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Departmental Official Hospitality

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how much his Department spent on (a) alcohol and (b) entertainment in the last 12 months. (305540)

Details of expenditure on entertainment recorded by the Department in the last financial year are as follows:

2008-09: £16,122.

The figure excludes costs incurred as part of official events or formal meetings held to further departmental business. DCSF is unable to separately identify the costs of alcohol from those of general entertainment; as such expenditure is claimed and recorded under the general heading of Entertainment.

The basic rules governing hospitality are set by HM Treasury.

(a) The following guidance is issued by my Department to staff on the provision of alcohol.

There is a general principle that alcohol should not be provided at public expense and never when only civil servants are present.

Moderate amounts of alcohol can be provided at public expense when entertaining non-civil servants if not providing alcohol might be regarded as unusual or cause embarrassment. Examples of such events are hospitality from Ministers, at publicity events such as launches or the rare occasions when senior staff judge that official business can best be transacted by hosting a meeting over lunch or dinner.

(b) Hospitality expenditure is limited to occasions when official business can best be transacted in that way. Entertainment is usually restricted to where senior managers (deputy director or above) are acting as a host and expenditure must be approved in advance by a director or executive board member.