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Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much has been spent on (a) departmental Christmas parties and (b) staff entertainment in the last three years. (243731)

No departmental funds are used for departmental Christmas parties or staff entertainment. This is in accordance with departmental guidance on financial procedures and on propriety and regularity based on principles set out in Managing Public Money and Her Majesty’s Treasury Handbook Regularity, Propriety and Value for Money. All staff Christmas parties and staff entertainment events are funded solely at the individual’s expense. An extract from the relevant guidance is provided as follows:

Staff Parties/Personal Events

Departmental funds “must not under any circumstances” be used to purchase food or drink, hire a venue, or contribute in any other way to staff parties, irrespective of whether these relate to personal celebrations (e.g. birthdays or retirement) or are ostensibly to mark a particular business achievement (e.g. the opening of a new office or the award of a contract). Expenditure of this nature is regarded as a disciplinary offence and Departmental practice, where such activities come to light, is generally to seek reimbursement from the authorising officer.