We are not amused: MPs tell Queen to rein in her spending as she reaches final million

Royal Household must ‘do more with less’, say MPs after review of finances

In 1642 when Parliament tried to “regulate” the revenues of the monarchy under Charles I it led, a few months later, to the first battles of the English Civil War. Now, 372 years on, Margaret Hodge and the ever combative House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are attempting to have another go.

For the first time Parliament has today produced a report into the Royal finances, following a change in the law which gives MPs oversight of how the Queen spends her (and our) money.

And if Her Majesty thought she might get off lightly from the scourge of Google, Amazon and countless Government departments, she may need to think again.

The report castigates the Royal Household for being profligate at a time of constrained public spending and pointedly suggests that like the rest of Government, the Queen also has to do “more for less”.

It accuses the Royals of neglecting their palaces and displaying “complacency” about the extent of the problem. In conclusion it suggests the Queen is “not being served well by the Royal Household in balancing the books”, suggesting that even at 87, she needs to keep a closer eye on how her money is spent.

“The Household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term,” said Ms Hodge, the committee chair. “ With better commercial expertise in place, we think there is room to do more with less.”

The committee’s report comes in the wake of a change in the law in 2012 which consolidated the Civil List and Grants-in-Aid into a single Sovereign Grant which has to fund the Queen’s state functions and the upkeep of Royal palaces. The grant was £31m in 2013 and is set to rise to £36.1m this year and £37.9m in 2015. Ensuring the grant is spent wisely is overseen by the Nation Audit Office and PAC.

The Royal Household’s net expenditure of £33.3m was greater than the Sovereign Grant, so £2.3m had to be drawn from its £3.3m Reserve Fund, leaving a balance of only £1m at the end of the 2013 tax year. In its first report since the public grilling last year of the Queen’s Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid, the PAC suggests that the Royals need to both cut their costs and increase their income. It points out that last year the Royal Household’s gas consumption rose by 14 per cent and the waste it generated by 9 per cent.

A table setting is shown during a press preview of the State dinner for Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband Prince Philip 07 May 2006 in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

It pointedly asks why Buckingham Palace cannot be open to the public for longer, potentially increasing revenues. “Other historic buildings – for example, the Palace of Westminster – are open to visitors for longer periods through the year,” it concludes. But it is the failure to tackle the backlog of remedial work that particularly draws the committee’s ire. It is concerned that work to repair the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, a monument of national importance, had been outstanding for 14 years.

Last night the response of Buckingham Palace could best be described as unamused – but not yet summoning an army. “The move to the Sovereign Grant has created a more transparent and scrutinised system, which enables the Royal Household to allocate funding according to priorities,” said a spokeswoman.

“This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds. The Royal Household was charged by Parliament in 2009 to generate more income to supplement the funding it receives. This has been done successfully. Work on income generation continues.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick