Posted 21/05/2009 - 15:50 by Lucky Jim

If you feel you have lost hope, then this will help to restore your spirits!

UK Treasury officials have been saying that the UK has no constitutional means of exerting influence over the activities of the IoM, and therefore cannot interfere with the way it functions. This is palpably not correct.

Despite not being part of the United Kingdom the Isle of Man is intricately linked to the UK by virtue of it coming under the British Crown. The inhabitants of the IoM are treated as subjects of the British Crown and come under the United Kingdom for the purposes of the British Nationality Act.

Being a possession of the British monarch means that it does not have independent status as a sovereign nation in its own right. It has no independent status in the United Nations, in Europe or in any other multilateral organisation. The British government is responsible for representing the Island at international assemblies and for its good governance in international affairs.

A UK Minister is appointed as Privy Councillor with the specific responsibility for ensuring the good governance of the Crown Dependencies. This role is currently undertaken by a Minister of State from the UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) which acts as the principal channel of communication between the UK government and the three Crown Dependencies of the IoM, Jersey & Guernsey. There is regular contact between Crown Dependency officials and other Whitehall departments, but the MoJ is the official link between the UK government and other authorities

The UK Ministry of Justice is also responsible for processing draft legislation from the Isle of Man prior to it receiving assent from the Queen in Council, and the MoJ is additionally responsible for consulting with the IoM on extending UK legislation to it.

In addition to having effective responsibility for vetting all legislation passed by the local legislatures of the Crown Dependencies the MoJ is also responsible for the appointment of almost all the key officials in the Crown Dependencies, including the Demesters and High Baillif in the Isle of Man. Likewise the Attorneys-General, Solicitors-General, and stipendiary Magistrates are all Crown Appointments. The British monarch is also responsible for appointing the Crown’s personal representative to the IoM -- the Lieutenant Governor.

Like most things relating to Britain’s constitutional arrangements, there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding the exact nature of the relationship between the UK and the IoM. This allows for a certain amount of obfuscation and playing with smoke and mirrors to present a picture that suits the UK’s political games in the international arena.

But there is the 1972/73 Royal Commission on the Constitution (the Kilbrandon Report) which whilst acknowledging a degree of uncertainty, also states as follows:
“the United Kingdom Government are responsible for defence and international relations of the Islands, and the Crown is ultimately responsible for their good government. It falls to the Home Secretary to advise the Crown on the exercise of those duties and responsibilities. The United Kingdom Parliament has the power to legislate for the Islands, but it would exercise that power without their agreement in relation to domestic matters only in most exceptional circumstances”.

“[The UK] Parliament does have power to legislate for the Island without their consent on any matter in order to give effect to an international agreement”
Source: Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 3 June 1998, cols. 471 and 465

Times have changed slightly since then: the MoJ has replaced the Home Office, but the wording is clear and unambiguous; the Crown is ultimately responsible for the IoM's good government. It is clear that the UK Parliament does have power to legislate for the Island without its consent on any matter in order to give effect to an international agreement.

This constitutional position gives the DAG a strong string to its bow. If HMG can be faced with a clear demand that the pan-European policy on safeguarding deposits must be extended to the IoM, if necessary by legislation, then the IoM government will be forced to restore to depositors 100% of their savings.

The DAG Strategy Team is working on it!

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