The five new, all-female, members of the Legislative Council have been officially sworn in by the First Deemster.

Their election means that there are now more women in Tynwald than ever before.

The election was decided on a single round of voting with Jane Poole-Wilson topping the poll with 22 votes, Kate Lord-Brennan receiving 16 votes, Tanya Humbles 15 votes, Marlene Hendy 14 votes and Kerry Sharpe 13 votes.

Mrs Sharpe will serve the two-year term to February 29, 2020, while the others will serve a full five years until February 28, 2023.

This was the second election to be run under the new system adopted by the Keys in April last year.

Under the old secret ballot system MHKs could only vote up to the number of vacancies that existed.

But under the new system, they can vote for as many candidates as they like.

In Monday’s election, one MHK, Julie Edge (Onchan) voted for only two of the 15 candidates while Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas (Douglas Central) voted for 13 out of the 15.

David Cretney MLC welcomed the new system. He said: ’Some MHKs have presumably determined that more than five candidates are suitable as MLCs.’

Meanwhile, clerk of Tynwald Roger Phillips has defended the decision to close the press bench during the election.

With the public gallery full with candidates and their supporters, our reporter was refused access to the vote despite arriving before the sitting began.

Mr Phillips said: ’The press bench was closed because it is deemed inappropriate for anyone other than officers of the House to see the results of the election before the results are announced (which is either possible or apparently possible if you sit on the press bench).

’Election of MLCs differs from other votes in the Keys because the electronic system is used in a different way and requires all screens other than that of the Secretary of the House to be switched off while voting takes place.

’This was the case at the last election under the new procedure, when Mrs Poole-Wilson was elected for the first time. I have made a note to remind the press in advance of this feature of the procedure next time it is used.’

Mr Phillips said that because there was an usually large number of candidates, space in the Chamber was limited. He pointed out that other members of the press who arrived earlier were able to find a place. Asked who those were, he said there were two Manx Radio journalists and ’Gef the Mongoose, who is a reporter (accredited or not)’.

Isle of Man Newspapers has requested a meeting with the Clerk and Speaker Juan Watterson to find out why there was no forewarning of the closure of the press bench, and why no alternative arrangements were made for the accredited press.