[From 1911 MacDonnell Inquiry]


25. No demand has been submitted to us for any constitutional change in
respect of the House of Keys ; but a claim has been urged that all Financial
Legislation should originate or be initiated in that House and not in the Legislative
Council (as is usually the case at present), and that when the two chambers
are in. conflict over a particular legislative measure the conflict should be decided
by a joint session of both houses and joint voting.

In the present condition of things the Insular Government is not represented
in the House of Keys. Its strength is concentrated in the Legislative Council in
which all the ex officio members sit. It naturally follows that Government measures
are usually if not invariably introduced into the Council, where the Lieutenant-
Governor possesses in the Judges and the .Attorney-General highly competent
exponents of his motives and policy. But when a Bill, having passed through its
various stages in the Council, is sent to the Keys, the Government is immediately
placed at a disadvantage. There is no member of the Keys whom it can as a matter
of course call. on to take charge of the Bill, and the practice most frequently is to
send the Bill to the Speaker of the Keys with a request that he will, with the friendly
help of some member, bring it under the notice of the House and conduct it through
its various stages. These circumstances disclose a real defect in the Parliamentary
procedure of the Island which should. be corrected without delay. The proper
corrective is suggested by the Netherlands Constitution, which, to meet a very
similar situation, enables the Government to depute a member of the Upper Chamber
or a committee of members on whom it can rely to conduct the Bill through the
Lower Chamber. The member or committee of members so deputed enjoy all the
privileges of audience and speech (but not of course the right to vote) necessary for
the conduct of the Bill through the House, We recommend that a similar provision
be introduced without delay into the Manx Constitution.

Until this recommendation is carried into effect it would not be practicable to
require that Financial Legislation should be initiated in the House of Keys and not in
the Legislative Council. Even if the recommendation were carried into effect we
should 'be reluctant to impose on the Insular Government an absolute obligation in all
cases to initiate Money Bills in the House of Keys, although we should regard with
satisfaction the growth of such a practice in the Island. The desire of the Keys that
all Money Bills should be initiated in that House is no doubt influenced. by English
Parliamentary theory and practice; but on the other hand the adoption. of such an
exclusive rule would not be consistent with Manx constitutional custom, which we
desire to preserve whenever possible. If our recommendation to introduce an elective
element into the Council be adopted, that Chamber will reflect popular opinion in a
very effective manner, and moreover we prefer that such an important change as the
transfer of initiative in financial legislation from one chamber to the other should be
as far as possible of spontaneous and gradual growth and not an artificial and
sudden change. While, therefore, regarding with satisfaction the probable growth
in question, we think it better to leave it to the Lieutenant-Governor to decide
when. a Money Bill should be introduced in the Legislative Council and when in
the House of Keys. In coming to his decision the Lieutenant-Governor will of course
have regard to the feeling of Tynwald and the circumstances of the case.

26. The proposal strongly urged on us during our inquiries in the Island that,
when both Houses are in conflict over a Bill, the two Houses should, on the demand
of either, sit together and decide the conflict by joint voting, raises an issue of
far-reaching constitutional importance ; as it tends to weaken if not to destroy the
check which the Council has hitherto been able to impose on the action of the
more democratic House.

Having given the matter our careful attention we have come to the unanimous
decision that, in view of our proposed reconstruction of the Legislative Council by the
admission of elected members and nominated non-official members, we consider
that as much will be done as should. be done at present to make the Council
appreciative of and responsive to the democratic spirit which acts more directly
upon the House of Keys. We consider that whenever differences of opinion occur
between the remodelled Council and the House of Keys free recourse should be had to
conferences between the Houses, as the best method of reconciling differences of
opinion. At all events until the effect of our proposed reconstruction of the Council
is fully ascertained by experience, we do not recommend that in matters of legislation,
or even in matters of finance alone, there should be a joint sitting and joint voting by
both Houses.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2005