Cameron's gift list leaves Clegg wanting

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Spare a thought, or better a present, for Nick Clegg. He may have the trappings of power – his own office in Downing Street, civil servants to do his bidding and a referendum on electoral reform, but he's still not worth more than £140 to anybody.

No 10 yesterday released details of all the gifts, travel and meetings of ministers in the new Coalition Government. David Cameron was showered with presents worth more than the £140 declaration limit by everyone from Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi to President Obama.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, gave him a set of very expensive ties, while the King of Bahrain gave him jewellery and a clock. In his first two months of power Mr Cameron was given two iPads – the first one of which he paid to keep, while the second, from the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he rejected.

By contrast, Nick Clegg was not given a thing – with a "nil return" listed on the official documents under his name. Even the Home Secretary, Theresa May, received a handbag and an iPad.

The documents also reveal that one of the first meetings held by Mr Cameron after he took over No 10 was with Rupert Murdoch, whose newspapers were enthusiastic backers of the Conservatives during the election.

Two months later, the Prime Minister also met Aidan Barclay, who runs the Telegraph, another media backer of the party. Other well known faces to cross the Downing Street threshold included Sir Bob Geldolf, the new owner of British Steel Ratan Tata, and representatives from BP and Facebook.

Mr Clegg, by contrast, entertained the former head of the UN, Kofi Annan, the chair of the constitutional reform select committee and the leader of the Canadian opposition.

In a separate release of papers, it emerged that Lord Mandelson's Business, Innovation and Skills department spent £694,236 ferrying ministers around during the height of the recession. Overall, the cost of providing chauffeur-driven cars for ministers rose by nearly £500 to £6.74m.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the Coalition was determined to reduce the bill.

What he got from...

Nicolas Sarkozy

It's not unusual for French Presidents to give British Prime Ministers' wine, but Mr Sarkozy also gave David Cameron a set of tennis racquets. Intriguingly, they are currently being held by the Government for the purposes of "official entertainment".

Francis Rossi

The Status Quo singer gifted a 200-year-old bottle of Glen Rossie whisky. Mr Cameron wrote to say he would save it "until Sam's going 'down, down'." But he was not being entirely honest, as the whisky has also been put towards "official entertainment".

Barack Obama

The President gave Mr Cameron a signed lithograph by Ed Ruscha, Column With Speed Lines. His works can sell for millions of dollars. Mr Cameron gave Mr Obama a print by Ben Eine, one of his wife Samantha's favourite artists, worth less than £140.

Michael Bloomberg

The Mayor of New York must have thought himself thoroughly modern with his gift of an iPad. But Mr Cameron had already been given one.

Lord Harris of Peckham

The Carpetright boss gave the Prime Minister a wooden and silver box – but Mr Cameron was more grateful for the donation of £90,000 to his campaign to be elected Tory leader.

Hamid Karzai

The Afghan president gave Mr Cameron a bowl. Downing Street provided no details, but it was apparently not beautiful enough for the PM to keep.