NICOLA Sturgeon has said there are no plans by the SNP government to cut the amount Scotland contributes to funding the Royal Family.
The First Minister said Scotland would make its “full contribution” to the Sovereign Grant, the pot of taxpayers’ money that pays for the Queen and the Royal Household.
With the transfer of assets, total Crown assets will fallSir Alan Reid
Ms Sturgeon was reacting to Buckingham Palace sourced reports suggesting that proposals to transfer more powers to Holyrood would mean that the Scotland would reduce the financial support the Queen receives from north of the Border.
Ms Sturgeon took to Twitter to deny the claims saying “there is absolutely, categorically, no intention” by the Scottish Government to cut its contribution to the Sovereign Grant.
Later, Ms Sturgeon said: “This story has no basis of fact whatsoever. There never has been any suggestion on the part of the Scottish Government that the Sovereign Grant should be or could be cut as a result of the devolution of the Crown Estate.
“Whenever others have suggested that this must be the case the Scottish Government has made clear our views is that Scotland will continue to make a full contribution to the sovereign grants. So the story is absolutely not based on fact whatsoever.
“I speak for myself so I will say it has never been the case and never will be the case that the Scottish Government will suggest that Scotland’s contribution to the Sovereign Grant should be reduced. That has never been decided and it won’t be.”
Ms Sturgeon made her statement after it was reported a senior courtier claimed her administration aimed to cut contributions to the Sovereign Grant, leaving the bill to be picked up by taxpayers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The reports led to speculation that Ms Sturgeon’s rise to First Minister would see her SNP administration adopt a more hostile attitude to the Royal Family.
Her predecessor Alex Salmond took great pains to emphasise that his vision for independence would see the Queen remain as Head of State, despite many in the SNP believing Scotland should become a republic.
Ms Sturgeon said the SNP’s position on the monarchy had not changed.
“The idea that there is anything that has changed in terms of the Scottish Government’s relationship with Her Majesty and the Royal Family is completely without foundation,” she said.
The size of the Sovereign Grant is calculated on the basis that it should be 15 per cent of the annual profits of the Crown Estate. With the Crown Estate, a lucrative portfolio of land, property and the sea bed, bringing in £250 million last year, under the arrangement the Queen received £37.9m.
Under plans to transfer more powers to Edinburgh, the Crown Estate’s holdings north of the Border will come under the control of the Scottish Parliament. This week the Crown Estate announced profits of £285m, a figure that will see a 6.7 per cent increase in cash to the Queen. Of that £14m came from the Crown Estate’s Scottish holdings, which would amount to Scotland contributing £2.1m towards the cost of the Royal Family.
Ms Sturgeon was responding to suggestions that if her government kept revenues from its portion of the Crown Estate then the value of the Queen’s 15 per cent cut would fall.
A senior courtier was quoted as saying that Scotland would no longer be funding the monarchy through the Sovereign Grant.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse who is responsible for the Queen’s income and expenditure, was quoted saying: “With the Scottish transfer of assets, total Crown assets will fall.”
The Scottish Government has maintained the Queen’s funding is set by linking the amount to total Crown Estate profits, but does not come from the profits. A spokesman said: “Scotland will continue to make the same financial contribution to the monarchy as at present – there will be no reduction in the Sovereign Grant as a result of devolution of the Crown Estate.”
The Treasury said: “Scottish taxpayers will continue to fund a full and fair share of the Sovereign Grant, paid via the Consolidated Fund. The Grant will not be adversely affected by devolution – under the Sovereign Grant Act it cannot be reduced and the statutory review of the grant will ensure it continues to provide the resources needed to support the Queen’s official duties.”