Labour at Blackpool: Brown says Labour would cut 'wasteful' Civil List

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LABOUR would cut the cost of the Royal Family to the public purse, Gordon Brown, the Shadow Chancellor, has signalled. One move could be to cut the Duke of Edinburgh off the Civil List.

A Labour government would also review the 10-year deal reached in 1991 under which the Queen receives pounds 7.9m annually for the Civil List.

Mr Brown's main target was the subsidised tenancies in Royal Households for senior members of the Royal Family's staff, which has caused controversy in recent months following critical reports by the Public Accounts Committee.

He said on BBC 1's Question Time programme on Thursday that the savings expected from earlier reviews had failed to materialise.

The Civil List uprating was fixed until 2001 by Baroness Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, but because of continuing public concern about the cost of supporting the Royal Family, John Major said on 11 February 1993 that the Queen had agreed to be taxed.

It was also announced that the Queen would reimburse the Treasury for the payments on the Civil List to all members of the Royal Family except herself, the Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Mr Brown made it clear that he wanted to go further. 'I think there is waste and I think that has to be looked at. I think all the arrangements made a few years ago haven't really yielded the savings expected.

'I think we have to distinguish between the upkeep of the Queen and the Queen Mother and the upkeep of the rest of the royal establishment. I think the public want to see a separation between the two.

'They would be quite happy to finance the Monarch and the Queen Mother. But I think they are unhappy about the money that goes to royal tenants in royal palaces and royal houses and

involves the rest of the Royal Family.'

The whole of the 'political party establishment' wanted to look at cutting spending on the royal households, Mr Brown said.

'I think particularly when you have members of the Royal Family getting advances to do books, that is something you have to look at as well. I would separate the Royal Family from the rest of the Establishment.

'I think we have got to be tough on unwarranted privilege and I think that is something this government has failed to do,' he said.

A Labour Party spokesman said yesterday: 'Gordon is in tune with the feelings of the public. The Royal Family is becoming more like a soap opera.

'There is no public sympathy for what is perceived to be a lengthy list of hangers-on.'

The implication that a future Labour government might curb spending on the lesser royals would be likely to be viewed sympathetically by other Shadow Cabinet members.

Marjorie Mowlam, Labour's spokeswoman on national heritage, and Jack Straw, spokesman on the environment, have each already suggested that the taxpayer is not getting value for money.