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Tributes paid to David Cannan, former Speaker of the House of Keys

Portrait of David Cannan in the House of Keys Chamber in Douglas, painted by Svetlana Cameron and unveiled in October 2011.

​Tributes have been paid to John David Qualtrough Cannan, former Speaker of the House of Keys, who has died at the age of 85.

The present Speaker of the House of Keys, The Hon Juan Watterson SHK, said:

“David was a political grandee spanning a generation of Manx politics, proudly representing the constituency of Michael.  A political career of almost thirty years took him from Treasury Minister to Speaker. I was privileged to work alongside him during his final term and see a political operator in action. He was particularly proud of his involvement in providing sheltered housing in Kirk Michael, and worked tirelessly with his wife Patricia to support his constituents in multiple endeavours.”

The President of Tynwald, The Hon Laurence Skelly MLC, said:

“For nearly three decades David served the constituency of Michael with distinction.  During his tenure he held esteemed posts and will also be remembered as an articulate and formidable debater where he achieved many positive outcomes for the people he represented.”

Mr Cannan was first elected to the House of Keys in the constituency of Michael in a bye-election in 1982 and never failed to be re-elected, being returned by his constituents at every subsequent General Election up to and including 2006. In 2011 he decided not to stand.

As well as serving over the course of 29 years in numerous Boards, Departments and Committees, Mr Cannan made significant contributions to the development of the Island’s system of parliamentary government. As early as October 1984 he proposed that the role of Chairman of Executive Council be renamed as “Chief Minister” – a term which was formally adopted in statute two years later.

In December 1986 Mr Cannan was appointed as the Island’s first Treasury Minister. He remained in this role for three years, serving concurrently as Chair of the Financial Services Commission (a combination which would no longer be possible today).

In April 2000, following the retirement of Sir Charles Kerruish and the election of Noel Cringle as President of Tynwald, Mr Cannan was elected Speaker of the House of Keys having been proposed by Edgar Quine and seconded by Adrian Duggan. He served in this capacity until the Dissolution of the House preceding the 2001 General Election; and after that Election he continued for 10 years on the back benches.

On the occasion of his retirement in July 2011, David Cannan was described by then President of Tynwald, Clare Christian, as “political pugilist in the heavyweight division, a determined fighter in pursuit of his political objectives.”

For further information please contact:

Joann Corkish
Deputy Clerk of Tynwald
Legislative Buildings
Tel: 01624 686303
Published - 01/08/2022