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Efficiency Savings

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 28 April 2011

My Department has one of the most ambitious plans for efficiency savings in Whitehall, having committed to reduce our costs by 50%. By doing that, we have been able to reduce our cuts to the majority of front-line cultural and sporting organisations to just 15%.

Is it the Secretary of State’s ambition to make his the most efficient Whitehall Department and, if so, how confident is he that he will achieve it?

It is absolutely my objective, and I wish to pay tribute to the officials in my correspondence department who have managed to increase the proportion of correspondence replied to within 48 hours to more than 60%, which is incredibly impressive. My hon. Friend sets an example for all of us with his own frugality and Labour Members who were Ministers in the previous Government should perhaps pause and reflect on the way in which they used taxpayers’ money. In this Department they spent more than £300,000 on ministerial cars: we spent just £8,000 on minicabs. They spent more than £100,000 on hospitality: we halved it—

Order. The Secretary of State must resume his seat. The general point has been explicitly made. Question time must not be abused and I know that the Secretary of State, who takes Parliament seriously, will not try that with me.