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UK Border Agency: Travel

Volume 508: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many officials of each grade at the UK Border Agency are entitled to first-class travel; and if he will make a statement. (320802)

Because the UK Border Agency's work is national and international in scope, it is necessary in some cases for staff to travel in order to facilitate that work. This is only undertaken when other forms of business interaction such as video or voice conferencing have been considered first. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the civil service management and ministerial codes and is approved in advance by a line manager. Over 90 per cent. of the work force of the UK Border Agency have no contractual entitlement to travel first class.

Senior executive officer grades (and equivalent) and above are entitled to travel first class where there is an operational need for them to travel on business.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 730W, which shows that 2,223 staff were employed in those grades as at October 2009.

Entitlement is not an indication as to the actual numbers who travelled. Information provided by the company which supplied UKBA with travel services for the period shows that, of the individuals who would have been contractually entitled to travel first class in 2009, less than 40 per cent. made use of any first class travel in 2009. The agency encourages officials to incur the lowest practicable cost.

The UK Border Agency is focused on driving down the cost of travel expenditure. In addition the Home Office has a travel contract that enables significant savings to be achieved compared with the standard price of UK rail travel.