Civil List rise 'inappropriate' in current climate

image captionThe Queen receives £7.9m via the annual Civil List

A Labour MP has said it would be "inappropriate" to pay "vast sums of additional money" to the royal household in the current climate.

Ian Davidson's comments come after the Sunday Telegraph said the Queen has asked for an increase in the amount of money she receives from the taxpayer.

The annual Civil List has been set at £7.9m for 20 years.

But Conservative MP Edward Leigh said the Queen's finances were "exceptionally well run".

The paper also says the Queen's expenditure is running at about £7m more than the annual allowance.

The shortfall is currently being covered by an emergency reserve, but this is due to run out in 2012 - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.

Mr Davidson, is also a former member of the public accounts committee - the Parliamentary watchdog on royal finances.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that any increase should not be made "without full disclosure" of the Queen's expenditure.

"These are difficult economic times, the government's said we're all in this together and I think it would be inappropriate in these circumstances for the Queen to be handed vast sums of additional money," he said.

"When I was on the public accounts committee we were always seeking more information to justify the amount of money that the royals got.

"Every time we had an examination - for example, of royal travel, for upkeep of the royal palaces - they made changes which resulted in substantial savings to the public purse.

"So I think the price of any consideration of the royals getting more money should be that they have to be open about where the money goes, about the link between the Queen's private fortune and the public purse, because there's a deliberate blurring of the edges between what is private and what is public."

Funding surplus

The Civil List sum, which pays for the running of the Royal household, is negotiated every decade and the last increase was agreed in 1990.

The £7.9m figure that is granted by the government was frozen in 2000, to compensate for 10 years of over-generous payments. Negotiations are currently under way for a new annual sum.

Mr Davidson also said this previous settlement was "so generous" that the Royal Family was unable to spend the annual sum.

As a result, the surplus was placed into an emergency fund, which has recently been drawn on and is now reported to be reaching its limit.

Mr Davidson said that cabinet ministers had taken a 5% pay cut and that "we can't have money just being sloshed out to the Royal Family".

image captionThe public funding goes towards running the royal household

He added: "Let's see whether or not there are economies that can be made, whether or not we could get rid of some of the flunkies that surround the monarchy, whether or not everything is being done in the most cost effective way."

Mr Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough and previous chairman of the public accounts committee, told the Telegraph: "The Queen, without any shadow of a doubt, needs substantially more money to carry out her duties and responsibilities.

"There is a lot of catching up to do. The Queen and the Royal Family do a fantastic job considering their very small resources.

"The boost to tourism, to tradition and to the country is enormous. They should be given a lot more money so they can do their job properly.

"The Queen's [financial] operations and the royal palaces are - compared with the rest of the public sector - exceptionally well run."

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