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Departmental Manpower

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1662W, on departmental manpower, how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed by his Department in (i) 2007-08 and (ii) 2008-09. (285321)

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was formed in May 2007. The number of press officers employed by the MoJ in 2007-08 (as at 31 March 2008) was 33. The number employed in 2008-09 (as at 31 March 2009) was 40. This includes a member of staff on maternity leave. The MoJ press office operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, dealing with all media relations for the department and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) from the international, national and regional media. The MoJ is one of the largest Departments in Government. It is right that the public know and understand the work of the MoJ and its agencies and how taxpayers' money is being spent. Communications, including the work of the press office, is an important element of this. The rise in the number of press officers is attributable to the need to increase the capability of the press office to deal with the expanded remit of the work undertaken by the MoJ, compared to its previous incarnations, and to fill vacancies.

Between April 2007 and July 2007, two special advisers were employed. These changed with the change of Secretary of State, so that between August 2007 and March 2008, two different special advisers were employed. The same two continued to be employed throughout 2008-09 and remain in post.