tynwaldThank you Mr. President

Over the past 10 years there have been various reviews undertaken and reports published in respect of the functioning of Tynwald, but importantly the role to be undertaken by Members of Legislative Council who are not publicly elected by the general population of the Isle of Man.

Back in May 2015, my colleague from Douglas Central, Mr. Thomas started the debate with a motion asking for an independent review to examine the functioning of the branches of Tynwald, and to consider options for reform.

In 2016, the Manx Government commissioned Lord Lisvane to undertake this review, and he published his report in July 2016.

However, with it being so close to the House of Keys General Election in 2016 it was agreed by this Court to delay any further action until after the general election.

As part of that overall review of the functioning of Tynwald, Lord Lisvane was also asked to look at the role to be undertaken by the Legislative Council, which is considered the revising Chamber by many inside and outside this Hon Court.

Lord Lisvane made several recommendations, and this included that Legislative Council should not vote on taxation or appropriation, and that these functions must be reserved for the publicly elected Chamber, which is the House of Keys as the representatives of the taxpayers and on behalf of the people of the Isle of Man.

In addition, he recommended the Legislative Council should not vote on the appointment of the Chief Minister or in respect of any vote of no confidence in any Chief Minister….and we know that the Court has already implemented these recommendations.

In June 2017, a Committee of five members was established to look at the “Role of Legislative Council” with a particular focus on taxation or appropriation and the role that Legislative Council Members should undertake in Government Departments, along with several other keys themes.

The report and its 13 recommendations were presented back to this Court in November 2017, and it generated a considerable debate, especially around the role to be undertaken by Legislative Council Members.

Mr. President

Some Hon Members back in 2017 felt very strongly that Legislative Council Members should not serve as Department Members or even have a say on the Manx Budget or any matter involving policy or taxation.

Personally, I felt very comfortable with the outcome of the November 2017 debate, which acknowledged the very important and valuable role undertaken by MLC’s as part of Tynwald, and that included the role to be undertaken in Government.

However, one of the key amendments from that debate was that the practice of using MLC’s as Department Members, which should continue unchanged, but that they should not be a Member of more than one Government Department.

That recommendation as amended was supported by the Court at the time.

Unfortunately, we now have a situation in which two MLC’s currently sit in two Government Departments, which clearly goes against the Tynwald resolution in 2017.

However, I do acknowledge that this amendment is not binding.

Therefore, I am now left asking this Court again to reaffirm that key recommendation from November 2017 in respect of valuing the key contribution undertaken by Legislative Council Members, but importantly restricting them to just one Government Department.

Mr. President

I have tabled this Motion here today for just one reason….

I feel that the lines between the role undertaken by MLC’s in Tynwald and Government Departments, and the role undertaken by the publicly elected Chamber, the House of Keys are seriously being “blurred”, and they need to be “re-aligned” and adjusted to reflect the two separate roles.

The House of Keys is the publicly elected Chamber, and its elected Members are fully accountable to the people of this island for the decisions they make.

Section 2 of the Government Departments Act 1987 is very clear when it says that each Department shall consist of the Minister, and one or more Members.

Therefore, there is no justification for filling Government Departments with MLC’s just because a number of MHK’s are not willing to go into Government Departments at this moment in time.

It is up to the Chief Minister and individual Ministers to speak to MHK’s about going into Departments, and helping to deliver the key objectives for this Government and individual Departments.

Mr. President

In closing, if I am unsuccessful today in asking this Court to simply re-affirm the role undertaken by MLC’s in Government Departments, then I will look at bringing forward an amendment to the Government Departments Act 1987.

Any amendment to the Act will include a full public Consultation, which may have stronger conclusions and recommendations than I am proposing here today, which is simply reaffirming this Court’s decision back November 2017.

I beg to move the Motion standing in my name.

Thank you Mr. President