House of Keys

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House of Keys

Yn Kiare as Feed
Seats24 MHKs
Political groups
  •   Liberal Vannin (1)
  •   Independent (23)
Multiple non-transferable vote
Last election
22 September 2016
Next election
September 2021
Meeting place
Chamber of the House of Keys, Legislative Buildings, Douglas
Coat of arms of the Isle of Man.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Isle of Man

The House of Keys (Manx: Yn Kiare as Feed) is the directly elected lower house of Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, the other branch being the Legislative Council.


The oldest known reference to the name is in a document of 1417, written by an English scholar in Latin, which refers to Claves Mann (the ‘Keys of Mann’) and Claves Legis (the ‘Keys of Law’). There is a dispute, however, over the origin of the name. The word keys is thought by some to be an English corruption of a form of the Norse verb kjósa (‘to choose’). However, a more likely explanation is that it is a mishearing of the Manx-language term for ‘four and twenty’: kiare as feed (['ciːəs 'fid]), the House having always had 24 members. The Manx-language name of the House remains Yn Kiare as Feed (‘The Four and Twenty’).


Members are known as Members of the House of Keys (MHKs). Citizens over the age of 16 may vote, while one must be at least 18 years old and a resident of the Island for three years to be elected an MHK. There are 12 constituencies, mainly based on the sheadings and on local government units. (A few local government units are split between two constituencies.) Each sends two members to the House of Keys, elected by plurality voting (each elector can vote for up to two candidates). The term of the House of Keys is normally fixed at five years, but provisions exist for dissolution before the expiration of the term.

The Speaker of the House of Keys (SHK) is an MHK elected by the Keys as the presiding officer. The Speaker votes in the House of Keys, but, unlike other members, may abstain; however, when the vote is tied the Speaker must cast the deciding vote. The Speaker also acts as Deputy President of Tynwald Court.

The House of Keys elects 8 of the 11 members of the Legislative Council. Legislation does not usually originate in the Council. (There are exceptions: for example the Equality Bill was introduced in the Legislative Council in late 2016.) Thus, the Keys have much more power than the Council, which performs the function of a revising chamber.

The House of Keys meets about once each month together with the Legislative Council in a joint session called Tynwald Court. The President of Tynwald, elected by both branches, presides over Tynwald Court and over the Legislative Council. Once each year, however, on Tynwald Day, the Isle of Man's national day, the Lieutenant Governor presides.

Meeting place[edit]

The House of Keys usually meets in their chamber in the Legislative Buildings in Douglas. Seating is allocated in alphabetical order by constituency name (in English). On 14 March 2017 the Keys met in the Old House of Keys in Castletown, for the first time since 1874, to commemorate the sesquicentenary of the first elected House of Keys.


Current members (as of August 2020)[edit]

Constituency MHKs
Arbory, Castletown & Malew Graham Cregeen
Jason Moorhouse
Ayre & Michael Tim Baker
Alfred Cannan
Douglas Central Ann Corlett
Christopher Thomas
Douglas East Chris Robertshaw (Deputy Speaker)
Clare Barber (previously Clare Bettison)
Douglas North Ralph Peake
David Ashford
Douglas South Claire Christian†
Paul Quine
Garff Daphne Caine
Martyn Perkins
Glenfaba & Peel Geoffrey Boot
Ray Harmer
Middle Howard Quayle (Chief Minister)
Bill Shimmins
Onchan Julie Edge
Rob Callister
Ramsey Alex Allinson
Lawrie Hooper (Liberal Vannin)
Rushen Laurence Skelly
Juan Watterson (Speaker)
  • All members other than the Liberal Vannin member sit as independents.

† Will become MHKs when sworn in.

External links[edit]

  • House of Keys
  • Elections to the House (Dead Link)
  • Enfranchisement @ 16 years (BBC)
  • - 2006 General Election
  • Access to work & info of members of IoM Tynwald
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Key" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. (The last paragraph of this article speculates on the origins of the name "House of Keys").

Coordinates: 54°09′03″N 4°28′56″W / 54.15083°N 4.48222°W / 54.15083; -4.48222