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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much was spent by his Department and its agencies on (a) alcohol and (b) entertaining in the last 12 months. (187785)

Details of expenditure on personal entertainment recorded by the Department over the last 12 months are as follows:

January 2007 to January 2008, £11,555.59.

The figure excludes costs incurred as part of official events or formal meetings held to further departmental business. DCSF is unable to separately identify the costs of alcohol from those of general entertainment; as such expenditure is claimed and recorded under the general heading of Personal Entertainment.

The basic rules governing hospitality are set by HM Treasury.

(a) The following guidance is issued by my Department to staff on the provision of alcohol.

There is a general principle that alcohol should not be provided at public expense and never when only civil servants are present.

Moderate amounts of alcohol can be provided at public expense when entertaining non-civil servants if not providing alcohol might be regarded as unusual or cause embarrassment. Examples of such events are hospitality from Ministers, at publicity events such as launches or the rare occasions when senior staff judge that official business can best be transacted by hosting a meeting over lunch or dinner.

(b) Hospitality expenditure is limited to occasions when official business can best be transacted in that way. Personal entertainment is usually restricted to where senior managers (Deputy Director or above) are acting as a host and expenditure must be approved in advance by a Director or Executive Board member.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families was created on 28 June 2007 as a result of a machinery of Government change and the expenditure recorded above includes that of its predecessor department, the Department for Education and Skills. The expenditure will also include any costs incurred by the newly created Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills, where these costs relate to areas formerly the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills.

The Department does not have any executive agencies.