Manchester

MP Graham Stringer: Thatcher funeral should be funded by business

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Media captionGraham Stringer says Baroness Thatcher's funeral should be funded by "the huge businesses she privatised"

Baroness Thatcher's funeral should be funded by private business as a "beautiful symbol of her premiership", a Greater Manchester MP has said.

Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, said "privatised industry" should pay for the ceremony.

He said when he was Manchester council head, the then prime minister "told us to go to the private sector" for cash.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended the funeral costs, stating the UK can "afford" to contribute.

The funeral of the UK's first female prime minister, who died on Monday after a series of strokes, will take place on 17 April.

Mr Stringer, who was leader of Manchester City Council from 1984 to 1996, said he had "no difficulty" with the former prime minister having full military honours or any of the ceremonial aspects of the funeral but felt the "costs are inappropriate".

'Highly provocative'

However, speaking on BBC One's Breakfast programme, Mr Hague said of Baroness Thatcher: "When it comes to money, the rebate she negotiated for this country from the EU has brought us so far £75bn - which is twice the size of our annual defence budget.

"I think that puts money in perspective... so I think we can afford to contribute to a funeral."

Mr Stringer also said he found Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to call MPs back from an Easter break to debate the former PM's legacy "highly provocative".

After the last death of a former prime minister, Sir Edward Heath in 2005, the Commons staged an hour-long debate to pay tribute. Up to seven-and-a-half hours has been set aside for Lady Thatcher.

Mr Stringer said Mr Cameron "knows she was a controversial figure and to have seven-and-a-half hours' debate is too much".

"We didn't do that for Ted Heath or (former Labour prime minister) Jim Callaghan - we could have dealt with it quite easily and respectfully next week in an hour set aside for it," he said.

Defending Mr Cameron's decision, Mr Hague said it was "right Parliament meets and commemorates such a leader of historic proportions in our country's history".

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