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House of Keys

The House of Keys is the directly elected lower Branch of the Tynwald of the Isle of Man, the other of the two Branches being the Legislative Council.

The word 'keys' is thought to be of Norse origin, meaning 'chosen'. In Manx the House of Keys is called Yn Chiare-as-Feed, or 'the twenty-four'. Members are known as Members of the House of Keys, or MHKs.

Those over the age of eighteen may vote, while one must be at least twenty-one years old and a resident of the Island for three years to be elected. There are fifteen constituencies, known as sheadings, two of which choose three MHKs each, five choose two MHKs each, and eight choose one MHK each. The term of the House of Keys is normally five years, but provisions exist for dissolution before the expiration of the term.

The Speaker of the House of Keys (SHK) is an MHK chosen to be the presiding officer. He may vote in the same manner as other members, but he may also abstain, unlike the others. (If, however, the vote is tied, the Speaker may not abstain and must cast the deciding vote.)

The House of Keys elects most of the members of the Legislative Council. Also, legislation does not usually originate in the Council. Thus, the Keys have much more power than the Council, which performs its actions as a revising chamber.

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