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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Spiralling cost of papal visit – the true cost could be £100 million

The National Secular Society has dismissed Government claims that the cost to the taxpayer of the papal visit will be £12 million, and says that the cost of security could increase that figure by a factor of ten.

President of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson, said: “The NSS is outraged but not surprised by the news that the cost to the taxpayer of the Pope’s visit is spiralling towards £100 million. We predicted this would happen at the very beginning, although the previous Government denied it.

“But this is only the start. Strathclyde Police are expected to protect the Pope in Scotland and the West Midlands Police in Birmingham. They are reeling from the news that they will have to find tens of millions of pounds for security costs from their already stretched budgets.

He continued: “As the Government prepares to cut huge amounts from public spending, we are told that it will put large amounts of extra resources into this totally unnecessary visit. It is time that all parties involved accepted that if we can’t afford old people’s day centres then we can’t afford this papal jamboree. It is totally unfair to land such vast expense on police authorities that are already in the red and struggling to fight crime in their own communities.”

Mr Sanderson said that the experience of other countries shows that the cost of papal visits can easily reach a hundred million pounds after security is taken into account. “We will be using the Freedom of Information Act to attempt to find out just how much is going to be spent on security in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and London,” he said.

Also see: Cost of papal visits to other countries

Published Mon, 05 Jul 2010