Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-119)|
26 JANUARY 2009
Q100 Mr Bacon: Between you could
you send us, as a Committee, both of them, including the monies
that you, Ms Diggle, get in. I reckon that you do quite well out
of this as well.
Ms Diggle: We certainly try to.
Q101 Mr Bacon: Over the last 10 years
the costs have been £400 or £500 million and the revenue
has been a billion and a half or something like that. Would that
be fair, roughly?
Ms Diggle: They make a surplus
of about £200 million.
Q102 Mr Bacon: The Crown Estate does,
yes. Sir Alan says he costs £40 million. If you add in the
police and the army and everything else it is not going to be
£200 million is it?
Ms Diggle: I would not like to
comment; I do not have a figure for that.
Mr Bacon: I think you do very well out
of it. Anyway, I look forward to receiving the note, thank you.
Q103 Geraldine Smith: I feel quite positive
about what you are doing actually because I think you are moving
in the right direction with tours around Buckingham Palace. I
think that gives people a great deal of pleasure. Perhaps we can
get a bit petty at times. When we look £32 million seems
a lot of money but at the end of the day over a number of years
it is not that much when you are looking at unexpected maintenance
and things that might occur during the time. Do you find that
that happens? I know with my own homea very small houseyou
find things go wrong that you do not expect.
Sir Alan Reid: It is exactly like
that and it is a similar reaction. You get very depressed when
you suddenly find that you need to rewire your house. When the
façade in the back courtyard of Buckingham Palace crumbled
we knew that work needed to be doing at some stage but it was
extremely depressing to realise it had to be done right there
and then because that is what the crumbling was telling us.
Q104 Geraldine Smith: Also there
are health and safety issues if there are pieces of rock falling
and potentially hitting people.
Sir Alan Reid: It is certainly
a public liability issue.
Q105 Geraldine Smith: I think there
has to be some balance is well. It is good that you are opening
up the gardens of Buckingham Palace; again I think there will
be a great deal of interest in that. I also think the Royal Garden
Parties give people a great deal of pleasure. I know any constituents
of mine who have managed to get a ticket have always talked about
it for years. I think the tax payer does benefit from all these
things not to mention all the receptions.
Sir Alan Reid: The Garden Parties
are an issue in terms of opening Buckingham Palace because probably
we could get the most tourists possibly in in July but that is
the peak season for the Garden Parties. People who are invited
to a Garden Party do value the invitation hugely. This is a decision
we keep facing: do we want to squeeze that in order to get more
paying public through or should we have regard to the emotional
and reward element that people coming to the Garden Parties feel?
Geraldine Smith: As you say, I think
it is a question of balance. You are in danger of almost devaluing
it if you open it up too much and there is too much access. Certainly
I do not think we should be petty about the redecorating costs.
I find it quite sad really when some of the state rooms become
a little bit faded and the work cannot be done immediately. Certainly
on this Committee I remember well one occasion when the Home Office
had spent £30 million on an asylum centre that was never
built; the grass was not built on, nothing happened. To me that
is a huge waste of money. When we visited the Palace we could
see for ourselves the work on the roof that needed to be carried
out just to make it safer for people working up there if they
have to be on that roof and also maintenance of the boiler room;
all that is very expensive. Do you sometimes get a bit annoyed
when people seem to be picking fault very much?
Chairman: I hope you are not referring
Q106 Geraldine Smith: Obviously we
do have a duty to ensure that money is well spent.
Sir Alan Reid: We understand that
we have to be accountable.
Chairman: Very diplomatic, Sir Alan.
Q107 Geraldine Smith: Can I just
ask a little bit about the Royal Collection as well? What sort
of benefits do tax payers get from that?
Mr Stevens: One of the benefits
for the tax payer is that the admissions to all of the palaces
comply with the gift aid regime that was introduced for admissions
to museums, galleries, et cetera and visitors are able to come
back as many times as they like throughout the year. Compared
to the cost of admission to many other comparable attractions
many of our visitors get very good value for money. The investment
in The Queen's Galleries both in London and in Edinburgh have
greatly increased the amount of exhibition space that the Royal
Collection now has and has a much greater programme of changing
exhibitions which means that more of the Royal Collection can
be seen. It can be brought out of the palaces which, in the case
of Buckingham Palace, is only open for a couple of months a year,
and members of the public can see more of the Royal Collection.
There is enormous benefit from that investment for the tax payer.
Geraldine Smith: Your consultants' fees
are not that high. I guess they would look high to anyone outside
this room but compared to figures I have seen I think they are
pretty modest and I hope you can keep them that way.
Chairman: Thank you Mrs Smith. Your last
questioner is Nigel Griffiths.
Q108 Nigel Griffiths: The reasons
you believe you do not have enough money to maintain the Estate
to a standard you would like are two-fold. As figure one shows
there has been a flat lining of the grant and secondly Sir Michael
Peat's anticipated increase in tourist income has not come about
Sir Alan Reid: Yes.
Q109 Nigel Griffiths: You told the
Committee basically that you are straining some of these to capacity
in getting people in at the moment, is that right?
Sir Alan Reid: It was capacity
at Buckingham Palace through this summer; it has not necessarily
been capacity at Windsor.
Q110 Nigel Griffiths: Is that where
Sir Michael Peat thought in 2002 the anticipated income was going
to go up?
Sir Alan Reid: I think he was
here in 2000 and that is certainly one of the areas where he was
expecting visitors. The way the allocation is structured effectively
the property grant-in-aid was the equity owner of the Windsor
Castle receipt so any increase in tourism above a certain amount
almost all went to the grant-in-aid. So there has been one to
one and half million pounds a year less money than was expected
and that accounted for something like £10 million lost money.
Q111 Nigel Griffiths: How many members
of the team have graduate qualifications in marketing?
Sir Alan Reid: Can I ask you which
team you mean?
Q112 Nigel Griffiths: Anyone involved
in making sure that we maximise the revenues for visitor numbers.
Sir Alan Reid: That would be the
marketing side of Royal Collection.
Mr Stevens: Can I just comment
on that? We have a team of about half a dozen people in the marketing
department responsible for the Royal Collection PR and marketing
strategy. I think the key point is that the marketing team would
never have anticipated the developments in the tourist sector
that occurred from 2001 onwards.
Q113 Nigel Griffiths: Like what?
Mr Stevens: Like 9/11, foot and
Q114 Nigel Griffiths: Hang on, in
2007 it was a record year; volume was up to 32.8 million people
from abroad visiting which was 8% up over two years. The increase
in income was up to £16 billion, 9%. So whatever happened
in 2001 was certainly cancelled out and indeed allowed organisations
like the British Museum and the National Gallery to massively
boost their numbers. Why did the ones you preside over fail to
Mr Stevens: Hopefully that is
reasonably easy to explain. One of the reasons why organisations
like the British Museum and the National Gallery were able to
boost their numbers was of course the introduction of free admission
to museums and galleries. The second point is that if one looks
at, say, the performance of the Royal Collection where we have
seen a reduction in visitor numbersparticularly at Windsor
Castle which is really what we are referring to hereof
around 300,000 per annum from 1.25 million in the 1990s to about
950,000 on average post 2000, that is not so dissimilar to the
performance we have seen at other visitor attractions, for example
Hampton Court and the Tower of London, where they have seen a
reduction in their average visitor numbers of nearly 20% over
the same period. Our performance is very, very similar.
Q115 Nigel Griffiths: You seem to
be almost benchmarking yourselves against the losers and not the
winners and I would like to know why.
Mr Stevens: Benchmarking ourselves
against organisations which are in the heritage sector we are
very, very similar in the offer in our tourist market. There are
areas where the Royal Collection has done well during that period
and noticeably at Buckingham Palace. One of the reasons for that
is that the Royal Collection has had to invest very heavily in
mounting special exhibitions each summer in order to compete with
the many other visitor attractions that are on offer these days.
Q116 Nigel Griffiths: That is probably
why, if you do compare like with like, we have seen a dramatic
rise in the number of visitors to the National Gallery, the British
Museum and elsewhere. Have you consulted Neil MacGregor, Director
of the British Museum about how to boost numbers and maximise
Sir Alan Reid: The key feature
there is that that is benchmarking against places that have free
Q117 Nigel Griffiths: My question
was, have you consulted Neil MacGregor? I am just looking for
a yes or a no.
Mr Stevens: Our marketing department
have not necessarily consulted Neil MacGregor but they consult
with their peers at other museums and galleries and with VisitBritain
and so we share the intelligence of what is working in particular
Q118 Nigel Griffiths: I am puzzled
that something like the Tate Modern which, after all, is just
a pile of bricks in an old power station, can break all records
by getting 4.5 million visitors and yet you are getting slumps
in facilities that have been household names for centuries.
Sir Alan Reid: Can we compare
the revenue from admissions of both those organisations?
Q119 Nigel Griffiths: You can do
what you want.
Sir Alan Reid: There is no charge.
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