Chapter 7; a. Primary Legislation; i. Reading Primary Legislation; ii. Structure of an Act; iii. Numbering; iv. Amendments; v. Short title of a Bill/Act; vi. Long Title of a Bill/Act; vii. Preamble; viii. Enacting words;  ix. Commencement; x. Definitions; xi. Transitional Provisions; xii. The Explanatory Memorandum - Bill; xiii. Explanatory Notes; xiv. Finding the current text of an Act; b. Initiating and introducing a Bill; i. Government Bills; ii. Private Members' Bills; iii. Private Bills; c. Process by which a Bill becomes an Act; i. House of Keys - First Reading; ii. Second Reading; iii. Clauses Stage; iv. Reference to Committee; v. Third Reading; vi. Transmission to Legislative Council; vii. Legislative Council - First Reading; viii. Second Reading; ix. Clauses Stage; x. Third Reading; xi. House of Keys consideration of Legislative Council Amendments; xii. Conference between the Branches; xiii. House of Keys only Bill; xiv. Privy Council Amendment; xv. Lapse of Bills; xvi. Signing in Tynwald Court; xvii. Giving of Royal Assent; xviii. Announcement of Royal Assent in Tynwald Court; xix. Promulgation; xx. Commencement; d. Consideration of Secondary and Applied Legislation; i. Structure of a Statutory Document (SD); ii. Making Secondary Legislation;




a. Primary Legislation

Primary legislation is the highest form of legislation that applies in the Island. In the Isle of Man there are two types of primary legislation:

Acts of Tynwald are passed by the Branches of Tynwald, the House of Keys and the Legislative Council, and require the Assent of her Majesty in Council, though this is usually given by the Lieutenant Governor on her behalf.

Acts of Parliament that have effect in the Island. [1] There are four ways in which Acts (or certain provisions of Acts) passed in Westminster may apply to the Isle of Man:

1) the Act may be expressed to apply to the Isle of Man (often with a power for an Order in Council to modify it in its application to the Island) (e.g. Trade Marks Act 1994);

2) the Act may apply to the Island by implication (e.g. Armed Forces Act 1991);

3) the Act may apply by virtue of being extended to the Island by Order in Council, where it contains a power to do so (e.g. Communications Act 2003);

4) the Act may apply by virtue of being extended to the Island under the authority of an Act of Tynwald (e.g. Social Security Administration Act 1992).

Within the territory of the Isle of Man, the legislative competence of Tynwald is extensive but not necessarily exclusive. The concept of 'reserved matters' familiar in the UK’s devolved parliaments and assemblies does not apply in the Isle of Man. There is no fixed list of policy areas in which the Isle of Man makes its own legislation, rather than relying on UK legislation extended to the Island. This is because the Isle of Man has never been part of England or of the UK. Tynwald and the Parliament at Westminster emerged as law-making bodies at around the same time. Hence the powers of Tynwald are not devolved in the sense of having been passed down from Westminster. Rather, Tynwald’s legislative powers are, and always have been, its own.

In practice most new primary legislation affecting the Isle of Man is made in Tynwald, and UK legislation is not extended to the Isle of Man without Tynwald’s prior consent.

An Act is a piece of primary legislation that has completed its passage through the relevant legislature and has received Royal Assent. At any time before receiving the Royal Assent (e.g. when it is before the House of Keys or Legislative Council for consideration) it is referred to as a Bill.

i. Reading Primary Legislation

An Act is an expression of Tynwald’s legislative intention that states or alters the law in some respect. For example, an Act of Tynwald may establish rights and responsibilities of Manx residents, it may impose penalties and sanctions, or it may impose taxes. Some Acts are free standing, others merely amend existing Acts:

  • A new principal Act sets up a new legislative scheme and the title will usually reflect the subject matter of the Act. [2]

  • An amending Act amends existing Acts. Usually an amending Act has the word "Amendment" in its title. [3]

However, the absence of the word 'Amendment' does not necessarily mean that the Act is not an amending Act. [4] Many new principal Acts also amend existing Acts as a consequence of the new legislative scheme that is established by the new principal Act. [5]

ii. Structure of an Act

There is a standard format for Acts of Tynwald and conventions as to the structure and order of provisions. The first page of an Act starts with the Isle of Man Coat of Arms, the date on which it was signed in Tynwald, the date of Royal Assent, the date on which Royal Assent was announced to Tynwald, the Long Title of the Act and the enacting words. They are followed by the rest of the text of the Act (which includes any Schedules to the Act).

All Acts are printed with a table of contents called the Arrangement of Sections which shows the section side-heading for each section. Some elements of the printed Act, such as the arrangement of sections, section side-headings and marginal notes, do not form part of the Act. That means they are not part of the law. However, preambles (a statement of the purposes of an Act) and cross-headings in Acts are part of the Act and are intended to assist in ascertaining the meaning of the Act.

In reprints or consolidated versions of Acts prepared by the Attorney-General’s Chambers there are also notes that identify amendments that have been incorporated in the reprint or version. [6]

iii. Numbering

An Act may be divided into Parts and the Parts may be divided into Divisions and Sub-Divisions. The purpose of dividing an Act in this way is to group the subject matter so that it is comprehensible. Short Acts, particularly short amending Acts, are often not divided. Also, an Act is generally only divided into Parts and Divisions if the Act deals with a great deal of information on discrete topics.

The text of an Act is contained in individual sections. A section is identified by a bold number and a section heading. There are no specific rules about how much information can be put into a single section. That is up to the drafter although sections should not deal with too much information.

Many Acts also include Schedules. These appear at the end of an Act and always depend on, or are introduced by, a section. Schedules have a number of uses:

  • amendments of other Acts can be set out in Schedules;

  • repeals of other Acts can be set out in Schedules;

  • treaties or agreements referred to in an Act that implements or relies on a treaty or agreement are often set out in Schedules; [7]

  • procedural or administrative matters can be set out in Schedules.

The legal effect of something is in no way reduced by setting it out in a Schedule rather than a section. [8]

Sections can be further divided to assist comprehension –

Subsections: (1), (2) etc

Paragraphs: (a), (b) etc

Sub-paragraphs: (i), (ii) etc

A Schedule is divided into paragraphs (1, 2 etc). Paragraphs can be grouped together in Parts just like the body of an Act and can be divided into subparagraphs ((1), (2) etc) and in further divisions ((a), (b), (i), (ii) etc).

The numbering of Bills takes the same form except that there is a small difference in terminology. In a Bill a section is referred to as a clause-it becomes a section on enactment. The other groups and divisions in a Bill have the same names as in Acts. [9] The difference in terminology does not affect the internal wording of a Bill which continues to use the same terminology as an Act.

iv. Amendments

If a new provision is inserted between two existing provisions, it will be given the number of the first provision, plus a letter of the alphabet. For example:

a new section between 1 and 2 will be 1A

a new subsection between (1) and (2) will be (1A)

a new paragraph between (b) and (c) will be (ba).

In some cases, when inserting a provision it is not possible to use the number of the first provision in which case the letter of the alphabet will appear before the number of the existing provision.  In this case the letter of the alphabet will appear before the number of the existing provision. [10]

For example:

a new section before section 1 will be A1

a new sub-section before subsection (1) will be (A1)

a new paragraph before (a) will be (Aa).

Multiple amendments can sometimes mean that the numbering becomes unwieldy.

v. Short Title of a Bill/Act

The short title is the key title used to identify a Bill/Act. The short title reflects the Act’s subject matter. For example:
“Veterinary Surgeons Act 2005”
“Race Relations Act 2004”

vi. Long Title of a Bill/Act

The Long Title of a Bill sets out its general objectives. It needs to be wide enough to embrace everything covered by the Bill. The other importance of the long title is that any amendments to the Bill have to be within the scope of the long title. [11] This is an example of a Long Title:


to make provision for the management of designated coastline zones, to regulate development in such zones; to confer functions on the Department of Transport in respect of such zones; to modify the effect of enactments relating to town and country planning in respect of such zones; and for connected purposes. [12]

In most cases the phrase 'and for connected purposes' is included to ensure that it is wide enough to enable all ancillary matters to be covered. When a Bill becomes an Act, the words “A BILL” in the Long Title become “AN ACT”.

vii. Preamble

If an Act contains a preamble, this will appear at the beginning of the Act after the Long Title but before the enacting words. The preamble explains the background to the Act or the reasons why its enactment is considered desirable. A preamble may be compared to the recitals of a contract.

Although more common in older Acts of Tynwald, [13] a preamble is normally now used only in Private Acts. A private Bill or Act is an Act limited in its application; it is different from a private Members Bill or Act, which is promoted by a Member as an individual as opposed to on behalf of the government. A preamble is part of an Act and may be used as an aid in its interpretation. [14]

This is an example of a preamble:


(1) Barclays Bank PLC (hereinafter referred to as 'the Transferor Company') is public limited company that was registered under the Companies Acts 1948 to 1967 (Acts of Parliament) which carries on, inter alia, the businesses of banking and financial services through a branch in the Island, where it is licensed to do so under the Banking Act 1998, in Jersey, where it is registered under the Banking Business (Jersey) Law 1991, and in Guernsey, where it is licensed under the Banking Supervision (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 1994.

(2) Barclays Finance Company (Isle of Man) Limited (hereinafter referred to as 'the Company') is a limited liability company incorporated in the Island under the Companies Acts 1931 to 1993 which is a subsidiary of the Transferor Company carrying on, inter alia, banking business in the Island, being licensed to do so under the Banking Act 1998. [15]

viii. Enacting words

These words appear in every Bill/Act after the Long Title or, if there is one, the Preamble. The words are:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Council and Keys in Tynwald assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

ix. Commencement

Most Acts contain a section stating when the Act commences. If there is no commencement section, section 10(2) of the Interpretation Act 1976 states that an Act comes into operation on the day on which the Royal Assent to the Act is announced to Tynwald by the President of Tynwald. The main options for commencement are:

  • on the announcement of Royal Assent in Tynwald Court;

  • a specific day falling after the announcement of Royal Assent;

  • on a specified past date (retrospective);

  • on a day to be appointed in an order, an Appointed Day Order made by the Council of Ministers, or a Department or other suitable body or person named in the Act;

  • on the commencement of another related piece of legislation.

Note that the whole of an Act does not have to commence at the same time and different provisions in it may be given different commencements.

x. Definitions

In a Principal Act, the definitions and other interpretative provisions that are to apply across the Act are usually located together in a section entitled 'Interpretation'. Sometimes a definition is needed only for a limited part of the Act (this could be a section, a Part, or a Chapter). In that case, the definition may be located close to the provisions in which it is needed (e.g. at the end of a Part) rather than in the main definition section.

xi. Transitional provisions

An amendment (or a repeal) may create a need to deal with the changeover from the old position to the amended position. This sort of issue is dealt with in provisions known as transitional provisions. The section on transitional provisions is often followed by one on consequential amendments.

xii. The Explanatory Memorandum – Bill

An Explanatory Memorandum appears at the front of all Bills that are introduced into the Branches. [16] An Explanatory Memorandum will identify the promoter, outline the general scope of the Bill, and specify the financial effect of the Bill.

The Explanatory Memorandum must also include a statement confirming whether or not the Bill is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. [17]

The explanatory memorandum that appears on the face of a Bill is not printed with the Act.

xiii. Explanatory Notes

Explanatory Notes for each Bill are produced for Members of Tynwald. The notes set out the contents and effect of the Bill on a clause by clause basis. The following will be covered:

  • an explanation of any statutory repeals or amendments;

  • an estimate as to when the legislation will come into operation;

  • reasons and justifications for the inclusion of retrospective commencement dates (if any);

  • explanations of clauses that amend disciplinary processes and powers;

  • reasons and justifications for empowering the making of subordinate instruments that have retrospective effect (if any);

  • material to assist a person reading the Bill to understand what the Bill does;

  • if a clause of a Bill contains a cross reference to another clause or to a section of another Act, it is sometimes useful to explain briefly, if the reason for the cross reference is not immediately obvious from that explanation, why the cross reference is necessary;

  • examples of how a clause will operate (particularly if the clause includes a formula);

  • information on Human Rights aspects of the Bill.

xiv. Finding the current text of an Act

Acts of Tynwald are published both in hard copy and electronically. Since 2011, all Bills have been produced in-house in final form (or 'camera ready' copy) in electronic and printed versions. [18]

The hard copy, which is published by authority, is the only official version that may be used in court. Each Act is published in hard copy soon after it has passed. It is published on white paper (Bills are printed on green paper). Hard copies are available from the Tynwald Library.

The Isle of Man Government has also created a Legislation website, [19] which lists all current Acts presented with point-in-time functionality, published Acts of Tynwald as enacted, repealed Acts, and recent changes to Acts. Acts are added to the page shortly after they are passed. In time, it is intended that the website will contain all secondary legislation in updated form too.

Electronic copies of Bills being considered in the Branches, along with a progress summary, can be found on the Tynwald website.

b. Initiating and introducing a Bill

i. Government Bills

The drafting of a Government Bill cannot commence unless the Council of Ministers has given authority to draft it and the Bill has been included in Council of Ministers’ Legislative Programme.

Departments are invited by the Council of Ministers to submit proposals for legislation for inclusion in the Legislative Programme.

Proposals for new primary legislation are accompanied by an Impact Assessment Form which sets out:

  • information on the purpose of the Bill with an explanation as to why there is a need for primary legislation;

  • what alternatives have been considered to the introduction of the primary legislation and why those alternatives have been rejected;

  • the likely resource implications of the Bill. Should any major resource implications be identified, Treasury concurrence is required prior to the Bill being drafted; [20]

  • a structured timetable from initial drafting to introduction into the Branches that has been agreed with the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers;

  • whether the proposed legislation will impact on the business community. Departments should have consulted fully with the relevant sector of the business community and the views of the sector should be included.

When the Council of Ministers agrees to a Bill, it considers in which legislative year the Bill is to come before the Branches and what priority the Bill should be given. The order in which Bills are drafted and introduced is a therefore a political decision.

The Bill is then added to the running list of current Bills that have yet to go to the Branches. This indicates the year of intended progression, the given priority, and the current state of play. This list is managed and kept up to date jointly by the Cabinet Office and the Chief Legislative Drafter. The list is open to view by all members of the Legislative Working Group, the Legislative Drafters, HM Attorney-General and a representative of the Clerk of Tynwald. The Chief Minister will also have personal access to it.

The next stages are public consultation and drafting. The Bill is drafted in the Attorney-General’s Chambers on the basis of drafting instructions prepared by the Department. The consultation must be undertaken in accordance with the Code of Practice on Consultation published by the Council of Ministers. [21] It may take place before the Bill is drafted, in respect of the policy, or afterward in relation to the Bill itself.

When the Bill has been drafted and checked, the departmental Minister will approve the final draft before it is submitted to the Council of Ministers.

If the Council of Ministers approves a submission, a Member must be chosen to promote the Bill. In the case of Public Bills the Chief Minister or the Council of Ministers will intimate to the Speaker that the Chief Minister or a Minister or member of a Department is prepared to take the Bill, particularly if the subject falls within their remit.

Finally the Bill and Explanatory notes are printed on green paper ready for circulation to Members when tabled for introduction into the Branches. [22]

ii. Private Members’ Bills

Private Members’ Bills may be drafted privately or by the Legislative Drafting Division if requested by the member concerned. Where a private Member seeks drafting assistance from Chambers the Chief Legislative Drafter will allocate a drafter for the purpose of providing that assistance. The equivalent of two days a month of the drafters’ time is set aside, if needed, for drafting private Members’ Bills. The role of the drafter is to provide apolitical drafting assistance to the Member who will provide the instructions. The Bill will not be discussed with any government agency or representative without the permission of the private Member.

The drafters will also draft amendments to Bills for private Members on the same confidential basis as with Bills.

A Private Member's Bill may be introduced by a Member into the House of Keys or Legislative Council, without the endorsement of the Isle of Man Government, or the Council of Ministers but the Member must first obtain leave of the House of Keys or Legislative Council to do so. [23] (Note that, in the House of Keys, leave lapses at the end of the Session following the one in which the leave was granted.) Treasury concurrence is also required if the Bill will affect public revenue or require expenditure to carry into force. [24]

Where a Member is successful in obtaining leave to introduce a Bill, he or she will promote the Bill in the House. The Bill then follows the same parliamentary procedure as a Government Bill.

iii. Private Bills

A Private Bill is a Bill for the particular benefit or interest of a person or group or a public corporation. Private Bills should be distinguished from Bills which have operation in a particular locality but nevertheless affect the public in general, and are public Bills.

Private Bills may be sponsored by the Government e.g. Lloyds TSB Offshore Banking, or they may be private Members’ Bills e.g. Broadway Baptist Church Bill.

Additional procedures for the private Bills are required by Standing Orders. [25] A private Bill will contain a preamble. Matters which should properly be included in a private Bill should not be included in a public Bill.

Where a Member is successful in seeking leave to introduce a Bill, he or she will promote the Bill in the House. Following leave to introduce, a Private Bill follows the same parliamentary procedure as a Public Bill.

c. Process by Which a Bill Becomes an Act

The procedures for the introduction and passage of Bills are contained in the Standing Orders of each Branch. [26]

The outline of the process of consideration of legislation which follows assumes that the Bill has been introduced in the House of Keys which has become the convention. The process in each Branch is similar, comprising three readings and a stage to examine each clause, but the timing specified for each stage varies. The process followed in each Branch does not change whether they receive the Bill first or second.

i. House of Keys - First Reading

For Government Bills the first reading usually appears on the Order Paper for the first available sitting after the Council of Ministers has approved the introduction of the Bill. [27]

The First Reading is purely formal. The Secretary of the House simply reads the short title of the Bill and announces the name of the Member promoting it. There is no debate. [28]

Once a Bill has received its first reading, it may only subsequently be formally withdrawn with the leave of the House, supported by the votes of at least 13 Members. However, the Member in charge is able to delay putting the Bill on an Order Paper until he or she is ready.

The period after the first reading gives Members time to consider the Bill. The promoting Department may also brief Members about the Bill.

ii. House of Keys - Second Reading

At a subsequent sitting the Member moving the Bill moves that the Bill be read a second time, [29] and gives a speech outlining the scope of Bill. There is a general debate on the principles behind the legislation, rather than a clause by clause analysis of the Bill, although references are frequently made to specific clauses. Members who intend to move amendments to the Bill at the clauses stage may choose to give notice of this in the second reading debate.

At the second reading stage any person who claims an interest, distinct from the interests of the general public, to be adversely affected, may present a Memorial to the House. Such Memorials request leave to appear and to be heard at the Bar of the House, either in person or by Counsel. [30]

At the end of the debate the Member moving the Bill has the opportunity to speak again to address any of the issues raised before the Members vote.

iii. House of Keys – Clauses Stage

Where the motion 'that a Bill be now read a second time' has been carried, the Bill proceeds to consideration of clauses no earlier than the next but one sitting of the House. [31]

This stage requires the Member in charge of the Bill to move that each clause stand part of the Bill. Schedules are normally considered with the clause(s) introducing them. It gives Members the opportunity to debate each clause, to seek an explanation from the sponsor of the Bill as to the effect of particular clauses, and to move amendments. [32]

Amendments for Bills are drafted by the legislative drafters, normally by the drafter who drafted the Bill. Members are encouraged to approach the Chief Legislative Drafter as soon as they have decided to bring forward an amendment.  They will be directed to the drafter of the Bill who will need time to consider the Member’s instructions and prepare an amendment for the Member's approval. When amendments have been finalised, the drafter will usually send an electronic copy to the Tynwald Office, but it is for the Member moving the amendment to ensure its inclusion on the Order Paper.

Amendments proposed must fall within the Long Title of the Bill and must be submitted to the Secretary of the House, for circulation to Members, no later than 5.00pm six working days before the day of the sitting at which it is to be considered. [33]

A Member is not permitted to move or second an amendment to a clause after having spoken in the debate on that clause, [34] but may speak to an amendment moved by another Member. [35] A Member moving an amendment speaks to the amendment and also has a right of reply before the amendment is put to the House. [36] Where an amendment is moved, it cannot be debated by other Members until it has been seconded. [37]

Where numerous amendments have been proposed and seconded to a clause, they will be put to the House in the order and manner determined by the Speaker. [38] The Speaker might direct that each amendment be debated and voted upon separately; or all the amendments be debated together but voted upon separately; or all the amendments be both debated and voted upon together. If one or more amendments are successful, the Speaker will thereafter put the clause as amended to the House.

New Clauses may also be proposed but these should not be irrelevant, foreign, or contradictory to the Bill. [39] For example a new clause dealing with agriculture should not be added to a Bill dealing with merchant shipping. They must be notified to the Secretary of the House by 5.00pm, six working days before the sitting at which the new clause is to be moved. [40] The details are then appended to the Order Paper for that sitting. Where a new clause is moved it is for the Speaker to determine at which point in the Bill the new clause is to be moved. [41]

A new clause is first considered by the House in principle and the mover of the new clause is allowed to reply to this debate. [42] The debate on the principle of the clause is effectively the equivalent of the second reading stage. If the new clause is agreed in principle, it may then be put to the House to stand part of the Bill. However, if a Member wishes to amend the new clause immediately after approval in principle, then such a motion is not to be moved until the next but one sitting. [43]

The preamble and the Long Title of the Bill may be considered at any time that the Speaker deems appropriate [44]. If it is desired that matters outside the scope of the Bill be introduced by amendments, they should be dealt with only if the House passes a motion to widen the scope of the Bill and, normally, to amend the Long Title. [45]

iv. Reference to Committee

After the motion for the second reading has been carried, the Bill may be referred to a Committee which will be appointed to consider and report. [46] A Committee may also be appointed during the clauses stage when any or all of its clauses may be referred. [47]

A Committee appointed by the House for this purpose usually consists of three or five Members. It is empowered to take evidence and is usually assisted by the Secretary of the House. It may make recommendations and include draft amendments in its report, but it cannot formally amend the Bill.

The Committee reports to the House and the House votes on any recommendations, and/or amendments to the recommendations, made by Members, before the procedure on the Bill continues; unless one of the recommendations or amendments carried is to abandon the Bill.

v. House of Keys – Third Reading

After the clauses stage in the House is complete, the question may be put at a subsequent meeting that the Bill be read a third time. [48] The third reading of a Bill is usually a formal step and generally does not involve extensive debate. The mover often makes brief remarks commenting on matters raised about the Bill and thanking Members for their contributions to the second reading debate or consideration of clauses. A minimum of thirteen votes is required for the third reading to be carried. [49]

vi. Transmission to Legislative Council

After the Bill has passed its third reading it is signed by the Speaker as having been passed by the House, [50] and transmitted to the Legislative Council by the Secretary of the House. [51] Bills are not normally reprinted at this stage unless they have been significantly amended during their passage through the House of Keys.


There are three readings of a Bill in the Legislative Council which are similar, but not identical in detail, to those in the House of Keys. Each reading must be carried by a majority of the Members present. [52]

vii. Legislative Council - First Reading

The first reading draws attention to the Bill before the Council. Unlike the first reading in the House of Keys, the Member outlines the purposes of the Bill at this stage, [53] and there is a debate on the principles underlying the Bill.

viii. Legislative Council - Second Reading

The second reading, which Standing Orders require to be taken at a subsequent sitting [54], is a further debate on the principles of the Bill. [55] If the second reading is agreed, then at the same sitting, the Bill proceeds to the clauses stage, unless the Council decides otherwise. [56]

ix. Legislative Council – Clauses Stage

As in the House of Keys, the Bill is considered clause by clause at this stage and each is voted on separately. Amendments are moved at the clauses stage. [57] There are no time limits for the tabling of amendments in the Legislative Council and sometimes they are even drafted during the course of debate. However, as in the House of Keys, the legislative drafters are available to prepare amendments in advance, on request, and it is preferable to have amendments drafted in advance if possible to avoid problems with the wording later on.

x. Legislative Council – Third Reading

The third reading is taken at a subsequent sitting. Unlike the House of Keys amendments may also be moved at this stage. Such amendments require at least six votes in favour in order to be carried. [58] Once the motion for third reading is passed, a Bill has completed its consideration in the Legislative Council.


Whether a Bill begins in the House of Keys or the Legislative Council, each House has the opportunity to make amendments. Where such amendments occur the first House must receive the Bill again to consider the amendments made.

xi. House of Keys consideration of Legislative Council Amendments

If the Legislative Council has amended a Bill received from the House of Keys, the amended Bill is brought back before the House, [59] which may then -

  • (a) agree with the Council's amendments; or

  • (b) disagree with the Council's amendments; or

  • (c) amend the Council's amendments; or

  • (d) disagree with the Council's amendments with a view to a Conference. [60]

If the House of Keys disagrees with or amends the Legislative Council's amendments, the Bill is returned to the Council and if the Council disagrees with the House's amendments, the House may again disagree with a view to a Conference. [61]

xii. Conference between the Branches

Where a Conference is to be held, the House of Keys elects a deputation of Members to represent the House and they are accompanied by the Secretary of the House [62] to meet a similarly elected deputation of Legislative Council Members and the Clerk to the Council. The Conference is held in private, under the chairmanship of the President of Tynwald, and under the Standing Orders of Tynwald Court. [63] Differences between the two Branches are normally resolved in a Conference, or a succession of Conferences.  At the conclusion of a Conference the deputations report to their respective Branches.

Special procedures apply where a Bill is returned to the House by the Council with new clause(s) and where the House introduces new clause(s) after the Bill has been returned to the House by the Council. [64]

A Bill comes before the originating Branch again once the Conference or Conferences have been concluded. [65]

xiii. House of Keys Only Bill

Where a disagreement cannot be resolved, statutory procedures apply that limit the Legislative Council to delaying powers. The House of Keys may, if a Bill has not been passed by Legislative Council within eighteen months of it being passed by the House of Keys, resolve to submit a Bill for signature in Tynwald for request for Royal Assent on its own authority, provided a minimum of seventeen Members support the resolution. [66]

xiv. Privy Council Amendment

Throughout the legislative process there is communication with the UK Government through the Ministry of Justice about proposed legislation. At any time before a Bill has received Royal Assent, the House of Keys can consider suggestions made by the Privy Council and make such amendments as the House considers desirable in respect of such suggestions. [67] Such amendments would require Legislative Council agreement.

xv. Lapse of Bills

Bills which have not passed their third reading in the House of Keys by 5th July following their introduction will lapse unless the House orders that the Bill be continued (at the same stage) in the next year. [68] It is currently the practice of the House of Keys to order the continuation of Bills in a special sitting held at St. John’s on Tynwald Day.

On the dissolution of the House, usually shortly before a General Election, all Bills then before the House lapse. [69] A Bill which is passed by the House of Keys and the Council before dissolution of the House and which is waiting for Royal Assent at the time of the dissolution may be given Royal Assent without reconsideration by the Branches. A Bill which is before the Legislative Council at the time of the dissolution and subsequently passed by the Council must go through all its stages in the new House of Keys. [70]

xvi. Signing in Tynwald Court

When a Bill has passed in both Branches it must be signed in Tynwald Court before being formally submitted for the Royal Assent.

In practice this signing is not normally done until the Clerk of Tynwald has been notified that the Lieutenant Governor has been authorised to give the Royal Assent on behalf of Her Majesty (see overleaf). There is often a delay of some months between the final stages in the Branches and such authorisation being given.

In the year of a General Election to the House of Keys, however, all Bills which have been passed by the Branches and have not yet had Royal Assent are signed at the last sitting of Tynwald Court before the General Election. In these circumstances the Royal Assent, if given, would be announced at a sitting of Tynwald Court after the General Election.

A Bill must normally be signed by a quorum of each Branch. Where the procedure for Keys-only Bills is followed, the Bill must be signed by seventeen Members of the Keys. [71]

xvii. Giving of Royal Assent

Historically, Royal Assent was given by the Monarch in Council. Today most Bills are dealt with by the Lieutenant Governor, advised by the Ministry of Justice, under delegated powers contained in the Royal Assent to Legislation (Isle of Man) Order 1981. [72]

As soon as a Bill has completed its passage through the House of Keys and Legislative Council, a Royal Assent copy is printed and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice with a certificate from HM Attorney-General for the Isle of Man stating that there is no legal objection to the Bill passing into law.

Once notification has been received from the Ministry of Justice that the Lieutenant Governor may use his delegated powers to grant Royal Assent, the Royal Assent copy is forwarded to the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office and is circulated for signing during a sitting of Tynwald Court. Once signed in Tynwald Court, it is sent to Government House where the Lieutenant Governor adds his or her signature.

xviii. Announcement of Royal Assent in Tynwald Court

Once the Lieutenant Governor has given the Royal Assent, the Royal Assent copy is sent back to the Legislative Buildings. The President of Tynwald announces during a sitting of Tynwald Court that the Royal Assent has been given. It is at this point that, in the absence of express provision to the contrary, the Act comes into effect. [73]

A certificate stating that the Royal Assent has been announced in Tynwald is signed by the President and the Speaker. [74] Following Royal Assent, the Act is given a chapter number. [75]

xix. Promulgation

The Clerk of Tynwald arranges for every Act to be promulgated (i.e. announced) at the next practicable Tynwald Day. [76] Promulgation is not necessary before an Act comes into operation but must take place within eighteen months of the Act being passed or the Act will cease to have effect. [77]

xx. Commencement

If an Act has no commencement date specified, it comes into operation on the day on which Royal Assent is announced in Tynwald Court. [78]

An Act of Tynwald may, however, be drafted so as to be capable of being brought into operation, either all at once or in stages, by a specific type of secondary legislation called an Appointed Day Order. By order of a former Governor, all Appointed Day Orders are laid before Tynwald. [79]

d. Consideration of Secondary and Applied Legislation

Legislation is passed to give government bodies the powers necessary to implement policies decided by Tynwald. The primary legislation (Acts of Tynwald) can either set out in detail what those powers are or give general powers, omitting the detail, classed as ‘enabling legislation’. Secondary legislation, also known as subordinate legislation, is legislation made under the authority of primary, enabling, legislation. In the Isle of Man we have the following types of secondary legislation:

  • Statutory Documents, commonly Regulations and Orders made under the authority of an Act of Tynwald (or under a UK Act that applies here which has been modified to give power for Regulations or Orders to be made by the relevant Department). Some EU legislation is brought into effect in the Isle of Man by way of an Order under the European Communities (Isle of Man) Act 1973, an Act of Tynwald.

  • UK secondary legislation that applies to the Island. If a provision of an Act of Parliament that gives power to a UK Secretary of State to make Regulations or Orders applies in the Island, any Regulations or Orders made under that provision will apply (unless expressed only to apply to the UK or part of it). In these circumstances the UK often make separate secondary legislation, known as Orders in Council, for the Isle of Man. It is, however, more common for the Act, as it applies in the Island, to have been modified so that the power to make secondary legislation is given to an Isle of Man Government Department rather than the Secretary of State. Where an Act of Tynwald so enables, UK secondary legislation may be applied to the island by an Application Order made by a Department and modified to meet the island’s internal purposes.

Secondary legislation derives its authority from the power or powers under which it is made. This enabling power and the legislation made in pursuance of it must be within its scope or intra vires. If the secondary legislation goes beyond the power it is said to be ultra vires and is liable to be struck down by the court. For example, if an Act gives a power for a Department to make Regulations for the management of beaches and the Regulations contain restrictions on certain activities that are expressed to apply to 'any beach, park or other amenity area', then clearly they are ultra viresl insofar as they purport to apply to places other than a beach.

The use of enabling powers and secondary legislation reduces the need to amend primary legislation, a more time consuming process than that for secondary legislation.

i. Structure of a Statutory Document (SD)

Statutory Documents have a standard format as do Acts. Like Bills they bear the Isle of Man Coat of Arms on the top of the first page but they also have an SD number on the top left. SD numbers run sequentially for each calendar year. Immediately below the Coat of Arms is the title of the Act under which the SD is made and below that, the title of the SD itself. There then appears the date on which it was approved by or laid before Tynwald and the date on which it came into operation. There then follows the enacting provision which sets out who is making the SD and the power(s) under which it is made. If there is a statutory requirement to consult any other person before it is made, this will be recited here. If public expenditure is involved there will need to be Treasury concurrence. At the end of an SD is an Explanatory Note, which explains its legal effect.

Rules as to the ordering and numbering of provisions are very much the same as for Acts. There is some difference in terminology between the various types when it comes to the name of the various divisions and sub-divisions which are as follows:


















The secondary legislation of the Isle of Man from 2000 to date is available from the Tynwald website.  Paper copies, including those prior to 2000, are held in the Tynwald Library.

ii. Making Secondary Legislation

Having decided whether the provisions in an Act of Tynwald give it sufficient powers, a Department then decides by what means (which may also be set out in the Act) it will implement those powers by its own and/or applied legislation. A consultation exercise, with or without a draft copy of the proposals, may be carried out with one or more of the following: other Departments, the Council of Ministers, HM Attorney-General’s Chambers, or with persons outside government who are materially affected by their provisions. Comments resulting from the consultation process may lead to further drafts and changes before the next stage.

When the contents of the draft are settled the legislation becomes part of the law by being made, which means it is signed and dated by the authority making it, usually the Minister of the relevant Department or, if it is made by a Statutory Board, a member of that Board. This is known as execution.

The correct procedure for Tynwald’s consideration, if required, is included in the Act containing the enabling power. There may be a general provision as to all secondary legislation made under the Act, or different provisions may apply to different types of secondary legislation. The procedure may also impact on when the secondary legislation may come into force. The following procedures may apply:

  • Approval before coming into operation - Regulations must not come into operation unless they are approved by Tynwald. It is useful to know that nearly all provisions for applying United Kingdom Legislation e.g. Social Security, Shipping, Customs and Excise and VAT etc. require approval;

  • Positive resolution - Regulations must be laid before Tynwald as soon as practicable after they are made, and if Tynwald at the sitting at which the regulations are laid or at the next sitting fails to approve them, they cease to have effect. This provides for the making of regulations to be introduced as emergency measures between sittings but prevents their continuation until Tynwald approves them;

  • Negative resolution - Regulations must be laid before Tynwald as soon as practicable after they are made, and if Tynwald at the sitting at which the regulations are laid or at the next following sitting resolves that they are to be annulled, they cease to have effect. A Member would need to place a motion on the Order Paper to accomplish this;

  • Laid - Regulations must be laid before Tynwald (as soon as practicable after they are made).

  • Unusual - See section 2A of the European Communities (Isle of Man) Act 1973 under which the draft must be approved by Tynwald before the order can be made. See also Electronic Transactions Act 2000 which requires Tynwald approval but allows for commencement before approval in urgent cases.

  • Appointed Day Orders are not usually subject to a specific Tynwald procedure but the relevant provisions of the Act being brought into operation will confirm this. Where no Tynwald procedure is required, Tynwald still requires the ADO to be laid before Tynwald in order to comply with a direction made by the Governor in Council. [80]

  • It is also possible that there will be no procedure specified, in which case Tynwald is not involved in the making of the secondary legislation.

When Tynwald consideration is required items appear on a Tynwald Order Paper, published some ten days before a sitting. Whether a procedure is specified or not, anything can be laid for information purposes either voluntarily by the Department etc. making it, by an executive direction or Tynwald resolution to do so, or by a Committee of Tynwald. [81]




[1] UK Legislation is available from

[2] for example: Minimum Wage Act 2001

[3] for example: Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2004

[4] for example: Transfer of Deemsters' Functions Act 2003

[5] for example: Medicines Act 2003

[6] See the Reprints Act 1981 under which the Attorney General may publish reprints of any enactment.

[7] For example, the Recognition of Trusts Act 1988 sets out the text of the Convention on the law applicable to trusts and on their recognition.

[8] Provided it is clear how the text of the Schedule is intended to operate; for example if the Schedule consists of an agreement or EU legislation, it needs to be made clear how it has effect in domestic law.

[9] It is not correct to refer to sub-clauses although the expression is used colloquially.

[10] Examples of both styles of numbering can be found in sections 107A and 107B, A108 to J108 and 2KA of the Income Tax Act 1970.

[11] Standing Order 4.7(3)(a) of the Standing Orders of the House of Keys requires an amendment in a Bill to be “within the long title of the Bill”.

[12] Coastline Management Act 2005

[13] the Derby Square Act 1945.

[14] Section 8(1) of the Interpretation Act 1976: “(1) The preamble to…an enactment shall be construed as a part thereof intended to assist in explaining the purport and object of the enactment.”

[15] Barclays Private Clients International Act 2002

[16] Standing Order 4.1 of the Standing Orders of the House of Keys requires a Bill that is to be introduced into the House to have a “memorandum stating the objects and financial implications of the Bill”

[17] Human Rights Act 2001, s.16

[18] Prior to 2011, there was an arrangement with Blackhall Publishing to edit and reprint the Acts, incorporating amendments that had been made up to the date indicated in the reprint. A complete reprint was undertaken every five years and cumulative supllements published annually. The current system therefore saves on the costs and time delay associated with using a private publisher.


[20] The Treasury Act 1985, section 10


[22] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.1-4.2

[23] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.4

[24] Treasury Act 1985 section 10

[25] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.34–4.42; Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.8-4.9

[26] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, IV Bills and Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, IV Bills

[27] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.2(1)(a)

[28] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.5(1)

[29] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.6

[30] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.31–4.33

[31] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.7(1). A sitting of Tynwald Court is counted as a sitting for this purpose, because it incorporates a sitting of the House of Keys.

[32] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.7(2)

[33] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.7(3) see also 2.2 and 3.15(1)–(4)

[34] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 3.27(2)

[35] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 3.27(4)

[36] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 3.28

[37] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 3.11(4)

[38] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 3.15(5)

[39] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.8(1)

[40] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.8(2) and 2.2

[41] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.8

[42] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.8(4)

[43] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.8(5)

[44] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.9

[45] Standing Order 4.7(3)(a). In view of the procedures adopted in the House in respect of the Constitution Bill on 24 April 2007 it is difficult to determine the practical operation of this Standing Order. At the clauses stage of that particular Bill the House was presented with two sets of amendments which amounted to different Bills. In each case the amendments included a new Long Title. Standing Orders were suspended and one of the alternative Long Titles was carried on a vote and the Bill re-printed with the new provisions replacing the original. It would appear that Standing Order 4.7(3)(a) is not necessarily a bar to amendments outside the Long Title.

[46] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.10(1)

[47] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.10(2)

[48] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.11(1)

[49] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.11(2)

[50] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.12

[51] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.25

[52] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(1)

[53] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(3) and Annex: A1

[54] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(2)

[55] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(4) and Annex: A2

[56] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(5)

[57] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(5) and Annex: A3

[58] Standing Orders of the Legislative Council, 4.3(6) and Annex: A4

[59] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.13(1)

[60] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.13(3)

[61] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.14–4.15

[62] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 5.2

[63] Standing Orders of Tynwald, 4.3–4.5

[64] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.27-4.28

[65] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.14(2)

[66] Constitution Act 2006; Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.17-4.22

[67] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.16

[68] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.26(1)–(2)

[69] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.26(3)

[70] Standing Orders of the House of Keys, 4.26(4)

[71] Standing Orders of Tynwald, 10.6; Constitution Act 2006.

[72] Copy available from Tynwald Library.

[73] The Interpretation Act 1976, section 10(1)

[74] Standing Orders of Tynwald, 10.7

[75] Issued by the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office

[76] Standing Orders of Tynwald, 2.1(3)(e)

[77] Promulgation Act 1988 sections 2 and 3

[78] The Interpretation Act 1976, section 10(2)

[79] Government Circular 226/85

[80] Government Circular 226/85

[81] Standing Orders of Tynwald, 10.11(2)