The answer to a question in the Commons about who owns the foreshore in Britain has shown that the foreshore is not an issue of sovereignty or constitutional status (Hansard 10 February 2009 column 1847W).

The government reply about this part of the country was: “The duchy of Cornwall owns all the Isles of Scilly foreshore and the majority of the foreshore in Cornwall”. The word ‘majority’ is intriguing and leads me to wonder which parts of the foreshore of Cornwall it does not own.

However, the refutation of sovereignty and constitutional status came in the first part of the reply: “The Crown Estate owns around fifty five percent of the foreshore around the UK. The rest of the foreshore is owned by various bodies, including the Crown and the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, such as port authorities, local authorities, the National Trust, and private individuals.”

Clearly private individuals and the National Trust, for example, are not sovereign entities, independent of England, and with a special constitutional status. Those attributes and powers are not conferred by ownership of the foreshore. The ownership of the foreshore is not in itself a question of sovereignty or constitutional status but of land ownership and, as in the Submarine Mines Act 1858, of any use and profits therefrom.

I discuss the Submarine Mines Act 1858 in item number 4 in Aristotle’s teeth here. I have addded this post to that item.