MP Watts: No repeat of funeral costs row

St Helens MP Dave Watts
St Helens MP Dave Watts
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ST Helens MP Dave Watts has called for a national debate over the preparations for future funerals for prominent politicians.

Mr Watts spoke out after large sections of society reacted with anger at the cost of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral.

In the wake of fierce debate over the cost of the former prime minister’s funeral, the Government was asked by Mr Watts, who represents St Helens North to publish detailed costs of any future funeral arrangements it has in place.

But the preparations for future funerals for prominent politicians like Baroness Thatcher are “not a fit subject for public debate”, the Labour MP was told by Commons Leader Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lansley said a debate on funeral costs would be “inappropriate” and said the public cost of Lady Thatcher’s funeral was “substantially below” the £10-£20 million being touted by some, including Mr Watts.

During the Business Statement, Mr Watts asked: “Can we have a debate in government time on the future (funeral) arrangements for ex-prime ministers and how their funerals will be dealt with given the fact that we have spent extravagantly £10-£20 million pounds on Mrs Thatcher’s.

“Can the Government publish all the detailed costs so that we can aid that debate?”

To shouts from the Labour benches, Mr Lansley replied: “Matters of this kind are inappropriate for public debate.

“Preparation for future funerals for people is not a fit subject for public debate.

“But they are the subject of detailed consideration, as indeed were the arrangements for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral.

“I have no knowledge of any basis for figures of that kind, we have made it clear that the figures are going to be substantially below what he describes and they will be published in due course.”

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