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British Parliament to screen royal finance

Feb. 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A Parliamentary committee will investigate whether the British monarchy is a good investment for taxpayers, lawmakers said.

The Public Accounts Committee, which has a reputation for being tough on civil servants who don't spend taxpayer money well, has been granted the authority to look into the royal family's finances to see whether they're a good investment for British taxpayers, the Daily Telegraph said Saturday.

Despite cuts in social services and other areas, the amount given to the royal family by taxpayers will rise by nearly 5 million pounds ($7.898 million) in 2013.

The monarchy had been paid a stipend since the 18th century, but that changed under the present Conservative government, which instead decided to give Queen Elizabeth II's family 15 percent of the income from crown holdings. That includes 265,000 acres of farmland and the national fishing waters, which extend 12 nautical miles from shore.

Lawmakers said the investigation isn't meant as an intrusion -- just to see whether public funds are being spent wisely.

"I'm all in favor of it," said Austin Mitchell, a Labor MP who sits on the committee. "It's not intrusive. It is about ensuring that the public are getting good value for money. At the moment there is no accountability for spending what is a considerable fortune."

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