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2021 September - Sam Bowers

Website-Sam-Bowers-lowres.JPGI began my parliamentary internship on the 1st of September 2021. The first day mostly consisted of meet-and-greets and tours of the Legislative Buildings along with standard email and desk setup. A sense of privilege and pride came over me as we were guided through the historic House of Keys. As a proud Manxman, I thought, how lucky I am to have this opportunity to work in and for Tynwald.

Together with Cameron, the other intern, our first project was to compile a joint research paper for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) looking into Tynwald’s climate policy agenda; the environment being an issue I am extremely passionate and concerned about. This project provided a useful opportunity to become familiarised with the Tynwald website, particularly the Hansard services which is a gold-mine for evidence given the wealth of verbatim transcripts uploaded which date back to 1877. I was encouraged to adapt my writing away from that of an opinionated university-like piece to a more suitable and impartial style. The paper was finalised after meeting with Jonathan King, the Clerk of Tynwald. Following some extremely detailed and helpful scrutiny, “Tynwald and Climate Change - Actions, Initiatives and Engagement” was despatched to the CPA secretariat and was gratefully received. 

Meanwhile plenty of website-based tasks were sent our way as the office prepared to migrate from an old intranet system to a new one. This process brought with it the necessity to become Microsoft Excel proficient, something I thought I was good at! There is certainly room for improvement in that department. 

In week four I began working on the front desk: welcoming visitors and guests, dealing with telephone and in-person queries, overseeing the library inbox and taking payments for the shop which involved cashing-up at the end of the day. I also began creating Instagram content prior to the upcoming General Election. See examples below: 

Cameron and I co-authored a booklet entitled “A Student’s Guide to Tynwald” in week five, mapping the history and function of the Manx parliament. This exercise was both valuable and rewarding, firstly because it helped me to understand Tynwald’s unique tricameral system and secondly because I was helping to raise awareness of politics to a demographic which is becoming increasingly disenfranchised. The education pages on the Tynwald website are an excellent resource for teachers and students - Tynwald Learning Pages

Being the in-house photographer for the Swearing-in Ceremony for the House of Keys following the previous week’s General Election was a fantastic experience. It was great to be in the midst of such a historic procedure that has its roots a thousand years ago. 

Six weeks in and I was tasked with drafting an independently-led research paper for Members which detailed the provenance, process and reforms of the Chief Minister elections. By researching the relevant Standing Orders and legislation such as the Council of Ministers Act 1990, my parliamentary awareness was further heightened. 

Due to the General Election, Committee work didn't start until October. I have been assigned the role of Assistant Clerk to the Keys Management and Members’ Standards (KMMS) standing committee, I began by compiling a draft ​briefing paper on the Chaplain of the House of Keys which involved researching the history of the role and comparing the chaplaincy of Tynwald with other smaller jurisdictions. Further duties included filing evidence, acknowledging receipt of such evidence and noting items for agenda. I really look forward to our first meeting.

My most recent responsibility has been to prepare the Votes and Proceedings prior to sittings in the House of Keys and Tynwald Court. This involves transferring over the items from the Order Paper and modifying the language to the past tense. Upon completion the document is sent to the Deputy Clerk for approval and editing during the sitting. 

I have found the experience fascinating so far, and things are now beginning to take shape. I really look forward to what the next few weeks and months hold.