Lawson up for plum OECD job

WANTED: Top-notch French-speaker to front high-profile economic organisation. pounds 125,000 tax-free salary, luxury Paris apartment, company limo. Ability to bash a few heads together an advantage.

Such was the job description Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was pondering last night after his name was put forward to be the next secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Paris-based economic think-tank for the world's richest nations.

He was put forward by the Government yesterday as a candidate to replace Jean-Claude Paye, the Frenchman who has fronted the organisation for 10 years. Mr Paye's successor is likely to be named for a five-year term at the OECD's annual meeting in June. The Government would hardly have leaked the Lawson candidacy without having secured high-level support, notably from the United States.

Lord Lawson is believed to have coveted a top international position for some time and was passed over as President of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development after Jacques Attali resigned. The job went to Jacques de Larosiere, former Governor of the Banque de France. Another Frenchman heads the International Monetary Fund and diplomats were determined to resist the appointment of a third to the OECD.

The OECD position is certainly a plum job. On top of the tax-free salary of pounds 125,000, there is an impressive apartment in the chic Avenue Henri Martin, car, expense account and an expatriation allowance of some 19 per cent of basic salary.

Since resigning from the Government in 1989, Lord Lawson has taken City jobs including a lucrative consultancy at the investment house BZW, where his fee was upwards of pounds 100,000.

Whoever lands the OECD job will preside over the enlargement of membership. Mexico has just joined the club of 24 rich countries and South Korea, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are knocking at the door.

'Nigel Lawson has the right skills and experience to take the organisation forward,' said a Treasury spokesman. He also speaks very good French.