Mr. Alan Williams
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flights by No. 32 the Royal Squadron have been charged to the privy purse in the current financial year to date; what sum has been so charged; on what basis the charge is calculated; what is the charge per(a) hour and (b) mile; and what was the cost of the flight from Norwich to Zurich on 2 January. 
§ Mr. Soames
In the current financial year to date, members of the royal family have undertaken eight private flights in aircraft of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron, for which the MOD has charged the relevant households £9,544.67
The basis of the charge is the marginal cost of operating the aircraft for the particular flight—fuel consumption, for example. The rates for each of the aircraft types are as follows:1 April 1995–30 September 1995
- BAe 146: £1,870 per hour
- HS 125: £630 per hour
- Wessex: £1,325 per hour1 October 1995 onwards
- BAe: £1,780 per hour
- HS 125: £665 per hour
- Wessex: £1,460 per hour
As the costs of flying are a function of time rather than distance, charges are calculated on a cost per hour basis, not cost per mile. We do not maintain records of, or utilise, cost per mile figures as they would not represent a useful basis for cost calculation or comparison purposes.
My Department will levy a charge of £1,584 for the flight from RAF Mildenhall to Zurich on 2 January: of this sum, £1,232 will be a charge to the royal household, and £352 a charge to the Metropolitan police for the two personal protection officers accompanying the party. My recent answer to the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) on 23 January 1996, Official Report, column 136, did not make the distinction between these two elements of the cost to be reimbursed to my Department.