2 Previous PAC recommendations |
12. This Committee reported in 2009 that work required
to repair the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, a monument of national
importance, had been outstanding for 14 years and that its condition
was getting worse. The report noted that repairing the Mausoleum
would cost around £3 million and that the Household had no
plans to do the required work, as it had 'resource constraints'.
In its 2012-13 Annual Report, the Household noted that despite
the Mausoleum being on the English Heritage 'at risk' register,
its restoration was not a priority for the Household. The report
added that it was uncertain whether there would be sufficient
funding to complete the restoration of the Mausoleum in the foreseeable
future. The report noted that the Household had carried out only
minor works to dry the building and to monitor its condition before
considering whether to restore it.
Work required to repair the Mausoleum has now been outstanding
for 18 years. We were surprised at the complacency which the Household
had shown in their report, and asked the Household what plans
it had to safeguard the Mausoleum's future. The Household said
it would like to work on the whole of the Royal estate maintenance
backlog straight away, but it had limited funds and it was not
possible to do everything at once.
13. In 2009, following the recommendation in the
Committee's report 'Maintaining the Occupied Royal Palaces',
the Household formally documented an income generation strategy
to supplement the funding received from Grant-in-Aid.
The Household's income increased from £6.7 million in 2007-08
to £11.6 million in 2012-13. In accordance with this strategy,
the Household increased its income from the commercial letting
of properties and by making use of facilities outside the palaces
for commercial events.
The Household told us that its success in increasing its income
by 54% in the past five years had allowed it to maintain the level
of activity needed to support The Queen's programme.
14. The Committee also recommended in 2009 that the
Household work with the Royal Collection Trust to revise the arrangements
for the collection and distribution of visitor income. In 2012-13,
the Trust paid £3.7 million to the Household in facilities
management charges, compared with £1.8 million in 2007-08.
In 2012-13, the Household extended Buckingham Palace summer opening
to 78 days, receiving 514,000 visitors, compared with 63 days
in 2008, when it received 392,000 visitors, and 56 days in 1993,
when it received 379,000 visitors. The average number of daily
visitors is around 6,500.
Other historic buildings, for example, the Palace of Westminster,
are open to visitors for longer periods through the year than
Buckingham Palace, despite Parliamentary activities taking place
at the Palace of Westminster at the same time.
15. The Household told us that it has looked at opening
Buckingham Palace in the winter, but decided it was not commercially
viable as it would not generate additional profit. However, it
has opened Buckingham Palace to private tours between September
and April and has found these to be popular with the public. In
2012-13, it ran just under 120 tours. It considered there are
constraints to greater opening of Buckingham Palace due to the
number of activities taking place in the Palace and the fixed
set-up costs for each opening.
16. In its 2002 report 'Royal Travel by Air and
Rail', the Committee
recognised the major savings which the Household had achieved
in the cost of air travel and the cost of the Royal train. The
Household's overall spending on Royal travel has fallen from £5
million in 2007-08 to £4.5 million in 2012-13. Most of this
fall is due to fewer hours of chartering fixed-wing aircraft,
while the Household's spending on rail travel has been stable.
17. The Committee recommended in 2002 that the Household
review the future of the Royal train after The Queen's Golden
Jubilee celebrations and consider alternative options for its
provision. In April 2009, the Household awarded a contract for
the operation of the Royal train to D B Schenker, following a
competitive tender. The Household told us that this reduced the
maintenance costs by 9% in real terms, mainly through extending
the maintenance interval for some of the rolling stock.
The Household is currently reviewing the options for retendering
the operation and maintenance of the Royal train, which dates
from the 1970s. It intends to continue to use the Royal train
for as long as the rolling stock is working, which it believes
will be for another five to 10 years. However, it has not yet
developed alternative options or a replacement to a Royal train,
which it considers provides safe and secure transport, particularly
for overnight travel to early-morning Royal engagements. It acknowledged
that this will require a major decision ahead on whether or not
to invest in a new Royal train.
27 'Maintaining the Occupied Royal Palaces',
24th Report of Session 2008-09, HC 201, 27 April 2009 Back
'The Sovereign Grant Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13',
HC 212, 27 June 2013, page 32 Back
Qq 63-65 Back
Maintaining the Occupied Royal Palaces', 24th Report of
Session 2008-09, HC 201, 27 April 2009 Back
Comptroller and Auditor General's Memorandum, Figure 11, para
Q 10 Back
Qq 80-81 Back
Ev 15, letter from Royal Household to PAC Chair 21 October 2013 Back
Comptroller and Auditor General's Memorandum, paras 3.20-3.22,
Figure 11 Back
Qq 81-88 Back
'Royal Travel by Air and Rail', Sixtieth Report of Session
2001-02, HC 529, 17 July 2002 Back
Comptroller and Auditor General's Memorandum, Figure 10 Back
Qq 89-94 Back
Qq 89-99 Back