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Bailiff Tells UK To Stand By Jersey Against OECD

28 November 1999

Speaking at a dinner last week in honour of UK Minister for the Channel Islands Lord Bassam, the Jersey Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache said that it was the UK Home Secretary's constitutional duty to defend Jersey's interests 'with all the power and authority at his disposal'.

Sir Philip said that Jersey had 'serious difficulties' in making officials accept its right to defend its interests with regard to the OECD forum on tax matters, and that the issue had been raised in discussions between senior Island politicians and Lord Bassam. He also said that Jersey's people currently feel 'in need of friends'.

'Never has it been more important that a full understanding of the constitutional relationship between Jersey and the UK should permeate every relevant layer of decision-making in Whitehall,' said Sir Philip.

Lord Bassam later told a local newspaper that he believed that the British government had worked very hard to ensure that it represented Jersey's best interests and would continue to do so by putting Jersey's case to the OECD . He also gave his reaction to Lord Lamont's recent comments on independence in which he called Prime Minister Tony Blair 'a constitutional vandal', saying that Lord Lamont's views are 'outdated and rather right-wing'.

With regard to British intervention and Jersey's autonomy over its tax affairs, Lord Bassam said he did not believe the island has anything to be worried about, and the OECD's forum on tax matters "will probably enhance and improve the position of offshore finance centres because there will no longer be the argument that they are the beneficiaries of what is sometimes called dirty money. If that beneficial position can be arrived at, that will strengthen that part of Jersey's economy."

Lord Bassam also singled out for praise the Jersey Financial Services Commission for they way in which it handled the issues Andrew Edwards raised in his report, saying it "has added credibility to the way in which financial matters here are regulated, and that has got to be good. It helps to secure long-term investment, and that's got to be good for Jersey."


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