02/05/2012 07:40 BST | Updated 02/05/2012 08:47 BST

Cost Of Parliament Fig TreesTo Be Cut

The bill for maintaining indoor fig trees at Parliament has been slashed, it has been revealed.

The 12 trees and external shrubs at Portcullis House have been costing the taxpayer some £44,000 a year plus VAT for more than a decade.

But the Commons Commission hailed a renegotiation of the deal.

The contractor has agreed to donate the trees and shrubs - which were previously rented - to Parliament and cut its maintenance charge to £18,500 plus VAT.

A spokesman for the cross-party committee said removing the trees altogether would have meant installing "environmentally unfriendly" mechanical systems for regulating temperature, humidity and air quality, and sound proofing. That would apparently have cost £500,000, while annual running costs would have been up to £20,000.

The spokesman added: "The Commission welcomed the outcome of the renegotiation which has resulted in ownership of the trees, shrubs and equipment; no disruption to the area or harm to the trees; continued environmental sustainability and support to a small British company."