Popular History of Jersey Chapter 48

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Markets open

Power of veto

Matters connected with the new Markets in St Helier formed the principal feature of the year 1882, not only with regard to the fact that 9 September of that year saw the opening of them, but also because of the conflicts that arose, in the first place between the States and the Lieut-Governor, Major-General Nicholson, and again between the States of Jersey and the Bailiff, Sir Robert Pipon Marett, in connection with them, the Lieut-Governor, in the former case, exercising once more his right of veto, and the Bailiff, in the latter, recording his equivalent dissenting voice.

The new Market scheme has thus attached to it the additional interest of being amongst the only public enterprises in the Island concerning which both these rights have been exercised. The facts of the case, briefly stated, are as follows:

Provisional orders

On 6 March the States passed a Provisional Order (purporting to be a permanent one) for the purpose of establishing what they considered the requisite Markets Regulations. This Order the Lieut-Governor vetoed on the ground that in the first place the States had no power to pass a Law purporting to be a permanent one, or to levy money by any Act that was not to be transmitted for Royal sanction, and in the second place, that the Reglement (Provisional Order) in question was contrary to the spirit of the Law of Markets contained in the Code of 1771, which it is as well to remember, more especially in connection with what has to follow in due course concerning subsequent events, was practically to deprive the States from passing, or even renewing, provisional or temporary Laws without Imperial sanction.

With regard, however, to this Markets Regulations question, the States thought it wise to acquiesce, which they accordingly did, without appeal, on the consideration that it would not be wise to petition the Crown to remove the veto inasmuch as portions of the Reglement did actually conflict with that bete noir — the 1771 code.

The matter, however, did not rest there. On 30 June a further Provisional Order was passed establishing Market Regulations to last three years. And this it was that met with opposition from the Bailiff, who recorded his dissenting voice against it, his reason for this action being that the ordinance was a modification of the Law of Markets contained in the code of 1771, and that any order even affecting a law clothed with Royal sanction could not have any force without being confirmed by an Order in Council.

In other words, the States not having been able, in consequence of the Lieut-Governor's veto, to bring into active force their first formula, had tried another means of getting out of the difficulty presented by the 1771 code, and the Bailiff effectively "put his foot upon it" ; a letter from the Privy Council, dated 23 October of the same year, justifying him in his action, and upholding the principle that no Reglement could take effect on the Island without first having received confirmation of the Sovereign in Council.

The matter of the modern Markets Regulations was thus left in abeyance for the time being, not by any means to the satisfaction of the community at large, who, though they took a vital interest in the successive conflicts, would have naturally been more satisfied to have had solid if new ground to work upon in matters concerning the great boon afforded in the convenience of the really excellently arranged Market Buildings.

New RC Church

During the years 1883 and 1884 several items of interest and events of public importance come to the fore. The Oddfellows Hall, in Don Street, for example (now one of the favourite resorts for large public entertainments), was opened on 6 August 1883, and on the sixth of the following month the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth laid the foundation stone of St Thomas's Church, one of the finest architectural ornaments the Island possesses, and now used as a pro-cathedral by the dignitaries and members of the Church of Rome.

Another new Lieut-Governor, Major-General Wray, appeared on the scene, and was sworn-in on 1 October. During the same year, too, there took place the last of much official correspondence between England and France, in connection with the actual right of possession of the outlying rocky islet the Ecrehous, long before adjudged to belong to the parish of St Martin, Jersey, but then for the first time definitely settled, to the satisfaction of the French Government, being actually attached to Jersey and not to France.

Militia colours

1884 was enlivened by a visit to the Island of the Right Hon J Chamberlain, then President of the Board of Trade, accompanied, in the Trinity House yacht Galatea, by Sir W Vernon Harcourt, on 3 June; and on 17 November of the same year the colours of the old North-West Regiment Royal Jersey Militia, were deposited in St John's parish church. The close of the year, however, proved disastrous, in that the Island was swept with one of the most terrific storms it has experienced, with resultant damage, not to houses and shipping alone, but to the coast and harbour works generally, accompanied on 20 December with the loss of the Guernsey trader Echo off the Corbiere, when six lives were lost, and on 22 December by a breach in the pier at Greve-de-Lecq.

Over and above these occurrences, however, the two years under consideration (1883-84) are noteworthy from the fact that during them the actual scope of the States' power to make Provisional Orders, and in particular their power to renew them (points ever in dispute between the local and home governments) was definitely settled before the Crown in Council, and this under the following circumstances:

Besides the matter of the Market Regulations, in which the States had been practically defeated, they in 1882 had put in force two Provisional orders : one, Sur l'introduction en cette Isle du Betail, regulating the introduction of foreign cattle; another, Reglement sur les Loteries dealing with public lotteries, again without the intention of submitting them for confirmation by the Crown in Council.

In doing so, the States defended their action by representing that they had a right to a renewal of three years at a time of any reglement passed by them for as long a period as they thought fit, unless prevented by an Order in Council, and subject to the negative voice of the Lieut-Governor or the Bailiff, so long as they confined their legislation to matters connected with purely municipal and administrative concerns; whilst they justified themselves in that the matters in question had been triennially renewed for a long period of time with the knowledge of the Crown, and that without any expression of disapproval.

The result on the whole was a satisfactory one to the legislative powers of the Island. In other words, an Order in Council of 1884 was received, the effect of which was to permanently confer upon the States the right of such renewal as had been denied to them by the Code of 1771, and prior to that exercised by the Royal Court; such Order being issued by the Crown on its own authority. Her Majesty therein only reserved to herself and her successors the power of revoking it, by and with the advice of the Privy Council, and thus voluntarily gave to the States the power they had so long sought to recover, and which, in the light of modern advancement, was so vital a necessity for the well being of all concerned.

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