[From 1911 MacDonnell Inquiry]
20. Under this head the claims are that -
(a) The majority of members should be elected..
(b) The minority should be nominated by the Crown.
(c) The Archdeacon and Vicar-General should cease to sit ex officio.
(d) The elected members should sit for nine years, one-third (as nearly as
possible) retiring every three years.
On the general question of the constitution of the Legislative Council we are
agreed in thinking that the time has come for introducing an elective element into it.
Insular opinion, official as well as non-official, is, with a few dissentients, in favour
of the charge. We ourselves have been unable to find any valid objections against
it, while we see substantial reasons in support of it.
The more advanced reformers advocate that there should be a majority of elected
members ; but, the great body of opinion in the Island does not appear to us to go so
far. This cautious attitude seemed to us to reflect the views more especially of the
commercial and agricultural interests, on which the financial stability of the Island
so largely depends.
21. We recommend that the Council should consist of 10 members (exclusive of
Lieutenant-Governor) ; that four (the bishop, two out of the three Judges, and the
Attorney-General) should be members ex officio ; that four should be elected by the
Keys from their own members or from the body of electors or partly from one
and partly from the other ; and that two non-officials (i.e., not salaried officers of the
Crown or the Insular Government) should be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor
after the results of the election of the Keys are known.
The more advanced reformers prefer that the elections to the Council should
directly by the constituencies, which elect to the Keys ; and not indirectly by an
Electoral College, which the Keys would become if our suggestion is adopted. if the
party system were developed in the House of Keys we think that there would be
much to be said for direct election ; and. should a well marked division on party
lines become hereafter developed in that House, we would advise that the elections
should then be by the constituencies. But at present all are agreed that there is no
party division in the Keys ; and this being so, we think that election to the Council
by the Keys will be simpler and more effective than election by the constituencies.
22. We consider that for the retention of the Bishop in the Council adequate
justification exists in his traditional connection with the Council and Tynwald, in
the ecclesiastical interests confided to his charge, and in his respected and
authoritative personality. But we find no adequate justification for retaining in the
Council either the Archdeacon or the Vicar-General.
Moreover, it is essential that the Council should be of moderate size. The
petitioners ask for a Council of eleven (excluding the Lieutenant-Governor), a
number which doer not lend itself to any plan of the periodic retirement of equal
numbers of the elected and nominated members. We think the proper size is ten
(excluding the Lieutenant-Governor), and this number cannot be preserved, while at
the same time room is found for the essential elective element, unless four of the
existing ex officio members are removed from the Council. One Judge (whose office
on the occurrence of the next vacancy we propose shall be determined), the Arch-
deacon, the Vicar-General, and the Receiver-General (whose official designation has
now become a misnomer, and might appropriately be changed) should therefore
vacate their seats on. the Council. In regard to the Archdeacon, the Vicar-General
and the Receiver-General, we think that this change should be effected immediately,
as it is important that the elective element should be admitted into the Council as
soon as possible. These members do not hold their seats in Council as of ancient
right, they will suffer no pecuniary loss by retirement, and we venture to think , that
any personal feelings that may be generated by retirement from a position which they
themselves have done nothing to forfeit will, in their minds, be fully compensated by
the advantages which will accrue to the Island by the early introduction of the
Different considerations arise in connection with the retirement of one of
Judges. All three Judges have an immemorial right to sit in Tynwald and in the
Council ; and without the Deemsters' assent no Act of Tynwald is valid. It would
be invidious for the Government to fix upon one of the three Judges as the
judge who should retire. Out of this difficulty the best deliverance-failing a
voluntary retirement-seems to lie in allowing the Council to consist of five ex-officio
members (the Bishop, the three Judges, and the Attorney-General) until such time
as a vacancy among the Judges shall naturally occur.
A possible alternative, which has the advantage of retaining the Council at
number of ten, as we have recommended, would be that until a vacancy occurs
among the Judges the Lieutenant-Governor should nominate one instead of two
members of the Council.
23. In the opinion of the more advanced reformers, no Judge should remain a
member of the Council. We are unable to accept that view for two reasons. First,
the Deemsters occupy in Manx constitutional history the position of an " Estate of the
Realm," and as such appear in the preamble to all Acts of the Manx Legislature.
Secondly, it is not possible, at present, to secure as ex officio members men of
suitable position and trained intelligence commanding the confidence of the great
majority of the Islanders if the Judges be excluded from the Council. Moreover
there is a strong body of moderate opinion in. the Island in favour of retaining
the judicial element in the Council. We are agreed, therefore, in retaining the
Deemsters on the Council, at all events for the present. But while we agree that
two Judges should remain on the Council we think that no Judge should be a
member of an Executive Committee or Board of Tynwald. These Boards are
occasionally involved in litigation, and it is obviously undesirable that a Judge
should take part in any proceedings which may possibly come before the Courts.
24. We have carefully considered the question of the period for which the four
elected and the two nominated members should hold their seats and in what order they
should retire, if simultaneous retirement be not, as we think it is not, desirable.
We are agreed that the term of the Council's life should be longer than that of the
House of Keys, herein agreeing with local opinion which is impressed with the
importance of attaching to the Council what it now possesses, the dignity which an
uninterrupted tenure of office confers in popular estimation.
The Petition of February, 1907, proposes that the Council
should last for nine
years, the term of the Keys life being five years ; but eight years will fit in better
with a retirement. scheme (which we favour) requiring the retirement of two elected
and one nominated member every four years.
Some of us think that advantage will accrue by fixing the life of the Council
not at eight years, but for the life of two Keys, the advantage claimed being that
the Council will be more in touch with the Keys and the electorate if half of the
elected members of the Council and one of the two nominated came into office with
each fresh House of Keys. On the other hand the majority of us believe that the
Council will fuffil better its true function of moderating hasty legislative and executive
action if its recruitment is not so directly connected with that of the more popular
Chamber. Moreover, by this means it is claimed that currents of opinion would be
expressed at other than election times. It is doubtful whether great importance
really attaches to the point, but we submit both suggestions for the Secretary of