The management of the Crown Estate - Treasury Contents


1.Given the unusual nature of the CEC organisation, we recommend that the CEC produce a short statement in future Annual Reports, clarifying the nature of their organisation, its duties and the resources they manage. (Paragraph 10)
2.The schedule of property rights and interests that currently form part of the Crown Estate is a considerable aid to understanding the nature of the CEC's operations. In the interests of transparency, therefore, we recommend that, in future, the CEC update the schedule on an annual basis, and publish it in each Annual Report. (Paragraph 17)
General Performance
3.Judged on their own terms as a commercial organisation, the CEC run a very successful business operation. (Paragraph 29)
The Urban Estate
4.We recommend that the CEC review their community and local stakeholder consultation processes with a view to increasing transparency and engagement. (Paragraph 43)
5.Having regard to the wider interests at stake, and on the basis of what we have learned during the inquiry, we recommend that the CEC should examine and set out clearly how they take their good management obligations into account in decisions on residential property. More generally, we note the extent to which local stakeholders were taken by surprise by the CEC's proposal to sell-off residential housing, and urge the CEC to engage more fully with key public bodies in London about their future plans for their London portfolio and their potential impact on London communities. (Paragraph 51)
The Rural Estate
6.In the interest of transparency, we recommend that the CEC publish a list of the statutory environmental designations from which they are exempt. They should specify where they have undertaken to fulfil the duties placed on other public bodies by the legislation. (Paragraph 55)
Windsor Estate and other historic properties
7.At a time when the CEC are reviewing what they see as their 'core-assets', we can see merit in the Government and CEC reviewing whether any of the non-commercial ancient possessions in England and Wales might more appropriately be the sole responsibility of other public bodies with a conservation remit, such as English Heritage. (Paragraph 65)
The Marine Estate
8.We welcome the CEC's recognition of the importance of greater consultation and partnership-working in order to develop the new tidal and wave power industries. We recommend that the CEC also adopt this approach with the other sectors of marine development with which they are involved. (Paragraph 76)
9.We welcome the CEC's apparent willingness to support improvements in ports and harbours, but we also note the concerns raised with us over issues such as the CEC's approach to generating revenue and their monopoly position in the marine environment. It is clear that these issues are not restricted to ports serving offshore developments, but harbours more generally where the CEC are involved by virtue of Crown ownership of the seabed and possibly foreshore within the area covered by a statutory harbour authority. (Paragraph 85)
10.The need to interpret the CEC's "good management" remit is particularly important in the marine environment, because of the CEC's monopoly status. We welcome, therefore, the Exchequer Secretary's commitment to us that the Government intends to review the CEC's monopoly position in the marine environment. (Paragraph 89)
11.Given the importance of marine developments for renewable energy and other interests and the importance to this of the relationship between the CEC and the two new agencies (the Marine Management Organisation and Marine Scotland), we recommend that the CEC agree a Memorandum of Understanding with each to establish how they will work together to ensure their respective arrangements are suitably integrated. (Paragraph 93)
12.Our understanding is that other European maritime states have a single body—the Government—responsible for setting the terms for offshore development. In the UK, however, there is a two tier relationship. Given the high stakes, it is imperative that the Government reviews the relationship to see if it is working as an effective system for managing marine development. (Paragraph 94)
13.We consider that the CEC ought to be able to adopt an approach that is more sympathetic to facilitating the development of local socio-economic benefit without falling foul of their statutory duty. We accept though that it is very difficult for the CEC unilaterally to arrive at a significantly different interpretation of the balance it strikes between their duty to maintain and enhance revenue and the extent to which they can and should accommodate wider public interests as part of their regard to good management. (Paragraph 100)
14.The Government's response to the Calman Report agreed that the appointment of the Scottish Crown Estate Commissioner should be made following formal consultation with Scottish Ministers. We endorse this action as a means to improving the CEC's relationships in Scotland. We recommend, however, that this initiative be further strengthened through a concordat or memorandum of understanding between the Scottish Government and the CEC to consolidate their working relationship, and that the CEC greatly strengthen their management arrangements within Scotland to assist this process. (Paragraph 111)
The wider public interest
15.We consider that, particularly in the marine environment where there are a number of substantive issues at stake, Ministers should take a greater interest in the CEC. (Paragraph 117)
16.We urge the Government to provide a policy steer to the CEC in areas where they have the potential to realise wider public benefits in addition to their core financial task. Subject to the review we recommend, these wider public benefits should be clarified and either the CEC should be directed to perform to that interest or those assets should be managed through other agencies aligned with those interests. Either the Government or the CEC might want this to be done by use of the powers of direction. In this context, powers of direction should not be seen as a criticism of the CEC, but rather as good examples of Government influencing overall policy, as provided for by the Act, and envisioned by the Report of the Committee on Crown Lands. We do not accept that the Government is restricted by current statute from providing strategic direction to the CEC to take greater account of wider public interests. (Paragraph 122)
17.We asked Mr Bright whether the Gibraltar Partnership is allowed to borrow and he confirmed that it is. We are alarmed by this, and by the Treasury's opinion that this is 'implied borrowing.' We recommend that the Treasury review whether the CEC's involvement in joint ventures is compatible with the constraints on borrowing in the Crown Estate Act 1961. (Paragraph 126)
18.In the limited time available to us, we have not been able to form a definitive view on whether the current framework for the management of the Crown Estate remains entirely appropriate in the light of changing circumstances particularly, but not limited to, the marine environment. We recommend, therefore, that—over 50 years after the last one—the future Government commission a wider review of the management of the Crown Estate and the 1961 Act, and the level of Ministerial involvement required. The review should also consider the case for clarifying or relaxing the financial rules currently placed on the CEC, though we would recommend that the Government proceed cautiously in this area. (Paragraph 128)
19. Given the extent of the CEC's contribution to the Consolidated Fund, and the extent of their wider inter-actions in the urban, rural and marine environments, we expect that our successor Committee will want to consider the CEC's Annual Report as part of its regular programme of scrutiny of the administration and expenditure of the Chancellor's departments. (Paragraph 129)

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