Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, Essex, argued that the increased powers given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of devolution has strengthened the case for other British jurisdictions, such as the crown dependencies and the British overseas territories, to have their political representatives in London, reports newspaper the Jersey Evening Post.
Rosindell is advocating for a system where, as well as their legislative assemblies, the crown dependencies are treated as a constituency that elects a separate politician to send to Westminster.
The crown dependencies are the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man. They are not part of the UK nor are they overseas territories, like Gibraltar, which have a different relationship with the UK, and are instead self-governing dependencies of the crown.
This means they have their own directly elected legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and their courts of law.
The constitutional relationship of the Islands with the UK is through the crown and is not enshrined in a formal constitutional document.
The UK Government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the islands. The crown, acting through the privy council, is ultimately responsible for ensuring their good governance.
However, the crown dependencies are not represented in the UK Parliament.
According to Rosindell, this is “unfair” since other British jurisdictions like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have semi-independent governments, but are still represented by MPs in Westminster, who have the right to vote in parliament.
“The UK has specific constitutional and legal responsibilities for her overseas territories and crown dependencies – we have shared values and will always respect the right to self-determination,” Rosindell said.
“But because of the responsibility Britain holds towards their security and good governance, I think some form of Westminster representation should be on the cards.”
Rosindell formed part of the Foreign Affairs Committee membership for the 2015-17 parliament, which ceased to exist when it was dissolved on 3 May 2017.
He is also the chairman of the Channel Islands’ All Party Parliamentary Group which aims to develop better links between the UK and the islands.
The Scottish example
Rosindell said that he believed Holyrood’s increased powers have made Scotland almost as independent as the crown dependencies.
“There is certainly an unfair gap within the system,” he argued. “Devolution in the UK has arguably made Scotland almost as autonomous as our crown dependencies, yet the latter has no direct representation at all, even in the House of Lords.
“While the Foreign Office may have many other priorities, I think this would be a logical step which could build upon our strong relationships,” he concluded.