Concerns over loss of Bishop’s vote

Jason Moorhouse MHK for Castletown and Arbory has expressed deep concern over the potential loss of the Bishop’s vote in Tynwald and he writes on social media:

Good Morning,

This is important! This post is about a change which could happen, because the role is historic, religious, not elected by the people and a quite remote from the daily life of many people on the Island.

However, I would ask you to please spend a few moments reading and thinking about this – Change is not always good!

Change does happen, however the need for change must always be carefully assessed.

In recent months, I have challenged the current government on several policies such as the one to increase the population without getting the basics right – Housing, access to a dentist, health care and the need to ensure that the challenges faced by small businesses are not overlooked etc. From my perspective if we get these right, the population will increase at an appropriate rate and in an appropriate manner…

As a Backbencher it can be difficult and frustrating to raise such concerns, because the Council of Ministers, the related Department and ‘Wanna-be-Ministers’ will always push through the policy they want.

Given that situation, it is really important that there are a number of ‘Independently Minded’ individuals in Tynwald, not there to rant and to block progress, but to reflect on alternatives – To raise concerns in a positive and constructive manner.

From my perspective the Bishop’s role is to do that and some such as Bishop Peter have carried out the role well. The Bishop‘s position in the wider society is to listen to those in need and those who are helping individuals with challenges.

Within Tynwald, the Bishop also has a historic role, from my perspective it is a visual sign that we are not a regional council, but a parliament with an incredible history.

One of the most significant things Bishop Peter was able to do was to reflect the thoughts of the people who need a voice, the ones who are inconvenient and are often forgotten about.

Bishop Peter also clearly stated that he believed, whilst on the Island his role in Tynwald was the priority. He was there at almost every sitting and whilst his contributions were rare when he spoke Members listened.

Yesterday, Mr Hooper was given leave to Introduce a Bill which aims to remove the Bishop’s vote.

As I said in my speech that appears opportunistic at a time when the new Bishop is being chosen. What will the implications be? Hopefully the process will continue, but there is the possibility that it will be paused.

At a time when there are more people on the Island struggling to find a home, to feed their family and keep their businesses going. I worry that our focus is on the wrong thing and that rather than improving our parliament, this could detract from it and the person who has historically been able to raise concerns about the challenges faced by local people will not yet be silenced, but his vote, which I would argue is a Tynwald Members most powerful tool could soon be lost.

For those outside Tynwald, the change might appear minor and something that should be considered.

However, as someone who was first elected with no prior thoughts about the Bishops role, I am really concerned about what this change could mean for the Isle of Man, an ‘easy to forget’ group of individuals and Tynwald.

As was mentioned in yesterday’s debate neither Jeremy Corbyn in his plans for the UK nor Lord Lisvane in his suggested reforms of Tynwald advocated such a change:

I really do hope that everybody will take a moment to consider the full implications of what began in a short debate in the House of Keys on Tuesday 7th November 2023 – What do you think?


Mr Moorhouse can be contacted on the details below:

Jason Robert Moorhouse MHK

Tel: (01624) 651533

Details of all the members of the Legislative Council and the House of Keys can be found HERE. Please do take the time to express your opinion on this important matter.