Brown breaks promise to drive 'green' ministerial car

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown's environmental record is under attack after ministers admitted he had failed to fulfil his pledge to choose a "green" ministerial car.

Ministers confirmed that the Chancellor would not give up his official Vauxhall Omega for a low-emission hybrid Toyota Prius.

The Treasury said in the spring that Mr Brown was planning to swap the four-year-old Vauxhall for a Prius, popular among celebrities keen to show off their "green" credentials.

Aides to the Chancellor were quoted as saying he had ordered the car, which uses electric motors as well as a petrol engine to cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. But yesterday John Healey, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed that Mr Brown would keep his Vauxhall saloon, saying that it was more environmentally friendly not to swap cars.

Mr Healey said: "The Government car and despatch agency has not ordered any vehicle in the past 12 months to replace the 2002 Vauxhall Omega which it makes available to the Chancellor. This vehicle is in good condition and it would be inappropriate on cost and environmental grounds for it to be replaced or scrapped now."

Mr Brown used his pre-Budget report to emphasise his green credentials, doubling air passenger duty, putting up tax on petrol for the first time in three years and exempting new, zero-emission homes from stamp duty, starting in April. But a Conservative spokesman claimed Mr Brown's environmental promises were "unravelling by the minute".

The spokesman added: "Just like Blair, he loves to grab a good headline. But behind the spin, closer inspection shows his promises and announcements turn out to be all smoke and mirrors. How can anyone trust a man who says one thing and does the complete opposite?"

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, a Prius driver, added: "This is yet another sign that Gordon Brown is not serious about the environment.

"The Chancellor should bring forward serious environmental policies and set a good example; he is doing neither. As with the pre-Budget report, he talks green but acts brown."

* The decline in sales of 4x4 off-road vehicles is set to continue into the new year, a poll showed yesterday.

Official sales' figures revealed 4x4 purchases fell more than 15 per cent in November 2006. And a survey from AA Personal Loans yesterday indicated just 4 per cent of those polled planned to buy a 4x4 in 2007.

The survey also showed 17 per cent planned to buy a "green" car next year.