Ministerial Gifts and Travel
Asked about whether the Prime Minister could use gifts held by the Prime Minister’s Office, and whether he paid the full amount or the difference between the value and the allowance, the PMOS said that the normal rules applied. For detail on the rules journalists should speak to the Cabinet Office. Asked if the Government had found a use for the dagger given to him by the Government of Malaysia, the PMOS said it was for journalists to speculate on the gifts. Asked why some items had been valued and others simply catalogued as being ‘over the limit’, the PMOS said that the gifts were normally valued by an independent valuation or against their retail prices whichever was most appropriate. Some of the gifts were hard to value. Some gifts were disposed of and the money would either be donated to charity or covered by departmental funds.
Journalists drew the attention of the PMOS to the fact that in April 2004 the Government of Italy had given the Prime Minister a watch, and then in May they had given him earrings and a ring, and then a month later gave two watches, a bracelet, and a necklace, and then a sculpture, it was put to the PMOS that Prime Minister Berlusconi ‘liked his bling’, the PMOS said that it was customary diplomatic practice.
Asked why Margaret Beckett had used 32 Squadron for travel rather than scheduled flights, the PMOS said that for detail journalists should check with the department but he reminded them that she had a very heavy international commitment as part of the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) round.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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