Four Months - February 2022 - Sam Bowers
So much has happened since my last blog post back in October.
The Office of the Clerk of Tynwald has recently undergone a restructure and my former team in the Chamber and Information has been split into two divisions. I am currently working in a small team of six under the Legislative Services division in the Research and Scrutiny Support team. Despite the focus of the team being research, as a small organisation I am still assisting with the public and school tours of Chambers and helping out where I can.
Before Christmas I was assigned Assistant Clerk to two policy review committees: Social Affairs and Environment and Infrastructure. Since then the constant and wide-ranging secretariat style work involved with a Tynwald Committee has certainly kept me busy. Administrative duties include the assembly of agendas and minutes, writing follow-up emails to Departments, the handling of evidence and submissions, and the preparation of draft questions for oral evidence hearings…to name but a small few. This extensive involvement has forced me to become adaptable, pragmatic, and a better officer. Working in this environment and directly with Members has been fascinating for me. I feel part of the process that enables the scrutiny process to operate freely and effectively by being able to anticipate Members needs and help provide pertinent information. It has been great to be at the sharp end of this dimension of parliamentary procedure.
As a small parliamentary office, all our researchers are generalists and we are given the time to produce research and briefing papers on both topical and historic events on very diverse topics. It is rewarding being of the knowledge that the impartial analysis I provide helps Members become informed. The public briefing papers the research team produce - including a paper I wrote on the Visits of Her Majesty The Queen to the Isle of Man - are available here: https://www.tynwald.org.im/links/research/
Since waving goodbye to 2021 I have had the pleasure of spending time up at Government House with the Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Lorimer. His Excellency met with me to discuss his role in constitutional, legislative and community terms. When touring the gardens he passed on some words of wisdom, recommending that I keep my options open, professionally speaking. The following week I returned to assist the Oaths and Passport team in the coordination of the first Citizenship Ceremony of the year. This was a heart-warming experience. I was also invited to chat with Head Boys and Girls about my educational journey on a separate visit in early March.
Tasked with the organisation of Junior Tynwald for 27th January, I was central in the formulation of the Order and Question Papers, liaising with Departments, and corresponding with Members, teachers, caterers, and the press. Our youth parliament gives each school on rotation the option to move a motion which is answered by the Minister of the Department. I found this was challenging, but totally worthwhile especially as I took on the role as Deputy Clerk on the day, and I could see it all come together. I was incredibly impressed by the standard of the debate from the sixth-formers. It appears, future generations, that we are in safe hands…
For the Keys Management and Members’ Standards Committee I drafted my first report, entitled Chaplaincy and Prayer. In drafting the report, the role of the Assistant Clerk is to consolidate recommendations made by the Committee for review which, if included in the final report, will be debated in the Chamber. The report was laid before the House of Keys on February 8th and was hotly debated by all Members as I watched on intently from the press gallery. It was exciting to play a part in this legislative process, and for the mover of the motion use a speech I had drafted for them. The issues involved are yet to be resolved and I aim to continue to be of assistance in these matters.
I was thrown into the deep end for my first oral evidence hearing with the Social Affairs Committee: I clerked it alone! In all seriousness, I didn’t drown and it all went swimmingly… The Department of Home Affairs Minister, Jane Poole-Wilson MHK, and CEO, Dan Davies, gave evidence in the Legislative Council. I received good feedback from the Committee Members and the Clerk of the Committee which is always appreciated after taking on something for the first time.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, so much has happened in these last four months. I cannot believe I am halfway through my internship already! I am having so much fun here. It is often said that every day is different in Tynwald, and I can only agree. I am so lucky to work in such an interesting Office, with professional, friendly people as I develop myself and my career aspirations.