CABINET OFFICE – MILBURN'S SINECURE – 21 December 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: May I wish the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster a very merry Christmas? Does he agree that he got his Christmas present a little early this year when he was awarded a £137,000 a year Cabinet Minister's salary to run Labour's General Election campaign? But the question on the Order Paper is about the costs of his office. He has said that those will be published in the report and accounts of the Cabinet Office. He knows that that will not be until after the General Election. Why is he so shy about telling the country what, as a whole, he is costing us? He is not usually shy. Does not he think that he is giving the country value for money, running Labour's General Election campaign out of the public purse?

[The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr Alan Milburn): It is not a question of being shy or secretive; that is precisely why the information will be published in the normal way. The hon. Gentleman keeps saying that he knows the date of the Election. I am sure that we would all like to hear it. [Interruption.] Oh, the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Oliver Heald) is suggesting a date. I think that there is only one person who knows the date of the Election, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and I, and everyone else, will be acquainted with that in due course.]