Motion: Legislative Council Reform

Tuesday 18th will be my first full sitting of Tynwald.

I thought I’d get the ball rolling with a declaratory motion regarding the role of Members of the Legislative Council.

Item 10 on the Agenda is:

Appointment of Legislative Council Members to Government

The Hon. Member for Ramsey (Mr Hooper) to move –

That Tynwald is of the opinion that members of the Legislative Council should not ordinarily be eligible for appointment as ministers, members of departments or as members of statutory boards.

There has already been some comment on whether this is practical.

As to this, my count is:

24 Members of the House of Keys (MHKs) to fill:

1 Chief Minister
1 Policy and Reform Minister
7 Department Ministers
7 Department Members
1 Speaker of the House of Keys
1 Chairman of Planning Committee
1 Chair of Communications Commission (CC)
1 Chair of Road Transport Licencing Committee (RTLC)
2 Political Members on IOM Post Office (IOMPO)
2 Political Members on Public Services Commission (PSC)
2 Political Members on Public Sector Pension Authority (PSPA)
2 Political Members on the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
2 Political Members on the Manx Utilities Authority (MUA)

So a total of 30 people needed to fill all these posts right?

Not quite, there’s a lot of doubling up already.

The Minister for Policy and Reform is also currently Chair of the PSC and Vice Chair of the PSPA.

Both roles of Chair of the CC and RTLC are filled by the same person (Who was also Minister of Home Affairs).

The Vice Chair of the PSC is also the Chair of IOMPO, and the Current post holder was also a Member of 2 Departments!

The Chairman of the MUA was also a Departmental Member.

The Chairman of the OFT was also a Departmental Member.

So there are 24 MHK’s already filling 30 roles. Some MHK’s only have one role, some have multiple. Ministers can’t fulfil a lot of the roles so there’s really 15 MHKs filling 20 Roles

For me, the numbers “stack up” just fine.

But why bring this motion at all?

There was a lot of talk during the general election about the need for reform, demonstrated clearly when the electorate voted in 12 new MHKs.

On a practical side, this motion doesn’t require any funding, no legislation, no drafting time, no research or government time. Only a debate in Tynwald. If the Motion is passed, it doesn’t even require the Chief Minister to listen (although if he doesn’t then he might have to explain himself to the public).

Finally, it’s a matter of principle.

Members of Legislative Council are not subject to a public election. So why should they be allowed to play a role in deciding policy? They aren’t accountable to the public, they haven’t had to justify their views and positions to the electorate – and so the people haven’t a voice in any policies these Members bring forward.

Members of Tynwald will already have their views on this issue, so expressing them in Tynwald shouldn’t be too much of an ask. The question isn’t really about the role of Legislative Council (that’s a debate for another time). The question being asked of Members of Tynwald is:

“Do you believe that the public has a right to directly decide who governs them?”

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