Government spent a shocking £121,300 on accommodation for DEFRA officials during bird flu outbreak

Wednesday, 12 December, 2007

David Ruffley MP has today released details of figures he obtained in the House of Commons which reveal that the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spent a staggering £121,300 on accommodation for officials between 12 November and 2 December 2007.

This accommodation was for 160 people and a cumulative total of 1,295 nights.

This works out at an average of £94 per night or £758 for each individual.

David obtained the figures through his questioning of Jonathan Shaw MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office.

David said:

'I am quite simply staggered by the size of the hotel bill DEFRA seem to have racked up while staying in Suffolk.

'On average they have spent £94 per night putting up their officials. This is incredibly frivolous when one considers that bed & breakfasts in the area charge in the region of £30 to £35 per night.

'Reportedly very few bed & breakfasts had any contact from DEFRA until the local press revealed that officials were living it up at the luxurious Angel and Ickworth hotels. I am sure that were it not for pressure from the local press, and MPs such as myself, this bill would have been even higher.

'This wasteful attitude will make farmers in the region sick- they are struggling to make ends meet, following bluetongue and avian influenza outbreaks, while the Government is sending their officials to some of the finest hotels our area offers.

'By my calculations, if these officials had been found bed & breakfast accommodation the bill would have been in the region of £40,000. Not only would this have saved nearly £80,000 but it would have supported the very communities that have been shattered by these outbreaks.

'The Government should be ashamed of this colossal waste of tax payers' money and Suffolk's farmers, who are receiving very little in the way of support or compensation, have every right to be livid.'