Margaret Thatcher claims £535,000 for ex-PM duties

Margaret Thatcher, with John Major in the background Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving prime minister of the 20th Century

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Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has claimed £535,000 of taxpayers' money over the last five years, government records have shown.

Baroness Thatcher, 86, who makes rare public appearances and suffers poor health, was paid from the public duties cost allowance available to ex-PMs.

Others to benefit have been her successor John Major, paid £490,000 in the last five years, and Tony Blair.

In 2008-9, Mr Blair claimed £169,076 - more than his Downing Street salary.

Since leaving office, Mr Blair, who ran the country for a decade from 1997, has claimed just under £273,000.

The system was set up by John Major in 1991, after one year in office, to reward former prime ministers for work including answering letters and attending public events.

In the past five years, the three former number 10 incumbents have cost the taxpayer in total more than £1.7m in public duty allowances.

The figures were revealed by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude following a written Parliamentary question from Tory MP Philip Hollobone.

Mr Maude said: "The public duties cost allowance is kept under review."

In 2005, doctors advised Lady Thatcher, who served three consecutive terms in office, that she should not make public speeches in the wake of some minor strokes.

But she still attends some public functions, including an address by the Pope during his state visit to the UK last year.

In September, she attended a party to mark former Defence Secretary Liam Fox's 50th birthday at his London apartment.

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