§ The Earl of Falmouth
begged to put a question to the noble Viscount opposite (Duncannon), on a subject which had excited great uneasiness in that part of the country with which he was connected. Their Lordships would know that an ant had been passed some years ago, called the "Nullum Tempus" Act, by which the powers of the Crown had been limited with regard to the laws of property in some of the Royal Duchies. From the operation of this bill, however, the Duchy of Cornwall had been excluded, and the power of the Crown, though long dormant, was alleged to be still in force. A letter had recently been addressed to a large proprietor of mines in the western part of Cornwall, by the solicitor of the commissioners of the. Duchy, informing him that the ownership of the submarine minerals (viz., the contents of those mines worked under the sea) lay in the Crown, and that the lease of the present proprietor having expired in September last, the commissioners of the Duchy were willing to renew it on reasonable terms. Now he much doubted whether this claim on the part of the Crown was a just one. At any rate, whether it was legal or whether it was illegal, it had excited the greatest alarm in Cornwall, as tending to render insecure the tenures on which property was held in that county. For these reasons he begged to ask the noble Viscount whether the commissioners of the Duchy authorised the sending of such a letter?
§ Viscount Duncannon
had no doubt that the letter which had been sent was fully authorised by the commissioners, but he was not at the moment prepared to afford any general information on the question to which the noble Earl had referred. He would, however, make inquiries, and state the result of them to their Lordships.