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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what measures are in place in his Department to monitor expenditure on alcohol for hospitality purposes; (219605)

(2) what purchasing process is used by his Department for the procurement of alcohol for hospitality purposes.

The Department does not keep a record of the amount spent on alcohol for hospitality purposes.

The following guidance is issued by the 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. This policy is in accordance with the principles of Treasury guidance in “Managing Public Money” and “Regularity, Propriety and Value for Money”.

Payment can be made by Government Procurement Card for Ministerial and other official hospitality where such use has been previously authorised. Otherwise, payment can be made at the time and reclaimed or the invoice sent to the Department for payment by the central payment team. If it is considered the occasion did not justify expenditure on alcohol the individual will be expected to meet the cost themselves.