MPs take 13 minutes to double Royal family income and approve £360m Buckingham Palace refurbishment

A tiny, adhoc committee of MPs waives through huge expenditure

Tom Peck
Thursday 02 March 2017 16:18
MPs approve a £360m Buckingham Palace refurbishment in a matter of minutes

A tiny, temporary committee of MPs set up explicitly to consider doubling the publicly funded income of the Royal Family took thirteen minutes to decide that, yes, the Royal Family should indeed have its income doubled.

The "Seventh Dedicated Legislation Committee" was only established to consider raising the so-called 'Sovereign Grant' from 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the Crown Estates income, in order to fund the estimated £360m upgrade to Buckingham Palace, and now it has done so, it will be disbanded.

Only the Scottish National Party, via its representatives Tommy Sheppard and George Kerevan objected to the decision.

Mr Sheppard said: "We cannot support this decision and this statutory instrument being passed in this way.

“It is not a suggestion that Buckingham Palace is not a public asset of historic importance that deserved to be preserved.

“What we object is using a change in the Sovereign Grant to pay for an infrastructure project. If a major investment of £400m needs to be made, then that should be treated as a separate capital project.

“It would be similar to saying the works that needed to be conduced at the Palace of Westminster should be funded by doubling the salary of MPs and asking them to make a contribution.”

The SNP's objections are sufficient to mean that there will be a 'deferred vote' on the matter among MPs next week, but that vote will not come with any further debate or scrutiny of the matter, and it will almost certainly be approved.

Renovations are due to begin at Buckingham Palace in April. The project will involve replacing around 100 miles of electrical cabling 30 miles of water pipes, 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fitting and 2,500 radiators.

In 2014, the Public Accounts Committee found that the Royal Houshold had mismanaged its finances.

“The Household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term,” Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the committee at the time said in a statement.

Occupied royal palaces are held in trust for the nation by the Queen – but the cost of maintaining them falls on the Government.

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