Sunday, August 12, 2007

Balls to the Bilderberg Group

Leafing through the virtual Sunday Telegraph I discover the following:

Cabinet minister Ed Balls spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money attending a private meeting of one of the world's most powerful and secretive organisations.

Mr Balls, widely regarded as Gordon Brown's closest adviser, travelled to Canada for the four-day conference of the shadowy Bilderberg Group of businessmen and politicians when he was Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

The cost of the trip, in air fares, hotel bills and expenses is estimated at up to £5,000.

The group's rules insist that "all participants attend in a private and not an official capacity".

However, a Treasury spokesman said Mr Balls had attended "in his capacity as a minister" and confirmed that all expenses had been met from public funds.
And who has brought this junket to light? The answer is inevitable:

Mr Balls's attendance at the meeting was uncovered by the Lib-Dem MP Norman Baker, who said: "It's difficult to see why the public should pay for this. Mr Balls was not representing the Government, he was representing himself. He should be open and accountable to MPs who ask about it."
But it is hard to be quite so outraged when you read that:
Accommodation at the four-star Brook Street hotel in Ottawa, where the event was held in June last year, costs the equivalent of between £79 and £103 a night.
Can't the sinister group which runs the world do better for its members than that?

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