Thank you Mr President 

I am somewhat surprised that we are here again today discussing the removal of the Lord Bishop from the Legislative Council, especially when there are so many other important issues that continue to seriously affect island life at the moment..…

…..I know from speaking too many of my own Constituents in Onchan this isn’t a high priority discussion point. 

Although there is a separate discussion to be had around whether or not the Lord Bishop should retain his vote, I think most people I have spoken to over the past few weeks have said that the Lord Bishop some retain a seat in both the Legislative Council and this Honourable Court. 

In fact this Court has been discussing the membership of the Lord Bishop since 1982 when Victor Kneale, MHK campaigned hard to have all Members of Legislative Council publicly elected. 

The actual structure of the Legislative Council membership has changed significantly over the past 100 years, and it is hard to imagine a time when the Legislative Council membership was made up of the Lord Bishop, the Vicar-General, the Archdeacon, two Deemsters, the Clerk of the Rolls, the Attorney General and the Receiver General, all presided over by the Lieutenant Governor. 

So things have changed significantly, and for the better, over time, but I don’t believe we need to remove the Lord Bishop from Legislative Council here today….

I feel the words of Lord Lisvane, during his independent review of the functions of Tynwald back in June 2016, were very clear, but I do fully respect when he said that this topic forges strongly held opinions; especially on whether or not the Lord Bishop should have a vote in the future, and whether he should be on the Legislative Council at all. 

However, Lord Lisvane did also highlight a serious “Creditable Risk” due to the fact that the removal of the Lord Bishop’s membership from Tynwald and from the Legislative Council could see action being taken by the Church of England. 

This action might result in significant changes being introduced by the Church of England in respect of the role of the Bishop of Sodor and Man here in the Isle of Man, which will be felt in all of our communities by the people we are elected to represent in this Honourable Court. 

On a personal level I feel that it will be a very sad day for this island should we lose our Lord Bishop, especially when we are still very much a Christian society, according to the 2021 census report. 

As Lord Lisvane said in his report to this Honourable Court, if the Church of England removed the Lord Bishop from our island, that would be regarded as an insult to our island, and I absolutely I agree with those comments. 

Therefore Tynwald members should not vote blindly here today without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. 

Between 1961 and 2001, there were 53 occasions when the vote of the Bishop was decisive in an outcome, but over the past 7 years as an elected Member of this Honourable Court, I cannot remember a single occasion when the Lord Bishop’s vote has been crucial. 

What I have witnessed since 2017 is the current Lord Bishop speaking passionately, impartially and with considerable compassion, not only when representing his own congregation, but also many other faiths and all sections of our community. 

As we say goodbye to the current Lord Bishop in the Autumn, I for one would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contribution over the past six years, and I sincerely hope that he is not the final Lord Bishop to take his seat in this Honourable Court. 

In summing up, Lord Lisvane also said that the Lord Bishop added considerable value to the proceedings of the Legislative Council and especially here in Tynwald Court. 

He also said that he could not find any compelling reason to remove the vote from the Lord Bishop, nor to remove the Bishop from the Legislative  Council – and I certainly I haven’t seen compelling evidence over the past seven years to change the recommendations from the debates held in June 2017 and February 2018. 

Mr. President 

I feel the role of the Lord Bishop here on the Isle of Man goes well beyond their appointment to the Legislative Council and to this Honourable Court, and at this moment in time I’m not prepared to support the Motion as printed on the order paper. 

Thank you Mr President