John Bercow Coat Of Arms: House Of Commons Speaker Accused Of Wasting £37,000 Taxpayer Money
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has been accused of blowing £37,000 of taxpayers' money on a "vanity" portrait complete with personal coat of arms.
The official painting, by British artist Brendan Kelly, joins those of his predecessors going back to Sir Thomas More. It shows Mr Bercow in full flow in the famous Speaker's chair, wearing black robes and a Commons tie.
The Speaker has been accused of wasting taxpayers' money
The frame features a new heraldic symbol developed by the College of Arms.
A ladder represents the humble beginnings of the Speaker's family, while four roundels signify his fondness for tennis and role as chairman of the Boundary Commissions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Scimitars, as used on the coat of arms of Essex, refer to the fact that Mr Bercow went to university in the county.
His motto, "all are equal", is punctuated by pink triangles which stand for his championing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Rainbow colours on the scroll represent the flag of equality.
The portrait has been added to the Parliamentary Art Collection, and will be hung in the Speaker's residence alongside those of recent holders of the office such as Baroness Boothroyd and Lord Martin of Springburn.
But the cost of the work - met out of the House budget - drew immediate criticism. Kelly was paid a fee of £22,000 for the commission, while £15,000 was spent on "framing and heraldic painting" to maintain the style of previous portraits.
Mathew Sinclair, director of pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It's very excessive at this time of public sector austerity for the Speaker to spend tens of thousands of pounds on a vanity portrait of himself.
"Following the MPs' expenses scandal, Parliament should be cutting costs, not throwing taxpayers' money away boosting John Bercow's ego. Michael Martin was thrown from the job for wasting taxpayers' money, so the current Speaker should be much more careful with how he spends our hard-earned cash."