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Departmental Administration (Spending)

Volume 524: debated on Monday 28 February 2011

We are developing an efficiency and reform plan and restructuring the Department to make it smaller and stronger and focused on coalition priorities. We have outlined a new thrift campaign, implementing ideas to remove unnecessary spending on estates, ICT, hospitality and procurement.

I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he regret the fact that in 2008 and 2009, the Standards Board for England spent £5,570.54 on just nine chairs? Has he put an end to such shocking waste, not just in his Department but in agencies such as the Audit Commission for which he has responsibility?

Indeed, and perhaps I should thank my hon. Friend for his excellent report on procurement and the improvement of efficiency in local government. It has been a colossal shock to discover how public expenditure was simply allowed to be wasted under the previous Government. I believe that there was an atmosphere in which the view was, “It’s not our money and we can spend it as we like.” We have reduced all manner of expenditure, ensuring that we reduce the number of printers and the amount of colour printing, that we cancel a number of non-essential subscriptions, and make increased use of video conferences and the like. Those all add up and all make a significant difference.