had an awesome time. We’ve gained so much value from our time spent here and we will most definitely be recommending that more of our members come to the Isle of Man for a Tynwald study visit so that, as a body collective, the TCI House of Assembly is able formulate an effective road map and achieve so much more.’