Public sought for Guernsey-UK relationship review

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Two members of the public are being sought to assist a review of Guernsey's relationship with the UK.

The committee will look at how laws are approved by the Privy Council, how UK laws are extended to the Bailiwick and the island's capacity to make treaties.

The committee will also include the chief minister and four other deputies.

The States agreed to form the committee due to concerns over possible conflicts in the UK Government's current role in approving island legislation.

In proposing the setting up of the committee the Policy Council, the island's council of ministers, said it was "not a call for independence".

Powers of the Crown

  • Foreign affairs, including the making of treaties
  • Defence of the Islands (including declaring war)
  • Making of legislation
  • Judicial system (such as appointment of the Bailiff and other Crown officers)
  • Granting of honours
  • Issue of Royal Charters

It said it "related to the Privy Council involvement with Guernsey primary legislation and reliance on the UK Government to negotiate Guernsey's own treaties".

Currently laws have to be ratified by the Privy Council, which has a responsibility to ensure legislation is compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights and other international obligations.

The Committee of the Privy Council for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey includes a minister from the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the relationship between the UK government and the Crown Dependencies.

This means under the current constitutional relationship the UK government can interfere with the will of the islands' governments and there is a risk this could solely be for political reasons.

Sir Alan Beith, chairman of a Commons Justice Select Committee reviewing the relationship between UK and the Crown Dependencies, said last month the UK needed to consult the islands more on international matters including the signing of treaties.

Origins of constitutional relationship

  • 933 - Incorporated into Duchy of Normandy
  • 1066 - William, 7th Duke of Normandy, won the Battle of Hastings and became King of England
  • 1204 - Loss of continental Normandy, but islands stay loyal to the English Crown
  • 1259 - Henry III surrendered Duke of Normandy title
  • 1394 - First in a series of Royal Charters confirming islanders' rights

Proposals for change include the possibility of delegating some power to Guernsey's Lieutenant Governor, the Queen's representative in the Bailiwick, which has already happened in the Isle of Man.

The Policy Council believes if constitutional change in the island's relationship with the English Crown is believed to be needed then islanders will need to be consulted.

As part of this the council is developing plans to allow referendums, something that was agreed by the States in 2003 but has yet to be enacted.

Applications close on 4 November.

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