Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 18:20 UK

Brown 'in charge' over the summer

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown is expected to go to Suffolk and the Scottish coast for a break

Gordon Brown will be in charge of the government this summer even while he is away on holiday, his spokesman says.

When his predecessor Tony Blair jetted off for sunnier climes, his deputy John Prescott famously took over.

But this is not the case for Mr Brown. His spokesman said: "The prime minister is the prime minister and remains in charge whether he's on holiday or not."

Mr Prescott was deputy prime minister for 10 years to 2007 and stood in for Mr Blair for most of those summers.

This year Mr Brown is rumoured to be taking his family for a bucket-and-spade style holiday at Southwold in Suffolk and on the Scottish coast.

Obviously the prime minister will be in charge of the government over the summer, as would normally be the case
Prime Minister's spokesman

But unlike Mr Blair, the prime minister does not have a named deputy - the nearest to one is Commons leader Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader.

When asked by reporters who would be in charge of the government over the summer, Mr Brown's official spokesman said: "Obviously the prime minister will be in charge of the government over the summer, as would normally be the case...

"There will be senior cabinet ministers in London throughout the summer to deal with any day to day government business."

The news that Mr Brown will not hand over while he is on holiday came as a large number of ministerial statements were rushed out on the last day before Parliament's summer recess.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker accused Mr Brown of attempting to "bury bad news" by publishing 10 statements on the eve of MPs heading off from Westminster.

'Addicted to spin'

In total, 30 ministerial statements were published on Tuesday - 10 of which relate to the PM, special advisers, travel and hospitality.

The ministerial code of conduct, which is enforced by the prime minister, says "every effort should be made to avoid leaving significant announcements to the last day before a recess".

Written statements usually reveal the results of consultations, make announcements and give figures for amounts of money spent or costs incurred.

One showed Mr Brown made 47 visits across the UK between coming to office in June 2007 and March this year.

Another revealed that the government spent just over 6m on ministers' cars and drivers in 2007/08 - paying for 87 vehicles. The Home Office spent most - 477,000. The Scotland Office had the lowest bill - 66,200.

Mr Baker said it was "shameful" that ministers were spending so much "being ferried around in the lap of luxury".

He added that the publication of the statements, just hours before MPs set off for their 11-week summer break, means the prime minister has "violated his own ministerial code of conduct 10 times in one day".

"It seems Gordon Brown is as addicted to spin and media manipulation as Tony Blair was," he said.

"This is a clear attempt to buy bad news by releasing it all together just as MPs are breaking up for the summer recess."

For the Conservatives, shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "Gordon Brown pledged to end the era of spin, but instead he's rushed to use more taxpayers' cash to hire a growing number of spin doctors in a vain attempt to stop his popularity from plummeting any further.

"With people across the country struggling with the rising cost of living, Gordon Brown has once again demonstrated his willingness to use public money for his own political ends."


SEE ALSO
Brown 'opts for British holiday'
15 Jul 08 |  UK Politics

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