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Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department and its agencies have spent on Christmas (a) cards, (b) parties and (c) decorations in each of the last five years. (171441)

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) was created as a result of machinery of government changes in June 2007.

In 2007, DIUS held a competition for further education college students to design an electronic Christmas card for the Department. The competition was won by Matthew Boulton college. This incurred no significant cost to the Department as colleges were individually invited to participate. The prize—a trip to a design centre or space centre—was donated by our partners. The DIUS Christmas card was distributed electronically through existing e-mail routes and therefore incurred no significant costs.

DIUS did not purchase any Christmas decorations in 2007, nor did the Department hold a Christmas party. Divisions do hold Christmas parties for staff to attend, for which these staff must pay. Christmas parties are not paid for out of departmental budgets.

Information on expenditure by our agencies on Christmas cards, and decorations is not held centrally by the Department. Therefore this information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.