Page last updated at 00:48 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 01:48 UK

Royal palace 'should open more'

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace made 7m from visitors in 20072008

Buckingham Palace should be open to the public more often to raise money for repairs to other royal buildings, according to a committee of MPs.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee says not enough is being done to assess and manage royal repairs.

But a palace spokesman said a longer opening period was not feasible.

The report also says it is a "scandal" that the Royal Mausoleum at Windsor, where Queen Victoria is buried, is on English Heritage's "at risk" list.

The MPs' report questions why Buckingham Palace cannot be opened to the public for more than the current 63 days a year in order to raise more funds for repairs.

Royal palace 'should open more'

The report says: "It may be more difficult to open areas of Buckingham Palace to the public when there are other events taking place and when members of the Royal Family are in residence, but it does not follow that the whole palace needs to be closed."

The MPs suggest that a review should look at how other organisations dealing with high-security sites manage visits by members of the public.

The committee says: "Other buildings, such as the White House and the Houses of Parliament, manage to open for most of the year, despite similar obligations and security concerns."

But the palace said it would prefer to look at other ways of raising funds.

The cost of a backlog of repairs to the occupied palaces, including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, is £32m, according to the royal household.

However the Public Accounts Committee says it cannot be sure of the real extent of the problem due to "the absence of a consistent approach to assessing the condition of the estate."

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is open for most of the year

The committee complains that royal officials have not provided it with all the information it requested.

It also criticises the government, which it says "does not have a firm grip on its responsibilities".

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is accountable to Parliament for the upkeep of the royal estate, but has delegated day to day responsibility for its running to the royal household.

The report says that the annual grant the government gives to the royal household to run and maintain the palaces has remained at around £15m since 2000-2001, but that running costs have increased.

It says only a fraction of the income generated from visitors to the royal palaces is used for maintenance.

The work to repair the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum has been outstanding for 14 years and its condition is getting worse, according to the MPs.



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