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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) alcohol and (b) food in each of the last five years. (261166)

From information held centrally, the Department's expenditure on food for the last three years is as follows:

£

2006-07

1,296,450.76

2007-08

1,407,220.50

April 2008 to February 2009

1,270,359.75

These figures are based upon a combined total expenditure on food and beverages, and the ratio of food to beverage is 55 per cent. to 45 per cent. A detailed analysis of the breakdown of the expenditure on food and beverages, and for each of the last five years, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The core Department's financial system has no expenditure category for alcohol. The core Department's catering services provider does not hold a license to serve alcohol. As a general rule, expenditure on alcohol for hospitality purposes is not allowed. Were alcohol to be purchased for hospitality purposes it should be acquired through formal purchase order, or through the Government Procurement Card, both of which methods are subject to formal authorisation procedures. 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.