Navigate Up

Nicola Cowsill | October 2015

The 2015-16 parliamentary year started this month which meant I was involved with the live sittings of Tynwald Court and House of Keys. Legislative Council did not sit in October. For people that don’t know, the Legislative Council and the House of Keys, sit separately to consider legislation, and also sit together as the High Court of Tynwald for other parliamentary purposes: 
  • House of Keys - 24 directly elected members
  • Legislative Council - 11 indirectly elected members
  • Tynwald Court - the members from both branches controlled by the President 

Every third Tuesday of the month (except for when the parliament is in recess) the Tynwald Court discusses the business as set out in the Order Paper.

For the October sittings I spent my time with the Hansard team in the Clerk of Tynwald's Office. I sat with the Hansard Executive who was overseeing the recording for the first House of Keys sitting of the session. I found this really engaging to watch what they do and how Hansard works Hansard began in the Isle of Man in the 1880s and has advanced with technology over time. Today the team use a pioneering voice recognition system to record and transcribe proceedings. Digital voice profiles are taken for all new members, which allow the software to rapidly convert spoken words into written text. The Hansard team listen back to the digital audio while editing the automatic transcript for accuracy. A fully formatted ‘rolling’ report is published to the Tynwald website, the first sections being available within hours of the sitting.

I have also been editing the audio for the website for the Listen again feature. This has been interesting as I have now been involved with the creation of the Order Paper, watched how it is used in the Chamber, through to how the sections are then cut down to be as accessible as possible online for the world to listen to.

From October I have been appointed as Secretary of the Tynwald Advisory Council for Disabilities (TACD) until the end of my internship here at Legislative buildings. This is a great opportunity as it will increase my organisational skills and further my knowledge. It is a great opportunity to see how the statutory boards of Tynwald work.

I gave a lecture in the middle of the month to King William’s College with the Deputy Clerk of Tynwald to explain to the Lower Sixth how Tynwald works and the differences between the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom. This was requested by the school and part of my role is to educate the students on-island. With the general election in 2016 and the voting age being 16years old can vote, it is imperative that students know how our political system works. The students engaged very well with the presentation by asking informed questions about the parliament, but mostly about legislation. As many of the students at King William's college are not from the Isle of Man, they were very interested in our unique laws, especially our special relationship with the European Union. 

The Deputy Clerk of Tynwald is my mentor and I have been sitting with Mr King at the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee (SAPRC) meetings. SAPRC is one of the Standing Committees of Tynwald. There are different types of committees in Tynwald Court and its branches. A Standing Committee  is a permanent committee unlike a Select Committee. Details on the work of committees is in the Tynwald CompanionThis has been a very interesting experience for me personally, as I have been drawing direct comparisons from the committees I used to attend at Newcastle City Council whilst studying at university.

This has been my most exciting month so far as the sittings have started, it has been such a privilege to be able to sit in the sittings and watch Manx politics in action.