24/02/2012 11:01 GMT

John Bercow Backed By Downing Street Over Fig Trees

Downing Street has backed Commons Speaker John Bercow over calls to end the £30,000-a-year cost to the taxpayer of renting 12 fig trees to decorate an MPs' office building.

A Downing Street spokesperson said on Friday: “I think we find ourselves agreeing with Speaker Bercow”.

Bercow was “horrified” upon discovering how much the trees have cost the taxpayer.

Since being planted in Portcullis House in 2001, the fig trees have cost £400,000 to maintain leading Bercow to suggest the taxpayer had been “fleeced”.

With austerity currently being a fact of life in the UK MPs and political institutions are being expected to set an example to the public.

The Downing Street spokesperson said: “All parts of the public sector need to be looking at where they can find savings, and I don't see any reason why Parliament shouldn't be part of that.”

Bercow said: "Inevitably and understandably it will cause people out there to think these people are living in another universe.”

The present contract to maintain the trees runs out in September. A House of Commons committee that will hold discussions on what to do about the trees has said they will look at “possible savings”.

The Department of Facilities will outline a broad range of possible courses of action.

Mr Bercow believes the contract should be scrapped outright.