Crown Dependencies - Justice Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the Policy and Finance Committee of the States of Alderney

  1.  Alderney is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey but it has a legislature and executive (referred to together as "the States of Alderney") separate from those of Guernsey. The islands are however in association, notably in that Guernsey provides Alderney with what are termed "the transferred services"[31] in return for payment of income and other taxes to Guernsey. The States of Guernsey has the right to legislate for Alderney in relation to the transferred services and generally in criminal matters. The States of Alderney legislates in other areas under the authority of the Government of Alderney Law, 2004[32] and a variety of other laws approved and ratified by Her Majesty in Council. It follows that when Alderney seeks fresh law making powers it does so by way of a Projet de Loi. The process for this is set out later.

  2.  Alderney is also a separate jurisdiction for purposes of international obligation. The States of Alderney reaches its own decision as to whether to request extension of international instruments. Issues arising from this are addressed through the Ministry of Justice. Alderney enacts its own Ordinances giving effect to EC provisions that it is obliged to implement in accordance with Protocol 3 to the United Kingdom's Act of Accession, and may choose to implement other provisions by which it is not bound if it so wishes.

  3.  It follows from the above that for many purposes Alderney is a separate jurisdiction from Guernsey and it needs and expects a chain of communication that reflects this. Not all business affecting Alderney should be dealt with through Guernsey although there has been a perception at times that this is regarded by some as the only proper route.

  4.  Alderney has no full time politicians and only a small civil/public service. The States of Alderney consists of a President and ten Elected Members. There are four senior officers in the civil service: the Chief Executive, States Treasurer, States Engineer and Greffier. The last of these is the servant of the Court of Alderney and of the States when it sits as a legislature. The States generally sits as a legislature once a month (but often omitting meetings in February and August) and conducts the bulk of its business through three committees, the Policy and Finance Committee,[33] the General Services Committee and the Building and Development Control Committee. These also generally meet on a monthly basis.

  5.  Contact with the Ministry of Justice at officer level is relatively informal, usually between the Chief Executive and the Head of Policy at the Ministry. This works well for most day to day purposes. We have, for example, received considerable assistance and support from the Head of Policy in relation to issues connected with our renewable energy project.

  6.  It is important in maintaining the independence of the Court of Alderney that the Greffier is also able to communicate directly at this level. The Chairman and other members of the Court of Alderney ("the Jurats") are appointed by the Secretary of State (sections 5 and 6 of the Government of Alderney Law, 2004).

  7.  There is a greater degree of formality at other levels, with communication being via the President and Lieutenant Governor. In the case of legislation, a Projet de Loi approved by the States goes from the President to the Bailiff (who obtains an explanatory note from the Law Officers) to the Lieutenant Governor and then to the Ministry for submission to the Privy Council. At this level communication has proved problematic. Projets de Loi have, for example, been delayed for considerable periods and Alderney has been left unaware of what the problems might be. A particular instance of this was the Smoking (Prohibition in Public Places and Workplaces) (Alderney) Law.

  8.  In the same way as the independence of the Court of Alderney requires that contact at officer level should be directly with the Greffier contact with the Ministry at a higher level should, unless the issue involves the legislature or the executively, be directly with the Chairman of the Court.

  9.  Communication and the timely despatch of business are the main issues as far as Alderney is concerned. This is more of a problem in the case of Alderney when business with the Ministry is transacted through Guernsey. If Guernsey is informed at a late stage of business affecting Alderney it has then to inform and consult Alderney, with consequent further delay, particularly bearing in mind the monthly cycle of Alderney States/Committee Meetings. Where a response is required from Alderney it is essential that we are aware of it at an early enough stage for that response to be full and effective.

  10.  The Committee is aware that the Ministry does receive communications from or on behalf of private individuals about matters arising in or in connection with Alderney. Enquiries about these are generally dealt with at officer level but the Committee is unaware of any formal procedure under which the Ministry handles such matters. Perhaps this should be clarified.

  11.  The Committee, while recognising the value of Alderney's association with Guernsey, feels that this sometimes obscures (particularly when viewed from London) the separate interests of Alderney in certain areas such as the extension of the territorial sea and seabed rights impacting on the development of tidal energy. There has, in the Committee's view, been greater recognition of this by the Ministry in recent months, which is valued and appreciated, but there is a clear need for greater familiarity with the Island and its affairs—including through more visits to Alderney.

October 2009

31   Primarily, the Airport, Education, Health, Immigration, Police and Social Services. Back

32   This Law is, in effect, the Island's constitution and may be found at: Back

33   The mandate of the Policy and Finance gives it general responsibility for all constitutional and legislative matters and: "all matters relating to International Conventions, Treaties, Agreements, EU Directives and extended legislation from the United Kingdom." Back

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