3. LEGISLATIVE COUNClL

 

The constitution of the Legislative Council is set out in the Isle of Man Constitution Amendment Act 1919, section 7:[1]

Constitution of Council

Notwithstanding any law or custom to the contrary, the Council shall, from and after the appointed day, be constituted in the manner herein provided:

(a)It shall consist, and consist only, of the following members, that is to say:-

(1) Two ex officio members, viz., the Bishop and the Attorney-General (such members being hereinafter referred to as the 'ex officio members').[2]

(2) Eight members to be elected by the House from their own members or otherwise (members so elected being hereinafter referred to as 'the elected members').[3]

(3)The President of Tynwald.[4]

The Bishop and the eight elected Members have a vote, while the President has a casting vote. The Attorney-General cannot vote.

a. The Work of the Legislative Council

In order to gain a full understanding of the work of the Legislative Council the information in this chapter should be read in conjunction with chapters: 5. Committees of the Legislature, 6. Business and Procedures of the Three Chambers, and 7. Making Legislation.

i. Procedure

Procedure in the Legislative Council is controlled by the President of Tynwald in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Legislative Council.[5]

The Legislative Council normally sits alone each Tuesday, from the fourth Tuesday in October to the last Tuesday in June, except for the third Tuesday in the month, when it sits in Tynwald Court.[6] All Members must attend unless they have been granted leave of absence by the President.[7] The Council normally sits from 10.30am until its business is concluded.[8]

Before a sitting, Members, and any members of the public attending,[9] take up their seats ahead of the arrival of the President of Tynwald and the Clerk of the Legislative Council.[10] The Clerk and President proceed into the chamber, all present stand until the President is at his or her place, after which the Lord Bishop leads the Members in prayers.[11]

Members address all remarks to the President,[12] who controls proceedings invoking Standing Orders as necessary, but there is a degree of informality as may be expected in an assembly with a small number of Members.

ii. Business of the Branch

The business to be dealt with is set out on an Order Paper.[13] These are available from midday on the previous Thursday at the Tynwald Library and the Tynwald website, and on the sitting day from the Chambers entrance lobby.

The Legislative Council is largely concerned with the consideration of draft primary legislation, but on occasion the sitting may begin with tabled Questions.

Bills may originate in the House of Keys or the Legislative Council but the former is more usual. Bills are more likely to originate in the Council towards the end of the parliamentary term, as any Bills that remain before the House of Keys when it is dissolved have to be thrown out.

Bills are considered in four stages: first reading, second reading, clauses stage and third reading.[14] Unlike in the House of Keys the first reading is debated and the second reading and clauses stage are normally taken on the same day.[15] Each of the three readings, and each clause or group of clauses, at clauses stage, must be carried by a simple majority of voting Members present.

At the end of a debate on a motion, the President puts the motion to the Council. The Members say firmly together either ‘Aye’ or ‘No’ and the President announces the result on the basis of the oral response.[16] Any Member may then call for a division which is taken by the Clerk of the Council, who calls on each Member by name to say 'for' or 'against' and records the votes.[17] The Attorney-General does not vote.[18] The President only has a casting vote.[19]

Other motions and statements, though rare, may also occur. The Legislative Council may also resolve to sit in private, when all members of the public must withdraw.

An optional stage to send a Bill to a Select Committee may be invoked; the Council does not have Standing Committees to which Bills are automatically referred.

Unlike the House of Keys, the Legislative Council is never dissolved, thus its business does not terminate. It continues to sit as normal and may consider Bills sent to it by the dissolved House of Keys. A Bill considered by the Council after the dissolution of the Keys would have to be re-considered by the new House of Keys before it could be signed in Tynwald.

iii. Records

The Clerk keeps a record of the motions and any amendments moved, and whether these are approved or not. This information is issued as Votes and Proceedings.[20]

An ‘essentially verbatim’ record of the proceedings is produced by staff of the Official Report (Hansard). Since 2010 this has been produced with the aid of voice recognition technology. As soon as sufficient text is checked and passed for publication – often within hours of the start of the sitting – it is made available on the Tynwald website.

Since 2014, the proceedings of the Council have been livestreamed via the Tynwald website; the audio files are published on the website soon after the sitting.

b. Members and Officers

This section outlines the roles associated with the Legislative Council. Details of the current post holders may be found in chapters: 8. Members of Tynwald and 12. The Clerk of Tynwald’s Office.

i. The President

The President of Tynwald is elected by and from Tynwald, serving for a period of five years.[21] He or she presides at both Tynwald and Legislative Council sittings.

The President, as the presiding officer,[22] is responsible for controlling the procedure of the Council and for the authoritative interpretation of its Standing Orders. He or she also has the duty of nominating the Member of the Council to be responsible for promoting each Bill that is to come before the Council. The President usually remains impartial but in the case of a tied vote on a division does have a casting vote.

ii. Members

The eight ‘elected members’ of the Legislative Council ('MLCs') carry out the work of the Council, debating and voting on primary legislation and occasionally posing and answering questions.

Most Members have one or more roles within the Isle of Man Government and serve on Committees of Tynwald.

Members of the Legislative Council do not formally represent constituencies in the same way as Members of the House of Keys. Nevertheless, Members of the Legislative Council are able to act as an alternative conduit for public concern and in a similar advocacy-type role on behalf of individuals and groups.

iii. The Bishop of Sodor and Man

The Lord Bishop, of the Church of England Diocese of Sodor and Man occupies his seat on the Legislative Council by virtue of his position (ex officio) for as long as he holds office. He may both speak and vote.

iv. The Attorney-General

HM Attorney-General occupies his seat on the Legislative Council by virtue of his position (ex officio) for as long as he holds office. He may speak but not vote.

v. The Clerk of the Legislative Council

The Clerk of the Legislative Council is responsible for advising the presiding officer, and other Members, on the business of the House and on the interpretation of its Standing Orders.

The following are the duties of the Clerk of the Legislative Council as per the Standing Orders of the Legislative Council:

(1) The Clerk of the Council shall keep the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Council and of Committees of the Council.

(2) The Minutes shall record the names of the members attending and all decisions of the Council and of Committees of the Council.

(3) In the case of a division of the Council or a Committee of the Council, the Minutes shall include the numbers voting for and against the question, and the names of the members so voting.

(4) The Clerk shall be responsible for the custody of the records, Bills and other documents laid before the Council, which shall be open to inspection by members of the Council and other persons under such arrangements as may be sanctioned by the President.

(5) The Clerk shall transmit to the House of Keys Bills which have been introduced into and passed by the Council or Bills which have come from the House of Keys and been amended by the Council.

vi. Messengers

The Messengers carry out the duties prescribed by the President. Their routine duties include conveying written and oral messages between the Members and the officers of the House.

vii. Seating Plan

In the Legislative Council, the Members sit on the outer curve of a semi-circular table, with the President’s chair in the middle. To the immediate right of the President sits the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, to the immediate left HM Attorney-General for the Isle of Man. The remaining eight Members are seated in order of seniority of service outwards on both sides from the centre, the more recently elected Members sitting furthest from the President on both sides. The table has been in place for at least the last century.

Click here to view the most recent seating plan.

c. Elections to the Council

Eight Members of the Legislative Council are elected by the Members of the House of Keys for terms which end on the last day of February following the fourth anniversary of their election. [23]  Each term is for a maximum of five years, less if a Member does not complete a full term for any reason. The Members are elected in two groups of four in different years, to provide continuity of membership.

The process by which Members of the House of Keys elect Members of the Legislative Council is regulated by Acts of Tynwald [24] and the Standing Orders of the House of Keys.[25] For more details see the House of Keys chapter.[26]

d. New Members of the Legislative Council

Newly elected Members of the Legislative Council must enrol their commissions or certificates of appointment in the General Registry, and take the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty and the oath for the performance of their duties.[27]

The oaths must be sworn before taking up their seat, regardless of whether or not they have taken them before in assuming present or past official or elected positions.

The practice is that the First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls calls on the Member(s) to take the oaths, administers the oaths to the Member, and duly witnesses the signature of the Member in the Liber Juramentorum or Book of Oaths which carries details of all people who have been sworn into official office and taken the oaths since 1775. The President is given a copy of the warrant of election, then welcomes the new Member, and presents him or her with a copy of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Council. The Member is escorted to his or her seat.[28]

A short ceremony for taking the oaths may occur in private in the Deemster’s Chambers. More recent practice has seen it carried out in public in the Legislative Council chamber, allowing for family and supporters to witness it. The First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls is accompanied by the Chief Registrar who brings the present volume of the Liber Juramentorum.

The oaths are:

 I, (full name), do swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors.

So help me, God.

“ou shall well and truly serve as a member of the Legislative Council of this Isle, according to the statute in that case made and provided. You shall use your best endeavours to maintain the laws and customs of this Isle, and shall justly and truly deliver your opinion and do right in all matters which shall be put unto you, without favour or affection, affinity or consanguinity, love or fear, reward or gain, or for any hope thereof, but in all things you shall deal uprightly and justly and do wrong to no man.

So help you, God.

The oaths may also be taken in Manx.

Ta mish ......... loo liorish Jee Ooilley-niartal dy bee’m firrinagh as dy feer ammyssagh da e Hooashley Reeoil y nah Ven-rein Elizabeth, chairn Vannin.

As ayns shoh dy gooin Jee lhiam.

Nee oo dy mie as dy firrinagh shirveish myr Oltey jeh Coonceil Slattyssagh yn Ellan shoh cordail rish yn Clattys jeant as currit magh ayns y chooish shen.

Gys rere dty phooar nee oo cummal seose Leighyn as Cliaghtaghyn yn Ellan shoh, as nee oo dy cairagh as dy firrinagh dty vriwnys y livrey, as cairys y yannoo ayns dy chooilley chooish hed er soiaghey kiongoyrt rhyt, gyn foayr ny kenjallys, gyn cleunys ny mooinjerys, gyn graih ny aggle, gyn leagh ny cosney ny jerkal erbee rish Iheid y red shen, agh ayns dy chooilley nhee nee oo dellal dy ynrick as dy cairagh, gyn aggair y yannoo da dooinney erbee

 


 

[1] Extract as at 31 Jan 2011

[2] Sub-paragraph (1) amended by the Isle of Man Constitution Amendment Act 1965, section 1 and by the Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1975, section 1

[3] Sub-paragraph (2) amended by the Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1975, section 1

[4] Sub-paragraph (3) added by the Constitution Act 1990, Schedule 1

[5] Available in hard copy from the Tynwald Library.

[6] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 1.1

[7] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.1

[8] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, I

[9] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.11

[10] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.2

[11] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.4

[12] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.10(1)

[13] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 2.1–2.2

[14] See chapter 7. Making Legislation

[15] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3

[16] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.8(1)

[17] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.8(2)

[18] Isle of Man Constitution Act 1971

[19] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 3.8(3)

[20] Available from the Tynwald Library and www.tynwald.org.im

[21] Constitution Act 1990, section 2, section 3

[22] Constitution Act 1990, section 4(2)

[23] Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1991, section 7(as amended)

[24] Isle of Man Constitution (Elections to Council) Act 1971 which shall be construed as one with the Isle of Man Constitution Acts 1919 to 1971 and those Acts and this Act may together be cited as the Isle of Man Constitution Acts 1919 to 1971, as amended.

[25] Available from www.tynwald.org.im

[26] See chapter 4e. Elections to the Legislative Council

[27] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 6.1

[28] See chapter 3b.vii. Seating Plan