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MPs to discuss the future of 'Duchy veto'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 14, 2013

Comments (4)

MPs are to investigate Prince Charles's controversial veto over Government legislation that affects Duchy of Cornwall interests.

It has emerged ministers have been forced to seek permission from the heir to the throne to pass at least a dozen Government bills, including on laws from road safety to gambling and the London Olympics

The Duchy of Cornwall is a £762 million estate of about 131,000 acres, including extensive property in Cornwall itself and large landholdings mostly in the South West – including a third of Dartmoor and its moorland prison and swathes of the Isles of Scilly.

The royal veto, which critics say influences ministers if not used, will be examined by the House of Commons political and constitutional reform committee next month. Labour MP Graham Allen, chairman of the committee, will ask whether there is a risk that the requirement "could be seen as politicising the monarchy".

The questions being asked by the committee, whose members include the historian Tristram Hunt, include: "Is there a continuing justification for the Queen's or prince's consent to be part of the legislative process?"

Mr Allan said seeking Charles's consent to laws that affect his interests was "a relic" but stressed his focus was on how the executive may manipulate the royal prerogative to push through decisions without the proper scrutiny of MPs.

No members of the royal family or their staff are expected to be called to the three hearings scheduled for September, Mr Allan said.

Both Clarence House and Buckingham Palace said it was "a long-established convention" that the prince, as Duke of Cornwall, is asked by parliament to provide consent to those bills that Parliament has decided would affect Duchy of Cornwall interests.

They said the same process is followed with regards to the Queen providing consent to bills that would affect Crown interests.

This week, it has emerged that Charles has held 36 meetings with ministers since the government took power in May 2010. He has met the prime minister, David Cameron, seven times, four different ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government and held six meetings with ministers in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Last month MPs quizzed the Prince's key aide over the Duchy of Cornwall's tax arrangements.

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  • cweatherhill  |  August 15 2013, 12:22PM

    There it is again! Every report in every paper about the Duchy will include it. The inevitable paragraph misleading the public into thinking the Duchy is a 161,000 acres "private estate". IT ISN'T! The Duchy of Cornwall is the entire 1,376 square miles of Cornwall west of the Tamar's east bank. The region over which the Duke of Cornwall is the de-jure Head of State. The region over which he is "owner absolute" of the soil (as the Queen is elsewhere in the UK). The region defined in the three Duchy Charters of 1337-8. (I don't include Scilly, as the Duchy's legal claim to ownership of the islands is dubious at best). The "private estate" is just that. Nothing to do with the constitutional Duchy as defined at law. It's simply whatever additional properties successive Dukes have amassed over the years. However, for reasons of benefit to themselves, the Dukes have painted a false picture of these being a second "Duchy". Would the media please stop misleading the public with inclusion of that paragraph?

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  • Strattonian  |  August 14 2013, 2:15PM

    The Duke's 'veto' is only viewed as 'controversial' because the true nature of Cornwall's constitutional position in these islands is kept from people. Charles, as de jure head of state in Cornwall, has as much right to veto legislation which affects the Duchy as any foreign head of state who would be likewise affected. The myth pedaled by the Duchy itself and the shockingly ill-informed media of this country is that the Duchy of Cornwall is simply a 'private estate'. It is not. Constitutionally, the Duchy of Cornwall is a separate entity from the English Crown, as proven in law through the Foreshore arbitration of the 1850s. Yes, it's a 'long established convention' - re-confirmed with the creation of the Duchy in 1337 but actually pre-dating that by centuries. The right to veto Westminster legislation underlines Cornwall separate status as a British province and former nation. For Heaven's sake British media, research the facts.

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  • youngcornwall  |  August 14 2013, 10:02AM

    And we are supposed to live in a democratic country? http://tinyurl.com/oogmax8

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  • NormaStitz  |  August 14 2013, 8:23AM

    "... "a long-established convention" that the prince, as Duke of Cornwall, is asked by parliament to provide consent to those bills that Parliament has decided would affect Duchy of Cornwall interests." In other words, it has no basis in statute law. As for "Duchy of Cornwall interests", this simply translates as Charles' own private wealth. This parasite - for all his 'green' talk - is happy to concrete over farm land on the outskirts of Truro to build a supermarket for the benefit of his friends in the supermarket trade.