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Communities and Local Government

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2011

Audit Commission: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Audit Commission spent on calls to (a) premium-rate telephone numbers, (b) directory enquiry services and (c) the speaking clock in the last 36 months for which figures are available.

[Official Report, 16 February 2011, Vol. 523, c. 831-32W.]

Letter of correction from Mr Robert Neill:

An error has been identified in the copy of the Audit Commission letter that was provided with the written answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Matthew Hancock) on 16 February 2011. In the table, the figures given for (b) directory inquiry services and (c) the speaking clock were transposed.

The full answer given was as follows: (41008)

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to my hon. Friend direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 16 February 2011:

Your Parliamentary Question has been passed to me to reply.

The Commission routinely bars premium rate calls for fixed and mobile phones where technically possible. Some premium rate calls are required for targeted business purposes, the main one being for postal franking machines (£162 over the three years). The speaking clock is sometimes used to test lines externally where a guaranteed reply is needed.

For our main offices, all directory enquiry calls are routed to our main provider Cable & Wireless service as this provides the most effective rate. Mobile phone calls to directory enquiries and the speaking clock are barred.

The detail of the spending requested is provided in the table below. However, information for home workers and small office users is excluded, as the detail is not readily accessible from the service supplier for the total period.

Main office phone system and mobile phone contracts

£

12 months to 31 January

2009

2010

2011

Total

(a) Premium rate

55

69

46

170

(b) Directory inquiry services

5

1

1

7

(c) Speaking clock

75

44

21

140

Total

135

114

68

317

The correct answer should have been:

This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission and I have asked the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to my hon. Friend direct.

Letter from Eugene Sullivan, dated 16 February 2011:

Your Parliamentary Question has been passed to me to reply.

The Commission routinely bars premium rate calls for fixed and mobile phones where technically possible. Some premium rate calls are required for targeted business purposes, the main one being for postal franking machines (£162 over the three years). The speaking clock is sometimes used to test lines externally where a guaranteed reply is needed.

For our main offices, all directory enquiry calls are routed to our main provider Cable & Wireless service as this provides the most effective rate. Mobile phone calls to directory enquiries and the speaking clock are barred.

The detail of the spending requested is provided in the table below. However, information for home workers and small office users is excluded, as the detail is not readily accessible from the service supplier for the total period.

Main office phone system and mobile phone contracts

£

12 months to 31 January

2009

2010

2011

Total

(a) Premium rate

55

69

46

170

(b) Directory inquiry services

75

44

21

140

(c) Speaking clock

5

1

1

7

Total

135

114

68

317