Brown scraps 'Blair Force One' plan

Gordon Brown has scrapped plans to buy two private jets to carry him and the Royal Family around the world, it was revealed today.

Instead the Government is scaling back proposals made by former premier Tony Blair, which were expected to cost taxpayers £100 million, and will buy only a small plane for trips around the UK.

The decision to abandon plans for the jets - nicknamed "Blair Force One" - was disclosed in a written statement to MPs by the Department for Transport.

Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the department had worked closely with the Royal Household, No 10 and the Foreign Office to reach the decision.

He said: "I am today recommending that the needs of the users of this service can best be met through procuring a small aircraft for official travel within the UK, chartered air services for longer journeys involving small parties, and a continuation of existing arrangements with UK airlines for journeys involving large parties.

"This approach ensures better value for money for the taxpayer whilst also minimising the environmental impact of royal and ministerial air travel, producing an estimated 10-per-cent saving on O2 emissions."

The statement to MPs said there had been "substantial increases in the cost of buying and operating commercial aircraft" since the idea was first raised in 2006.

It also points out that the new Ministerial Code - introduced by Mr Brown when he entered No 10 last summer - sets out that scheduled flights should be used wherever possible.

"An increasing proportion of overseas journeys, including a number of those undertaken by the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister, are now routinely made on scheduled flights."

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