Extension of Powers to Lease Duchy Land

Part of Duchy of Lancaster Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:45 pm on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Department of Trade and Industry) 11:45 pm, 21st January 1988

I do not think that we are considering a major building lease on the castle. The hon. Gentleman is quite right on that point. However, that is not the only property that we have near the town of Pontefract, although the castle is probably our most distinguished holding there.

The Duchy is perfectly free to acquire more land. It is not a fixed estate and it does not simply comprise all the land owned by John of Gaunt. The Duchy manages the estate and sometimes makes acquisitions and sales. We have no means of knowing whether the Duchy will acquire property in future and the present limitations in the law would impose restrictions for no good purpose on the ability to manage the estate. Therefore, I think that the hon. Gentleman's point is not worth pressing.

It would be nonsense to keep all the old restrictions on the parts of the estate where the hon. Gentleman argues that the estate has no relevance. While we are taking the opportunity to free the Duchy from restrictions, we might as well do that properly and not include the extraordinary amendment which would involve passing an Act that would apply only to London and Harrogate. No doubt that would be unprecedented in 19th and 20th-century legislation.

Amendment negatived.