A MAJOR shake-up of the House of Keys has moved a step closer after Tynwald accepted that the house be divided into 12 constituencies, each returning two members.
Following a lengthy debate on Tuesday, the court gave its support – with 19 votes for, 10 against – to allow the Boundary Review Committee to complete its report by defining and delineating the boundaries.
It is due to report back to Tynwald by June 2013.
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Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK described the debate as ‘predictable and demoralising’, and evidence of how hard it would be to achieve change.
In particular, he congratulated Rushen MHKs Juan Watterson, Phil Gawne and Laurence Skelly for ‘the co-ordination of the attack’.
There were some four amendments, which all failed, put forward by members.
Mr Gawne, one of a number of members who criticised the committee’s second interim report for a lack of detail, called for a more detailed explanation of its reasoning not to endorse a model with eight constituencies each returning three members.
Peel MHK Tim Crookall called for the committee to consider how many two-seat constituencies would best serve the island’s needs.
Six constituencies of four members each was put forward by Onchan MHK Peter Karran (LibVan), who said it would lead to members focusing on national issues: ‘We have got to get the debate higher, not lower.’
Meanwhile Eddie Lowey MLC called for Tynwald to just note the report, saying there was ‘no consensus’ among members on what change was needed.
Acknowledging some would accuse him of ‘kicking the issue into the long grass’ he added: ‘I believe the system we have got is working extremely well.’
Middle MHK Howard Quayle – member of the most under-represented constituency – said he supported the committee’s recommendations to proceed with 12 two-seat constituencies, saying if members didn’t support it then they would be letting down his constituents through self-interest.
Castletown MHK Richard Ronan claimed: ‘If the report is shelved it will leave us in a position where we can be challenged in the European courts as being unconstitutional and I have assurances this is likely to happen.’
The shake-up would lead to equality of representation. Under the current system, 23 per cent of the electorate have three votes each, 37 per cent have one vote each and 40 per cent have two votes each.
Based on 2010/11 figures, the average number of voters per House of Keys seat is 2,548. In Middle there are 3,794 voters per seat – 48.9 per cent more than the average and in Peel the number of voters per seat is 40.1 per cent higher than average.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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