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NIO drives up pounds 291,000 bill on cars for just two ministers; GOVERNMENT.

Byline: By MICHAEL MCHUGH

THE Northern Ireland Office has spent more on ministerial cars than its Scottish and Welsh counterparts combined, it was revealed yesterday.

A total of pounds 291,500 was paid out on vehicles and their drivers for two ministers in the last financial year, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly confirmed.

A Taxpayers' Alliance spokesman said: "This is a shockingly large amount of money to spend purely on cars, especially given all the Government's rhetoric about tightening belts and cutting down on pollution.

"It beggars belief that the NIO is going through so much money on car travel and taxpayers should be able to expect better."

The NIO has responsibility for Northern Ireland's constitutional and security issues, in particular law and order, political affairs, policing and criminal justice.

These are distinctive from functions in Scotland and Wales.

The NIO team is Secretary of State Shaun Woodward and Minister of State Paul Goggins.

A spokesman said: "The cars are provided by the government car service and it represents best value for money.

"The cost represents a significant fall on the previous year when the department footed the bill for former Secretary Peter Hain's extra responsibilities as Welsh Secretary."

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 30, 2008
Words:202
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