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Departmental Travel

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much his Department and its predecessors spent on (a) car hire, (b) train travel, (c) air travel and (d) hotels for (i) Ministers and (ii) staff in his Department in each of the last five years. (289977)

All travel by Ministers is undertaken in accordance with the ministerial code. Since 1999, the Cabinet Office has published a list of all overseas travel over £500 undertaken by Ministers. Information for the financial year 2008-09 was published on 16 July 2009 and can be viewed at:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/ministers/travel_gifts.aspx

All travel and hotel booking by Ministry of Justice staff members is completed in line with the published rules for official travel and subsistence within the staff handbook. The rules are in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Civil Service Management Code.

It is not possible to identify other expenditure on travel and hotels incurred specifically by Ministers without incurring the disproportionate costs as a significant proportion of hotel bookings, air travel, train travel and car hire are arranged through travel management companies employed by the Ministry to obtain best value for money options. Expenditure may also be incurred directly by staff and reimbursed through an expense claim process or charged to a Government Procurement Card (GPC). The GPC is a credit card operated by Barclays bank designed to limit transaction processing costs for low value, ad-hoc expenses. Expense claim records and log books detailing expenditure on the GPC card are held locally across the organisation, including by courts and prisons across the country. Examination and analysis of local records to identify amounts relating specifically to hotels, air travel, train travel and car hire for the last five years would incur disproportionate cost.

Travel and hotel costs incurred by Directors General and the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry in 2008-09 are published on the Ministry's website at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/moj-business-costs-0809.htm

Directors General and Permanent Secretary costs have also been published quarterly on the website since July 2009.

The annual departmental resource accounts disclose expenditure on “travel, subsistence and hospitality” in notes 10 (administration expenditure) and 11 (programme expenditure). Resource accounts were published by the Ministry of Justice for 2007-08 and 2008-09 and prior to that by the Ministry's predecessor, the Department for Constitutional Affairs. All published accounts can be found at:

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/

Analysis of published totals to identify amounts relating specifically to hotels, air travel, train travel and car hire for the last five years would incur disproportionate cost. The majority of expenditure is recorded within the Ministry's accounting records against a general “travel and subsistence” category which includes, in addition, subsistence allowances where, for example, staff are required to stay away from home overnight.

The information that is held under the “travel and subsistence” category in the accounts includes non-civil servants, for example, judiciary and probation personnel. To calculate these costs, it would be necessary for the central procurement team to trawl manual records for the last five years. This is not possible since the procurement contracts have changed during this period as have the structure of the Department following Machinery of Government Changes.

Officials are now working to improve significantly the data held in this area.