Ministerial spouses paying their own way

The Herald reports:

Labour ministers had often travelled with their spouse – allowed if the Cabinet approves of the travel.

However, Mr Key has told his colleagues that things are different because of the tough economic times. …

“I made it clear to my ministers I didn’t expect them to take their spouse and, to the best of my knowledge, they haven’t. If they have, they’ve paid for it.”

He said there were possibly some exceptions on trips to Australia.

“In every other instance, I’ve told them if they want to take their partner, they can do it, but they pay for it. When I went to China, it’s well documented I took Bronagh and I paid for her.”

That’s definitely a change of policy.

While one can only applaud restraint in a recession, I would caution against a blanket ban on spouses travelling with Ministers (unless they pay their own way). It can be difficult enough keeping a marriage together when you don’t spend the week together – and certain Ministers such as Foreign and Trade travel so much, they would never see their spouse if they din’t sometimes accompany them.

Now as it happens in the Key Minstry both those Ministers are not currently married, so not so much of an issue. But as I said a blanket ban on spousal travel could be unfair.

From what I read though, it is not quite a blanket ban – more a expectation with permission needed for exceptions.

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