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Bill to Act: How laws are made

Primary Legislation

The laws of the Isle of Man, Acts of Tynwald, begin life as Bills. The majority of these Bills are Public Bills, which are Bills that affect everyone. They are normally introduced either by the Government or on the initiative of an individual Member who has been given leave by the House (and where the Bill has financial implications, has obtained Isle of Man Treasury agreement in principle) to introduce the Bill. It is also possible for outside bodies or individuals to petition either the Keys or the Council for leave to introduce Private Bills, which are Bills of a local or personal character. The procedure for considering Bills is essentially the Passage of a Billsame for each category of Bill.

Most Bills begin their passage through Tynwald in the House of Keys, although they may begin in the Legislative Council. The Bill follows the same procedure in each Branch regardless of where it begins. 

First Reading

The First Reading of a Bill is the initial stage of its consideration. The first reading formally brings the Bill before the House. The Secretary reads the short title of the Bill and states the name of the Member taking the Bill through the House. There is no debate or vote.

Second Reading

The Second Reading of the Bill takes place at a subsequent sitting of the House. At this stage the general principles and ideas behind the Bill are debated, and the Bill is voted on.

After the motion ‘that the Bill be now read a second time’ is carried, the Bill, or some of its clauses, may be referred to a Bill Committee appointed by the House. In this case, once the report of a committee has been considered, the Bill proceeds to the Clauses Stage.

Clauses Stage

At the Clauses Stage the House considers and debates the Bill clause by clause.  Amendments may be moved to the clauses and new clauses added. In the House the clauses are considered either individually or in groups on a motion that the clause or clauses "stand part" of the Bill.

At this stage some or all of the clauses may be referred to a committee; the House proceeds with the Bill once it has considered the report of the committee.

When consideration of the clauses of the Bill has been completed, the Bill proceeds to the next stage, the Third Reading, at a subsequent sitting.

Third Reading

At the Third Reading, the Bill, as then agreed by the House, is further debated on a motion ‘that this Bill be now read a third time’. For this motion to be carried at least 13 members of the Keys must vote in favour.

The Bill is then submitted to the Legislative Council for its consideration. The Bill goes through three Readings and a Clauses stage in the Council, which are similar to their counterparts in the House of Keys.

Find out more about the consideration of legislation in the Legislative Council.

Council Amendments

If the Council amends the Bill, the amendments are considered by the Keys. At this stage the House may agree, disagree, or amend the Council amendments, or disagree with the amendments, and seek a conference with the Council to resolve the differences between the two Branches. The President of Tynwald presides when there is a conference, which is held in private. If an agreement is reached at the Conference this is reported to the House where the conference agreement may be approved or disapproved.

Where a disagreement cannot be resolved, under the Isle of Man Constitution Act 1961 if a Bill is passed by the House of Keys and rejected by the Council, it may proceed without the agreement of the Council. The power of the Council is therefore ultimately a delaying power.

Signing and Royal Assent

After a Bill has been passed by both the House of Keys and the Legislative Council it must be signed by at least five members of the Council and thirteen members of the Keys in Tynwald Court before it may be submitted for Royal Assent. The Royal Assent is now commonly given to Bills by the Lieutenant Governor acting on behalf of the Crown but the Crown reserves the right to determine whether Royal Assent should be given to any particular Bill.

Promulgation

There remains one final procedure. An Act of Tynwald must be promulgated (read out in Manx and English) within 18 months on Tynwald Hill, St. John's, or it ceases to have effect.​

Find out more about making legislation.