Taxpayers' £250,000 bill for portraits of MPs

Portraits of Iain Duncan Smith and Diane Abbott cost over £20,000 in total. Credit: House of Commons

Portraits of MPs have cost the taxpayer around £250,000, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

A painting of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith cost £10,000 while Labour MP Diane Abbott sat for a portrait charged at £11,750.

The figures came to light after an investigation by the Evening Standard newspaper.

Backbencher Dennis Skinner defended his decision to sit for a portrait, saying that it helped an out of work artist "get some work."

Iain Duncan Smith as painted by Paul Benney in 2004. Credit: House of Commons

The artworks were commissioned by the cross-party Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art - chaired now by Labour MP Frank Doran - since 1995.

Tony Blair sat for artist Phil Hale at Chequers in 2007. Credit: House of Commons
Richard Stone's portrait of Michael Howard cost £9,400. Credit: House of Commons

A Commons spokesman told the Standard:

Minister Without Portfolio Kenneth Clarke's portrait cost £8,000. Credit: House of Commons
Lord Ashdown's 1995 portrait cost £2,000. Credit: House of Commons