Remove bishop from House of Keys, say humanists on Isle of Man

30 January, 2024

Humanists UK has called on its members and supporters in the Isle of Man to respond to a crucial public consultation to ask to remove the automatic right of the Bishop of Sodor and Man to vote in the Tynwald (Manx parliament).

The consultation, initiated through a private members’ bill proposed by Lawrie Hooper MHK, seeks the community’s feedback on the role of the Bishop of Sodor and Man within the Tynwald. Currently, the Bishop holds an automatic seat in the Legislative Council, with the authority to vote on legislative matters. Additionally, the consultation seeks opinions on the tradition of beginning each day in the Tynwald with Anglican prayers.

Humanists UK’s stance on this issue aligns with its longstanding campaign for the elimination of preferential treatment in politics based on religion or belief. The current arrangement in the Isle of Man not only undermines democratic principles but also infringes upon the fundamental right to Freedom of Religion and Belief.

This mirrors the situation in the House of Lords where 26 seats are reserved for bishops of the Church of England. Humanists UK has been at the forefront of advocating for the removal of these religious representatives from the legislative process, arguing that such arrangements are discriminatory and outdated.

Last year, the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG), for which Humanists UK acts as secretariat, organised a debate in Parliament which examined the role of 26 Church of England bishops voting in the House of Lords. To date, no one has put forward a convincing case for maintaining the current discriminatory arrangements.

You can find the consultation here. It closes on 29 February.

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Kathy Riddick said:

‘The consultation on the role of the Bishop of Sodor and Man signifies a crucial step towards making sure that the Tynwald is genuinely reflective of the diverse beliefs and values of the Isle of Man, fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy. 

’We hope that the law passes and that the Government in Westminster will take note of the Isle of Man’s approach and give the same right to a voice on the place of bishops in the House of Lords’

Remove bishop from House of Keys
This is an crucial opportunity for the Isle of Man to re-evaluate the presence of archaic discriminatory laws which give the Church of England undemocratic additional representation and a vote in Tynwald. 

Notes

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at press@humanists.uk or phone 07534 248 596.

Read more about our work on disestablishment and bishops in the House of Lords.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.