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 decides it needs to seek as the pandemic unfolds. On Monday 23rd March 2020 the presiding officers set out how parliamentary business would carry on over the coming six to eight weeks.
Sittings of Tynwald Court and the Branches
It is essential for sittings of the Tynwald Court and the Branches to continue, not least because regulations under the Emergency Powers Act 1936 need to be approved by Tynwald if they are to remain in force.
In order to comply with public health requirements, revised seating plans will be issued to ensure that Members and staff are separated by a distance of at least 2 metres. Streaming and broadcasting will continue but the public galleries will be closed to the general public. Any journalist wishing to access the Chambers must apply to the relevant presiding officer.
The right to table Questions for written and oral answer will still remain; however, the presiding officers are encouraging 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 will begin with opportunities for Ministers to make statements (on which Members may ask questions). This will remove any requirement for Urgent Questions.
The presiding officers are encouraging parliamentary Committees to continue their inquiries remotely and again to take into account pressure on staff when seeking evidence from Government Departments.
The presiding officers are conscious that these are turbulent times, and we will be keeping these arrangements under constant review on a week by week basis. All information will be published on the Tynwald website news page: http://www.tynwald.org.im/about/news/