Give us our gongs, says MP

03/06/2003

AN MP today claimed East Lancashire people were being snubbed by the honours system in favour of bureaucrat from the South.
Greg Pope, who represents Hyndburn, has started a campaign in a bid to get more recognition for the area's residents.
He said: "If you are a hard-working teacher or nurse in East Lancashire you will be lucky to pick up an MBE or an OBE - the lowest honours.
"However, if you are a senior civil servant, an ambassador or a general living in the South East of England, a senior honour - probably at least a knighthood - goes with the job.
"We need to have a level playing field which recognises the real work people do in fields such as health and education.
"The system either needs a radical reform or to be abolished."
Mr Pope asked Whitehall departments how many honours civil servants have received and discovered:
The Foreign Office has honoured 170 officials since 1999 and the Ministry of Defence 247
The Lord Chancellors's department handed out 91 and the Department of Trade and Industry 48
Last year just eight public servants in East Lancs received honours
Mr Pope said he would be raising the matter with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Blackburn MP and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
He added: "I am prepared to wager my hat that there are more awards for individual government departments each year than there are in the whole of East Lancashire.
"Anyone can nominate anybody for honours but its quite clear that they are still going for the same old establish- ment.
"You only have to read the Lancashire Evening Telegraph coverage of each honours list to see that East Lancashire gets just a handful of awards each time.
"If your postcode is BB5 for Accrington you have a one in a million chance of getting an honour. If its SW1 it must be almost 50 per cent.
"All the regions of England lose out and either there must be a fair distribution of honours for public servants across the country or none at all."
A government spokesman said they did not comment on selections for the honours system.

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