Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Is Lord Adonis being driven by an urge to impress David Cameron?

While most ministers are keen to hang on to whatever perks they have left, Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, has dispensed with one of Westminster's most valued extras, his ministerial car.

Tim Walker: Edited by Laura Roberts Published: 10:00PM GMT 30 Nov 2009

Perhaps he is hoping to ingratiate himself with David Cameron, who is rumoured to be considering asking him to stay on in government as an education minister if the Tories win the next election. Cameron pledged to cut the budget for official government cars by a third in September.
A spokesman for the minister said: "Andrew has given up his allocated car since October. He now uses the green car taxi service on an ad hoc basis."

Interestingly, the spokesman was keen to make clear that his decision had nothing whatsoever to do with a green agenda.
"This fits in with his arrangements better," he said. "He hasn't made the decision based on environmental reasons."
Prior to giving up his car, the cost of Lord Adonis's department's four cars in 2008-09 increased from £272,700 to £289,800, a rise of £17,100 – the price of a Ford Mondeo saloon.
However, his sacrifice won't necessarily save his department any money. Chris Mullin, the Labour MP for Sunderland South, disclosed in his published diaries A View From The Foothills that dispensing with a government car could cost a department up to £704.75 a week in addition to £4,000 in a depreciation charge.
Mullin memorably recounted that Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, was also unwilling to use a car as a junior minister. He was only able to rid himself of his unwanted vehicle by claiming that he needed to walk for health reasons.