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 Eric Martlew Eric Martlew , Carlisle 11:45 pm, 21st January 1988

I was a little puzzled when I read the Bill and its Committee stage, but, having heard the Chancellor, I am completely confused. I gained the impression that he was trying to say that he wants to put the business of the Duchy on a more professional basis.

I note that there are two clauses missing from the Bill. The first should be to get rid of the post of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In reality, a professional organisation would have a highly paid chief executive. I understand that the Chancellor is paid £2,000 per annum. I do not know whether, for the work that he does, that is highly paid or not.

Under the present arrangements, the person holding the post is a politician—he may be a very good politician—and for political reasons he needs to be in the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is of the opinion that the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot be trusted with a Department so she has made him Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I do not want to offend the Chancellor, but the cap fits.

Perhaps the Chancellor will say how much of his time is spent on the duties—