“From today, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent will have to meet the £120,000-a-year rent on their Kensington Palace apartment out of their own pockets.”

Source: Daily Mail

I welcome this but I call on the Government to make further reforms during 2010:

(1) ensuring a clear split between the public and private expenditure of the Royal Family.
(2) making the publicly funded bodies subject to the Freedom of Information Act
(3) allowing the National Audit Office to audit the publicly funded bodies
(4) reducing Civil List payments by 20%

I sometimes get the feeling that one reason some people in the UK want to keep the monarchy is because of the Commonwealth. The Queen appears to offer us membership of a sort of international club who share a single head of state. Except they don’t:

There are 54 member states, of these 16 have the Queen as head of state, 33 members are republics and 5 members have distinct monarchs:

Whilst many countries may feel it is advantageous to be seen to be part of the Commonwealth a majority of these have a Republican system of Government and others are likely to follow.

“Mr Swain complained to the Commissioner on 18 July 2006. Regrettably, there then followed a period of 22 months’ delay during which, so far as we can tell, the Commissioner took no steps to fulfil his statutory duty under FOIA s50. His investigation only commenced on 16 May 2008. We are not in a position to say, and it is not for us to decide, to what extent that inordinate delay was due to lack of resources, or to deficiencies in the Commissioner’s systems of internal management, or to a mixture of those or indeed other causes. What is clear is that the volume of complaints to
the Commissioner has been much higher than was predicted and, in cases where information ought to have been disclosed by the public authority, long delays in the commencement or conduct of the Commissioner’s investigations tend to frustrate the purpose of the Act and deny to the
public the rights which the Act has created.”

http://tinyurl.com/foi-slc-tribunal-2009-07

In theTreasury’s response to a Freedom of Information Act they tried to redact some text using black highlighting but if you select the text you can read it!

That’s what I call Freedom of Information!

We now know that: “Sir Michael Peat, The Prince of Wales’ Principal Private Secretary, has written to Dave Hartnett asking HMRC to consider amending the MOU to recognise this expenditure.”

[meaning expenditure met by HRH The Prince of Wales on official engagements carried out by Their Royal Highnesses The Princes William and Harry.]

So all this private correspondence is not just for the benefit of the British Constitution and the National Interest at least some of it appears to be about the financial interests of one family.

But how much influence to the Royals have, did they get their own way? …

“In a little-noticed supplementary document to the Budget, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, announced that the taxpayer would pick up the cost of running an office recently created to support Princes William and Harry.”

Source of quote: Telegraph

France made this happen in 2004:
“A charter for the environment which makes a healthy environment a
constitutional right for French citizens has passed a key hurdle with
approval by the parliament on Tuesday by 328 votes to 10.”

http://www.endseurope.com/9473
http://www.env-health.org/a/1629

I am not about to suggest that France’s behaviour towards the
environment has been perfect ever since or that we should simply
translate the French Charter. What I am saying is that all
legislation and Government activity that has a damaging effect on the
environment should be subject to challenge and that the environment
should enjoy strong constitutional protections.

Once this was passed legislation would be drafted so as to be
compatible with these principles.

Although there is no one document in a glass case that anyone can
point to and say this is the UK Constitution – we do have a
constitution and it does have written sources e.g. Parliament Act
1911, European Communities Act 1972, Act of Settlement 1701

I think this change would be hard to achieve…

What do you think?

[based on a post I made to a Serious Change Google Group]