HL Deb 22 March 1999 vol 598 cc130-1WA
Lord Wallace of Saltaire

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what ways the relationship between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar differs from the United Kingdom relationship with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; and what are the historical and legal bases for any such differences. [HL1519]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The most recent statement of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man is to be found in Part XI of Volume 1 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, published in 1973 (known as the Kilbrandon Report). The report, however, acknowledged that there were areas of uncertainty in the existing relationship which itself was complex and did not purport to draw up a fully authoritative statement.

The United Kingdom Government are responsible for the defence and international relations of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man and the Crown is ultimately responsible for their good government.

The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy when Duke William, following his conquest of England, became King William I of England in 1066. They have since been subject to the English Crown as successor to the Dukes of Normandy, but did not become part of England nor, later, of the United Kingdom. The Lieutenant Governors of the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey are the personal representatives of the Sovereign.

The Isle of Man is an ancient Kingdom which finally became subject to the English Crown in 1765 following a long history of possession and disputed claims to possession by Norse, Scottish and English Kings. It did not, however become part of the United Kingdom. The Lieutenant Governor is the Sovereign's personal representative on the Island.

Gibraltar is a United Kingdom territory for whose international relations the United Kingdom is responsible. Its constitutional relationship to the United Kingdom is defined under the Gibraltar Constitution Order 1969. It enjoys a considerable measure of devolved government, with responsibility for a wide range of "defined domestic matters" devolved to local Ministers. The Governor, the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen, has responsibility for all matters not specifically allocated to local Ministers; principally, defence, external affairs, internal security (including the Royal Gibraltar Police) and financial stability.

British title to the Rock of Gibraltar is based on Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, under which sovereignty was ceded in perpetuity to Britain by Spain. British title to the southern part of the isthmus connecting the Rock to Spain is based on continuous possession over a long period.