A £30,000-a-year contract to rent a dozen fig trees for an MPs' office block must be ended as soon as possible, Commons speaker John Bercow has said. He said he had been horrified to find out the cost of the Portcullis House greenery and that the taxpayer was being "fleeced". The deal has been in place for 12 years and covers care and maintenance of the trees, which shade dining areas in the building's glass-topped atrium.
In an interview with The House magazine, he said: "I was horrified by it. Inevitably and understandably it will cause people out there to think these people are living in another universe. "I think the contract should absolutely be revisited. 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."