Royal spending under the microscope

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to investigate the Queen’s finances later this year, in a bid to establish whether the monarch and the Royal Family provide value for money to the taxpayer, reports accountancy services Harris & Co.

The exact scope of the inquiry will be decided after the National Audit Office (NAO) is granted access to details of the Queen’s expenditure next month, according to a report in theIndependent

The PAC, chaired by former Labour minister Margaret Hodge, will then scrutinise the NAO’s report and decide whether to call palace officials to give evidence. Such a move could see senior staff including Sir Alan Reid, the keeper of the privy purse – effectively the Queen’s treasurer—giving evidence to the committee in front of the cameras.

The committee is expected to want to look at transport costs including the Royal Train and the Royal Flight, as well as money spent on official entertaining and the upkeep of palaces, and funding given to junior royals to support their work backing up the Queen.

Labour MP Austin Mitchell who sits on the PAC said: ‘It is about ensuring that the public are getting good value for money. At the moment there is no accountability for spending what is a considerable fortune.’

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

The PAC will look at the business strategy of the Crown Estates, the primary source of the Queen’s income for official duties. But under a controversial deal with the palace the main income of the Prince of Wales, which he gets through the Duchy of Cornwall, will be outside the PAC’s scrutiny. The Duchy of Lancaster, a trust that provides the Queen’s private income, is also exempt.

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