Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, has slammed ministers for failing to practice what they preach. 'Once again it appears a case of do as I say and not as I do. Ministers should back up their words with actions rather than spending millions of pounds promoting a scheme which they are not following themselves,' he said.
Liberal Democrat MPs have spent the last few months questioning ministers on their departments' staff mileage allowances, travel expenses, and fleets, including vehicle engine sizes and fuel types. Replies from 14 departments reveal that from a total fleet of 14,301 vehicles there are only seven gas-powered vehicles, just one electric vehicle and that Home Office car expenditure is rising to £503,693 this year from £296,752 in 1995/96.
Except for isolated initiatives by the Department of Social Security, Government Car & Despatch Agency and Inland Revenue, many departments are looking no further than petrol or diesel. The Home Office, for example, has dismissed alternatively-fuelled vehicles for its 1,305-strong fleet for the near future. Home Secretary Jack Straw said: 'Our best estimate is that like for like replacements will continue until further technical development takes place in alternative power sources.'