Tynwald time limit experiment failed

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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Time limits on parliamentary speeches will not be introduced after an experiment failed to prove the case for change.

Speaker Steve Rodan suggested ‘toying with the notion of time limits’ might be ‘trying to solve a problem that does not exist’.

An experiment on time limiting speeches was carried out at the July Tynwald following a call from the Bishop Robert Paterson.

During that sitting, members were restricted to 20 minutes to make a statement or move a report while moving any other motion was limited to 15 minutes. They had a maximum of 10 minutes when speaking to a motion or amendment and contributions at Question Time could be no longer than five minutes.

But the Speaker said the standing orders committee had concluded the experiment ‘did not seem to affect the length of speeches much, or indeed at all’.

None of the time limits was breached and it was arguable whether they would have been breached had there been no time limit imposed.

‘Is this a matter about the quantity of speech or the quality of speech?’ he asked.

Mr Rodan said if quantity was the issue and the argument was business not getting through as a result of over-lengthy speeches, it was interesting to note how many times Tynwald had sat for extended periods over the last five years.

Tynwald had sat 51 times during that time but there were only 17 occasions, one in three, when it had gone into a second day.

There were only four occasions when it had sat for three full days in the last five years, and only one time when the court had sat past 8pm on the third day, although there was one sitting that finished at 7.58pm on the third day.

He said this did not amount to evidence that the length of speeches is an obstacle to the court completing its business.

Turning to the quality of speeches, Mr Rodan suggested it was for members to ‘self-regulate’ and it was his view they should have the time they need to make their case as they see fit.

He added members would be wise, if they wanted to get their argument across, to ‘make their speech shorter rather than long and tedious’.

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