HL Deb 15 June 1993 vol 546 cc1424-5

3 p.m.

Lord Orr-Ewing asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the average annual income received by the Treasury during the last 40 years from Crown lands in the personal possession of the Sovereign.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, Her Majesty surrendered hereditary revenues, including the Crown Estates, on accession to the throne. The Crown Estates' surrender to the Treasury has averaged £14.4 million per year over the past 40 years. Her Majesty has retained revenues from any Crown lands in her personal possession.

Lord Orr-Ewing

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the media seem very reluctant to publish that income but very keen to say how much the Crown is costing? Is it true to say that the Civil List cost was £7.9 million in 1991? Is my noble friend aware that the presenter, in opening the recent BBC debate on the monarchy, said that the Queen paid no tax at all during her 40-year reign? That seems to be untrue. The result of the debate was very even, 128 people believing that the monarchy should not be retained and 131 believing that it should. Does my noble friend agree that that result might well have been different if the very substantial figure of voluntary payments of £14 million a year had been known to the people present at the debate and to the millions looking in?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I did not have the opportunity of watching the programme that my noble friend mentions. In my original Answer I said that the average figure over 40 years was £14.4 million. In 1987–88 the Crown Estate Commissioners paid over to the Consolidated Fund some £35 million: that had doubled by 1992–93. The estimate for this year is some £72 million— a very considerable contribution.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the figure at this time is not £14.4 million. Last year, it was over £70 million and this year it is a good deal more. The figures more than cover the expenses for the upkeep of the monarchy. In other words, the taxpayer is getting a very good bargain from Her Majesty the Queen. Will the Government ensure that those facts are far more widely known to one and all?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the noble Earl is right. I am sure the fact that this Question has been asked will be recognised by the media of this country and that the information will be known by all subjects of Her Majesty.

Lord Richard

My Lords, since, on the figures, this is an extremely good bargain for the Government, may I take it that they have no plans to change the situation?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, we have no plans to change it.