Friday, January 14, 2005

Royal family farm subsidies may be made public

Under Britain's new Freedom of Information Act, the subsidies members of the royal family receive from the Common Agricultural Policy are likely to be made public. Farm minister Lord Whitty has said that he can see no reason why single farm payments should not be subject to disclosure. At present the only member state in which this happens is Denmark.

In practice the figures may be less interesting than supposed. The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall estates are farmed by individual tenants so the payments go to them rather than the Queen or the Prince of Wales.

However, last year Oxfam estimated that seven of Britain's richest men collectively earn more than £2m a year in payouts from the EU. It was estimated that the Duke of Marlborough receives £369,000 for his arable farm on the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire while the Duke of Westminster, one of the richest men in the country, receives £326,000. One of the largest claimants is in fact The Co-operative Society that owns 100 farms covering 85,000 acres.

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