Politics: Brown confirms end for royal yacht

The Government could not justify spending up to pounds 12m a year runni ng a royal yacht, Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said yesterday. Anthony Bevins, Political Editor, reports.
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The Independent Online
Speculation about the fate of Britannia was finally ended yesterday, when the Chancellor confirmed that the Queen had agreed with her ministers that it could not afforded, as reported in The Independent on Saturday.

Mr Brown told the BBC television Breakfast with Frost programme that the Queen had always said that it was a matter for the Government.

"Now of course she continues to be consulted on these matters and it's absolutely right that this is the case, but I think we should praise the Queen for saying these things.

"As far as the Government is concerned, I said before the election that we could not afford pounds 60m from public funds for a new royal yacht, and would look at whether private funds could be made available."

"And although it is true that no formal announcement will be made probably until Parliament comes back, it is in my view very difficult to justify between pounds 6m and pounds 12m of running costs coming from the public funds, and therefore, I don't think it's possible for a new or refurbished royal yacht to go ahead and I do believe that there is agreement, generally, right across the board, that this decision would be the right course of action."

Mr Brown said that Diana, Princess of Wales, might be best remembered through a continuation of her work as well as a physical memorial. As chairman of the committee set up by the Prime Minister to consider a fitting memorial, Mr Brown said he did not rule out the use of public money for the project.

He told the programme that he hoped to make further announcements soon, although he will avoid saying anything firm during the conference fortnight to avoid accusations of politicising the matter.

He added that an amazing number of people had submitted suggestions, including some which were "very imaginative and innovative".