Queen’s accountant given PAC grilling

PAC members quizzed Sir Michael Peat, Buckingham Palace’s chief accountant, over why this surplus intended for fire restoration work now completed, had been paid into the Trust.

Rt Hon Alan Williams, PAC committee member, said: ‘The £14m is not going to its original purpose, which was the restoration of fire at Windsor. That money has been pocketed by the Trust. It is now getting £14m that they are not entitled to.’

Following the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, the Royal Collection Trust was set up to help lighten the burden of government expenditure.

Adding to the spat between Sir Michael and Williams, PAC committee member Barry Gardiner, asked: ‘Who ordered the £14m of receipts in 2000 from Buckingham Palace no longer needed for the Windsor fire restoration to be paid into the Royal Collections Trust?’

Gardiner pushed for an explanation of who approved the deposit, dismissing Sir Michael’s historical explanation dating back to the 18th century.

Sir Michael said: ‘No approval is needed because the money belongs to the Queen and Trust.’

When Robin Young, minister for department for Culture, Media and Sport, was unable to reply, PAC chairman David Davis, ordered Treasury representatives present to find out who in the Treasury was responsible for sanctioning the transaction.

A further bone of contention was why staff members were still entitled to subsided rents and why more properties outside the royal security cordon were not rented commercially.

Peat maintained that the Royal Household is ‘probably the most heavily audited organisation in the world’ and that the cost to the taxpayer had been come down by 55% in real terms over the last 10 years.

Closing the session, Davis advised Sir Michael that he could expect another appointment with the PAC, parliament’s most influential select committee.


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