UK & World News
Rail Minister Opts For Chauffeured Car To Work
The PM faces a potential embarrassment after it emerged the Rail Minister takes a chauffeured car to work rather than the train.
The Department for Transport has defended Simon Burns' use of the £80,000 a year chauffeur-driven departmental pool car, saying it is permitted by the Ministerial Code. It is unclear as to whether he uses it everyday.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the Conservative MP travels 35 miles between his Essex home and Westminster in the car to avoid overcrowded trains.
The timing of the disclosure - days after above-inflation rail fare hikes - is likely to anger commuters and the public as well as embarrass David Cameron's government.
A spokesman for passengers' campaign group Railfuture told the newspaper: "It would be nice if the person who is setting these fare rises was also experiencing some of the congestion and overcrowding endured by ordinary, hard-pressed travellers."
But Mr Burns reportedly defended his use of the car. He said: "I have given up my second home in London and I commute to and from work carrying classified papers which I work on during my journey."
A Department of Transport spokesman said: "The Minister of State does not have a home in London but uses his commute to work on official papers and so travels in a car provided by the Government Car Service for security reasons.
"The Ministerial Code permits ministers to use official cars for home to office journeys within a reasonable distance of London when they are working on classified papers."
Cabinet Office officials confirmed there are no restrictions on ministers taking the "red boxes" that contain their government papers on public transport.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond revealed details about the department's travel arrangements in parliamentary documents.
He said: "With the introduction of a departmental pool car service on 1 April 2012, individual ministers are no longer allocated government cars. The Secretary of State (Patrick McLoughlin) and Minister of State use the pool cars on a daily basis.
"I use the pool cars occasionally and also use the top-up service as business requires it.
"The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, used the car on an extremely occasional basis for journeys of less than three miles, the last date being 20 November 2012."
Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who uncovered the arrangement through a parliamentary question, told the Mail on Sunday: "This looks to be an extremely poor use of taxpayers' money, and a very bad example for a minister to set."
what do you think?
How very unsurprising!
Well he's not going to use the train with mere mortals is he? He knows how rubbish the service is. Surprised he is not bourne on a carriage shouldered by slaves ike some Egyptian Pharoah, high enough off the ground that he dosent have to smell the Underclass
Why do politicians think they deserve a chauffeur,if they don't want to drive get a taxi,were all in this together,don't sound like it.
If they took a taxi the tax payers would pick up the tab. It's about time these MPs paid for their own transport to work.
Oh how sad he's given up his second home. Get with reality Mr Burns. Get your backside in a train and justify the price hikes to the passengers
Typical another example of them and us. Once voted in it's thanks very much for the vote but I'm off now to feather my nest. You cannot belittle people who do not work and claim from the state when at the other end of the sliding scale is the government (our leaders) doing an incremented version of the same thing .... Very little work for too much money and benefits :'(
Why do i have to pay for someone elses travel expenses. ? If he doesn't like using the trains on his free ticket, he should use his own car. I just don't get it. This goes for ALL of the politicians, Labour included. They get paid more than enough. I was late for work twice in a week, the job was 40 miles away, traffic was always a problem. Threatened with a warning, i was told to move house closer to work (just like that) or find another job, as it was ultimately my responsibility to get to work. The same should apply to these people. Oh, i too the second option, and now it's a mountain bike in to work. Luv it.
Your'e quite correct Vlad. It has always been an employee's responsibility to ensure he gets to work on time. Unfortunately, our Lords and masters do not appear to share your sense of responsibility. Whatever happened to "we're all in this together"??. It would seem some are more "in it" than others. I am delighted you managed to find another job as that would have been my choice too. Sadly, that option is not always available as those without a job will testify...............good luck to you
Over weight slob. Worse than dole scroungers.
it is bad, but not as bad as dole scroungers.
You've been conned by the Tory party publicity machine Andrea...oh dear.
Looks like he just can't put the glass of wine down, with his alcoholics face squinting at the camera.
Doesn't look good. He doesn't look good! Where does £80k come from?
James R McCulloch
Visions of guillotines and tumbrils enter my mind yet again, roll on the blessed day when the worms turn.
Why can't he buy a car out of his wage and then drive it to work like normal people. Saving 80,000, no wonder we're skint all the time and pay so much tax.
The whole MPs expenses system is a farce thats not fit for purpose, ie value for tax payers, and needs a top to tail reform. Unfortunatly the people who make the rules are the ones benefiting and lining their pockets so any change is very unlikely.