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What do they do with the air miles?

Amazingly enough, our lords and masters are not all sunning themselves in Tuscany / Florida / Colwyn Bay, some of them are attending to Commons business, and Hansard has published some written answers, which is nice.

Most of it the answers are rather dull, but International Development has been living the high life:

"Mr. Hoban (One of us, MP for Fareham): To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent by his Department on (a) business class and (b) first class flights in the last 12 months".

And on Hillary Benn's watch,

"DFID’s expenditure on flights booked centrally (my emphasis) for the 12 month period April 2006 to March 2007 was £6,876,805, including business class flights costing £5,726,318 and first class flights costing £41,922. Staff rules preclude use of first class travel, except by Ministers, officials accompanying them, and the most senior members of the senior civil service.

And why, pray, would the supposedly hair-shirted Benn or his entourage ever need to fly first class? Because 'nothing is too good for the working man', or whatever it was that one of Attlee's crew said when damned for drinking champagne?

And it is not just planes, there are trains and automobiles too...


"Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent by his Department on first class train tickets in the last 12 months.


And here comes the weaselling:

"DFID’s expenditure on UK train tickets for the 12 month period April 2006 to March 2007 was £366,684. Data distinguishing between classes of travel are not routinely maintained and could not be produced without disproportionate cost. Staff normally travel by standard class but are permitted with prior approval to travel first class when they are expected to work during the journey".
Take a train anywhere in this country and note the serfs bashing away on their laptops in cattle class. It is quite doable.


And how do they get to Paddington to catch the Heathrow Express in order to jet off on their junkets vitally important business? By taxi of course:


Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent by his Department on taxis in the last 12 months. [153119]

Mr. Thomas: DFID’s expenditure on taxis for the 12 month period April 2006 to March 2007 was £248,363.


Just as Blair put it in '97: "We are not the master now. The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people. We will never forget that".



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