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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant is the second highest user of Government limos

09 January 2014
by Alan Smith

Helen Grant

Helen Grant

The MP for Maidstone and the Weald is one of the top users of chauffeur-driven cars among the Government’s ministers.

Conservative Helen Grant, who has represented Maidstone since 2010, was second in the list of high users of the “top-up” vehicles available to the administration’s 90 Ministers, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

All Government Ministers have departmental pool cars available to them for their standard duties, but in addition they have access to the additional vehicles if required.

Mrs Grant, 52, who is the Minister for Sport and Tourism, but at the time was the Under Secretary of State for Justice, travelled in the limousines 154 times in the financial year from 2012 to 2013, according to figures released by the Department for Transport.

The Minister who made most use of the “top-up” service was Lord McNally, the Liberal Democrat Justice Minister who stood down late last year. He used them 291 times.

Lady Hanham, a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, was in third place with 152 personal journeys.

The Government said that it had reduced the number of vehicles available to Ministers from 136 in June 2011 to 85 today.

Ministers are no longer allocated a particular car and driver, but are instead expected to use the departmental pool car.

If they are busy, they can apply for a “top up” vehicle, which the Department for Transport insists is more cost effective. The Department said it no longer keeps records of the use by Ministers of the departmental pool cars.

According to the Ministerial code, Ministers are permitted to use a car for official business and for home and office journeys within a “reasonable distance” of London on the understanding that they would normally be carrying classified papers.

Ministers have access to chauffeur-driven cars

Ministers have access to chauffeur-driven cars

Mrs Grant declined the opportunity to give a personal response, instead referring us to Jose Riera, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who said only: “The Top-Up car service can be a vital way for Ministers to get from meeting to meeting during the day.”

Two other local MPs are also Ministers.

Conservative Greg Clark, 46, MP for Tunbridge Wells, is the Minister of State for Cities and Constitution, but at the time he was the Minister of State for Decentralisation and then the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He travelled in the top-up cars 40 times in the same period.

Hugh Robertson, 51, is the Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, which includes a good part of Maidstone, and is also the Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At the time he was Minister for Sport. He used the top-up cars just once in the same period.

Sir John Stanley, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, and Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, are not Ministers and do not have access to the vehicles.


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