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Departmental Car Service

Volume 928: debated on Monday 14 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence why 60 cars are permanently on call to him and his staff; for what purposes; by whom they are used; what is the total annual cost, including insurance, garaging, drivers, purchase and replacement; and whether he will make a statement on his plans to cut this expenditure in accordance with the Government's declared policy.

The Ministry of Defence has a London Car Service, with an authorised establishment of 59 cars, to fulfil the following main rôles: (a) to meet the requirements of Defence Ministers and the most senior Service officers and civil servants in the Department—whose responsibilities cover the operational efficiency of the Armed Forces and the smooth running of the logistic machine behind them; (b) to provide a car pool for those journeys necessarily made by more junior staff which cannot reasonably be undertaken by public transport; the rules by which the pool is operated clearly state that where public transport is available it must always be used unless this will cause a quite disproportionate loss of official time.The annual costs of running the car service are estimated at £400,000. This figure includes the costs of wages, fuel, maintenance, vehicle replacement and an element for third party claims in event of accidents. It is not Government practice to insure vehicles. Garaging is arranged by the Royal Corps of Transport and the costs cannot be separately identified.The continuing search for sensible economies in the defence budget includes the London Car Service.