Paul Craine – candidate for Middle
Q1 Main job before politics
A Senior Adviser for Secondary Education, Department of Education and Children.
Q2 Are you a member of a political party?
Q3 What is the optimum population for the Isle of Man?
A The ‘optimum population’ is not some fixed size – it changes with time. I would prefer to offer a sustainable population growth figure of 500-800 per year over the next ten years.
Q4 Would you like to see curbs on migration to the Island?
A There are already various curbs on migration (visas, work permits etc). If government is to encourage population growth, there need to be clear aims and controls in place.
Q5 Should our graduates be refunded their student loans if they return to the Island to work?
A I would strongly support providing incentives for our young adults to remain and return. Student loan refunds is one option.
Q6 Who should be the next Chief Minister
A Someone who already has experience in the Keys and in COMIN, comes top in their constituency vote, has broad support in the Keys and offers to commit to a five year programme for government – but that specification may not be met in full by anyone.
Q7 In the past five years the public sector workforce has dropped by 10% (825 people). Should any more go? If so, how many?
A Any further reduction in the public sector workforce must be based on genuine efficiency savings or improved productivity – not on cuts in services. Government needs to be careful not to remove money from the economy too quickly at a critical time.
Q8 Where should the horse trams run once Douglas Promenade’s works have ended?
A I am keen to retain the horse trams but I don’t have a fixed view on where they should run. On balance, the middle of the promenade may be the best option. But they do not need to run every day, animal welfare must be a priority and road cleaning needs to be more frequent.
Q9 What has been the single biggest waste of government money in the last few years?
A The granting of 0% tax liability to those companies who send their profits off-Island where they get taxed by another jurisdiction. This far exceeds any waste on roundabouts or roads. If profits made here are going to be taxed – we should collect that tax.
Q10 Which government-owned operations should be privatised or kept in public ownership but run by a private company?
A It is absolutely right that operations such as Manx Utilities and the Villa/Gaiety complex should be run at arms length from government using a fully commercial approach. But they are too important to be cut loose as Island monopolies without effective regulation.
Q11 Which member of the last administration impressed you most?
A Probably Alan Bell – for his contribution to the Island’s relationship with the UK and his work to improve the Island’s reputation beyond our own shores.
Q12 Would you support the introduction of a national speed limit?
A I am not persuaded that a national speed limit is necessary but I would support attempts to enforce the existing speed limits, whether through traffic calming measures, more speck checks or tougher penalties.
Q13 Should fitness to work tests on sickness benefit claimants continue to be carried out? Should the policy be extended to other benefits?
A It is about getting the balance right. Long term unemployment impacts on mental and physical health. The longer a person is out of work, the harder it is for them to return to employment. There should be appropriate checks on all benefit claims – but these must not be a worrying ordeal for people with genuine need.
Q14 Should means testing of public services and benefits be extended?
A There is no reason why someone with a very high income should be subsidised by government. But there is a danger that every time means testing is extended, people on middle incomes get unfairly squeezed. We need to get the overall balance right.
Q15 How would you tackle the funding gap in public sector pensions?
A Government pensions need to move to a fully funded scheme as soon as possible – but this is going to take time because current contributions are still needed to provide current pensions. There has been good progress but further steps are needed. In the short-term these could include capping the proportion of pensions that can be taken as a lump sum. In the longer-term there needs to be a shift from defined benefits towards defined contributions. Areas with recruitment difficulties, such as teaching, need to be safeguarded.
Q16 Should the state retirement age be extended? If so, how and to what age?
A The state retirement age is set to rise to 68 years by 2046. On average, people in the Isle of Man are living almost 1 year longer for every six or seven years that pass (almost 10 years longer now than in 1955). If this continues, it is inevitable that the retirement age will have to rise in the longer term. Spain and the Netherlands have already linked retirement age to longevity and this may offer a solution.
Q17 Would you support abortion law reform.
A I’m not at all comfortable with abortions. They are certainly not a good means of birth control. But I believe it has to be a woman’s right to decide. There are currently around 90 abortions carried out on Manx residents in the UK each year. Abortion law reform would enable these women to have an abortion on Island. I would support that, albeit reluctantly.
Q18 Do senior civil servants offer value for money.
A A fair assessment of the VfM of any role would need access to information on targets, benchmarks, outcomes, constraints etc. Most senior civil servants are capable, well-qualified, committed, hardworking members of staff operating in a complex political and economic environment. They earn their salaries.
Q19 What would you do to make air services more reliable and punctual?
A There is a need for more data about how airlines perform in terms of cancellations and delays. Government needs to be more active in relation to our key routes to ensure that are retained and that they operate effectively.
Q20 Would you sign up to the Steam Packet’s offer on future sea services?
A There needs to be further negotiation and a clarification of what the Island requires from the deal. Growth of tourism could be supported by fast-craft day return trips to the Isle of Man on some days. The sea services agreement could require this. Government needs a reassurance that the company is more resilient against being saddled with further debts.
Q21 Should the taxpayer subsidise big music events if they make a loss?
A No - running ‘big music events’ is a specialised business involving financial risk and is not something that should involve government. Such events need to be commercially viable and stand on their own two feet. Government’s role is to secure a supportive environment for such ventures.
Q22 How would you address the spiraling cost of healthcare?
A The Isle of Man’s spending per person on healthcare is more than 20% below the average across the UK – that is part of the picture. Improving the service but keeping costs down is not about a single issue or action. Improved data and statistics are needed to inform better decision-making. Information on waiting lists and outcomes should be published and used to drive the right, step-wise improvement. The transfer of more health provision from the hospital to community needs to be implemented beginning with the transfer of additional funds for medical practices to improve their offer. Healthy lifestyles and Wellness programmes need to be much more visible in the community.
Q23 Do you believe that cannabis use should be decriminalised?
A The best current research on recreational cannabis use shows that it doubles the risk of psychotic disorders, impairs intellectual development in adolescence, reduces motivation and can make regular smokers dependent on the drug. Driving after smoking cannabis is dangerous. These issues affect other people as well as the user. That information persuades me to be extremely cautious about any change in current legislation.
Q24 What would your priorities be if you were elected?
A 1. We need a tax review to establish a fairer taxation system whilst retaining competitive taxes to encourage inward investment.
2. We need a clear policy on population to encourage our young people and families to return and to ease recruitment problems.
I want to see both of these in the Programme for Government.