The Civil Service has more than 2,000 employees and the total number of public sector employees including civil servants, teachers, nurses, police, etc. was 7,413 full time equivalent at 31 March 2019. This is just under 10% of the population of the Island and 21% of the working population. This does not include any military forces, as defence is the constitutional responsibility of the United Kingdom.
The Government consists of eight departments, seven statutory boards, and numerous other governmental and quasi-independent agencies. The departments all report directly to the Council of Ministers through their respective minister. Departments 'sponsor' other public bodies to enable a conduit into the Council of Ministers. This arrangement extends to Tynwald and its branches for public bodies that do not have a member of Tynwald on their board.
Before modern times the government of the Isle of Man was in the hands of the Governor (or Lieutenant Governor), who was the representative of the Lord of Man, assisted by his Council, consisting of the other permanent officials (the Bishop, Archdeacon, Deemsters, Attorney General, etc.). The Council evolved into the Legislative Council, the upper chamber of Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man.
After the Revestment in 1765 the Lieutenant Governor and his officials were the agents of the British Government, and not democratically responsible to the Manx people. Conflict between the House of Keys (popularly elected after 1866) and the Lieutenant Governor came to a head during the tenure of George Somerset (1902–18).
Council of Ministers
After World War I the Lieutenant Governor gradually ceded control to Tynwald, a process guided by the reports of commissions and other bodies in 1911, 1959 and 1969. An Executive Council, chaired by him and including members of Tynwald, was established in 1949, and gradually thereafter became the effective government of the Island. Finance and the police came under local control between 1958 and 1976. The Lieutenant Governor ceased to chair the Executive Council in 1980, being replaced by a chairman elected by Tynwald, and the Council was reconstituted in 1985 to include the chairmen of the eight principal Boards; in 1986 they were given the title 'Minister' and the chairman was styled 'Chief Minister'. In 1990 the Council was renamed the 'Council of Ministers'.
During the 19th century several bodies, which came to be known as 'Boards of Tynwald', were created to exercise functions under democratic control. These included the Board of Education (1872), Highway Board (1874), Asylums Board (1888), Government Property Trustees (1891) and Local Government Board (1894). However, although direct taxation was levied by Tynwald, the Boards' freedom of action before the 1960s was limited by the Lieutenant Governor's control of the Island's budget and his power to appoint certain of their members.
The structure of the Boards of Tynwald, along with other bodies variously called 'Statutory Boards' and 'Commercial Boards', became increasingly unwieldy after the 1950s, and was eventually reformed in the 1980s, when a system of 'ministerial government' was set up.
The Departments and Statutory Boards which existed before the reorganisation in 2010, and their predecessors, are shown below:
Finance Board, 1961–1985
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 1986–2010