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Jacob Rees-Mogg: Parliamentarian portraits a small price to pay for history

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

Jacob Rees-Mogg

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As I am on the Speaker's advisory panel for works of art I have naturally been following the argument about the cost of commissioning portraits of leading Parliamentarians.

The argument against is simple. It is seen as a vanity project where Members of Parliament commission portraits of each other and send the bill to the taxpayer. This runs at a little over £10,000 a year and we remain in an age of austerity.

Regular readers of this column will know that I am cautious about public expenditure and think that the Government has a duty to use taxpayers' money prudently. This means cutting things that I might like as well as things that I think are extravagant.

However, it is important not to be so focused on little things that a sense of proportion is lost. £10,000 is equivalent to the running costs of the House of Commons – excluding MPs' salaries and their staff – for 25 minutes. Cutting it all together would make no difference to taxpayers.

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It, therefore, seems to me it would be sad if this generation were to stop doing something that our ancestors consistently did. They built up an historic record of the leading figures in our island's story.

Visitors to the Palace of Westminster are often impressed and interested by the variety of busts and portraits that they see. It links us back to the birth of our democracy and relatively it is a small price to pay.

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