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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 17:14 GMT
Island cuts back feudal influence
Sark has a population of about 600
The island with Europe's last feudal system has voted against completely abolishing the role of landowners in its government.

After an extraordinary meeting of Sark's parliament, the Chief Pleas, it agreed to reduce the number instead.

Landowners will now be reserved 14 seats in the Chief Pleas, with the total number of seats on the body reduced from 52 to 28.

The other 14 seats will be made up of elected people's deputies.

The public will also vote to decide which landowners are given seats.

The current set-up is that the legislature gives all 40 landowning tenants an automatic seat in Chief Pleas, with a further 12 seats for elected Deputies.

Defend decision

The measures were approved by 25 votes to 15 and the move follows European human rights laws which mean Sark can no longer be run in the same way.

The island has come under pressure to adopt universal suffrage, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who live on the nearby island of Brecqhou, petitioned the Queen's Privy Council that the current system breaches EU human rights laws.

That was rejected but the Sark government was told to rethink its plans.

Some doubt remains whether the Privy Council will approve Wednesday's changes as having gone far enough.

But Sark's Seneschal, Reg Guille, said Chief Pleas are prepared to defend their decision in the European courts and a fund is being started to cover legal costs.

See more of Sark, 80 miles off the south coast of England

Island poised for democracy vote
07 Mar 06 |  Guernsey
Referendum on Sark's constitution
22 Feb 06 |  Guernsey
Shedding tears for Sark
14 Dec 05 |  Magazine
Last election under feudal system
07 Dec 05 |  Guernsey
Profile: The Barclay brothers
23 Jun 04 |  Business
Sark considers democracy
21 Jan 02 |  Politics

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