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British lawmakers debate royal yacht

Jan. 16, 2012 at 2:38 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- British lawmakers are debating whether to give the queen a $91.8 million yacht, paid for with public funds, as part of this year's diamond jubilee celebration.

Education secretary Michael Gove proposed the idea of donating a yacht to Queen Elizabeth for her 60th anniversary as monarch, The Guardian reported Monday.

"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," Gove said. "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."

Prime Minister David Cameron said he believes giving the Queen a yacht would be an inappropriate use of public funds.

"Clearly there is a difficult economic situation, there are scarce resources, and therefore we don't think it would be an appropriate use of public money at the present time," the prime minister's official spokesman said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg openly mocked the idea, saying he suspected "this would turn into a debate and the haves and the have yachts," politics.co.uk reported Monday.

Clegg said he would not even consider the idea, adding, "It wouldn't be top of the list of priorities for scarce public resources."

Robert Hardman, a journalist and writer on the royals, is one of the proposal's few supporters.

"This is not just something that is there for moving members of the royal family around; it's there to be a centrepiece for every sort of occasion, it's there for sea cadets, it's there for scientific research, it's almost got a sort of floating university role," he said.

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