Jonathan King on his secondment with Cayman Islands PAC

Jonathan King, Clerk to the PAC of Tynwald, Isle of Man, recently returned from a secondment with the Cayman Islands PAC. He shares his thoughts below.

Before going on the attachment I had been struck by the many apparent similarities between the Public Accounts Committee systems in the Cayman Islands and my home jurisdiction, the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man has a population of around 85,000, a legislature with 35 members, and a PAC with six members. The Cayman Islands has a population of around 60,000, a legislature with 21 members and a PAC with five members.

With this knowledge in mind I boarded the one-hour flight from the Isle of Man to London, and the nine-hour flight from London to Grand Cayman, hopeful that my perspective would be of value to my Caribbean counterparts.

I found even more similarities when, on the first morning of the attachment, I arrived at the Legislative Assembly building in George Town. My first port of call was with the Clerk of the Assembly, Zena Merren-Chin. I was soon to discover that her room lay at the end of a line of four offices, occupied in turn by a Clerk, a Deputy Clerk, an Assistant Clerk and a Committee Clerk – exactly the same as the layout in Douglas, Isle of Man!

Coming from an Island with an independent parliamentary staff of 22 full time equivalents, I was not surprised to find that the staff of Legislative Assembly numbered 12 in total, and that the officers responsible for clerking the PAC all had other duties. I was therefore able to make a number of practical suggestions, and to develop some bespoke training resources, based on my own experience of a PAC operation on a similar scale. I must also acknowledge the contributions of PAC clerks of other BIMR branches. All of them responded positively to my requests for information during the attachment.

Quite apart from the scale of operation and the layout of the building, the people in the Cayman Islands all went out of their way to make me feel very much at home, both inside and outside office hours. This goes not only for the Legislative Assembly staff themselves, but also for the Auditor General and her staff, who were equally supportive of the project. We often say to our parliamentary visitors in the Isle of Man that they “arrive as colleagues, and leave as friends”. This is very much how I was made to feel and I would like to thank everyone in CPAUK, in the FCO and in the Cayman Islands who made the attachment possible.

Watch an interview with Jonathan King on Cayman 27 below: