Margaret Thatcher Funeral: Cost 'Much Less Than £10m', Claims Francis Maude

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THATCHER FUNERAL
Armed Police walk up the Strand ahead of the funeral of Margaret Thatcher | Getty Images

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has defended the spending on Baroness Thatcher's funeral, saying it will cost "much, much less" than a reported £10 million.

The minister, who has been overseeing the funeral arrangements, said the state would always pay the costs of the funeral and memorial service of a former prime minister. He added that Lady Thatcher's family would be bearing some of the cost.

Speaking on ITV's Daybreak programme, Mr Maude said Lady Thatcher was a "remarkable" premier who made a "massive contribution" and it was right in a "decent country" that this should be recognised.

"The costs will be a fraction of what is being bandied around," he said.

"The state will always pay for the costs of a funeral and memorial service of a former prime minister and Margaret Thatcher was very adamant she did not want to have a separate memorial service, so this is the one occasion where people have the opportunity to pay their respects, give her a send-off and commemorate what was, by any consideration, a very remarkable life.

"To be the longest-standing prime minister of the 20th century, the first and only woman prime minister and someone who, by common consent, was a game-changing prime minister, both for Britain and also a leader internationally who with Ronald Reagan changed the shape of the geo-politics.

"There are hundreds of millions of people who owe their freedom to the stand that Thatcher and Reagan took."

Asked if he could could give a clue to the cost of the funeral if it is not £10 million, he responded: "It is much, much less than that."

He added: "The only thing that is unusual about the way this funeral is being financed is that the family are bearing some of the cost and that would not normally be the case, but they were very clear that the estate wanted to do that.

"That is an unusual feature.

"I think there is a general view - the most widely held view would be that this was a remarkable prime minister, she made a massive contribution.

"You don't have to agree with everything that she did to believe that she was someone who significantly changed the course not just of British history but of world history.

"It is right in a decent country that you should recognise that and that we should give her the send-off that someone of her stature and her standing and what she achieved deserves."

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC told Daybreak that she felt "uncomfortable" with the military element of the funeral but such public events were a means of bringing people together.

"I think that we are given more to this kind of bigger display nowadays and it is sort of replacing some of the things that are absent in our society in other ways to bring people together.

"Although it won't bring everyone together - there will be a lot of people who will have mixed feelings today - I think that this kind of public ritual is in some way replacing other things that have been lost and I think that is what this is about."

She added that the impact of Mrs Thatcher's premiership was still being felt.

"People do still feel the impact powerfully and you feel it in Scotland, where I think that probably the whole political atmosphere in Scotland... of talking about whether the Union should continue - that has come out of those years and a sense of bitterness about what was done in Scotland.

"There were swathes of people who were put out of work."

Former Conservative minister Edwina Currie said: "She was our longest-serving prime minister for the last 150 years, the first woman prime minister, and has actually changed the way we think."

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