The Government Communication Network is the successor to the Government Information Service, which was disbanded in 1997. Over the next 12 months, the permanent secretary at the GCN will improve the professional skills of communicators throughout the civil service, maintain professional standards, increase efficiency and deliver maximum value for money. Effective communication performs a critical role in providing important information to the public and improving access to public services. The Government will continue to use communications in support of their policy agenda, building on current successful campaigns.
I am grateful to the Minister, and I am sure that the Government Communication Network does a marvellous job, but at a time when we are looking to ensure that public money is well spent, will she explain why, for example, it is necessary for the Ministry of Defence to have 255 people employed in communication?
Over the years, there has been a lot of demand on press officers’ time. I will give the hon. Gentleman some figures. There are 374 media personnel in the Press Gallery and more than 3,000 journalists at the BBC, and each of their queries demands a response. On average, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, for instance, receives 600 calls a day. The increase in numbers is a direct response to the increased number of questions to Departments.