The Duchy Stannaries.

The Cornish Stannary Parliament was the controlling body of the pre-Roman Cornish tin mining industry now recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage. For centuries the Stannaries provided a lucrative income for the Dukes of Cornwall from a tax on tin production known as ‘coinage’. During this period the Cornish Stannary Parliament co-existed with the Parliament at Westminster. This enabled Westminster to be relieved of the responsibility of imposing a general tax in order to provide an income for the Duke of Cornwall who is always the heir to the throne and Prince of Wales. The three Duchy of Cornwall Charters of 1337/8 grant the Duke of Cornwall “our Stannaries, coinage and the profits of the Stannary Court”, as well as “the King’s writ and summons of exchequer and attachments throughout Cornwall” which provided governmental powers in Cornwall for the Duke.

The eminent constitutionalist Lord Coke enquired into the legal standing of the Duchy of Cornwall estate in: ‘The Prince’s Case’ and the Stannaries in: “The Case of the Stannaries”, both c. 1606. The three Duchy Charters 1337/8 and the Stannary Charters of 1305 and 1508 were published in the Appendix of the Trial at Bar “Rowe v. Brenton” of 1828, 9 Geo IV. (The Concanen edition and the Manning edition of 1830). By the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 the Duke of Cornwall was awarded the foreshore of Cornwall as “part of the soil and territorial possessions of the Duchy”. In 1969, Halsburys Statutes of England, Volume 6, Constitutional Law, contained The Royal Mines Act 1693 which asserts: “Provided always that nothing in this Act shall make void the charters, liberties, customs or constitutions of the Stannaries”. The main Duchy Charter was published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in 1979 under the title “Statutes in Force” Constitutional law 10. The Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1982, provides at section 8, “Duty of the Treasury to have regard to the interests of both present and future Dukes of Cornwall”. By the Companies Act 1985, sections, 654-657 the Duke of Cornwall is entitled to bona vacantia in Cornwall and section 671 (3) provides for: “the winding up of mining companies within the Stannaries”. In its response of 31st May 2007 to an enquiry, the Scottish Executive stated: “the Scottish Parliament is in the same position as the UK Parliament in requiring the consent of Her Majesty or HRH The Prince of Wales, where a provision of a Bill impacts on Crown interests, before a Bill may be passed”. This reveals the Duke’s legislative function while the exercise of a judicial function is to be found in The Supreme Court Act 1981, section 120 and the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, sections 38 (3 ) and 40(2g).

Letter from the Scottish Executive.

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