The newly appointed Home Office minister Norman Baker has refused the privilege of a chauffeur driven car to drive him the few hundred yards from the department to the Commons - asking instead for a ‘ministerial bicycle’.
But civil servants have refused the request, saying that it would be an ‘unacceptable burden’ on the taxpayer - despite the bill for chauffeuring Home Office ministers already hitting £136,000 a year.
Mr Baker, a Lib Dem MP whose colourful views led to widespread shock when he was appointed to the Home Office under Theresa May, told the Mail on Sunday it was a “ridiculous, Yes Ministerish jobsworth” approach.
“I object to the fact that they are trying to put me into a car with a chauffeur against my will,’ he said.
“I pointed out that it would be much quicker and cheaper for me to cycle. But they said that while the car was already paid for, providing a bike would be an additional cost to the taxpayer. It’s nonsense.
‘It would be cheaper and also better for the environment.
“I could provide my own bike, but I regard it is a matter of principle.”
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Providing bicycles would mean additional and unnecessary cost to the department when arrangements are already in place. For short journeys, and where practicable, Ministers can walk or use public transport.’
The response to Mr Baker is in direct opposition to a pre-election pledge from the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
As we reported at the time, government ministers cycling around Whitehall would become a regular sight should the Conservative Party win the forthcoming General Election, Mr Cameron said in early 2010.
According to reports, Shadow Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, who has been been tasked with slashing government car service spending by £6 million in the event of a Tory win, said: “Unless they have a good reason – such as carrying lots of ministerial boxes or security – we will expect Tory Ministers to consider using bicycles to get around Westminster and Whitehall. Ministers can always put their paperwork in a backpack.”
Mr Cameron, used the fact he cycles around London to reinforce his green credentials when he first became party leader but was subsequently revealed to have a car following him round with his briefcase.
How high are those kerbs? Is it still a 40mph road?
Someone did exactly the same thing to me last night, but the overtaking vehicle was only a BMW estate... Long straight road, approaching a new...
Total gimmick. You're paying for useless features here. If you want to invest in something that will actually make a real difference to your safety...
Another use might be to control a third (drag) brake such as a drum brake or mechanical disc brake on a tandem or cargo bike. I use a thumb...
I don't think you're councillor material with comments like that ...
It's only a problem if the average speed of your front wheel is different to that of your back wheel.
No worries! It must be a real pain when you are in a completely different time zone and daylight saving gets thrown in as well! The game shows the...
How complicated is just dont drive into people to master ?...
Maybe they thought her piece was rather heady and raw - it needed more maturation?
Why do these self-entitled motorists think they should be blocking a pavement. Doesn't their "road tax" pay for them to block the road.