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Byline: Nigel Nelson

FOREIGN minister Henry Bellingham's claim to fame is to be descended from the assassin who did for the only British PM to be murdered.

Bankrupt John Bellingham shot Tory Spencer Perceval in the House of Commons in 1812 and was hanged.

Now Henry could become known for something else - hung out to dry as David Cameron's daftest minister.

It's bad enough the Foreign Office maintains a government wine cellar worth pounds 864,000 as the economy stumbles around in the gutter like an old drunk.

Worse that it has spent pounds 17,698 since polling day on new stock to help foreigners get pie-eyed.

But unforgivable for Henry to claim FO wine buffs are doing us a favour by craftily buying new wines cheaply but not drinking them till they age and rise in value.

"Careful management enables Government Hospitality to provide wine for high-profile events significantly below the current market rate making substantial savings for the taxpayer," he told MPs. What a plonker. We all have to cut back and the best way to save the taxpayer money would be not to buy any wine at all.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is doing his bit by scrapping chauffeurdriven cars, saving pounds 250,000.

And International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell will fly the Union Jack from his office only if he can find a cheap second-hand flagpole.

The FO entertainment budget this year is pounds 7.67million, almost twice what the Ministry of Defence will spend.

Our diplomats do a valuable job - but they can't swan around the world in luxury as if they are still living in the last days of the Raj.

The only Raj most Brits now encounter is their local curry house.

And even takeaways may be off the menu after Chancellor George Osborne has finished with us in this week's Budget.

David Cameron must get a grip on high-spending ministers.

He doesn't have to shoot them like Henry's ancestor. Firing them will do.


WINE DUFFER: Henry Bellingham
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2010
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