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How hard is Tony Blair working as Middle East envoy?

Tobias_ellwoodTony_blairTobias Ellwood, Bournemouth East MP and a Shadow DCMS Minister, has posed a written question that is all the more interesting in light of the fact that Tony Blair has just visited Gaza for the first time since being appointed Middle East envoy for the EU, Russia, UN and US in June 2007.

"Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2009, Official Report, column 893W, on Tony Blair, how much has been paid from the public purse towards the running of the office of Tony Blair as Quartet Representative; what arrangements there are for accounting to Parliament for such expenditure; and if he will make a statement. [256782]

Bill Rammell: Our answer given on 2 February 2009 sets out the Government support to the office of the Quartet Representative. Standard arrangements exist for accounting this expenditure to Parliament."

Here is the 2 February answer:

"Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much the Government has contributed towards the salary of Tony Blair for his work for the Quartet in the Middle East. [248083]

Bill Rammell [holding answer 15 January 2009]: Mr. Blair does not draw a salary in his role as Quartet Representative. The Government do support the team for Mr. Blair through a £400,000 contribution to the UN Development Trust Fund, which supports the Quartet Representative’s office in Jerusalem. The Government also provides four secondees and funding for a political analyst."

It has to be said that Mr Blair does not seem to be working particularly hard in his role. He is, however, able to command over £150,000 for a 90 minute speech. As a professional speechwriter, far be it from me to begrudge him that. But it does prove - if proof were still needed - that he's no socialist. And maybe he should pull his finger out on the other stuff.

Tom Greeves


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