Revived Cornish Stannary Parliament

Revived Cornish Stannary Parliament

The Cornish Stannary Parliament is a pressure group which claims to be a revived Cornish Stannary Parliament. It was established in 1974 and has campaigned since then against the government of the United Kingdom's position on the constitutional status of Cornwall. The CSP are campaigning against the lack of a written constitutional text to protect British 'subjects' from abuse of power by the state and have highlighted the absence of a British constitutional/statutory guarantee of the principle of equality before the law (cf Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution). They have raised concerns with the British government regarding the failure by the state to include Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights in its Human Rights Act 1998, the failure by the state to ratify Protocol 12 of the ECHR, the failure by the state to incorporate the European Directive 2000/43/EC on Anti-discrimination into domestic legislation by introducing what the CSP claim is the inadequate Statutory Instrument 1626. They have also raised concerns regarding the retention of an unelected head of state and associated upper chamber of parliament (House of Lords), and the retention of what the CSP claim is an archaic and undemocratic Privy Council of the United Kingdom. [ [ Cornish Stannary Parliament] ] [ [ Suppression of Cornish identity] ]

The CSP claim that Cornish people are subject to forced assimilation by an education system that fails to provide them with an adequate level of knowledge about their history and, hence, their identity. They also claim that there are persistent attempts by state authorities to deny Cornish people their identity, for example, in the national census, pupil level annual school census, exclusion from the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and denial of adequate financial cultural/linguistic resources. [ [ Cornish Stannary Parliament] ]


The historic Cornish Stannary Parliament last assembled in at Truro in 1752, and continued until September 11 1753. [Samuel Lewis, "Topographical Dictionary of England", volume I, 1831] The CSP formed in 1974 claims continuity from the historic parliament on the grounds that the English legal system does not recognise desuetude (laws lapsing through lack of use), and cites the precedent of the Court of Chivalry, which sat in 1952 for the first time in over 200 years. Their contention is that the Stannary Parliament, whilst not in session, still exists. They also point to the fact that the 1508 Charter of Pardon from which the historic parliament derived its powers, was confirmed as still being on the statute books in 1977. [ [ 14 May 1977 - Cornwall Council - Stannator's right to veto Westminster legislation had never been formally withdrawn.] ] [Reference - National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, where Dafydd Wigley deposited his papers regarding this in 1978]

The British government rejects the claims of the group. In March 2007, Bridget Prentice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice stated in a written answer in the House of Commons "...there are no valid Cornish stannary organisations in existence.", "There are no treaties today that apply to Cornwall only..." and that " There is no special status for legislation which applies to Cornwall or to Cornish localities." [ [ House of Commons Hansard - Written Answers - March 29, 2007:Column 1673W (accessed August 27, 2007)] ]


On 20 May, 1974 a pressure group claiming to be a revived Cornish Stannary Parliament assembled in Lostwithiel. The group interpreted the 1508 charter as applying to all descendents of Cornish tin-miners and claimed that they had the power to veto all laws made in Westminster, not only those relating to the tin and mineral industries. The meeting was primarily called in response to a crisis in the china clay industry. Employers in the industry had been forbidden by the Pay Board from paying their 9,000 workers the higher wages agreed under a productivity deal. The Warden of the Stannaries, Geoffrey Waldegrave, 12th Earl Waldegrave refused an invitation to open the parliament. ["Cornishmen show teeth in reviving a parliament", Trevor Fishlock, "The Times", May 21, 1974]

On June 24 at a meeting at which the stannators wore kilts of Cornish tartan, and at which the Cornish national anthem was played, the group proclaimed eighteen articles or acts, including the claim to retain all taxes gathered in the Duchy, the declaration of St Piran's flag to be the national flag, a claim on all mineral rights including oil and natural gas, and sought to reverse recent local government reorganisation. A petition was sent to the queen declaring that if she did not recognise the parliament they would seize crown lands and properties. They also sought recognition from the United Nations. ["Why Cornishmen are nailing their colours to Magna Carta", Susanne Puddefoot, "The Times" October 26, 1974]

On 12 December 1974 the Home Office replied to the petition, saying that the Home Office could accept elections by the stannary towns only as constitutive of a valid Stannary Parliament. On 15 December, Brian Hambley, using the title "Lord Protector of the Stannaries", said they had decided to postpone the seizure of property in St Austell to give the four town councils an opportunity to appoint stannators. Hambley claimed there was a constitutional crisis and this should be done "immediately to avoid political anarchy".

The Cornish Stannary Parliament next hit the headlines in 1978, again at St Austell Magistrate's Court. Hambley had been charged with having failed to pay motor tax and displaying the stannary seal in place of a tax disc. His defence was that he was exempt from the court's jurisdiction as he was a "privileged tinner", having staked out several acres of moorland with a view to working them for tin on land belonging to the lord-lieutenant of the county. After two and a half hours consultation the magistrates agreed they had no jurisdiction. ["Ancient tin miners' parliament wins its challenge in a 1978 magistrate's court", "The Times", June 16, 1978] The following day a court in Bodmin adjourned a similar case "sine die" against Frederick Trull. ["Victories for Stannary Parliament seen as a giant leap for Cornwall", "The Times", June 17, 1978] On July 11, the county court (which had the powers of the old stannary courts, under the "Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896"), declared that the lands Hambley claimed to have staked were already bounded, and ordered him to pay the landowners' costs. ["Cornishman may appeal over tin mining ruling", "The Times", July 12, 1978] By the end of July over a hundred people were refusing to pay road tax in Cornwall, but a decision of the High Court gave the Home Office leave to quash the original magistrate's decision. ["Court move to stop revolt over road tax", "The Times", August 1, 1978]

The Cornish Stannary Parliament's next large campaign was in 1989, and related to the introduction of the unpopular community charge or poll tax. They claimed that as the law imposing the charge had not been approved by the Stannary Parliament "all tin-miners and former tin-miners, all descendants of tin-miners, all shareholders in tin-mines and anyone who supplied equipment for tin-mining" were exempt from the tax. Shares were made available for sale in the Royal Cornish Consols United Tin Mines Cost Book Company at one pound each, the claim being that shareholders would not be liable for the charge. The company was owned by Frederick Trull, who had rejoined the group as its clerk. ["Charter of 1508 is cited; Poll tax challenge", "The Times", August 29, 1989] By March 1990 up to one and a quarter million applications for shares had been made. On March 22 the Department of Trade and Industry was granted an injunction in the High Court freezing the company's assets on the grounds that the company was not registered under the Companies Act 1985 and that Mr Trull was not authorised under the Financial Services Act 1986 to conduct investment business. ["Cornish poll tax rebel barred", "The Times", March 23, 1990] On June 27 the company was placed in receivership, with shareholders potentially facing the payment of costs. ["Tin mine investors face costs; Royal Cornish Consols United Tin Mines Cost Book Company", "The Times", June 28, 1990] On September 5 the receiver announced that Trull had vanished and that there was no trace of the estimated £1 million paid by members of the public. ["Founder of firm that offered poll-tax immunity is missing", "The Times", September 5, 1990] On October 12 Trull was found guilty of contempt by breaching High Court orders to stop issuing shares and for failing to disclose the whereabouts of the money. He was sentenced in his absence to six months imprisonment. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Harman, said "The matter may be based on a genuine belief by Mr Trull in the privileges of Cornish tin miners but has all the appearance of being a con trick." ["Tin mining 'conman' is jailed for six months", "The Times", October 13, 1990] On February 22 1991, Trull appeared before the High Court, and his sentence was reduced to three months and suspended for two years, on the condition that he undertook to help the Department of Trade and Industry recover the money invested by the public. Mr Trull's counsel, told the court that the money had gone to "the sharks of this world" and that Mr Trull was "fired not by dishonesty, but by obsessive belief in the Stannary laws". ["Jail term suspended", "The Times", February 23, 1991] ["Cornish tin men's reluctant farewell". "The Times", February 27, 1991] Mr Trull remained clerk of the parliament and in November was again before the courts claiming the Bodmin magistrates had no jurisdiction to make orders for payment against him on behalf of Restormel Borough Council as 'a privileged tinner within the Stannaries of Cornwall.' The case was finally settled against Mr Trull in 1994. ["No stannary rates exemption", "The Times", June 20, 1994]

Operation Chough

In 1999 the Cornish Stannary Parliament commenced a new direct action campaign they termed "Operation Chough". The organisation wrote to English Heritage ordering them to remove all signs bearing that title from sites in Cornwall by July 31. ["Cornwall heritage warning", "The Times", April 26, 1999] Over eleven months eighteen signs were removed from sites in Cornwall including Carn Euny, Chysauster, Pendennis Castle and Tintagel. The "Keeper of the Seal of the Stannary Parliament" wrote to English Heritage saying "The signs have been confiscated and held as evidence of English cultural aggression in Cornwall. Such racially motivated signs are deeply offensive and cause distress to many Cornish people". On January 18, 2002, at Truro Crown Court, three members of the group agreed to return the signs and pay £4,500 in compensation to English Heritage and to be bound over to keep the peace. In return, the prosecution dropped charges of conspiracy to cause criminal damage. [,3604,636016,00.html "How three Cornish men and a raid on King Arthur's castle rocked English Heritage"] "The Guardian" January 19, 2002] The case was unusual as a Public Interest Immunity Certificate was presented to the court by the Crown Prosecution Service after about ten minutes of the hearing. A possible reason for the introduction of the PII certificate, given by the Stannary Parliament, was that the Duchy of Cornwall refuses to reveal the circumstances under which it transferred several of its properties (including Tintagel Castle) to the care of the state subsidised organisation known as English Heritage. [ [ On the Road to Justice for the Cornish] ]

The name "Operation Chough" is now used for an unrelated project to reintroduce the chough to Cornwall. [ [ Operation Chough Homepage (accessed August 27, 2007)] ]


Elections to Revived Cornish Stannary are from among the Cornish Stannary Community. To be a member of the Cornish Stannary Community you have to declare that "I am Cornish as one of my parents is of direct indigenous Cornish descent or I am Cornish by marriage, and that therefore, I consider myself to be an "heir and successor" of the Cornish Stannary Community who secured the Charter of Pardon from King Henry VII in 1508". The elected officers of the Cornish Stannary Parliament are not publicly published. There is a further organisation attached to CSP, known as the Cornish Citizens Association which has a more inclusive membership policy not based on race.

Other claims

The organisation's website claims that the group has been active in seeking repayment of alleged over taxation on tin mined in Cornwall, and to have lodged documents with the European Court of Human Rights.

Overpayment invoice

According to their website the CSP sent an invoice to the Duchy of Cornwall for the sum of £20,067,900,000 claiming recovery of alleged overcharged taxation on tin production by the Duchy of Cornwall on May 15 2000. [ [ CSP Tin Overcharge Invoice] ] The claim was based on the higher taxation (or "coinage") rates levied on Cornish tin compared to that mined in Devon. In order to calculate the bill, historical production figures were derived from a privately published undergraduate thesis of 1908. [ [ G.R. Lewis, "The Stannaries, a study of the medieval tin miners of Cornwall and Devon" (11 Mb PDF document)] ] The CSP document claims a a racial motive for overcharging Celtic Cornwall.

European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice

The CSP website further claims that in April 2006 the group lodged a case with the European Court of Human Rights regarding the case for Cornwall, in respect of alleged violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. [ [ Letter to Council of Europe] ] The issues relate to the lack of a statutory guarantee of equality before the law in the UK. Central to the Cornish Stannary Parliament's argument is the feudal position of the heir to the throne, the Duke of Cornwall, who they maintain, enjoys a plethora of special privileges and exemptions from the law (in Cornwall) which indirectly and directly discriminate against the indigenous Cornish. As of August 2007 the application is still going through the admissibility procedure of the ECHR.

In August 2007 the CSP applied to the European Court of Justice to annul the decision of the Council of Europe to introduce a six-year "Fundamental rights and citizenship" programme because it did not incorporate the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). [ [ Council decision of 19 April 2007] ] [ [ Application to the European Court of Justice (CSP website) accessed August 27, 2007] ]

Other Actions

* The CSP are campaigning, along with other Cornish organisations, for the Cornish to be recognised by the UK Government under the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. [ [ CSP and Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities] ] [ [ CSP letter in reply to the "The United Kingdom's Draft Second Report to the Council of Europe under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities"] ]

* The CSP are campaigning, along with Mebyon Kernow and other Cornish organisations, for the inclusion of a Cornish tick box on the 2011 Census. For the first time the Cornish were allocated the '06' census code for the 2001 Census but there have been claims that the actual number of people registering as Cornish would have been much higher if a Cornish option tick box had been included. Over 37,000 people claimed Cornish identity (which equates to 7% of the population of Cornwall) instead of choosing to write-in English or tick a box for British. The CSP claim that many Cornish people were unaware of the new option and the figures would have been much higher if the tick-box was available. [ [ CSP and Cornish tickbox for 2011 Census] ]

ee also

*List of topics related to Cornwall
*Cornwall (territorial duchy)
*Stannary Courts and Parliaments
*Ethnic groups of the United Kingdom
*Human rights in the United Kingdom
*Directive 2000/43/EC on Anti-discrimination
*Cornish conspiracy theory
*Cornwall 2000


External links

* [ Cornish Stannary Parliament]
* [ Cornish ethnicity data from the 2001 Census (British Society for Population Studies Conference 2006)]
* [ BBC news 18 January, 2002 - Historic signs case trio bound over]
* [ Peter Symes Cornish Stannary Banknotes]
* [,3604,636016,00.html Operation Chough - London Guardian Jan 19th 2002]

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