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.

Alert me about debates like this

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

Amendment No. 6 is specific and if it is not dealt with it would consume more of the Chancellor's time if he had to bring it back to the House because of a disagreement. One of the Chancellor's predecessors in the 1930s said that he spent half an hour a week on the business of the Duchy.

Parts of the Duchy's property—other than the Savoy, which does not have much wildlife; it might at various times of the night—lie in areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Unfortunately, it has sold its land in Cumbria.

If the Duchy were to be put on a par with the private sector, its tax arrangements would have to be altered. I understand that the Duchy's taxes go straight into the privy purse.

We should not expect to get rid of the Duchy or change its tax position, because it is something special which should be preserved. The Duchy is not a property company; it has looked after the countryside and its wildlife since 1265, so far as I am aware. There is no reason why, for short-term financial gain, we should change that or endanger any of the areas of outstanding natural beauty. Therefore, we do not need to change the leasing arrangements of the Bill, and perhaps we need to accept the amendment. If I have one criticism of my hon. Friend's amendment, it is that there is an omission from it, but I hope that the Minister will accept that we should consider it.

Being a Cumbrian Member of Parliament, I am aware of the debate that took place only yesterday in my area about the problem of fox-hunting in the national park. I hope that the Chancellor or the Duchy will consider whether, as well as protecting the wildlife in the area, we should ban the use of hounds for hunting animals on land that is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster. It is barbaric that we should allow that practice to continue. Although it is part of our history—just as it is part of the history of my constituency that we did not allow Scotsmen to walk around the city after dusk and we also used to hang sheep stealers — —[Interruption.] There were exceptions with regard to Scotsmen. Although it is part of our history, it should be forgotten. Therefore, I should be happy to hear the Chancellor of the Duchy say tonight that he is prepared to accept the spirit of my hon. Friend's amendment and to consider banning the use of hounds for hunting animals on Duchy land.