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Global Land Ownership (Kevin Cahill,mainstream Irish author)

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 8:22 pm    Post subject: Global Land Ownership (Kevin Cahill,mainstream Irish author) Reply with quote

Who Owns the World (2006) by Kevin Cahill

Kevin Cahill, a relatively mainstream Irish author, has written two books on land ownership:
Who Owns Britain(2001) and Who Owns the World(2006)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Cahill_(author) (click on Irish author NOT the New York state rep)
    former journalist for Computer Weekly,
    Fellow and South West regional secretary of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) ,
    Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society,
    full professional Fellow of the British Computer Society
    Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

I haven't read these books, but here's what I've found scrounging around the Internet.

His websites:

Interview: Transcript (16 pages) and audio (90 min) on Princeton U.'s website
http://coblitz.codeen.org:80/uc.princeton.edu/main/images/stories/podcast/KevinCahill.mp3 ( 80MB large)

About the Book

“A land poor race on a land rich planet.”

Kevin Cahill’s new book Who Owns the World book examines land ownership in each one of the world’s 197 states or countries and 66 major territories, the first such survey ever attempted.

It reveals the largest landowner on earth with an estimate of her landholdings, which have immense political, legal and economic implications appear in , published by Mainstream.

In Part - 1 we are given an indepth examination of landownership from the beginning of history to the present day. This provides estimates of the land owned by the Papacy, the Islamic Mosque trusts and the Buddhist and Hindu religions (Chapter 5). It examines the land holdings of the 26 largest landholders on earth (Chapter 3), and how 60% of Europe is owned by the aristocracy, who also get 60% of the EU annual agricultural subsidy of €48,000 million (Chapter 4)

Part - 2 examines land ownership in each one of the world’s 197 states or countries and 66 major territories, with a page for each country and territory.

A master of many rich lists, local, national and international Kevin Cahill opens his book with the observation that:

Poverty and wealth are not, as is often thought, opposites. Instead the two words predicate a problem, which is poverty, and indicate its solution, which is wealth. Land, that upon which we all stand, is the single most common characteristic of wealth worldwide. … And the commonest characteristic of the poor of the planet is the opposite, landlessness.

About the book
Who Owns Britain is the first detailed look at landownership in Britain in modern times. It:

Tells the story of the 'Lost Doomsday', the return of Owners of Land of 1872, until now the only comprehensive record of landownership in Britain ever compiled

Updates and examines who owns what in all 118 counties of Britain and Ireland

Compares landownership in Britain and Ireland then and now, highlighting how in Britain 70% of land is still owned by less than 1% of the population
Reveals the immovable vested interests of Britains landed aristocracy

This extraordinary investigation of Britain's best-kept secret also exposes:
The myth behind the alleged sarcity of land - less than 8% of the country is under concrete

The ongoing failure of the Land Registry - 76 years on, up to 50% of the land in England and Wales remains unregistered

The scandalous undervaluation of the Crown Estate and its role as the next great Goverment sell-off

How the Church of England has 'mislaid' 1.5 million acres it owned 100 years ago

The startling accumulation of land by the Royal Family, who now own or control the equivalent of an average-sized county in England

Cahill is going by legal research , so technically Queen Elizabeth II is the largest landowner in the world because of counting 100% of ALL lands in Britain and colonies. So while this one argument is silly (since the land used to be the Royal Family's but really isn't anymore) that's no reason to dismiss the research in the book.

book review excerpts

According to Kevin Cahill, who has set out to compile a modern Doomsday book on a global scale, the British Monarch's pre-eminence in absolute land ownership has grown over the centuries and the Queen remains the world's biggest landowner - by far. While this makes for a bombshell headline, it is hard to sustain in any real sense of what it means to own property. This is because Cahill rests his argument on the notion that the Queen not only owns the entire United Kingdom and all its dependencies and territories, but also the territories of Canada, Australia and New Zealand: in total, a sixth of the Earth's land surface.

Cahill breathlessly cites constitutional texts and arcane feudal age laws, but he misses the fundamental point that allodial ownership (i.e. absolute ownership without any encumbrance of law) is in the modern era the domain of states and not individuals. To put it another way, the idea of ownership is empty without the possibility of making a sale. While there have been major land sales in modern history, such as the Louisiana and Alaska purchases in the nineteenth century, it is pretty hard to imagine the Queen offering to sell George W Bush a slice of Canada. Whatever Cahill might say about the matter, Canada is clearly not the Queen's to sell.

This should not obscure the mammoth scale of the task Cahill has undertaken nor devalue the two principal conclusions of his research. First, reliable data on private land ownership is very hard to come by. The Land Registry of England and Wales holds records for just 57 per cent of all land in the two countries. The land ownership records of the US are distributed in more than 3,000 local land registries and there is no central database. In Brazil, barely a tenth of land is covered by the land registry. Second, land ownership has long been concentrated in the hands of a very few wealthy landowners.

For Cahill, the relationship between the concentration of ownership and the obscurity of data was played out in the fate of the ‘second Domesday', a land census carried out in the 1870s and compiled in report called The Return of Owners of Land. The report detailed every landowner in Britain and Ireland and showed that about 95 per cent of the present UK was held by fewer than 3,000 families. This was not something that politically powerful landowners wished to advertise. According to Cahill, the report was quietly removed from public record.


Ruling elites in Washington resisted the claims of penniless immigrants for as long as they could, but in the end they recognised the fait accompli that squatters had been settling land extra-legally for decades. The law was changed so that if squatters could show they had in some way ‘improved' a parcel of land -- by enclosure, cultivation or irrigation -- it became theirs to own. The result was an initial land distribution much more equal than Europe's, and a system of property law that, according to celebrated Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, is a critical precondition for the development of a successful capitalist economy.

Development economists fret about the lack of capital for investment in new businesses in the poorest parts of the world but, according to De Soto, poor countries do not lack assets. Rather, they lack the systems of property law needed to transform fixed assets into working capital. By his calculations, all the real estate held, but not legally owned, by the world's poor is more than 90 times all the foreign aid to all Third World countries over the past three decades. However, secure property depends upon the legitimacy with which rights of ownership are viewed by society, which often means a measure of land reform is necessary to legitimate the legal codification of land ownership.

In Europe, revelations about the concentration of farm subsidies in the hands of aristocratic landowners and corporate agribusiness are giving the lie to the notion that the EU's common agricultural policy supports small scale family farms. Today in the UK, 69 per cent of land is owned by just 158,000 families, mostly descendents of the 3,000 families identified 140 years ago in The Return.
In an era of globally mobile capital and international migration, governments face the challenge of financing new infrastructure and expensive social welfare without driving wealth-creation overseas. But land remains the one truly fixed asset -- and one crying out for progressive taxation. Instituting such a land tax would help move us beyond the neo-feudal patterns of land ownership that Cahill has so tirelessly documented.

Looks like there are NO EUROPEAN PUBLIC RECORDS for where farm subsidies go outside UK. "Once our statistics get to Europe they become
completely mangled and you cannot actually work out ownership from the next level of statistics. All the stuff that identifies ownership vanishes. "

CATHOLIC CHURCH, as everybody knows, is a HUGE landowner...but what most don't know, is that so are all the major religions, especially ISLAM.

If this is right, India seems to be the most screwed up because of archaic feudal system (did Britain colonizing have anything to do with this?), more messed up than even China which has remedied their land ownership system, which the author credits as to vastly reducing poverty:"China is feudal but is dishing out leases a bit like Britain and China has reduced abject poverty from 80% to 46% in the last decade."

Excerpts from the transcript of the interview

(page 5, European farm subsidies)
The most concentrated land
ownership, the largest amounts of land in the
fewest hands are in Spain; that’s where you go.
It’s not true to say that 52 families own Spain
but 52 ducal families own 30% of Spain’s
agricultural land so 52 families owning Spain;
it’s not too far off.
In the United
Kingdom the direct subsidy is about 4 billion
and one billion of that goes to 2,148 farms
which are about 3,000, 4,000 acres
and most
people are not conscious of this but this is how
the rural world is really structured and this is
why the subsidy is wrong. It doesn’t go to
those we the taxpayer believe it’s going to, it
goes to the super rich and it makes them
much, much richer.

If I could just stay with Europe just for a
moment. Now there’s another problem with
Europe. The second problem is finding out
who’s getting the money and the oddest thing
is I’ve had to use the United Kingdom as an
example because our farming statistics enable
you to work it out.
You can actually work out
from our statistics that there are 2,140 big
farms that are getting most of the subsidy.
Once our statistics get to Europe they become
completely mangled and you cannot actually
work out ownership from the next level of
statistics. All the stuff that identifies ownership
vanishes. Now think about that, it’s very,
very important. There’s a concealment
operation; I don’t know whether it’s
conspiracy, stupidity or just plain
incompetence but how workable statistics
when they go up the chain become totally
unworkable is beyond me and the Eurostat
statistics have a team of 750 people and cost
56 million to degrade the statistics the
member countries are submitting.

(pages 6-7, Religous Organizations (Catholic & Islam especially)
Now I was born and
brought up a catholic and even spent a while
in a catholic monastery but I did not know I
belonged to a state. The Catholic Church is
extraordinarily unusual. It is a state, fully
fledged state. It’s a member of the United
Nations, a full member, it doesn’t vote but
it’s a full member, and its head of state is a
legal monarch. Amongst the heads of states
of the world, you know, people are
presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens;
the Pope is a monarch on the same basis the
Queen of England is a monarch. So I find this
extraordinary. The Catholic Church also
maintains 164 embassies around the world;
the United Kingdom has 155 and the United
States 170 so the Vatican runs a diplomatic
structure that’s very, very close in size to
that of the United Kingdom and the United
States but the Catholic Church goes beyond
that; it’s got depth that very few other states
have. Within the catholic church which is a
state is another one, it’s called the Knights of
Malta and everybody says “Oh God”, you
know, “guys in funny hats and swords”; they
have 93 embassies. So the Catholic Church’s
second private state runs 93 embassies. Put
the two together and the Vatican outflanks,
outranks, outnumbers all the world’s major
states in its diplomatic army. Once upon a
time the Catholic Church owned about 40% of
Europe; it doesn’t own land like that at all any
more but it is the universal landowner. I have
detected meaningful land of the catholic church
in 163 of the 196 counties
and like all
monarchial systems all land owned by the
catholic church is actually owned by the Pope
personally as the Queen owns all our country.
So it turned out to be a very unusual structure
and I’ve labelled the Catholic Church the
universal landowner because it is. It’s got land
in more places and it owns it than anyone else.
The other Christian, and remember the
Catholic Church is 1.2 billion in numbers; I
mean it’s the biggest denomination and it’s the
biggest religious group and it’s a state. No
other religion has even attempted to create
this structure.
Anyway Christian churches
mainly in the United States are very rich but
the religion with the most land in the modern
world is Islam. Now Islam is not hierarchical
so land isn’t owned in the same way but the
mosque generally is financed by a trust and
over the centuries land was put in those trusts
and many, many Islamic countries their trusts
became so big that they are actually
government ministries but I would estimate
that the mosque, the trust lands of the
mosques are 20% of the land of Egypt and it’s
certainly in excess of 3 or 400 million acres
So both Buddhism and Hinduism
have substantial land holdings. Both have
monastic systems and temples and they have
temple staffs who have to have, you know, land
and so on so religion is a very important
landholder in the modern world.

(page 4, states & monarchs)
The main big landowners on
planet earth are states and monarchs and the
form of land ownership is the same as we’ve
got here, it’s feudal so I’ll give you a rough
ranking. The largest feudal state on earth is
still Russia. The Russian state claims all land.
They haven’t got freehold you’ve got long or
indeterminate leases. The next largest land
owner on earth is the Chinese state; it’s got,
what, 2.2 billion acres. The third largest
landowner on earth is the federal government
of the United States. It owns 730 million acres
of America but it does not own the land of
America. The federal governments holding is
on a par with any other landowner, no special
rights go to it as a landowner. It’s got powers
as a state but as a landowner, no it doesn’t
have feudal powers and so on. Now the
monarchs then arrive and the first and largest
is Saudi Arabia. As a direct monarchy the King
of Saudi Arabia claims absolute rule and
absolute ownership of 588 million acres so it’s
considerably bigger than the United Kingdom.
You then go down thorough Thailand, the
United Kingdom and so on and that’s roughly
the ranking. I can’t take you any closer, my
publisher is here so if I start telling you the
other ones are I’ll be shot.
The ultimate ownership of
land is under very peculiar control in most of
the planet. I’ve got 57% of the land of the
planet formally identified as feudal and stuck.
The country, if anyone here who knows
India, the country that is most damaged by
feudal structures of land ownership funnily
enough is India. China is feudal but is dishing
out leases a bit like Britain and China has
reduced abject poverty from 80% to 46% in
the last decade. The Indian figure for abject
poverty; less than a dollar a day has not
budged in a decade, it’s 81%, unchanged. The
Indian middle class has expanded but there’s
some they haven’t got into poverty and
they’re stuck because of the strange systems
of land ownership in that country.

So serfs, citizens not serfs. In the
United States by way of example, the United
States the land you have your house on or
your farm is yours, there is no superior
owner and I think personally that that’s
politically very important.

" 'New World Order' ?...same as the Old World Order "

Church of Crac motto:
"The End is Nigh. Give me a Dollar."

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James D

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Posts: 946

PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:51 am    Post subject: Re: Global Land Ownership (Kevin Cahill,mainstream Irish aut Reply with quote

Land ownership is such a fundamental problem in the world and the scandalous legal corruption involved.

Land is REAL WEALTH and that fact will become more obvious as people start to realise that fiat money has no REAL VALUE

It looks like an interesting book although I think it could be a bit over general in parts, as the regions of some countries are very different. Scotland for example bears no resemblance whatsoever to the rest of the UK (Population distribution/Topography/Land ownership pattern etc.)

I wonder if Kevin Cahill uses any of the information from or was inspired by Andy Wightman's "Who owns Scotland" site : -


For example.:



Scotland 19,068,631 acres 100%

Urban 585,627 acres 3%

Rural 18,483,004 acres 97%

Of the rural land - in the ownership of public bodies 2,275,768 acres

Of the rural land - in the ownership of private interests 16,207,236 acres

Of this privately-owned rural land:-

One quarter is owned by 66 landowners in estates of 30700 acres and larger

One third is owned by 120 landowners in estates of 21000 acres and larger

One half is owned by 343 landowners in estates of 7500 acres and larger

Two thirds is owned by 1252 landowners in estates of 1200 acres and larger

The Pattern of Landownership in Scotland
Derived from Wightman (1996b), Wightman (1998) and other unpublished data.

That type of ownership pattern is quite distinct from England and bearing in mind that very many or even most of those 1700 or so landowners are not Scottish lets you see the reality of life in Scotland.

The Scots do NOT own Scotland, they just live and work there! A Slave/Serf Nation!


(page 5, European farm subsidies)
The most concentrated land
ownership, the largest amounts of land in the
fewest hands are in Spain; that’s where you go.
It’s not true to say that 52 families own Spain
but 52 ducal families own 30% of Spain’s
agricultural land so 52 families owning Spain;
it’s not too far off.

This is a little misleading if not inaccurate or not entirely true as Galicia in the North West is almost entirely and traditionally agricultural and forrestal, where everyone's family has a piece of land that most still work, although this is being lost as they mistakenly try to catch up with join the the 20th and 21st centuries. Up until quite recently , perhaps the last 50 years or so the way of life probably hadn't changed much in a couple of centuries. But the land still belongs to the people. This is not the case for other parts of Spain.


In the United
Kingdom the direct subsidy is about 4 billion
and one billion of that goes to 2,148 farms
which are about 3,000, 4,000 acres
and most
people are not conscious of this but this is how
the rural world is really structured and this is
why the subsidy is wrong. It doesn’t go to
those we the taxpayer believe it’s going to, it
goes to the super rich and it makes them
much, much richer.

I wonder how many of those farms are actually in Scotland.

In another very interesting paper :- http://www.andywightman.com/commonweal/docs/commonweal_3.pdf
He describes how common lands were apropriated between landed gentry and legal profession.


By the end of the 17th century, two very extensive types of common land still survived in
Scotland: commonties and burgh (or town) commons. However landed interests during a
period of around 140 years were able to effectively appropriate the last remnants of
Scotland’s common land through a combination of exercising their extensive law-making
powers and their influence over the law courts.
There was a series of Commonty Acts, with the principal Act in 1695, which provided the
legislation to divide and appropriate all common lands in the parishes outside the
Highland area and not belonging to either the Royal Burghs or to the Crown.It is
estimated that about half the land area of Scotland had still been common land in 1500,
nearly all of it commonties. However, in 1695, when the Scots Parliament
passed the law for the division of the commonties it provided a simple, quick and cheap
process in comparison, for example, to the Acts of Enclosure required in England to take
over common land, and by the early 19th century, virtually all this common land in
Scotland had been divided out into the private property of neighbouring land owners.
(Callander, 1987).

The commonties were not, however, the final episode in the loss of Scotland’s common
lands and the second great channel down which the common lands disappeared was
through embezzlement by some of the self-elected commercial and land-owning classes
who administered the towns and Royal Burghs during the ‘Corrupt Years’ (1495 to 1832)
and who were subject to no popular electoral supervision in any shape or form.
(Johnston, 1920).

“Until the Burgh Reform Act of 1833 the landowners and the commercial
bourgeois class controlled all burghal administration of the common lands,
and controlled it in such a way that vast areas of common lands were
quietly appropriated, trust funds wholly disappeared, and to such a length
did the plunder and the corruption develop, that some ancient burghs with
valuable patrimonies went bankrupt, some disappeared altogether from the
map of Scotland, some had their charters confiscated, and those which
survived to the middle of the nineteenth century were left mere miserable
starved caricatures of their former greatness, their Common Good funds
gone, their lands fenced in private ownership, and their treasurers faced
often with crushing debts.”
“As late as 1800 there were great common properties extant; many burghs,
towns and villages owned lands and mosses; Forres engaged in municipal
timber-growing; Fortrose owned claypits; Glasgow owned quarries and
coalfields; Hamilton owned a coal pit; Irvine had mills, farms and a loom
shop .....”
(Johnston, 1920)

Such substantial losses occurred quite simply because the landowners made the law and
because both they and the legal profession, with which they had strong kinship and
commercial ties, saw the public interest as represented by their own prosperity. The
ordinary citizen had neither a vote nor a voice in the matter.

Professor Cosmo Innes (1798-1874), the famous advocate and Professor of
Constitutional Law and History, wrote in his Scotch Legal Antiquities,
“Looking over our country, the land held in common was of vast extent. In
truth, the arable - the cultivated land of Scotland, the land early
appropriated and held by charter - is a narrow strip on the river bank or
beside the sea. The inland, the upland, the moor, the mountain were really
not occupied at all for agricultural purposes, or served only to keep the poor
and their cattle from starving.They were not thought of when charters were
made and lands feudalised. Now as cultivation increased, the tendency in
the agricultural mind was to occupy these wide commons, and our lawyers
lent themselves to appropriate the poor man’s grazing to the neighbouring
baron. They pointed to his charter with its clause of parts and pertinents,
with its general clause of mosses and moors - clauses taken from the style
book, not with any reference to the territory conveyed in that charter; and
although the charter was hundreds of years old, and the lord had never
possessed any of the common, when it cam to be divided, the lord got the
whole that was allocated to the estate, and the poor cottar (Landless peasants) none. The poor
had no lawyers.”
(Innes, 1872.)

In the late 19th century, however, some groups, notably crofters ( a class of peasant who held land on an annual rental basis) in the Scottish
Highlands, did fight back. Following the extension of the voting franchise in Britain, these
smallholders formed their own party, the Crofters Party. This enabled them to campaign
and secure many of their ancient common rights through two pieces of legislation - the
1886 Crofting Act and the 1891 Crofters Common Grazings Regulations. These pieces of
legislation were little short of revolutionary by the standards of an age when landed
property was regarded as sacrosanct (Hunter, 1976, Reid, 2002).

By the early 20th century, the momentum was building for further land reform. The
Liberal Government of Lloyd George in 1909 had reforming ambitions, as did the rapidly
growing labour movement as reflected in the quote below.

Show the people that our Old Nobility is not noble that its lands are stolen
lands - stolen either by force or fraud; show people that the title-deeds are
rapine, murder, massacre, cheating, or court harlotry; dissolve the halo of
divinity that surrounds the hereditary title; let the people clearly understand
that our present House of Lords is composed largely of descendants of
successful pirates and rogues; do these things and you shatter the
Romance that keeps the nation numb and spellbound while privilege picks
its pocket.

(Johnston, 1909)

All the momentum for reform was, however, halted by the outbreak of the First World War
and relatively little has happened since, other than an increase in publically owned land and in the owner occupation of farms in some of the limited more fertile parts
of Scotland (Callander, 1987).

Scotland thus has today the most concentrated pattern of private rural
landownership of any known country
(Wightman, 1996). The history of landed power in
Scotland is a history of a class whose authority and hegemony have never been
challenged effectively, whose possession of disproportionately large property holdings
has never been broken, and whose influence on debates on landownership and use has
been conspicuous by its formidable extent and discrete application. (Wightman, 1999).


So serfs, citizens not serfs. In the
United States by way of example, the United
States the land you have your house on or
your farm is yours, there is no superior
owner and I think personally that that’s
politically very important.

You have to remember that this, in the case in the United States and also Australia, has been possible only at the expense of the Native Americans and Aborigines by stealing their common lands under Terra Nullis, where "citizens" have had the right to claim land and set up farming.

I've seen some in Northern Territory up to one million acres big!

Land is fundemental to freedom and independence.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Global Land Ownership (Kevin Cahill,mainstream Irish aut Reply with quote

Oops double post! Embarassed
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James D wrote:
The Scots do NOT own Scotland, they just live and work there! A Slave/Serf Nation!

Thanks for the insight.
Incidentally, I once read a book with research on how Americans viewed themselves ethnically when their ancestry was of mixed nationalities. The least favorable (or losing favor more and more over time) seemed to be Scottish. Irish identification, however, seemed to be gaining ground more and more. The Irish are popular...who'd a thunk it 100 or 150 years ago, huh?

And speaking of the Irish, their home or farm ownership rate is OUTSTANDING, best in the world, if Cahill is right. So THAT'S what all the fighting was about, perhaps (or to be cynical about it, did British landlords owning huge tracts of Irish lands finally realize that ending the conflict would increase the value of their land a hell of a lot more)?

Whatever, the high ownership trend in Ireland MUST be a great sign...and also means that the often quoted USA having the highest modern home ownership rates is an exaggeration.


Excerpt from pages 15-16

Ben Rattery: Good evening. My
question is where in the world have you
found the highest proportion of people
owning the land on which they live and what
historical factors have lead to that situation?

Kevin Cahill: Right next door, the
Irish Republic. About 90% of all families in
the Republic either have a stake in a farm or
a stake in a freehold.
It’s probably, there are
daft figures going around the international
system, home ownership in Spain is 87%; it is
because every holiday home has been double
counted. Home ownership in Spain is
highish, 60, but the Spanish figures are
totally… but the Irish are so busy making
money they haven’t bothered to analyse
what’s happened to them. Quite seriously. I
mean the volume of academic work on why
is Ireland a, you know, very high growth
economy is incredibly poor and perhaps it’s
living inside the Irish economy nobody a) is
interested or b) can see outside it. I can see
outside it for a couple of reasons. One I live
here and that helps enormously; gives you
perspective. The second is Ireland was still
very poor when I came here so I can
remember serious, the Angela’s Ashes
poverty was real, I saw it, Limerick was just
like that in my childhood; so the
transformation. But the transformation is
being driven by private home ownership,
everything is revolving around it
; the
consumer society but there is a vital, it
applies a bit to America too but it’s crucial,
the families who own farms tend to be the
families who own houses. Society is kind of
homogenous and there were two, if I may
very briefly, just two facts. The Irish boom
began in 1991 and we dragged the Prime
Minister of the time over here to give a
private talk in London and here’s what
actually happened. The economy was going
nowhere, there was a lot of land and a lot of
people owned land that wasn’t being used so
without publishing any laws or any
memorandums the government said if
somebody in a rural area wants to build a
house all they have to do is swear, that’s all,
no evidence required that the brick in the
field was their ancestor’s hut in 1750. So
you’d be amazed who many people had
ancestors with a brick in a field in 1750 but it
start, just that, just that unpublished change in
the planning laws launched the Irish economy
and it slowed down a bit but it’s back in high
gear again and we can absolutely say when as
many people as can own a home own one
what happens in next? In Ireland you found
out 20% of them own a second home, not for
rent, you know down on the seaside whatever.

So what do people do when they have paid of
the mortgage on their first one they buy or
build another one in the country somewhere
and we’ve had people from here, the
chattering classes, go over to the Republic and
say, “Oooh, you know, all these awful houses”.
In the book you will find the populations of the
Irish counties are the lowest density of
population in Europe. There’s a sad side to it,
they’ve never recovered from the famine. The
shadow of the famine is visible instantly in the
Irish county populations. What’s even more
interesting is that the English counties which
were struck by famine in 1845, all six of them,
show the same retarded population growth.

" 'New World Order' ?...same as the Old World Order "

Church of Crac motto:
"The End is Nigh. Give me a Dollar."

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James D

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Posts: 946

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2007 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting tack in the on-going Scottish land ownership scandal.

Bella Caledonia (2): Andy Wightman on reclaiming Balmoral from the Windsors



Any serious attempt at dismantling the concentrated pattern of private landownership in Scotland will get nowhere if it does not face up to the fact that the Queen’s ownership of Balmoral is a central part of the problem. It remains an totemic obstacle to radical land reform since it’s continued existence legitimises large scale private landownership. It’s time to buy-out Balmoral.


Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, much has in fact been done. On 28 November 2004, the system of feudal tenure in Scotland was abolished although you’d be forgiven for not having noticed since a few individuals continue to own the vast majority of privately owned land in Scotland. Indeed it is one of the curious things about attitudes to the question of landownership that there is general approval of the abolition of feudalism but little antagonism to this concentrated pattern of landownership.

The one issue around which much of this ambivalence revolves is the Queen’s ownership of Balmoral Estate which induces everything from anger to romantic enthusiasm. Although Balmoral is the private property of the Queen (except it isn’t quite this simple as we shall see), it is also an indispensable part of the constitutional furniture. This is partly because she spends so much time there (the film The Queen starring Helen Mirren provides an entertaining portrayal of her time there) and partly because she uses the time there to entertain such figures as Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond. Who could not fail to be impressed by the employment she generates in Upper Deeside, the spin offs in tourism and the fact that munificently, she provides all of this out of her own funds?

But many of Scotland’s landowners are charming, polite, eager to please and undertake good works in the community. So what? Just as a benign dictator who is popular with the masses does not diminish one iota the case for democracy and human rights, so the presence of so many charming members of the nobility still lording it over huge swathes of Scotland (but doing a splendid job) does nothing to detract from the case for radical land reform.

Of course many will argue that it matters little in the overall scheme of things that the Queen owns Balmoral. What matters is the symbolism and what this says about or attitudes to who owns our country because, for a start we know so little about how land is owned and by whom. For example, Queen Victoria is popularly believed to have fallen in love with Balmoral and purchased it in the 19th century. She didn’t. Likewise, the Queen is regarded as the owner of Balmoral Estate. She isn’t.
If you look at Balmoral’s website (www.balmoralcastle.com) you will see the following claim.

“Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, the Estate has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since.”


“The Estate is owned and funded by Her Majesty The Queen personally rather than as Sovereign.”

Both claims are wrong.

Queen Victoria took a lease of Balmoral Estate in 1848 from the Trustees of the Duke of Fife. The estate was then purchased in 1852, not by Queen Victoria, but by Prince Albert since the 1760 Civil List Act meant that any property bought by the Monarch would become part of the Crown Estate (the revenues of which are surrendered to Parliament in return for the Civil List). It was thus necessary to pass the Balmoral Estates Act in 1852 to confirm the legality of the purchase and to enable Victoria to inherit Balmoral following Albert’s death. The Crown Private Estates Act was then passed in 1862 to permit the further purchase of land in Scotland.

Balmoral Estate is, furthermore, not owned by the Queen. It is owned by Trustees Nominated and Appointed by Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second. The Queen is the beneficiary of this Trust. In 1997, the Trustees were Rt. Hon. David George Coke Patrick Ogilvy, Earl of Airlie (Cortachy Castle, Cortachy, Kirriemuir, Angus), Sir Iain Tennant KT LLD (Lochnabo, Llanbryde, Moray), and Michael Charles Gerard Peat CVV, Keeper of the Privy Purse (St James Palace, London).

The reason for this arrangement is to be found in Section 4 of the Crown Private Estates Act 1862 which stipulates that the Queen’s private estates in Scotland shall be held by Trustees. Balmoral Estate has thus been exempt from inheritance taxes and death duties ever since as Trusts don’t die. The Crown Private Estates Act is a reserved matter for the UK Parliament so there’s not much the Scottish Parliament can do about any of this.

The Queen’s personal estates in England and Scotland are, furthermore, subjects of a range of special exemptions. For example, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the Queen is exempt under Section 60(6) from having Inspectors enter her land.

No power of entry conferred by or under this Act may be exercised in relation to land belonging to Her Majesty in right of Her private estates.

Similarly, in the access provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill, the Queen’s private estates were initially exempt until Denis Canavan MSP proposed an amendment to remove it.

So what do the Queen’s Trustees actually own?

First of all they own the Balmoral Estate itself which was extended in 1947 by the purchase of lands in Angus (Bachnagairn and Whitemounth in 1947 and Glen Doll in 1997). In addition the Trustees have a long lease of Abergeldie Estate and bought the Delnadamph Estate in 1977 and 1980. In total they own around 61,500 acres and have a long lease of the 11,700 acres of Abergeldie. This makes them the 25th largest private landowner in Scotland (up from 68th in 1970).

Despite this, the Scottish public by and large continues to be seduced by nobility and to approve of the Monarchy. Politicians know this but what is conveniently forgotten by today’s political classes (who seem more intent on securing good headlines next day than tackling deep seated political issues), is that landowning in Scotland continues to be an institution dominated by a tiny number of people. In the Highlands and Islands for example fully half of the private land - over 3.6 million acres is owned by fewer than 100 landowners and three-quarters of it is owned by around 300.

Such a pattern is remarkable in itself but what is even more astonishing is the way in which the landowning establishment itself is not merely a collection of random individuals but a tightly knit network of power and influence extending into the fields of politics and finance. The small numbers involved facilitate the operation of this network and its effectiveness which extend to the highest levels of British society.

This pattern of influence and landed power has lasted right up until the very end of the 20th century bolstered by wider networks within politics, finance and the law. Such intimate relationships promote social cohesion among landowners which makes them readily distinguishable today as a discrete class with its own values, internal networks, and related social institutions.

Private landownership in Scotland remains a small, interrelated and privileged club which is proud to have the Queen as a member. But with land reform such an important part of public policy, what message does it send out when the Queen continues to play the role of Highland Laird? The Queen is supposed to set an example. In Scotland, public policy on land reform is to secure a “rapid change in the pattern of land ownership”. The Queen is running counter to that by being the owner of a large and expanding estate.


Any serious attempt at dismantling the concentrated pattern of private landownership in Scotland will get nowhere if it does not face up to the fact that the Queen’s ownership of Balmoral is a central part of the self same problem. It remains an obstacle to radical land reform since its continued existence legitimises large scale private landownership.

This is exacerbated by the fact that Balmoral will be inherited by Prince Charles as heir to the throne. Not only will he pay no inheritance tax (although the Queen’s estate is subject to inheritance tax, bequests from Sovereign to Sovereign are exempt for the rather bizarre and illogical reason given on the Monarchy website that,

“This is because the Sovereign is unable to generate significant new wealth through earnings or business activities, and to recognise the requirement for the Monarchy to have a degree of financial independence.”

Whilst increasing numbers of ordinary members of the public face 40% inheritance tax bills on their parents’ house (and quite rightly so), the Queen’s heir will not. And whereas many ordinary people will have to sell inherited assets to pay the bill, the argument is that the Sovereign does not generate enough wealth to do this. But Prince Charles (who would have to foot the bill were he to be liable) earned over £15 million last year from the Duchy of Cornwall.

Moreover, when any normal family inherits property, each child will usually receive an equal share, the Sovereign is still subject to the laws of Primogeniture so Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward will inherit nothing of Balmoral. If they did, it would at least do something to break down the pattern of ownership.

Any moves to change the pattern of ownership should not be regarded as an attack on the Queen personally (her attitudes about how to manage Balmoral are as progressive as those of many modern landowners) but a challenge to the idea that Scotland can ever truly create a modern democracy when its land continues to be in the hands of so few people.

By way of contrast to the regulatory regime surrounding landownership, in Inverness there are 50 civil servants spending around £1.5 million pounds regulating 17,000 crofts whose influence extends individually to a few acres of bog and rock. Their ability to assign their croft, sub-let it, decroft it, split it, amalgamate it, even their competence to use it are governed with what some might argue is an inappropriate and outdated form of paternalism but which, nevertheless, recognises in principle that the regulation of occupancy is in the public interest.

Remarkable then, isn’t it, that at the same time the 100 people who between them own over half of the entire Highlands and Islands of Scotland are subject to no regulation. There is no Landowners’ Commission, no consideration of local needs, of the best interests of the community, or of taking action against absentees.

Endless paperwork can surround the assignation of the tenancy of a few acres of heath above Newtonmore whilst on the other side of Strathspey 40,000 acres of internationally important land in Glen Feshie are traded between strange people in the VIP lounge at Heathrow Airport with not so much as a cursory glance at any wider public interest.

In 1999, something remarkable took place. The ownership of 26 iconic properties such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Holyrood Park, Arbroath Abbey and Dunfermline Palace were transferred by the Crown Estate Commissioners to the Secretary of State for Scotland (within a few months Scottish Ministers then took over ownership). Quite why this was done is not entirely clear but the symbolism was evident (despite there never having been any publicity about this extraordinary dowry to devolution). The Crown Estate Commissioners appeared to believe that such properties were more appropriately held by representatives of the Scottish people.

Balmoral Estate is a block on land reform and for so long as its ownership remains unquestioned so too will the wider pattern of large scale unregulated private ownership. Balmoral is the personal property of the Queen rather than part of the Crown Estate but the time has come to end this peculiar situation which continues to stand in the way of meaningful land reform.

Andy Wightman, Addis Ababa

Ah, our wealthy gentry, it must give them real peace of mind not having to pay all those taxes. Especially as they're only there two weeks of the year!
Well maybe they'll throw us a crust or two sometime soon!
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James D

Joined: 16 Dec 2006
Posts: 946

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah the things 'one' can do when 'one' has so much land to spare and even if it's a bit dodgy, well Economies Must Grow at all costs!
Conspiration theory? Lovely site name though!:-



World food supply will be rooted in India’s troubled soil

The Rothschild family is pushing Indian produce onto the global market.

Whose peas are these? Many of the Rothschild’s Indian farms are in areas where arsenic has poisoned much of the soil and groundwater.

Tomatoes and carrots from Rajasthan.

Zucchini and baby corn from Kashipur.

Europeans and the Japanese will soon be eating Western-variety vegetables, grown in parts of India where people get sick just from drinking the water.

The Rothschild family is preparing to make India one of the world’s largest exporters of produce, at costs likely to push native farmers in many countries off the farm.

In a fawning, almost surreal, October interview with Lynn Forester de Rothschild (see link and excerpt, below), Condé Nast Portfolio reports the Rothschild family plans to “grow and export Indian fruits and vegetables for markets in Europe and Asia.”

The Portfolio interviewer, Lloyd Grove, also relates how Lady de Rothschild first met her husband, Sir Evelyn Rothschild. Henry Kissinger, Grove writes, brought the two together at the 1998 Bilderberg meeting.

Japan and the the United States already serve as test markets for Indian produce.

India exports tens of thousands of tons of mangoes annually to Japan, as well as Britain and other European countries.

The United States in May began accepting shipments of irradiated mangoes from India–the first U.S. imports of irradiated fruit.

Also, USDA-certified organic food products–grown in India and certified by Indian agents, mind you–will soon be flowing into the U.S., according to the U.S. State Department.

The Rothschilds’ Indian produce firm, FieldFresh Foods, is leasing tens of thousands of acres throughout India, including some in areas where arsenic has poisoned the soil and groundwater. The company predicts it will be growing on 100,000 acres by 2010.
Field Fresh says its operations comply with multiple food safety standards, but enforcement in developing countries is notoriously weak.

Some Indian scientists, meanwhile, are trying to develop genetically modified rice and other vegetables that will absorb less arsenic from contaminated soil and irrigation systems.

Well the sooner we get used to toxic waste and start recycling it the better!
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