The Bill of Rights 1689, affirms:-

 Article 9.  “Freedom of Speech. – That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament”.

The Neuberger Report on Super-injunctions (para.6.6) 20th May 2011, explains:-

“….the plain meaning of Article 9 (of the Bill of Rights 1689), viewed against the historical background in which it was enacted, was to ensure that Members of Parliament were not subjected to any penalty, civil or criminal for what they said and  were able, contrary to the previous assertions of the Stuart monarchy, to discuss what they, as opposed to the monarch, chose to discuss.”

And at para. 9.  “Article 9 of the Bill of Rights recognises and enshrines a longstanding privilege of Parliament: freedom of speech and debate.   It is an absolute privilege and is of the highest constitutional importance”.

The Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, para.39, First Report 1999. affirms:-

“The public interest in the freedom of speech in the proceedings, whether parliamentary or judicial, is of a high order”. 

As a result, some questions have been raised concerning the House of Commons Library letter of 16.6.97 to Andrew George M.P., re the Duchy of Cornwall, it reads:-

“Your assistant passed on a letter from a correspondent in Camborne asking the extent to which Members can ask questions, and seek information on, the Duchy of Cornwall. 

Questions are asked in Parliament about various aspects of the Duchy of Cornwall, usually to the Prime Minister.   Erskine May notes, for example, that there are restrictions on any question “which casts reflections upon the Sovereign or the royal family” (p.288), and there is a similar injunction in relation to speeches other than by way of a discussion based on a substantive motion” (p.379).”

The “Erskine May” opinion, as quoted above, and other “out of Parliament” opinions such as those of Lord Coke and Attorneys General to the Duchy of Cornwall, actually, it is contended,  constitute a threat to the integrity of Article 9 which specifically declares that freedom of speech: “ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament”.   The constitutional significance is particularly relevant when Article 9 is taken in its historical context with Article 1 of the Bill of Rights 1689, which asserts resistance to: “Suspending power”, as quoted in bold on page 3. 

In plain English, Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689, rejects ‘outside’ interference especially when it is of a royal flavour. 

In the final analysis, the Bill of Rights establishes the proper constitutional procedure for the separation of powers, since, the representatives of the pubic in achieving freedom of speech, Article 1 and other rights for Parliament, also established an inalienable public interest in Crown affairs.

‘Public interest’ should, consequently, displace “casts reflections” to secure answers to the following questions.

1.   When will the Duchy of Cornwall’s third Charter of 3rd January 1338, (Appendix to Rowe v. Brenton Trial at Bar 1828- 8B & C737 – Manning Edition) , be repealed?  Since, it enabled “the King’s writ” in Cornwall to procure a royal fortune through a monopoly of political power over Cornish minerals and cultural sites.

2.   Why is the Crown Estate, under section 3 (1) of the Crown Estate Act 1961 specifically required, unlike the Duchy of Cornwall, to: “exclude any element of monopoly value”, and under section 4, to provide “Grants for public or charitable purposes”, also, unlike the Duchy, the Crown Estate is not exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, (as amended 2010, c.25, Sch.7) and: “has no holdings within the boundaries of Cornwall”. (Crown Estate letter dated 7th January 2005)?

3.   Why was the Celtic Tintagel awarded to the Duchy of Cornwall under its first Charter of 17th March 1337 and, although the text of this grant declared it to be “for ever”, (Published by HMSO as Statutes in Force, Constitutional Law, dated 1st February 1978), why was Tintagel secretly handed to English Heritage contrary to the conditions stipulated in the Duchy charter?

4.   Why does the Duke of Cornwall’s Charity No. 269183 prescribe that Benefit     from the proceeds of intestate estates in Cornwall is distributed in: ”the United Kingdom and elsewhere”, whereas the Duchy of Lancaster Charity No. 1026752 prescribes the distribution of Benefit, from the same source, to be the same area as that from which it is legally authorised to collect?

5.   How Could the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics present the industrial revolution without reference to steam, the driving force of that age? 

The Cornishman, “Trevithick, made the creative leap that combined the steam engine and the horse tramway into a single unified frame of reference”.  (‘Computer Power and Human Reason’ by Joseph Weizenbaum, Professor of Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pelican Books, 1984).   The Reader’s Digest of Modern Knowledge, under ‘Man the Inventor’ makes reference to; “Trevithick, the Cornish engineer and pioneer of the successful high-pressure steam engine”. 

There is also an entry under ‘motor vehicles’ and, under ‘railways’, “The Cornish inventor Trevithick made the first locomotive in 1803”.   This is confirmed by the Encyclopaedia Britannica.   We can appreciate the British National Health Service and the World Wide Web but it is no fun and certainly no joke to witness, once again, the cheating to win against the civilised Celts who inhabited Britain long before the English sailed in from Europe to imitate the Roman Empire.

In answer to questions, the Duchy of Cornwall claims: “The Duchy is not itself subject to the Freedom of Information Act” as revealed in its letter dated 22nd February 2005 when refusing information on the date of, and reasons for, the transfer of Tintagel, Restormel and Launceston castles from the Duchy to English Heritage.

On 11th May 2011, (House of Lords Hansard column, WA214)  Lord Laird asked the following question:  “What is the constitutional position of the Duchy of Cornwall”.  to which the Minister of State, Lord McNally, responded: “The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate that funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry”.  

The provision of an income for the heir to the throne is clearly a constitutional function supported by the state in the form of the Duchy of Cornwall Management Act 1982 section 8, which reveals: “The Treasury shall have regard to the interests of both present and future Dukes of Cornwall”.   This appears to be in ‘interest’ intended to take priority over the public interest.

The Treasury on 26th July 2006, in response to the question by Mr C.F. Murley of Camborne: “What authority is there for describing the Duchy of Cornwall as a private estate”,  replied:  “It remains private because it has never been taken into public ownership by purchase, under statute or otherwise”.

Ultimately, Members of Parliament should be free to ask the question: “Why is the Duchy of Cornwall protected by the Treasury as a private and secret part of the British Constitution”?

Furthermore, the public will expect that the first Article of the Bill of Rights 1689 shares the same status of the highest constitutional importance as that attributed to Article 9, as quoted above.

Article 1 of the Bill of Rights 1689, reads;

“Suspending power – That the pretended power of suspending of laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal”.

The Treasury assertion, quoted above, of: “a private estate because it is not in public ownership by purchase or statute” appears to indicate that: “the execution of regal authority without consent of Parliament” of Article 1 of the Bill of Rights 1689 was the rule applied in both the creation and the retention of the Duchy of Cornwall charters.

If the historical background of the Duchy of Cornwall is private on account of having not purchased land, cultural assets or mineral rights of the Cornish speaking people in 1337, or claimed these assets by statute, then the charters must have been made under the authority of the royal prerogative, or , to quote Article 1 of the Bill of Rights, by “regal authority without consent of Parliament”, which it proclaims, “is illegal”.

It is possible that many readers would prefer to avoid any reference to Article 1 of the Bill of Rights 1689 as being out of place and unjustified in the modern context.  However, a reminder of the Complete Oxford English Dictionary modern definition of democracy which exposes the current art of deception by political power.  It reads:

“Democracy;  From the Greek, People rule”  and, “A social state in which all have equal rights without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege”.  “Society characterised by tolerance towards minorities”. 

In addition to the democratic deficit, the misuse of “private” to claim silence in the public interest, is contrary, it is contended,  to the principles of Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689, while, a private non-transparent Duchy has had the unjustifiable effect of locking away important aspects of Cornish history as a state secret. 

The official protection for the Duchy of Cornwall legacy has, it is suggested, had some impact in preventing the publication of a one-stop written British constitution designed to spell out, for the benefit of the public, the duties and responsibilities of people in power and people with power who have historically been free to self-regulate.  

The resulting current unwritten constitution appears to have the knock on effect of depriving the British public of the basic human right of equality before the law provided for the rest of the world at Article 7 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.  And, where there is no equality, there must be an explanation, or answer, as to why not.

If the Cornish are expected to deny their national identity, then, English people should do likewise.   Alternatively, English Heritage could be removed from Cornwall and a fully funded official Cornish Heritage established for Cornwall.   Now, that would be racial equality to overcome a state of political privileges granted without explanation.

After over three centuries the widely acclaimed attachment to the principles of the Bill of Rights 1689 and the democratic imperative of public interest, that is to say, there can be no democracy without deference to the public interest, should, at last, be applied on home territory to prevail over a legacy of retained feudal habits and lead to the abolition of state sponsored private racial discrimination against the Cornish national minority.

Discrimination, it is contended, has been facilitated by an unwritten constitution.   Discrimination is contrary to Articles 10 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights which cover: “Freedom of expression” and, “Prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of association with a national minority” etc. 

These provisions of the Human Rights Act should be incorporated into the policy making process to ensure the right of the individual to receive complete answers from all servants of the state, excepting only in matters of state security. 

 © Save Cornwall – Camborne – 1st August 2012.

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  1. Greg Woods says:

    On a visit to the Houses of Parliment some years ago, we were told of a law that no more than 6 Cornishmen can be admitted into the house, unless they have the advance permission of black rod, is this correct?
    Does this rule apply to any other region of Great Britain? and if not, why has Cornwall been singled out, other than the fact that they are afraid of something or other,

    Can anyone shed any light on this?


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