Politics of the Isle of Man

Politics of the Isle of Man

The government of the Isle of Man is a parliamentary representative democracy. As a Crown Dependency, it is subordinate to the government of the United Kingdom, which rarely intervenes in the domestic affairs of the isle. The Monarch of the United Kingdom is also "The Queen, Lord of Mann", and is the head of state of the Isle of Man. Her representative on the isle is the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, but his role is mostly ceremonial, though he does have the power to grant Royal Assent (the withholding of which is the same as a veto).

Although the Isle of Man is not an integral part of the United Kingdom, its people are British citizens under UK law - there is no separate Manx citizenship. The United Kingdom has responsibility for all the isle's external affairs, including citizenship, the isle's defense, good governance, and foreign relations. The isle has no representation at either the UK or EU parliaments.

The legislative power of the government is vested in a bicameral parliament called Tynwald (said to be the world's oldest "continuously existing" parliament), which consists of the directly elected House of Keys and the indirectly chosen Legislative Council. Following every House of Keys general election, the members of Tynwald elect from amongst themselves the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, who serves as the head of government for five years (until the next general election). Executive power is vested in the Lieutenant Governor (as Governor-in-Council), the Chief Minister, and the Isle of Man's Council of Ministers. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Douglas, the largest town on the Isle of Man is its capital and seat of government, where the Government offices and the parliament chambers (Tynwald) are located.

Executive branch

The Head of State is the Lord of Mann, which is a hereditary position held by the British monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II). The Lieutenant Governor is appointed by the Queen, on the advice of the UK's Secretary of State for Justice, for a five-year term and nominally exercises executive power on behalf of the Queen. The Chief Minister is elected by Tynwald following every House of Keys general election and serves for five years until the next general election.

When acting as Lord of Mann, the Queen acts on the advice of the Secretary of State for Justice in the United Kingdom. [ [http://www.royal.gov.uk/OutPut/Page4710.asp The Monarchy Today > Queen and State > Queen and Crown dependencies > Isle of Man ] ]

The executive branch under the Chief Minister is referred to as "the government" or the "Civil Service", and consists of the Council of Ministers, nine Departments, ten Statutory Boards and three Offices. Each Department is run by a minister (of the Council of Ministers), who reports directly to the Council of Ministers. The Civil Service has more than 2000 employees and the total number of public sector employees including the Civil Service, teachers, nurses, police, etc is about 9000 people. This is somewhat more than 10% of the population of the Island, and a full 23% of the working population. This does not include any military forces, as defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

Legislative branch

The Manx legislature is Tynwald, which consists of two chambers. The House of Keys has 24 members, elected for a five year term in multi- and single-seat constituencies by the whole island. The Legislative Council has eleven members, the President of Tynwald, Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Attorney General and eight other members who are elected from the general population (often they are already Members of the House of Keys) by the House of Keys for a five year term.

Political parties and elections

Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as is the case in the United Kingdom. Consequently, much Manx legislation develops through consensus among the members of Tynwald, which contrasts with the much more adversarial nature of the UK parliament.

The largest political party is the recently established Liberal Vannin Party, which promotes greater Manx independence and more accountability in Government. The LibVannin party has two members of Tynwald including Leader Peter Karran MHK.

A Manx Labour Party also exists, unaffiliated to the UK Labour Party.

A political pressure group Mec Vannin advocates the establishment of a sovereign republic.

The island also formerly had a Manx National Party and a Manx Communist Party. There are Manx members in the Celtic League, a political pressure group that advocates greater co-operation between and political autonomy for the Celtic nations.

The main political issues include the Island's relationship with the finance sector, housing prices and shortages, and the Manx language.

The vast majority of the members of the House of Keys are non-partisan (19), with two representatives from the Manx Labour Party and three from the Alliance for Progressive Government.

Intervention of the United Kingdom

The UK Parliament has paramount power to legislate for the Isle of Man on all matters but it is a long-standing convention that it does not do so on domestic ('insular') matters without Tynwald's consent. [ [http://www.gov.im/cso/crown/office_gov.xml The Office of the Lieutenant Governor - Isle of Man Government Chief Secretary's Office ] ]

Occasionally, the UK Parliament acts against the wishes of Tynwald – the most recent example being the "Marine etc. Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967", which banned pirate radio stations from operating in Manx waters. Legislation to accomplish this was defeated on its second reading in Tynwald, prompting Westminster to legislate directly.

The UK's secondary legislation (regulations and Statutory Instruments) cannot be extended to apply to the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is subject to certain European Union laws, by virtue of a being a territory for which the UK has responsibility in international law. These laws are those for areas not covered by the Protocol 3 opt-out that the UK included for the Isle of Man in its accession treaty – the areas excluded being free movement of persons, services and capital and taxation and social policy harmonisation.

The Isle of Man has had several disputes with the European Court of Human Rights because it was late to change its laws concerning birching (corporal punishment) and sodomy.

Judicial branch

The lowest courts in the Isle of Man are presided over by the High Bailiff and the Deputy High Bailiff, along with lay Justices of the Peace. The High Court of Justice consists of three civil divisions and is presided over by a Deemster. Appeals are dealt with by the Staff of Government Division with final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The head of the Judiciary is the First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls. The other High & Appeal Court Judges are the Second Deemster, Deputy Deemster and Judge of Appeal, all of whom are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.

The Court of General Gaol Delivery is the criminal court for serious offences (effectively the equivalent of a Crown Court in England). It is theoretically not part of the High Court, but is effectively the criminal division of the court. The Second Deemster normally sits as the judge in this court. In 1992, His Honour Deemster Callow passed the last-ever sentence of death in a court in the British Islands (which was commuted to life imprisonment). Capital punishment in the Isle of Man was formally abolished by Tynwald in 1993 (although the last execution on the island took place in 1872).

ee also

*Royal Commission on the Constitution (United Kingdom)


External links

* [http://www.gov.im Isle of Man Government]
* [http://www.tynwald.org.im Tynwald - The Parliament of the Isle of Man]
* [http://www.iomelections.com iomelections.com - 2006 General Election]

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