The role of Tynwald and the Coronavirus Pandemic
Part of the role of Tynwald Court is to enact legislation and to approve expenditure. This may be routine but can also include the creation of emergency legal powers that the government decided it needed to seek as the pandemic unfolded.
Sittings of Tynwald Court and the Branches
On Monday 23rd March 2020 the presiding officers set out how parliamentary business would carry on over the following six to eight weeks.
It was essential for sittings of the Tynwald Court and the Branches to continue, not least because regulations under the Emergency Powers Act 1936 needed to be approved by Tynwald to remain in force.
Initially, in order to comply with public health requirements, revised seating plans were issued to ensure that Members and staff were separated by a distance of at least 2 metres. Streaming and broadcasting continued but the public galleries were closed to the general public. Three sittings were held with the revised seating plan and on 31st March Mr president announced that work was underway to set up remote sittings. A virtual Chamber was tested and first used for the Tynwald sitting Friday 3rd April.
The right to table Questions for written and oral answer remained throughout the virtual sittings; however, the presiding officers encouraged Members to think carefully about the burden on Government staff which is created by the tabling and answering of Questions. As an aid to scrutiny of Government actions during the present emergency, each Tynwald sitting began with opportunities for Ministers to make statements (on which Members may ask questions). This was intended to remove any requirement for Urgent Questions.
The presiding officers encouraged parliamentary Committees to continue their inquiries remotely and again to take into account pressure on staff when seeking evidence from Government Departments.
On 15th June 2020, with the announcement that social distancing measures were to be relaxed, the President instructed that Tynwald would meet for the June Sitting of Tynwald Court in the Chamber, rather than virtually. With effect from Tuesday 23 June the House of Keys and the Legislative Council also resumed sitting in their own Chambers in Douglas.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Isle of Man Government has passed secondary legislation under the following Acts of Tynwald:
•Emergency Powers Act 1936
•Emergency Powers (Amendment) Act 2020
•Financial Provisions and Currency Act 2011
•Interpretation Act 2015
•Public Health Act 1990
A full list of the original versions of secondary legislation made under these Acts of Tynwald can be found online
To assist readers, a consolidated version of the secondary legislation can also be found online
. This shows the legislation as it is amended and includes endnotes explaining the source of any amendments.
Legislation relating to COVID-19 has also been made under the following Acts –
•Social Security Act 2000
•Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (as that Act has effect in the Isle of Man)
COVID-19 related social security legislation can be found online
The President of Tynwald, The Hon S C Rodan OBE MLC, announced in May 2020 that the Tynwald Day Ceremony would take place at St John’s on 6th July, albeit in a considerably modified form. In order to comply with social distancing guidelines, there was a necessary reduction in the number of people who could take part in the Ceremony, but essential elements of the Ceremony remained. Click here to read more on our Tynwald Day pages.