It consists of eleven Members (MLCs):
The MLCs are elected by the members of the House of Keys for a term of five years. Four MLCs retire at a time, and four new MLCs are then elected. An MLC must be at least 21 years old and resident in the Isle of Man. Historically the election procedure has been cumbersome, and on some occasions in recent years the election has required a large number of ballots, stretching over a period of weeks or even months. However the Standing Orders of the House of Keys regarding the election of MLCs were amended on 4 April 2017, and a relevant Guidance Note was issued by the Speaker of the House of Keys in June 2017. In 2018, only one ballot was required, although some feel that that was at the cost of allowing members to vote for an excessive number of candidates (one member voted for 13 candidates out of 15 and another for 11).
Historically, most or all elected MLCs were former MHKs, but this practice has now much reduced or ceased.
Formerly, the Lieutenant Governor presided over the Legislative Council and over Tynwald Court (a joint session of the Council and the House of Keys). Now, however, the President of Tynwald, who is chosen by the whole Tynwald for a five-year term, is the ex officio President of the Legislative Council, and presides over both the Legislative Council and Tynwald Court, except that the Lieutenant Governor presides once a year on Tynwald Day.
Furthermore, the Church of England Bishop of Sodor and Man and the Attorney General have seats on the Legislative Council. The Bishop is a voting member, the Attorney General is a non-voting member, and the President has the casting vote.
The Council does not usually originate legislation (until recently the last Act originating from the Council was the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1986). Instead, it reviews draft legislation originating from the House of Keys. However the Equalities Bill currently going through Tynwald (as at March 2017) originated in the Council.
For many years there has been considerable debate about the functioning of Tynwald, and specifically about the composition, method of election, and functions of the Legislative Council. In the past, a number of reforms were made in the composition of the Legislative Council, which are set out below. In 2016 Lord Lisvane was asked to carry out a review of the functioning of Tynwald. Among his recommendations were:
The Lieutenant Governor is removed as Presiding Officer of Tynwald and replaced by a member of Tynwald elected by the Members of the Court (i.e. the High Court of Tynwald) as President of Tynwald. The President of Tynwald is also a member of the Legislative Council and presides at its sittings. The members are thus:
The non-ex officio members are elected by the House of Keys for terms which end at the end of February immediately before the fifth anniversary of their election.
|Steve Rodan||President of Tynwald||2016-2021||Clare Christian|
|Peter Eagles||Bishop of Sodor and Man||Since 2017||Robert Paterson|
|John Quinn||Acting Attorney General
|David Cretney||Elected Members||2015-20||-|
1 Elected under the name of Tanya Humbles
In marked contrast to tradition, all five members elected in March 2018 are women.
Four for a five-year term, replacing
and one for a two-year term, replacing David Anderson who stood down.
5 Elected for 5 year term
|2017||Resignation of Tony Wild||
|Note: As on other occasions, the 2015 elections took place over several sessions and many ballots.
These candidates did not all take part in all the ballots.
For the same reason it would not be useful to give the number of votes cast for each candidate.
|2011||Elevation of President of Tynwald||
|2011||Resignation of the President of Tynwald|
|2011||Resignation of the Attorney General||
|2008||Change in Lord Bishop||
|2003||Resignation of the Lord Bishop||
|2000||Resignation of the President of Tynwald||
|1998||Attorney General promoted to First Deemster||
Other candidates not known
Other candidates not known
|Robert Paterson||Bishop of Sodor and Man||2008-16||Graeme Paul Knowles|
|Stephen Harding QC||Attorney General||2011-13||John Corlett|
|Alan Crowe||Elected Member
|Dudley Butt||Elected Member||2005-15||Dominic Delaney|
|Alex Downie||Elected Member||2005-15||Ray Kniveton|
|Phil Braidwood||Elected Member||2010-15||George Waft|
|Tony Wild||Elected Member||2011-17||Clare Christian|
|David Callister||Elected Member||2008-2013||Pam Crowe|
|Edmund Lowey||Elected Member||1982-2013||George Swales|
|Leonard Singer||Elected Member||2003–2006||Alan Crowe|
|Arthur Christian Luft||Attorney General
|John William Corrin||Attorney General||1974–1980||Arthur Luft|
|Thomas William Cain QC||Attorney General||1980–1993||Jack Corrin|
|Michael Kerruish QC||Attorney General||1993–1998||William Cain|
|John Corlett QC||Attorney General||1998–2011||Michael Kerruish|
|Graeme Knowles||Bishop of Sodor and Man||2003–2008||Noël Jones|
|Donald Gelling||Elected Member||2002–2007||Norman Radcliffe|
|Clifford Irving||Elected Member||1987–1995||Matty Ward|
|Noel Cringle||President of Tynwald||2000–2011||Sir Charles Kerruish|
|Sir Charles Kerruish||President of Tynwald||1990–2000||Ian Anderson|
|Ian Anderson||Elected Member
President of the Legislative Council
[new position - elected member 8]
|Jack Nivison||Elected Member
President of the Legislative Council
|Joseph Qualtrough||Elected Member & Receiver General||1919–1933||New position|
|Joseph Cunningham||Elected Member||1919–1924||New position|
|R C Cain||Elected Member
& Receiver General (1934–1950)
|John Robert Kerruish||Elected Member||1919–1924||New position|
|William Southward||Elected Member||1919–1943||New position|
|Geo Drinkwater||Appointed Member||1919–1920||New position|
|Richard Barton Quirk||Appointed Member||1919–1942||New position|
|Sir John Bolton||Appointed Member
|G C Gale||Elected Member||1964–1966||Ewan Farrant|
|Ffinlo Corkill||Elected Member||1966–1974||G C Gale|
|Major Geoffrey Crellin||Elected Member||1975–1982||New position|
|Norman Crowe OBE JP||Elected Member||1970–1978||Cecil McFee|
|Captain John Crellin OBE MC JP||Appointed Member||1943–1962||Daniel Teare|
|Betty Hanson||Elected Member||1982–1988||Alfred Simcocks MBE|
|Robert Kerruish||Elected Member||1970–1985||?|
|Victor Kneale||Elected Member||1974–1981||Hubert Radcliffe|
|Roy MacDonald||Elected Member||1978–1985||Norman Crowe|
|Alec Moore||Elected Member||1979–1985||William E Quayle|
|Henry Nicholls||Elected Member||1958–1970||Joseph Callister|
|William E Quayle||Elected Member||1970–1978||[new position]|
|Willy Quirk||Elected Member||1987–1993||Dr Edgar Mann|
|Norman Radcliffe||Elected Member||1985–2002||Roy MacDonald|
|Percy Radcliffe||Elected Member||1980–1985||Sir John Bolton|
|Alfred Simcocks MBE||Elected Member||1974–1982||Ffinlo Corkhill|
|George Swales||Elected Member||1982–1982||Victor Kneale|
|Matthew Ward||Elected Member||1985–1987||Alec Moore|
|Arthur Attwell||Bishop of Sodor and Man||1983–1988||Vernon Nicholls|
|Noël Jones||Bishop of Sodor and Man||1989–2003||Arthur Attwell|
|Vernon Nicholls||Bishop of Sodor and Man||1973–1983||?|
|George Moore||First Deemster||1969–1974||?|
|Sir Ralph Stevenson GCMG CP JP||Appointed Member||1955–1970||?|
|William Watson Christian||?||1848–1867||?|
|Rev. William Christian||?||1883–1887||?|
|William Anderson||Receiver General||1894–1909||John Cowell|
|John Cowell||Receiver General||1909–1919||?|
|John Goldie-Taubman||Appointed Member||1921–1924||Geo Drinkwater|
|Edward Callister||Elected Member||1921–1931||John Robert Kerruish|
|John Clucas||Appointed Member||1924–1928||John Goldie-Taubman|
|Frank Dagleish||Elected Member||1931–1946||Edward Callister|
|Charles Gill||Elected Member||1934–1954||Arthur Crookall|
|Arthur Crookall||Elected Member||1934–1935||Joseph Qualtrough|
|Joseph Callister||Elected Member||1946–1958||?|
|Ewan Farrant||Elected Member||1954–1964||?|
The original function of the Legislative Council was executive (i.e. giving advice to the Lieutenant Governor) and its membership was entirely appointed, as follows:
The first seven were Crown appointments and the last two appointments by the Bishop. Reforms were slowly made to reduce the number of judicial and religious appointments and these members were slowly replaced by indirectly elected members.
In 1917, the Judicature (Amendment) Act introduced by the Legislative Council removed Clerk of the Rolls from the composition of the Council. It then consisted of the following members:
The above 1917 Act abolished the Clerk of the Rolls as a separate office-holder. The role was taken on by the First Deemster. There is no obvious evidence that a Water Bailiff was a member of the Council in the years leading up to or following 1917, and that office may have been abolished some time previously.
This document  suggests that by 1872 the office of Water Bailiff may have been combined with that of Receiver-General.
In 1919, The Archdeacon; the Vicar General; and the Receiver General were removed as ex officio members of the Council by the Isle of Man Constitution Amendment Act 1919. The members were thus:
Replaced an appointed member by an elected member.
The Second Deemster lost his seat in the Council. The members were thus:
The Isle of Man Constitution Act 1969 removed the two appointed members of the LegCo. The members were thus:
The First Deemster lost his seat in the Council, by virtue of the Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1975. The members were thus:
The Lieutenant Governor was removed as Presiding Officer and replaced by an indirectly elected President of the Legislative Council. The Governor still presided at joint sittings of Tynwald. The members were thus: