A suggestion to help chancellor George Osborne pay down the nation’s deficit as the Autumn Statement looms: persuade the Foreign Office to part with some of the priceless antiques held by its £2.1bn overseas estate.
Alas, the collection housed in 5,000 ambassadors’ homes and other consular offices is not for sale, says the department that spent £10,000 on the “essential maintenance” of a stuffed anaconda named Albert.
Yes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advertising for an organisation to put a price-tag on its stash of deep breath “furniture, carpets, architectural fittings such as chandeliers, silverware, glassware, china, tapestries, sculptures, decorative arts and paintings”. But the inventory, says the FCO, is for “valuation purposes only”.
The assessment comes at the request of the National Audit Office, which is keen to have an accurate tally for accounting purposes. As auditor general Amyas Morse complained in 2010, the lack of “robust” information on the cost of the overseas estate hinders “the identification of surplus assets for potential sale”.
Time for William Hague to let go of some of the family silver?
= Booster budget for the roosters =
Cluckingham Palace, the Classical folly that will house hedge fund manager Crispin Odey’s chickens, is on track to be finished by March next year.
The foundations have been laid and the columns are going up, while a team of masons are going “as fast as they can” to hand-carve every ripple in the fowl-inspired frieze.
On time, then but not quite on budget. Dashwood can confirm the cost of the temple’s Forest of Dean sandstone is £135,000, up from the £120,000 originally reported. “The stonemasons will have a nice Christmas this year,” says my man in Gloucestershire.
What's this? A large ad in The Guardian attacking Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) , in which the search giant is vilified for “squeezing the life out of online choice and competition”. “Google’s abuse of dominance destroyed our website,” wails the online mapping pioneer Streetmap.co.uk, which claims it lost 40pc of its ad revenue after wicked Google pushed it down the search rankings.
The ad is paid for by the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP), which sounds suitably neutral. What ICOMP doesn’t mention on its ad is that the lobbying organisation is supported by Google’s arch-rival, Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT - news) .