Stingy Charles in the slurry over farm workers' pay

Zardoz tony at
Wed Feb 6 22:42:03 GMT 2013

Kevin Maguire column
 Prince Charles is in the mire over pay for farm workers 
 5 Feb 2013 02:00 

Landowners, including a Prince Charles who owns land in 24 counties, will share a £235million jackpot at the cost of 140,000 farm workers

Prince Charles crosses a political line when his Duchy of Cornwall fiefdom lobbies ministers to cut the pay of farm workers.

As heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales should be careful to stay above the party fray in Westminster.

Instead he's recklessly left himself wide open to charges of abusing his Royal position to boost his wealth at the expense of agricultural workers.

The Duchy's mean game is exposed in a letter dug out of the Environment Department's files by the Unite trade union.

In the unpublished note, the general manager of the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery in ­Lostwithiel, an Angie Coombs, backs the ConDem Government's controversial abolition of what she dismissed, wrongly in my view, as the "archaic" Agricultural Wages Board.

The axing of a body which has set farm earnings in England and Wales since 1948 is hugely controversial, the Conservatives approving and Labour strongly disapproving.

Landowners, including a Prince Charles who owns land in 24 counties, will share a £235million jackpot over the next 10 years.

At the cost of 140,000 farm workers who, according to Government estimates, lose £131million in wages, £81m worth of holidays and £4.4m sick pay. 

No wonder Unite general secretary Len McCluskey is writing to ask Prince Charles to justify his support for the countryside with supporting a Tory move certain to result in exploitation.

Campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson expresses shock Prince Charles would let the Duchy back a "shameful" attack in his name and is now on the case.

The inherited Duchy makes the Prince a huge landowner and last year made a tasty £18m profit.

The Duchy of Cornwall insists the abolition call represented the view of the horticultural nursery and not the Duchy as a whole, or the Prince of Wales himself.

If so the Prince should withdraw the letter and he could always call, as a good employer, for the restoration of the wages board.

To prosper, Royalty needs to tread carefully constitutionally and to be seen on the side of the people.

I now appreciate why Charlie boy is fighting hard to keep secret handwritten "black spider memos" he fired off to Ministers.

The mind boggles at what other political conflicts this Royal clodhopper may have blundered into.
Three better ways to cut £23billion Housing Benefit bill

CHEQUERS has 10 bedrooms and the Prime Minister only three kids.

I make that six spare rooms in the grace and favour mansion so why isn't David Cameron paying a bedroom tax?

The blunt callousness of Dodgy Dave's assault on 660,000 homes will have a huge social cost.

Docking Housing Benefit of divorced dads means they'll see their kids less.

The severely disabled will be forced to share rooms. Soldiers may come back from Afghanistan to find their room at home has gone.

I've three better ways to cut the £23billion Housing Benefit bill.

The first is to build hundreds of thousands of council houses across the country.

The second is to inform HMRC so private landlords must pay tax on rents.

The third is to charge Cameron or let spare rooms in Chequers.

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