New yacht for Queen's jubilee, suggests Michael Gove

Image caption, The last royal yacht, Britannia, was taken out of service in 1997

Education Secretary Michael Gove has suggested the Queen should be given a new royal yacht to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

He said the Queen's "highly significant contribution" to Britain and the Commonwealth should be recognised with a "lasting legacy".

Labour said the idea showed Mr Gove was "out of touch".

Mr Gove wrote: "In spite, and perhaps because of the austere times, the celebration should go beyond those of previous jubilees and mark the greater achievement that the diamond anniversary represents.

"Events such as proms and the party at the palace organised for the diamond jubilee, and street parties, although excellent, are transient.

"It would be appropriate to do something that will mark the significance of this occasion with fitting ceremony.

"My suggestion would be a gift from the nation to her majesty; thinking about David Willetts's excellent suggestion of a royal yacht, and something tangible to commemorate this momentous occasion."

The last royal yacht, Britannia, served the Queen for 44 years, carrying her and the Royal Family on 968 official voyages before being taken out of service in 1997.

The ship is now a tourist attraction in Edinburgh and is currently in dry dock undergoing repairs.

In his letter, Mr Gove also said the Diamond Jubilee celebrations should not be outshone by the London Olympic Games.

"The diamond jubilee must not be overshadowed by the Olympic Games, but form an integral part of this great year for our country," he said.

'Scarce resources'

Labour Party deputy chairman Tom Watson said: "We're all looking forward to the Diamond Jubilee. The significance of the occasion should be celebrated across the country.

Media caption, Deputy PM Nick Clegg says he suspects the public would object to the idea of a new royal yacht

"But Michael Gove has shown he is out of touch with this proposal. When school budgets are being slashed, parents will be wondering how Gove came even to suggest this idea. This is not the time to spend £60m on a yacht."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he did not agree with the idea of the taxpayer funding a new royal yacht.

"I think most people in the country would think the Diamond Jubilee is a wonderful occasion for us to celebrate together as a community and as a nation.

"But I suspect most people in the country would think that given there's very little money around, this probably wouldn't be at the top of their list of priorities for the use of scarce public resources."

A spokesman for Mr Gove said the government did not comment on leaked documents.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "The Diamond Jubilee will be an extraordinary occasion with communities across Britain, the Commonwealth and the world coming together to celebrate this landmark and pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.

"However from the outset, the Palace has been clear that the Diamond Jubilee celebrations should reflect the current economic climate."

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