Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Not so sweet

There was an interesting question asked in the UK Parliament in 1889 about the Sugar Convention, and whether or not it would apply to the Channel Islands.

Largely forgotten now, the Brussels Sugar Convention of 1898 (repeated in 1901 to 1902) was staged between representatives of the major powers to discuss the abolition of subsidies on the export of sugar. Agreement was finally reached in 1902 by which Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden undertook to suppress the direct and indirect bounties by which the production or export of sugar might benefit, and not to establish bounties of such a kind during the duration of the convention.

It was probably one of the first multilateral commodity trade negotiations, and set the basis for others to follow - these negotiations began a process of European harmonization of taxation criteria and regulations, which forced changes to national statutes, and in a way, foreshadowed the European Union.

The question asked was whether the law applied to the Channel Islands. The answer was that it would only apply if the Channel Islands were named. The flip side of this answer is that if the Channel Islands are named in a Treaty or Act of Parliament, then they are bound by it.

It is another example of the independence of the Channel Islands being very much a matter of convention, and convenience, rather than absolute.

HC Deb 06 May 1889 vol 335 c1230
MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, under the Convention or the Bill before the House, Jersey or Guernsey would be bound to receive no sugar from France if that country came under prohibition by the decision of the International Commission, on account of having bounty-fed sugar?
Jersey and Guernsey are not effected by a Treaty or an Act of Parliament unless specially named therein.

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