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Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he has entertained Labour hon. Members at public expense in the last 12 months; and at what cost. [106389]

My ministerial colleagues and I meet hon. Members from all political parties from time to time to discuss various issues which concern the work of the Department for Work and Pensions. To establish the exact cost of hospitality supplied specifically to Labour MPs, we would need to examine the diaries of all our Ministers for the last 12 months. This would enable us to identify any meetings where Labour MPs were present and only then could we establish what, if any, hospitality was provided. Understandably, this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.All offers of hospitality are made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in Government Accounting. The giving and receiving of hospitality is conducted fully in accordance with the guidance set out in the Ministerial Code.