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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Royal Family to face scrutiny

Today's Independent reports that Parliament’s most powerful watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, is expected to launch an inquiry later this year into the finances of the Queen and the Royal Family. They say that this follows a change in the law which, for the first time, gives MPs oversight of royal finances.

They believe that an inquiry of this nature will cause trepidation in Buckingham Palace because of the committee’s formidable reputation for lambasting civil servants and government departments if it deems they have misused public funds:

Among the areas the committee is expected to examine are transport costs including the Royal Train and the Royal Flight, as well as money spent on official entertaining and the upkeep of palaces.

Money given to junior royals to support their work backing up the Queen will also be scrutinised while the committee may also want to examine whether Buckingham Palace is doing enough to raise money itself by selling the royal brand.

For example while Buckingham Palace now opens to paying visitors during the summer some have argued it should be open all year round. Two of the Queen’s other castles, Balmoral and Sandringham, have no public access at all – despite their multimillion-pound maintenance costs.

The change has come about after George Osborne scrapped the Civil List – an annual handout to the Royal Family that has had to be approved by Parliament since 1760 – in favour of paying the Monarch 15 per cent of the income from the Crown Estates as a new “Sovereign Grant”.

Crown Estate assets include Regent Street in London, Ascot racecourse and Windsor Great Park, 265,000 acres of farmland, as well as ownership of our national seabed stretching out 12 nautical miles around Britain. The Estate’s profits have been paid to the Treasury and taxpayers since 1760, after George III handed the Crown’s property to the state in return for an annual fee to support his duties. The income from the estates, now more than £240m is expected to increase to £450m by 2020 – which would more than double the Queen’s income from taxpayers’ to £67.5m at a time when voters have been told to expect a decade of austerity.

In April Buckingham Palace will receive £36.1m to fund the Queen’s official duties, a 16 per cent increase on the £31m paid by taxpayers last year.

Now that will be an inquiry worth watching.
A right Royal farce...
and those MPs had better be careful not to act in a derogatory fashion. It seems clear that you are not a fan of Royalty Peter - but a lot of your constituents are. Isn't it about time ALL Welsh Assembly Members were directly voted in to the Welsh Assembly whereas some are merely appointed by their party - how democratic is that?
I am a fan of transparency and accountability, something that teh heredditary principle does not allow for at any level.

And I am not appointed to the Assembly by my party, I am democratically selected by the membership in the same way as any other party representative at any level and then democratically elected by the voters.

I dont particularly like the system but I have to work within it like everybody else.
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