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Pounds, pence and the Palace Jun 28

Buckingham Palace is quite canny about the way it releases its royal spending figures. The BBC reports today:

The Queen and the Royal Family cost the UK taxpayer £37.4m in the last financial year, her financial public accounts reveal. The cost, equivalent to 62p per person in the UK, rose 4.2% over the previous year, accountants said.

By doing the “How much do they cost each person?” calculation (and that’s every man, woman and child, not every taxpayer), the cost seems very reasonable.

And yet the story seems to come across differently when we hear about MPs’ expenses – £80.8m in 2004-5 is the best figure I can find – when it’s made out to be a huge sum (and, of course, for most of us it is). Compare it with the Royal Family figure, though, and bear in mind that it’s paying for over six hundred of the blighters. Perhaps Parliament should adopt the Royals’ cost per person calculation: using the same population basis, it indicates that £1.33 from each person in this country funds MPs’ salaries and allowances. Suddenly it doesn’t seem to much – perhaps only proving you can do anything with statistics…

2 Responses

  1. 1

    True on the statistics thing – you can prove almost anything you like.

    Of course the other thing which is also conveniently left off the “cost” of the monarchy is how it is offset many, many times over by revenue from the Crown Estates which goes directly to HM Treasury in a deal struck initially (I think) with George III.

    I also think there’s no reason to beleive that any other system would be cheaper – the French Presidency (for example) costs far more (AFAIK).

  2. 2

    Another reason the costs aren’t comparable: I understand the Royal Family figure includes upkeep costs for their various estates, whereas the figure for MPs is only the money that goes directly to them and their offices.

    But I’ve never considered the cost of the monarchy a particularly important part of the question of its constitutional position. You can spend as much or as little as you like on a Head of State; it should have little bearing on how the Head of State is selected.