UK & World News
MPs Spend £250k On Portraits Of Themselves
MPs have spent almost £250,000 of taxpayers' money on portraits of themselves, it has been revealed.
The pictures include a painting of Labour MP Diane Abbott for £11,750, a £10,000 image of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and an £8,000 portrait of Minister Without Portfolio Ken Clarke.
Other portraits include a £4,000 oil painting of Foreign Secretary William Hague, a £10,346 picture of Sir Menzies Campbell and a £6,000 triptych of Tony Blair, Charles Kennedy and William Hague.
The former Tory leader Michael Howard sat for a £9,400 painting, while former prime minister Sir John Major was depicted in a £6,000 bronze bust.
The artworks have all been commissioned by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, a cross-party committee, since 1995.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Evening Standard: "While the public might expect former prime ministers or speakers to be afforded the honour of a painting or bust in Parliament, it would certainly seem that the net is being cast increasingly wide when it comes to identifying subjects.
"Regularly splashing out four or five figure sums for these portraits has the whiff of an expensive vanity project, for which unwitting taxpayers are footing the bill."
A Commons spokesman said: "The Parliamentary Art Collection at the House of Commons records those who have made a significant contribution to UK political life over the centuries and in each parliament the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art endeavours to update this record by adding to the contemporary portrait collection.
"In recent years the annual budget for acquiring works of art for the collection has been reduced to reflect the need for savings in the current economic downturn. This is part of the House's drive to reduce its overall cost by 17 per cent by 2014-15."
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