Beckett defends `blind trust'

Margaret Beckett last night said she would keep a "blind trust" unless Sir Patrick Neill, the watchdog on standards, rules against the practice in his review on party funding.

The President of the Board of Trade defended the blind trust, which helps fund her constituency office, and rejected a call by her Conservative shadow, John Redwood, to follow the example of Cabinet colleagues, including the Prime Minister, to wind it up. Mr Redwood also called on Mrs Beckett to publish the names of her donors to the trust.

Mrs Beckett said on BBC radio: "I use it to employ a member of staff, so if I had to give it up it would be a source of great regret to me because she is a very good and hard-working member of staff."

Mrs Beckett, a keen caravanner, earlier opened the Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show at Earl's Court in London and said critics should praise the industry's major contribution to the economy.

"Caravan manufacture is a British success story - 95 per cent of all caravans sold in the UK are British-made," she said.

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