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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 27 October 2003, Official Report, column 38W, on Crown Estate income, how much income has been received by the Crown Estate from rents paid for cables which connect (a) Orkney, (b) Shetland and (c) other Scottish Islands to the UK mainland for each financial year since 1997; and what estimate the Government have made of the impact on UK businesses of charges levied by the Crown Estate for cables that use the seabed.
Revenue paid to The Crown Estate for cables to Orkney, Shetland and other Scottish Islands from the UK mainland is calculated under the British Telecom Master Agreement. The revenue is not calculated for each specific piece of land that is crossed and therefore information for cables connecting individual Scottish Islands is not identifiable. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave earlier today regarding the revenue received by the Crown Estate from cables crossing either the seabed or land managed by the Crown Estate since 1997.
Rents charged by the Crown Estate for use of the seabed are established by professional valuers in negotiation with users, and where appropriate, involve consultation with the relevant industry or interest groups. The rents are set at levels appropriate to the market conditions and must not take advantage of any monopoly interest. The Crown Estate must comply with the requirements placed upon it by Parliament under The Crown Estate Act 1961, with regards to the maintenance of the Estate and the income which it yields. The Crown Estate manages the estate according to sound commercial principles, and also understands and works with the industries that use its assets to ensure that high standards of management and stewardship are followed.