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The Crown Dependencies

Published Thursday, July 4, 2019

A briefing paper on the Crown Dependencies

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The Crown Dependencies are the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey (which includes Alderney and Sark) and the Isle of Man.

The Crown Dependencies are not part of the UK but are self-governing dependencies of the Crown. This means they have their own directly-elected legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and courts of law. They are not represented in the UK Parliament. The Crown Dependencies have never been colonies of the UK. Nor are they British Overseas Territories, like Gibraltar, which have a different relationship with the UK.

The constitutional relationship of the Islands with the UK is through the Crown and is not enshrined in any formal constitutional document. The UK Government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the Islands, while the Crown, acting through the Privy Council, is ultimately responsible for ensuring their “good government”.

Primary legislation passed by the UK Parliament does not ordinarily apply to the Crown Dependencies. In certain cases it can be extended by Order in Council made with the agreement of the Crown Dependencies concerned under an enabling provision, known as a permissive extent clause, contained in the Act of Parliament.

This briefing paper examines the constitutional status of the Crown Dependencies, their history and governance, as well as relations with the UK, international treaties and the impact of Brexit.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8611

Author: David Torrance

Topics: Central government, Constitution, Crown, Parliament

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