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Benjamin Awkal - September 2018

My name is Benjamin Awkal , I am a recent law graduate and in August I began a twelve-month parliamentary internship in the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald. I have a keen interest in government, public policy and international law and aspire to a career involving policy – hopefully in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At the beginning of the summer I held an offer to study a graduate degree. However, after successful application to the position of Parliamentary Intern, I postponed further study, understanding this internship as a unique and valuable opportunity to further develop my research skills, knowledge of the political process and government, and also important soft skills.

Following an introduction to Tynwald’s offices, chambers and staff, I was familiarised with the operations of its Chamber and Information Service (CIS) – of which I am a part. I initially undertook some basic research tasks, including on the 40th anniversary of the Odin’s Raven voyage and Youth Parliaments. Since then I have progressively undertaken research into more substantive topics, including Public Defender Services, the Constitution Amendment Act 1919 and the history of the Legislative Council.
In addition to my research function, I have taken over from Samantha as the Assistant Clerk to Tynwald’s Social Affair’s Policy Review Committee. In this capacity, I have taken up the completion of the draft report for the Committee’s enquiry into the provision of mental health care on the Isle of Man. This task has been particularly interesting, allowing me to quickly develop a working knowledge of the functioning of parliamentary committees, utilise my pre-existing knowledge of mental health law, and to contribute to the improvement of public services in an area of great importance.  It has also been challenging, with over a years’ written and oral evidence requiring analysis before I could really begin work. However, I have found the process educating and interesting, and I greatly look forward to acting as the Assistant Clerk to the Committee, and others, in the near future.
In mid-September, I was fortunate enough to attend the Public Accounts Committees Networking Event hosted by Tynwald. At this event, politicians, clerks, and auditors from multiple commonwealth jurisdictions met to discuss their work on Public Accounts Committees; this included presentations from delegates and round table discussions (for which I acted as a rapporteur). Attending and assisting at the event was a rewarding experience; allowing me to quickly learn a great amount about how Public Accounts Committees investigate the use of public funds by the executive, and also the specific operational and structural differences between Committees in different Commonwealth jurisdictions.  

Finally, this week, I had to step up at the last minute and take a public tour of Tynwald’s chambers. This required me to employ some (perhaps rusty) public speaking skills as well as to brush up on my knowledge of the history of Tynwald (a mere one-thousand years).
I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks; completing my substantive research tasks, undertaking more Committee work with the opening of Tynwald in October, and, undoubtedly, the many other ad-hoc tasks which arise daily in a small parliament.