The Council of Ministers will resume its programme of engagement with the Manx public in October, with Peel Centenary Centre set to host the next community meeting.
The event on Tuesday 22 October takes place a week after the start of the new parliamentary year, when Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK will outline his priorities for 2013-14 in a statement to Tynwald.
The aspirations of Mr Bell’s administration, and a range of other national issues, will be up for discussion in Peel as the Council of Ministers continues its second round of regional meetings.
The public forums have become an important part of the Chief Minister’s promise to promote Government transparency and to work with local people in the best interests of the Isle of Man.
Mr Bell says that giving Island residents an opportunity to meet Ministers face-to-face helps to build on a wide range of initiatives aimed at making Government more open and accountable.
Recent developments include the launch of a new performance management hub which sets out Government’s progress towards achieving its targets. The first quarterly update was published at the end of July.
In addition, minutes of Council of Ministers and Chief Officer Group meetings are posted on the Government website, updates on Government activity, services and spending are routinely provided to Members of Tynwald, Budget reports and estimates are made publicly available and the Chief Minister hosts a weekly press conference to field questions from the Island’s media.
The introduction of three new parliamentary committees from October 2011 has added a layer of scrutiny around the key policy areas of the economy, environment and infrastructure, and social affairs, while members of the public also have the option to request information via the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Open government is part of an effective democracy. People must have adequate access to the information on which government business is based, and Ministers have a duty to explain their policies, decisions and actions to the public. A great deal has been done in recent times to make more information available. However, there is always the need to respect confidentiality, as governments everywhere also have a duty to protect the privacy of individuals and organisations in certain well-defined circumstances.’
‘The Isle of Man Government and its public servants have a good track record of responding positively to public requests for information and we currently have in place a robust Code of Practice which works very well.’
‘A big part of our communication with the Manx public is also about listening to people’s opinions, ideas and concerns. That is why the community meetings are so effective, and I am looking forward to another open and honest exchange of views when we return to Peel in October.’