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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what records his Department maintains of its expenditure on (a) official hospitality and (b) alcohol for official hospitality. (240468)

All expenditure, including that on hospitality, has to be incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

The Department records details of some of its expenditure on hospitality in the UK and overseas separately in its accounting systems. In other cases, expenditure on official hospitality is aggregated with costs for events such as conferences and meetings or with general entertainment expenses, as well as being included in individual subsistence claims. Copies of invoices relating to all expenditure are retained by the responsible teams or, in the cases of science, research and innovation teams, in the former DTI central finance transaction processing unit.

Expenditure on alcohol for official hospitality is not recorded separately.

The basic rules governing entertainment are derived from Treasury authorities. There is a presumption that public money will not be used to purchase alcohol. However, exceptionally, if not providing alcohol to non-civil servants could lead to greater embarrassment for the Department, moderate amounts (in quantity and quality) may be purchased for formal evening gatherings such as meals or presentations. As with any expenditure on personal entertainment, the reasons should be both clearly defensible and well documented.