End of the road for ministerial chauffeurs

Senior ministers including William Hague and Andrew Lansley have lost their right to a full-time ministerial car and driver, it emerged yesterday.

In a written statement, the Department of Transport said it had cut the bill for ministerial cars from £6.7m to £3.8m. The cuts have left seven government departments including the Foreign Office, the Department of Health, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Climate Change with no official car. Strangely, however, the Wales Office and the Department for International Development kept their dedicated cars and drivers – long considered a perk of government. In total, the number of ministers with an allocated car and driver has fallen from 78 to 13.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to crack down on ministerial car costs as part of the Government's efforts to tackle the deficit.

Ministers without their own car now have access to a car pool rather than a dedicated vehicles and drivers. They can use the service for official business and travelling from home to the office "within reasonable distance of London".

All government members are encouraged to use public transport where possible and the latest figures show that no department has more than one full-time allocated car.

Critics have claimed that the sharp fall in spending on cars is offset in other ways, such as higher taxi costs.

The costs of official cars for Mr Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, were not included in the figures.

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