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Departments: Visits Abroad

Volume 463: debated on Monday 1 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many overseas visits were made by (a) officials and (b) Ministers within her responsibility, and at what cost, in each year since 1997. (151646)

Prior to the machinery of Government changes, the Home Office employed approximately 78,000 people. The Department's expenditure on foreign travel and accommodation in each year since 1997 is shown in the following table . Figures for 1997-98 to 2002-03 are for overseas travel only. Details of overseas accommodation for these years could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

£ million

1997-98

1.18

1998-99

0.89

1999-00

1.43

2000-01

1.38

2001-02

2.07

2002-03

2.35

2003-04

4.45

2004-05

12.06

2005-06

10.66

2006-07

14.60

The difference in costs over the period reflects the changing nature of the Home Office's business, in particular the growth of international terrorism, migration and international travel. Collaboration and information exchange with other countries on counter-terrorism activities and border control have become increasingly critical to the effective discharge of the Department's responsibilities for asylum, immigration and national security. This has involved higher levels of overseas travel.

Details on the number of visits could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis, a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500, as well as the total cost of all ministerial travel overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. Information for 2006-07 is currently being compiled and will be published before the summer recess. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Civil Service Management Code and the Ministerial Code.