John Redwood exposes Government hypocrisy on aviation

Wokingham MP John Redwood has criticised the Government’s hypocrisy over aviation after several Whitehall departments refused to reveal how many flights have been taken by Ministers and civil servants over the last few years.

In a series of Parliamentary Questions, John asked how many flights have been taken by Ministers and their officials in the course of their duties over each of the last three years. Several departments refused to answer, including the Department for Transport, the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence, saying it would be disproportionately costly. The Ministry of Justice stated that it has “no historic record of flights undertaken by the Secretary of State or Ministry of Justice officials”.

Speaking about the refusal of these departments to answer his questions, John Redwood said: “It is ridiculous of Minister to suggest that information regarding the number of flights taken by civil servants is not available. If a private company were to have no knowledge of who has flown at the company’s expense and where, it would be in serious trouble”.

Several departments did provide answers to the questions, including the Scottish Office and the Department of Health.

Figures from the Scottish Office show that the number of flights taken by Ministers more than doubled between 2005–2006 and 2007-2008, and that Ministers and officials took 544 flights in the year 2007-2008.

The Department of Health’s figures indicate that between 2004-2005 and 2006-2007, the year the Government introduced its Climate Change Programme, the number of flights taken by the Secretary of State increased more than threefold, although the department has since then reduced the number back under their 2004 level.

Speaking about the figures, John Redwood said: “These figures are astonishing considering the enthusiasm that some Labour politicians have in wanting us to take the train, not the plane”.

“It is not that long ago an assistant to Ken Livingstone was suggesting that middle class families should be banned from taking city breaks and flights should be rationed. The Government needs to explain why they believe hard-working families taking a well-deserved break will lead to irreversible and cataclysmic climate change, but flights taken by Ministers and civil servants cause no such problem”.

“Yet again, this is one rule for Labour Ministers and Whitehall bureaucrats and another rule for the rest of us”.


  1. mikestallard
    January 23, 2009

    My son works for a company of architects. He is at managerial level.
    Because clients are being rather slow in paying, there seems to be a slow down in liquidity.
    So what happens?
    The managers cancel their free cars. They agree to a pay cut. They have lots of work and they get there early and leave late to get it finished. The entire firm knows that the managers are on their side; they understand the problems and they are setting a good example.
    MPs? Well, first off, the pensions have quietly been increased. This after Mr Brown ruined most people’s private pensions with a stealth tax. Now their expenses are to be kept secret – well done the Conservatives for not supporting this. Their hypocritical use of planes (including the Queen’s flight) are to be kept secret.
    That is not leadership.
    It is corruption on an EU scale.
    And where was Mr McShane speaking from on Newsnight? Well, Brussels, natch.

    January 23, 2009

    Yes, Mike…whenever McShane is wheeled out to defend Labour on The Daily Politics (that’s when no minister is game to front up) he always seems to have returned from overseas; we recall Germany, France and the USA in recent times.
    He’s not a minister even so why should his constituents, let alone the taxpayer, put up with this gallivanting?

    A broader point on aviation…are we correct in believing that if VAT were levied on aviation fuel this would bring £10bn into Treasury coffers?
    If so why would this not be at the very top of the Conservatives action list on forming the government? (Perhaps secretly it is?)
    Don’t talk to us about ‘hard working family holiday breaks’ etc etc…and would this not be perfectly in tune with environmental policy? Who knows, perhaps politicians – including Mr McShane – might even travel less and use conference calls and the internet to fact-find and swap niceties!

  3. Neil Craig
    January 24, 2009

    Do as I say not do as I do (DAISNDAID) The Mail also ran a story on how one of the upper class twits of Plane Stupid, who break the law to ruin the holidays of the common folk, had flown to New york to meet some other anti-plane activists & “do some shopping”.

    On the other hand if we accept that the globe isn’t warming & that the whole thing is just a scam there is no serious reason not to fly, use light bulbs, breathe & all these other dreadful carbon producing things. Nor any reason why ministers shouldn’t.

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