Yn Pabyr Seyr 
Issue 21 

Yn Pabyr Seyr is published by Mec Vannin, the Manx Nationalist Party. All articles are copyright Mec Vannin unless otherwise stated. Mec Vannin grants permission to reproduce articles from Yn Pabyr Seyr provided that the source is credited. 

Some of us still have our national pride

Way back in 1989, a UK television documentary followed the activities of a small to medium time fraudster who used the Isle of Man as a base. He had various scams set up using various company names and bank accounts in the Isle of Man. He was not even particularly bothered about being exposed, since Manx law afforded him a comfortable lack of criminal responsibility for his actions.

 Interviewed about his department's attitude towards such unsavoury dealings, Kirk Michael's MHK and at that time Treasury Minister, Michael Cannan MHK, smugly retorted that the Manx government had no evidence to suggest any abuse of "our" finance sector.

 The same documentary exposed the fact that suitcases full of cash (literally) were coming into the UK via Heathrow airport before being transferred to the Isle of Man. Whilst it shows that the Isle of Man is hardly the only guilty party in this sort of matter, it does not provide an excuse for it.

 When Donald Gelling MHK became Treasury Minister, much was made of "our" compliance with the requirements of something given the acronym "FATFa". This is the Financial Action Task Force, a regulatory body operating from within the OECD (an international economic development agency) by members of the G7 international community to combat fraud and money laundering. The business pages of the Manx newspapers sang the praises of the FATF regulation and bragged, on the government's behalf, of the glowing report that "we" had received. Never too willing to take such stories at face value, Mec Vannin set about trying to get hold of a copy of the report. Having been referred from the government library to the Treasury to the Financial Supervision Commission, we were informed that the report was in the hands of the OECD in Paris.

 Mec Vannin wrote to the OECD whose reply made it quite abundantly clear that FATF had nothing and wanted nothing to do with the Manx report. They were aware of it and understood that it had supposedly been carried out in the fashion of a FATF review, but had no involvement and the report was in the hands of the Manx government. You may draw your own conclusions.

 In 1973, Tynwald resolved to implement the terms of an inter-jurisdiction convention known commonly as the "Brussels Convention". This permits the victims of fraud, asset hiding, debt avoidance / evasion etc. to claim from within their own jurisdiction against crooks operating from or hiding their illegal gains in others. A Tynwald Committee was established to investigate the implementation but, twenty years later when the matter fell into the hands of Walter Gilbey MHK, Donald Gelling MHK and Alex Downie MHK, they advised Tynwald to abandon the idea after a submissions from the Isle of Man Law Society, IoM Chamber of Commerce and various other finance oriented bodies.

 According to these bodies, there was a potential that the sacred human rights of the tax-dodging population may be infringed by the judgements of "inferior" judicial systems. There was also a remarkably "nationalist" bent to all the submissions, talking of "erosion of sovereign power". That was the rather unlikely thrust of the public statement anyway. When the Chamber of Commerce's submission was read in full, however, the more likely concern became apparent. A certain Professor North, who specialised in international law and had negotiated the UK's entry into the Convention, had recommended that from a FINANCIAL point of view, membership of the Convention was not desirable when it would mean more money being claimed from a jurisdiction than claimed by it.

 Put in blunt terms, he was saying, "If you have substantial amounts of 'iffy' money in your banks and you want to keep it there, don't sign this agreement."

 The decision of Messrs. Gilbey, Gelling and Downie to scupper the Bill not only overturned 20 years commitment to rid our Debtors' Haven status, but flew directly in the face of our own unbiased legal advice. The then Attorney General William Cain wrote in relation to the matter in 1992:

 "I have no doubt that the standing of the Isle of Man as a business centre would be significantly enhanced by the implementation of the long standing policy of the Isle of Man government , and of Tynwald, to have the convention extended to the Isle of Man. The delay in the implementation of that decision was, I am informed, the subject of serious adverse comment at an important International Convention on Criminal Law held in Oxford in 1991."

 In a meeting between Mec Vannin and then Treasury Minister Donald Gelling MHK in 1994, called by Mr. Gelling after Mec Vannin had pointed out the obvious deficiencies in "our" regulatory regime yet again, it was pointed out to him that with more than 30,000 registered companies in the Isle of Man and a "turn-over" rate exceeding 5,000 p.a., the notion that these were all "legit" was completely laughable. In spite of this obvious fact and the complete lack of policing of this area, the rules for establish a Manx registered laundry had been relaxed even further by the Companies Act. Recently, this warning has come home to haunt Mr. Gelling with a series of scams and sanctions breaking operations being traced to the Isle of Man by other jurisdictions (never by our own agencies).

 Section 32 of the 1991 Companies Act was a crucial clause drawn up as a result of the SIB collapse. This was the single recommendation to emerge from the long overdue report that would have prevented a repetition. It allowed, only under the satisfaction of the strictest criteria, that a company could be investigated when tangible evidence of improper conduct could be offered. A mouth-piece for the finance industry told the Treasury to take it out. The Treasury took it out.

 Look on the internet, look in the back pages of down-market magazines, look at the literature that is to found lying around airport waiting halls. It all says the same thing: If you've got dirty cash, the Isle of Man is here to help you IRRESPECTIVE OF ANY CLAIMED REGULATION.

 Mec Vannin is sick of saying, "We told you so." Mec Vannin sincerely hopes that, since he apparently has time on his hands, Treasury Minister Richard Corkill will include in his Letters to the Editors the fact that Mec Vannin and many other Manx people want nothing to do with this shameful industry.

It pays to remember why we pay our MHKs

The cosy 17% pay hike that the MHKs awarded themselves once again brought the old arguments of "do we need 24", "pay peanuts and you get monkeys" out of the closet.

 The argument for paying MHKs in the first place was that the non-paying office had made it exclusive to land-owners and semi-retired businessmen. The ordinary person, who may be fully competent and dedicated to serving the Manx people, couldn't hope to become an MHK. The salary has nothing to do with attracting "the right sort of person". The logic of those who think that a fat-cat salary would attract "more competent" people to the job is flawed to the point of warped. An MHK is there to serve the people, not to enrich themselves monetarily.

 Ultimately, the choice of MHK is in the hands of the people - if you pay £100,000 p.a. you will get exactly the same class of candidate as now with the POSSIBLE addition of a few executive high-flyers with the single intent of representing their own business interests. We've seen the sort of slime-balls that the English Tories have produced over the years and the fewer of them any where near our government, the better. That being the case, there is every chance that the same candidates as before would be elected, but would be getting paid five times as much. So what would it achieve?

 As for the numbers, the 24 Keys' wages (overpaid or not) are not significant when set against the Civil Service wage bill so, in terms of cost, the argument for reduction has little strength. We must also, taking into account the arguments regarding quality of candidate, remember that any reduction in numbers is simply going to lead to a reduction in the input into decision making at political level. Furthermore, since this island seems intent in turning itself into a poor man's Jersey, let's also remember that the Jersey States (the equivalent of Tynwald) has over 50 members. 

MEA throws out Manx language as "Authoritarian"

Mec Vannin has been passed copies of correspondence between a Maughold woman and the Manx Electricity Authority's Brian Machin. Responding to the woman's polite letter querying the removal of Manx from the Authority's sign in Ramsey, he opened with the words, "It just shows that you can't please everyone." He went on to claim that the use of the Manx language was "Authoritarian". If he doesn't like "Authority," it's past time his was taken away. 

Masons!- Nice folk, but who are they?

Some years ago when Mec Vannin, via AGM resolution, questioned the propriety of senior members of the judiciary embroiling themselves in secret societies, it provoked a muted response.

 Former Chief Minister Miles Walker was, however, encouraged to indicate that he felt his involvement with the Masonic movement made him a better person. Miles Walker missed the point; no one is advancing that membership of the Masons or any other organisation makes you an unpleasant person. The pervasive influence of any single organisation across to broad a spectrum of the Establishment of Manx life cannot, however, be healthy.

 This fact was not lost on a visiting UK journalist, John Sweeney, from the "Observer" who expressed, in an article last year, surprise that senior executives in government life to whom he addressed the question, "Are you a Freemason?" refused to answer.

 The fact that many members of Tynwald, a solid body of Civil Servants, elements of the Police (and the folk who investigate them), the judiciary and a myriad of others are Freemasons does not make them unpleasant people. It does, however, lead to a somewhat closed and incestuous atmosphere in the upper echelons of our society. And just why won't they say who they are? Have the got something to hide? 

Donald's a real turn-off!

If you don't like it, you can always turn it off." The words of a UK Junior Minister to our government over the BBC coverage of Mannin? A lesser BBC administrator brushing off the latest tentative enquiry from the Home Affairs department regarding transmission standards in the Isle of Man? No. That was none other than our own Chief Minister, Donald Gelling, responding to a suggestion from David Cannan MHK for a method of extracting a response from the UK to the unsuccessful queries regarding the lack of adequate TV service to the Island.

 By dint of action, it was obvious that the CM was nothing but a stooge for the UK government from his first months in office. Now, he's willing to back it up with words. Whereas this does nothing to address the fact that we should be getting around £300,000 p.a. "kick-back" from the UK under the law governing the BBC (12% of licence fees gathered must be returned to provide regional programming - usually radio), it does re-inforce the argument for getting rid of the Lieutenant Governor. Why have TWO UK representatives sitting in our Tynwald? 

Department of Education makes a hash of Manx GCSE launch

The Manx GCSE equivalent (Teisht Cadjin Gaelgagh) was launched by the Department of Education back in April in what can only be described as completely shambolic fashion. It was not offered to Year 9 children as an option at the same time as all the other GCSE subjects were offered, and so this initial omission of Manx lead to the situation where children who had made their choices, were subsequently told that they could choose Manx so long as they drop one of the choices they had already made. This was hardly the best start for this new course but, with some members and staff within the Department clearly hostile to the implementation of the Teisht Cadjin, it comes as no big surprise.

 Next year the Department of Education must get its act together and talk up the Manx GCSE equivalent course prior to the options being sent out. After all, this course is one produced by Manx people in the Isle of Man by a Department of the Manx Government - surely something to be proud of!

Manx Ecological Concern calls for legal protection of our hills

The Illiam Dhone Commemoration speech in English by Bill Henderson.

I may be using the English language for this speech, but this Speaker does not underestimate the importance of the Manx language for our cultural and national identity.

 I would make an urgent call to the Government on that basis for further resource allocation to ensure the survival of our language and future promotion, bringing it, at the very least, to the same standard of usage and credibility as any one else's national language, and something to be proud of.

 Three hundred years ago Illiam Dhone, or William Christian, a man of great courage and conviction, knowing full well the consequences of his actions, attempted to try and resist the breaking down of our ancient heritage by English overlords, and was subsequently shot and murdered by them on this spot.

 Our heritage is still under threat, especially, our natural heritage. Ironically this threat is still coming from across the water, which is pushing the development line out into our countryside, causing the loss of wild places and dilution of our culture.

 Nothing I can think of is more precious or uniquely Manx, than our countryside, typifying the Island, and giving it, its own special character. 

It is this special character that causes us to enjoy our home, and land, bringing visitors and business alike to our shores. The Island is still " green " and has plenty of open space. It is still interesting and mystical. For now...

 At the heart of the Manx Countryside are the mountains, the most prominent and important feature of the Island. This key attribute gives form, shape and variety: making the landscape interesting, visually pleasing and truly beautiful.

 Any visitor will say as much and is the main reason in choosing to come back to the Island. Individuality and uniqueness are lent to the hill lands by the coverings of rare plants and rocky outcrops.

 Many of the mountains appear to have had their coverings ladled on, suggesting the might of the Manx Sea God Manannin, giving the Isle of Man it's striking and, dramatic character.

 We are extremely lucky, as other Islands can be flat and uninteresting.

 The advantages of the hill-lands are their steepness and inaccessibility causing them to remain natural and undeveloped. The building line being restricted to the lowland valleys.

 This means that the mountains still support a surprising range of rare plants, animals and birds.

 These lands and their wildlife are so important the experts class them, not on a local or national level, but on an international scale.

 I wonder why it is that the Manx Government, knowing the importance of the hills, seem to ignore this factor, seemingly, always pursuing the more lucrative and politically exciting options: construction and development.

 What they should be doing, is supporting the people and our heritage.

 The Manx hills contain most of this natural resource, the Government own 50% of these hills and is therefore the most important piece of public owned real-estate, on the Island, or anywhere else.

 I would make a call on our Government to halt the decline in both our national, and natural heritage, and make a start by preserving and designating this jewel in the Islands Crown: the Manx Hill-lands, as a national park.

 It is our heritage, and what makes the Island inherently Manx, something which we should be proud of, there, for all time and for everyone to enjoy.

 Given this Island's abysmal conservation record and woefully inadequate conservation legislation, the Government undoubtedly needs to make a "U-turn" on its wildlife strategies and put right the environmental vandalism which has gone on for too long. They should have the guts to apply the same energy and conviction with which they court the finance and business communities, and apply that to the Island's urgent conservation needs.

 It is this Government's public duty, to resist the breaking down of our ancient heritage, and act as true, independent, people's representatives, as set forth in their manifesto promises.

 They are not here to bend to the whims of Whitehall!

 They are not here solely to increase population and encourage further colonisation of our land!

 And they are most certainly not given the trust of the people to organise for their own self interests whilst Governing this land, and awarding themselves creative pay rises!

 We want our Island to stay the way it is, still with its natural beauty.

 We want something left of our ancient heritage. We want action from this Government.

 We want action now, preserve our national treasures: Designate the Manx Hills, do something positive for the millennium. 

Trimble to have say in Manx affairs

Increasingly desperate attempts by "New Labour" to placate the vociferous Unionist / Loyalist faction in the North of Ireland will have repercussions for Mannin.

 Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble has been appointed to the UK's Privy Council. This body helps in advising the UK Home Office on matters relating to our country.

 Still trying to live down his being being photographed with recently shot loyalist murderer Billy "King R*t" Wright, Mr. Trimble leads a party that has already been instrumental in ensuring that NI fishermen have had their "rights" to fish our waters recognised over our own. So it's "I'm all-right, Union Jack"

Mec Vannin - The Manx Nationalist Party

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