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Bercow finally gives a fig

24 February 2012

It looks like those £32,500-a-year figtrees won’t be staying in Portcullis House for long. While they may add a pleasant ambiance to the building, the huge rent bill has caused much annoyance, including for the Speaker of the Commons. In an interview with House Magazine, John Bercow says he was ‘horrified’ and adds:

‘If we are going to have trees, they absolutely shouldn’t be trees that cause us to fleece the taxpayer in this way, and that must change at the earliest opportunity.If there is a contract and it’s going to cost us more to get out of it immediately than not, then it may well have to wait… but should the present arrangement continue beyond September? Absolutely not.’

Update: PoliticsHome reports that David Cameron is backing Bercow’s
call. A No.10 spokesman said: ‘All parts of the public sector need to be looking at where they can find savings. I don’t see any reason why Parliament shouldn’t.’

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Show comments
  • toni

    Didn’t David Laws make a huge fuss about expensive potted plants when he came into Government and insist they be thrown out?

  • Jeremy


    “Perhaps its the fig trees that giv Bercow and his wife verbal diahorrhea.”

    Really? And what is it that gives verbal dysentery to you?

  • Jeremy

    The trees look lovely in their current setting. And although I’ve never been there, I can imagine that they add ‘a pleasant ambience’ to Portcullis House. Surely this must have a beneficial effect upon the morale of those working there?

    Let them stay.

  • Verity

    Perhaps its the fig trees that giv Bercow and his wife verbal diahorrhea.

  • Bill (Scotland)

    I think this is relatively unimportant, but has Bercow only just noticed this, or been made to react only by the adverse publicity? The man is a jerk, I have come to realise. The other news today about an elderly man extradited to the US under an unequal extradition treaty is of much greater importance. Did our current PM vote in favour of this treaty when in Opposition and if not is he taking any action to abrogate it? If not, he should start the process to do so pretty quickly. If he DID support its passage by the last Government then he should be ashamed of himself and hang his head in shame.

  • James de la Mare

    As usual – unsurprisingly – comments on this matter are entertaining or indignant, but don’t reach the point which is the mania by all sections of government to hide financial decisions like this behind commercial confidentiality. Every official public body seems to think it can sidetrack public knowledge and scrutiny by making spending decisions during closed sessions or outside public view – and then we get occasionally a glimpse of what we having to overpay for. It’s time the whole issue of commercial confidentiality is opened up and generally abolished.

  • Fergus Pickering

    I think they look very nice. Presumably the Government can do with fig leaves from time to time.

  • Magnolia

    They should get rid of the trees and offer those nice raised beds as an ‘allotment’ for local school children to grow fruit and veg in.
    I see wigwams of early runner beans and strawberries there.
    Dig for victory and all that.

  • Publius

    Is that a picture of the Westminster hothouse?

  • Russell

    Bercow is a hypocrit now in the same league as the shadow front bench and should resign (I would prefer the awful little man to be sacked) and cross the floor to join the crooks in labour.

  • Nickle

    £32,500 pounds.

    Same price as his vanity portrait. Bercow preaching financial restraint is farcical.

  • MilkSnatcher

    I don’t give a “fig”: Why no mention today of Christopher Tappin, deported today. He may or may not be guilty, but he has been betrayed by the UK process on extradition to the US whilst Abu Qatada walks around the place. You can rely on the UK to shaft its citizens every time.

  • Nicholas

    Useful fig leaf for Bercow’s own largesse with public money (expenses pre 2008, second home designation, hire of accountant for tax returns, etc.) and no doubt the tip of an iceberg – how much did his trashy coat of arms cost the taxpayer? Should have had a fig leaf and hammer and sickle on it somewhere.

  • westindep

    Last time I was in Portcullis House I was surprised by the size of these trees. As you photograph indicates they are in an atrium and would probably be very expensive to remove. Better to renegotiate the maintenance contract.

  • Slim Jim

    Not so hasty – are they capable of supporting a rope with a twitching body on it? Although such an arrangement would be better held in Parliament Square.

  • perdix

    If Bercow does not approve of fleecing the taxpayer he should apologise for the incredibly huge sum spent on the creche at the HoC.

  • In2minds

    British trees for British offices?

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