» Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lord Drayson

The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) began by telling the assembled press that Lord Drayson would be taking leave of absence from the Government to pursue an opportunity to compete in the US Le Mans motor racing series. It was an unforeseen opportunity that had arisen from his success in coming second in this year’s British GT championship. Lord Drayson was a committed motor racing fan and he had been given a unique opportunity to compete in the US Le Mans series next year, which was apparently the next step towards being able to qualify for the actual Le Mans series, which was a long-held ambition of his. The PMS went on to say that there was an exchange of letters between Lord Drayson and the Prime Minister that set this out in detail.

Lord Drayson would be replaced as Minister for Defence Equipment and Support by Baroness Ann Taylor. Lord Drayson was also jointly a Minister at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR.) Lord Bach would be returning as a member of the Government as a Lords Whip, supporting BERR’s business in the House of Lords, with Pat Mcfadden handling the regulatory brief at BERR.

Put that British troops had been saying that their equipment was not of a sufficient standard and was this connected to the fact that Lord Drayson had been spending too much time motor racing, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister in his letter, had set out the many achievements of Lord Drayson in Government and most people in the sector and elsewhere would accept that Lord Drayson had been a very good and very committed Minister. But because this unique opportunity had arisen and he did not think it could be combined with his Government responsibilities, Lord Drayson had decided to take a leave of absence.

Asked if taking a leave of absence meant that Lord Drayson was guaranteed to come back to his old job, the PMS said that the Prime Minister had said in his letter that he looked forward to Lord Drayson’s return to Government when his leave of absence ended, but to make it clear, Ann Taylor had been appointed on a permanent basis as the new Defence Minister. Put that people did not know how long Lord Drayson would be away for, the PMS confirmed this and added that the Government was not necessarily saying he would come back to his old job, merely returning to Government.

Asked if the phrase "leave of absence," referred to the House of Lords rather than the Government or did it refer to both, the PMS replied that Lord Drayson would continue to be a supporter of the Government in the House of Lords. Asked if Ann Taylor would continue to be paid as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary still, the PMS replied that she would be.

Asked if Lord Drayson was paid while he was a Government Minister, the PMS said he was unpaid. Put that it was an extra salary now, the PMS confirmed that it would be, but added that people should bear in mind that the number of paid Minister’s was the same as it was since the formation of the Government at the end of June. The reason for that was that Lord Evans had left the Government, Baroness Farrington had given up her salary and Baroness Morgan would now be paid as a Baroness in waiting rather than a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. What that meant was that in total, the number of paid Ministers was the same as it was at the end of June. Asked if there was any connection between the people giving up their salaries and the Lord Drayson decision, the PMS said they were separate decisions. Lord Evans had left several weeks, if not months ago.

Asked if Lord Drayson had a Government car and was he behind the wheel, the PMS said he assumed that Lord Drayson had a Government car but would not continue to do so once he had left the Government. The PMS advised people to check with the Ministry of Defence as to whether Lord Drayson drove the car or not.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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