Key Facts

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The Branches of Tynwald

The High Court of Tynwald is historically comprised of three powers sitting as one body: The Lord of Mann (the sovereign or their representative, the Lieutenant Governor), the Legislative Council and the House of Keys.

The Legislative Council

The Legislative Council endorses legislation promoted by the Keys. The Council originally comprised the Lord’s officers and officials; the principal civil, military and ecclesiastical administrators of the Island. The majority of the Council are now elected by the House of Keys.

The House of Keys

The main function of the House of Keys is the consideration of Bills (draft legislation) before they are made Law by Act of Tynwald.
The role of the House of Keys has always been to represent the people of the Isle of Man in dealing with the Lord of Mann and his Council. The Keys became a publicly elected body in 1866.

Key Dates

Earliest reference to a Parliamentary Tynwald assembly in the Isle of Man.
New Public Library planned to be built in Castletown on a plot of land opposite Castle Rushen. The House of Keys are to meet in a room below the Library.
The British Crown ‘purchases’ the regalities of the Isle of Man from the hereditary Lord of Mann, the 3rd Duke of Atholl, for ยฃ70,000.
The House of Keys building is in a ‘ruinous state’ and the Keys move to the George Hotel. Additional plans for a new House of Keys building are submitted by the architect Thomas Brine.
Completion of the House of Keys building in Castletown.
Letter of complaint in the Rising Sun newspaper criticising the design of the new House of Keys building.
James Brown is tried by the House of Keys for libel and sentenced to six months in Castle Rushen gaol.
The House of Keys votes to accept election by the people.
The House of Keys moves from Castletown to the Douglas Court House, and in 1879, to the old Bank of Mona building in Douglas.
Women are given the vote for the House of Keys elections on the Isle of Man – the first women in the world to be given the vote in national elections.
The Isle of Man Constitution Act limited the powers of the Governor in Tynwald.
The House of Keys in Session - Photo: copyright Manx National Heritage
Following the decline of the Island’s tourist industry and the economic depression of the 1950s, the Manx Government decided to lower taxes to attract new residents and investment to the Island with the Income Tax (No. 2) Bill.
The Constitution Act removed the Governor as the presiding officer of Tynwald, being replaced by the new position of President of Tynwald.
Manx National Heritage restores the old House of Keys building in Castletown. The Old House of Keys opened to the public in November 2001.