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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on (i) alcohol and (ii) entertainment in the last 12 months. (305534)

All expenditure on food, drink and entertainment is in line with the Ministry’s internal finance policy manual and gifts and hospitality policy, which set out mandatory guidance for all staff regarding the use of public funds. Both are consistent with the Treasury guidance on “Managing Public Money”, at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_mpm_index.htm

and the Treasury handbook on “Propriety and Regularity” at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr governance_valueformoney.htm

The Ministry’s policy on in-house hospitality prohibits the supply of any alcohol to Ministry of Justice personnel who are paid from departmental funds. When providing hospitality to external parties, then discretion can be exercised, e.g. a modest amount of wine with a meal, but expenditure should be modest and appropriate to the circumstances.

Expenditure on alcohol and entertainment are not specifically identified within the Ministry’s accounting systems as they form part of a wider “entertainment and hospitality” classification. To identify specific amounts relating to alcohol and entertainment would involve examining every individual transaction within this wider category, which would incur disproportionate costs. Expenditure in 2008-09 on this wider category of expenditure was £315,000 for the Ministry and its Executive agencies, excluding the 42 local probation boards and trusts.