Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MP on IoM's side.

A British MP has branded the UK's decision to scrap the reciprocal health agreement as 'arrogant, spiteful and ill-conceived' — but he believes it can be reversed even at this 11th hour.
Thurrock MP Andrew MacKinlay says he is outraged by the situation — and dismayed that the Isle of Man has not done more to raise the issue in Westminster.

He has tabled a series of questions in the House of Commons about the issue — with further questions raised this week.

Justice Minister Michael Mills, in a written reply, said the UK Department of Health had given notice to end the bilateral agreement with the Isle of Man as it considered it was 'out of place considering the wide availability of travel insurance, and there is little robust data to justify the business case and value for money for the national health service'.

Mr MacKinlay told iomtoday: 'I'm outraged by this. It seems to be a kneejerk and very spiteful decision. It is arrogant and ill-conceived. The UK have behaved arrogantly and with abysmal ignorance as to what the consequences are not just for the people of the Isle of Man but people who are residents and taxpayers in the UK who want to visit loved ones or who want to enjoy recreation in the Island.

'There hasn't been a proper account of the arithmetic. It is not in the best interests of the taxpayers, the residents of the UK.' He said he believes Chief Minister Tony Brown should be seeking an urgent meeting with UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

'I'm dismayed that the Isle of Man Government had not approached its friends in the UK parliament earlier,' he said. 'I still think at this 11th hour, it could be reversed. The Isle of Man should be seeking the highest profile meetings in London with some urgency and if I can help facilitate that in any way I will.'

But Manx Health Minister Eddie Teare MHK said: 'We've asked for high level meetings going right back. But we've been knocked back. They just refuse to meet to discuss this as the decision has been made and it is not going to be reversed.'

Mr MacKinlay said most MPs were unaware of the proposals to end the Island's agreement.

And he added: 'I would urge everyone who has a mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter resident and a registered voter in the UK to write to their MP. That could have enormous impact. But in my view the only chance of success is if this is coupled with an immediate salvo from the Manx government.'

Mr MacKinlay, who says he has a great affection for the Isle of Man and interest in Celtic heritage, thought Speaker Steve Rodan was joking when he first told him about the issue.

The MP has since asked a series of questions in the Commons about the ending of the agreement and, unsatisfied with the replies he's received so far, he intends to ask more. His attempts to push for an adjournment debate on the topic have so far proved unsuccessful.

He is astonished that the UK has chosen to end its deal with the Island when it continues to have bilateral agreements with a host of other countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Serbia.

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