Lawrie HooperThe bishop’s right to vote in Tynwald could be removed after MHKs backed a move for permission to introduce a private member’s bill on the issue.

The House of Keys voted to allow Lawrie Hooper’s proposed laws to be drafted.

During the debate, some members questioned whether the issue should be a priority in the current economic climate.

But Mr Hooper said removing the vote from an appointed, rather than elected, position would be more democratic.

The bishop automatically holds a seat in the Legislative Council and has voting rights in Tynwald, but several attempts to remove those rights have been made in the past.

Most recently, a bid to oust the role was thrown out in June.

‘Historical tradition’
Since that vote took place the Right Reverend Peter Eagles has retired and the search for his successor has begun.

Opposing the move, Chris Thomas said the timing was “malevolently opportunistic” while the role was currently vacant, and that the retiring bishop’s work had made a “detailed contribution” and formed an “important part of our historical tradition and current processes”.

Rob Callister said Mr Hooper was “naval gazing” and should instead be focussing on his responsibilities as health minister.

But David Ashford said while in the past people had tried “various different mechanisms to try and bring this forward”, this was the first time it had been introduced as a bill.

Voting in favour of the bill being drafted, he said it aligned with views he previously expressed in Tynwald.

The proposed legislation will now be drafted ahead of the bill’s first reading in the House of Keys at a later date.