8 November 2012

Another sisyphean day for duchy of Cornwall questions in parliament.

Dan Rogerson, Libdem MP for North Cornwall, asked his Tory Libdem government to make the duchy of Cornwall subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The government said that the duchy “is not a public authority for the purposes of” the Act and it wasn’t going to “extend the Act to the duchy of Cornwall in general” (Hansard 5 November 2012 column 491W). In other words, the answer to Rogerson’s question is No. I think the “in general” part is a cautionary nod to oysters.

Rogerson’s question might be seen as a follow-up to the third one asked by Andrew George last year ( Hansard 14 November 2011 column 532W). That was about the duchy status; was it for legislation purposes a public body.

I find it difficult to pin down the exact views of the devolutionary Libdem party in Cornwall. There seems to me to be an incoherence between the romance of a semi-independent, home-rule Cornwall and the financial realities of paying for Cornwall. I explored these themes in this post on Rogerson’s failed devolution bill and this post on hokey-kokey nationalism.

There are variations on autonomy in nationalism but I explored the full-on take here. I think that there is a reluctant in nationalism to explain how Cornwall would be financed: see for example the post on Cornish nationalism and the Rub’ al Khali.

It is well established in parliamentary questions and answers that the duchy of Cornwall is a private estate with assets providing the duke with an income. That is the informed government view; and the 1337 foundation and the evolution of reality support that view. I set out my view last November. But no doubt there will be more questions and more rebuffs and noes but perhaps, to stretch Camus, we must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Sisyphus: Albert CAMUS The mythe of Sisyphe(1942)