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​May 2022 - James Holmes

If somebody had told me at the beginning of this year that I would end up working at Tynwald, I wouldn’t have believed them in the slightest. 

As an intern within the Research and Scrutiny Support team, my work has primarily been focused around completing research requests, both from Members and from the general public. Due to the diverse operations of Tynwald, I have been involved with a diverse range of research requests. 

My research skills have not been limited to completing papers on behalf of members and the public. I have also helped out with internal projects, including adding to a timeline of government announcements relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This has included adding information on the discontinuation of restrictions, antiviral treatments for those at greater risk of illness, and the reasons for requiring a PCR test to a timeline of events. 

Away from research, I have been involved in the work of various committees of Tynwald. My fifth week in the internship saw me assigned the role of Assistant Clerk to the Public Accounts Committee. In this role, it is my job to take notes of what was being said, and help to incorporate them into the minutes of that meeting. I also serve as Assistant Clerk to the newly-created Select Committee on the Historic Built Environment; I am excited to be part of this committee, because I have always had a passion for history and heritage. 

Another part of the internship I have helped out with has been tours of the Chambers. In doing this, I have learned a great deal about the history of Tynwald, and about the general history of the Island. Most of these tours have involved the general public, at the free public tours on Mondays and Fridays. I have also helped with tours for the year six classes of the Island’s primary schools, providing visual tours of the Chambers, explaining their histories, and those of the various artefacts within and outside of each room, and providing facts about the roles of each Member of the House of Keys. Helping with tours has been very pleasant, and has allowed me to re-hone the skills I have developed working as a member of bank staff for Manx National Heritage. 

As well as working within Tynwald, I have made use of the opportunities for further learning, to grow and develop. I have taken advantage of Tynwald’s membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), which runs a series of online classes on a wide variety of subjects, including the functioning of Public Accounts Committees, which has been helpful in understanding how they work. Some of their other courses have been general information about working in a parliamentary setting, but they have nevertheless been instrumental in explaining how a legislature works. 

Recently, a group of delegates from Baluchistan province in Pakistan visited the Island, and I was involved with conducting them around Tynwald. This included a tour of the Chambers, and various talks from the Clerk of Tynwald, some of my colleagues and a drafter from the Attorney General’s Chambers. 

For the future, I have been assigned to serve as a reserve messenger for Tynwald sittings, and to be the Assistant Clerk to the Junior Tynwald court in July. I look forward to executing these exciting tasks. 

I understand the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office’s policy on safeguarding, having been taught about this by a colleague, and understand its importance. 

It is a privilege to meet and work with the Clerk of Tynwald and Secretary of the House of Keys, Dr Jonathan King, and the Deputy Clerk of Tynwald and Clerk to the Legislative Council, Joanne Corkish. I am grateful to them for giving me this unique opportunity. I have worked with them as assistant clerk to the aforementioned committees, and have undertaken numerous tasks on their behalf. 

Being given the role of intern is most reassuring, given my recent run of luck when it comes to interviews. I want to prove to myself that I am employable. I want to prove to employers that I am both willing and able to work, and to be able to use all the skills I have acquired from my degrees. 

One thing that has certainly struck me is how I have been treated as an equal by Members, especially during committee meetings. During a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, the Chairman, Mr Speaker, gave me a warm introduction to the rest of the Committee.

Moreover, I must admit that when I first started here, my impression was that Parliamentarians rarely visit the research department in person, save only when they really have to. I also, somewhat irrationally, believed that members of staff almost exclusively used email and didn’t bother to see people in person. 

Since then, I’ve learned that it’s common for Members to show up for varying reasons, or even just to stop by and say hello, including Mr President Skelly and the Chief Minister; and for others to ask things in person, rather than just resorting to email for nearly everything. I was surprised to find that Members and fellow members of staff are so easily accessible and personable. 

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started. I knew that there would be research, but I had no idea of the diversity of subjects that I would be researching. Nor did I have any idea of the frequency of tours, or how the committees would work. Of course, for the latter, I’ve seen things on TV and in films, but honestly, there’s nothing like actually sitting there, taking notes, as and when it happens, in a parliamentary setting.