Her Majesty The Queen, referred to on the Island also as Lord of Man, is our Head of State. Her Majesty’s personal representative on the Island is His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, who is appointed by the Crown following a selection process carried out by the UK Ministry of Justice. Governors hold office for five years.
The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency and is not, and never has been, part of the UK. Through its ancient parliament, Tynwald, the Island enjoys a high degree of domestic, legislative, and political autonomy.
Dating back at least to Viking origins over 1,000 years ago, Tynwald is the oldest parliamentary assembly in the world in continuous existence, and is the only working example of a tricameral legislature. Its Members sit in either of the two branches: the House of Keys and the Legislative Council, which meet separately, and together as Tynwald.
By law, every five years the House of Keys is dissolved and a General Election is held to elect members. The House of Keys is the popularly elected Branch of Tynwald, and consists of 24 Members (MHKs) who represent constituencies having one, two or three seats. The majority of Members sit as Independents, so meetings have to achieve a majority consensus decision.
Eight of the eleven members of the Legislative Council (MLCs) are elected by the members of the House of Keys; the remaining Members are the two ex-officio members, H.M. Attorney-General (who may not vote) and the Lord Bishop (who may vote), and the President of Tynwald, who is elected by Tynwald as a whole from its Members and who presides at sittings of Tynwald and the Legislative Council. (The President has a casting vote.)
The Legislative Council generally acts as a revising chamber for Bills which are usually first introduced in the House of Keys. Bills are signed in Tynwald, before requesting Royal Assent. Royal Assent is given by The Queen or, now more commonly, by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor on Her Majesty’s behalf.
The two branches sit separately throughout the parliamentary year principally to enact primary legislation; they sit together as Tynwald Court mainly to debate matters of policy, approve delegated legislation and to adopt financial motions.
The majority of Members are appointed to be Ministers or Members of executive Government Departments and Statutory Boards. Tynwald appoints the Chief Minister and may remove him by a vote of no confidence. Generally, oral and written questions are asked by Members who are not Ministers, and there are Standing and Select Committees that carry out further functions to scrutinise the work of the executive and performance of Ministers.
The Tynwald Day Ceremony is held on Tynwald Hill at St. John's, a pre-Viking meeting place of the Manx parliament, on 5th July each year, or on the following Monday if the 5th occurs on a Saturday or Sunday. A law passed in 1610 determined that Tynwald Day may not be held on the Lord’s Day. The Ceremony is held to promulgate new laws (Acts of Tynwald) and receive Petitions for Redress from aggrieved citizens. A short formal sitting of Tynwald Court follows in St John’s Chapel, where the Acts just promulgated are witnessed by the signatures of the President of Tynwald and the Speaker of the House of Keys. For information about all aspects of the legislature, visit the Tynwald web site.
For information about all aspects of the legislature, visit the Tynwald web site.