Major expenses approved swiftly by small, temporary of committee MPs.
Thirteen minutes was all a tiny committee of MPs took to approve doubling the publicly funded income of the Royal Family.
The only job the committee, titled “Seventh Dedicated Legislation Committee,” had was to look into increasing the ‘Sovereign Grant’ of the Crown Estates income from 15% to 25%. This increase will fund the upgrade of Buckingham Palace, estimated at £360m. Now that the committee has approved the increase, it will be disbanded
The only objection:
Tommy Sheppard and George Kerevan, representatives of the Scottish National Party, were the only ones to object 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 conducted at the Palace of Westminster should be funded by doubling the salary of MPs and asking them to make a contribution.”
The objections raised by the SNP’s representatives mean that a deferred vote will take place among MPs next week. However, that vote will not include any further debate or scrutiny of the matter, and it will almost unquestionably pass.
The Buckingham Palace upgrade is set to start in April. It will include replacing around 100 miles of electric cables, 30 miles of water pipes, 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fixtures, and 2,500 radiators.
The Public Accounts Committee found in 2014 that the Royal Household had mishandled its finances
MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee at the time, said in a statement that the Household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term.
The cost of maintaining Occupied royal palaces falls on the Government, however, they are held in trust for the nation by the Queen.