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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fellow travellers

Returning to my theme of politicians liking to travel the Observer reports this morning that the most recent government figures cost Tony Blair's 21 foreign trips in the past financial year at more than £800,000. The solution being put forward by 'efficiency-guru' Sir Peter Gershon, is to purchase three aircraft to carry ministers and senior members of the royal family.

Gershon of course was the man who mooted a 1% year-on-year efficiency saving in public expenditure that in local government terms at least has led to real cuts in services. In Wales the Assembly Government is holding back £33m next year from local Councils so as to force them to make these cuts, effectively giving them no room for manoeurvre or the opportunity to re-invest the money into front-line priority services.

From this report it appears that Sir Peter Gershon's idea of a priority front-line service is a fleet of personal jets for the great and the good. Possibly because the idea has been nicknamed 'Blair Force One' by the Observer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has quite rightly vetoed the idea. A victory for prudence I believe.
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