Tories criticise Prescott aide's shareholdings

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The Government faces fresh embarrassment over the shareholdings of a key Whitehall figure, only days after Trade Minister Lord Simon sold his shares in BP, writes Paul Routledge.

David Taylor, chief executive of Enterprise plc, who has been seconded as unpaid special adviser to John Prescott, the Environment and Transport Secretary, is under pressure to cancel 300,000 share options in his company.

Conservative MPs argue that Mr Taylor's company could bid for work from the Government's proposed regional development agencies, scheduled to begin work over the next two years.

Christopher Chope, Opposition spokesman on Environment, wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday saying: "Mr Taylor could make a disproportionate financial benefit from this government policy. Indeed, for every 10p increase in the value of the shares, he would benefit personally by pounds 30,000." He asked that Mr Taylor should be forced to give up his share options or his role as special adviser to Mr Prescott.