Bishop of Isle of ManPublic opinion is narrowly in favour of removing the bishop’s right to vote in Tynwald, a survey has shown.

Ramsey MHK Lawrie Hooper launched a consultation on his private members bill to remove the right from the role.

While 51% of the 2,934 responses were in favour, 49% were against.

Mr Hooper said he was encouraged by the number of people that took part, which showed that “this is in fact a matter that a lot of people do care about”.

The bill calls for the bishop to relinquish the right to vote in parliamentary proceedings, but retain the right to take part in debates.

Mr Hooper said the consultation had analysed the data within the responses, by identifying any duplicates, removing those without a name, and taking out IP addresses from outside of the Isle of Man.

After each of these steps the “numbers grew further and further apart” and he said he believed the picture became “more in favour” of removing the vote.

But Onchan member Rob Callister, who called for the consultation, has said “there isn’t an overriding strong desire either way”.

He said: “If we are to make major constitutional changes to the way that the Manx Parliament works, then I personally feel there has to be a significant outcry for change.”

“People want this administration to focus on delivering the core objectives within the island plan, and not on personal agendas,” he added.

The number of responses to the consultation represents about 3% of the island’s population.

Mr Hooper said despite the majority in support, he said: “I honestly don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s mind.”

But he said opponents were now in a “difficult position” and hoped the results would make it “harder for them to ignore the outcome”.

Some MHKs have previously raised concerns the removal of the vote could risk losing the island’s separate diocese of Sodor and Man altogether.

The island’s Archdeacon, Irene Cowell, told the BBC: “We can’t give a firm stance… it is a democratic process within the church and so therefore if there was going to be any decisions made they would be made in the future.”

The survey findings will be brought to the House of Keys on 26 March, when members will continue to vote at the clauses stage of the bill.