who remembers the 1000 pound a chair story last year? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/11/18/nart18.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/11/18/ixhome.html MoD criticised over Â£272,000 works of art By Duncan Gardham (Filed: 18/11/2005) The Ministry of Defence has been accused of squandering hundreds of thousands of pounds on art when it is struggling to pay for equipment for troops abroad. The department spent Â£272,600 on eight new paintings by two British-born artists for its refurbished headquarters as part of what a spokesman called "defence diplomacy". The Home Office revealed yesterday that it has spent Â£150,000 on art for its new building, while the Government Art Collection spent Â£295,500, mostly for embassies abroad. The MoD has been heavily criticised for overspending on major projects and running out of vital equipment for the Armed Forces in Iraq and elsewhere. The department has recently renovated its central London headquarters at a cost of Â£350 million. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Art Collection said the artists, Zil Hoque, 43, who lives in South London, and Louise Cattrell, 48, from Birmingham, were asked to reflect the idea that the MoD was a "force for good in the 21st century". The public is unlikely to see the works due to "difficulties with security access". The spokesman said: "Most of our first-rate paintings are on permanent display in places like the National Maritime Museum and we didn't want to use second-rate paintings of dead admirals from the 19th century. I would argue that this is a good investment of public money." David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, who was given the figures in a written answer, said: "While the Government are trying to plug the black hole of the Treasury's budget deficit, they're also making sure their walls are nicely lined with expensive drawings." Last month the Commons Public Accounts Committee revealed that the MoD's 20 biggest projects are Â£5.9 billion over budget and more than 17 years behind schedule.