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Question for Department for Communities and Local Government

UIN 216181, tabled on 26 November 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how much his Department has spent on catering and hospitality since May 2010.

Answered on

10 December 2014

I would refer the hon. Member to the comprehensive answers given by my hon. Friend, the Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis) of 19 December 2012, Official Report, Column 837W and 9 April 2014, Official Report, Column 239W, which provides comparative figures on how we have drastically reduced expenditure, compared to Labour’s profligate spending and their Ministerial wining and dining. The limited spending we do undertake is for the likes of conferences, all-day courses or formal events, and we have recently further tightened guidance to staff.

I note the hon. Member has recently tried to reheat the false Labour claims about Ministerial spending on biscuits – to which there is not a crumb of truth. Under this Government, we do not routinely incur any expenditure on refreshments for Ministers other than “de minimis” expenditure on tea and coffee for Ministers’ meetings with external visitors, or on the rare occasion when Ministers undertake overnight stays on official business outside London.

Our departmental savings have also been assisted by terminating ministerial group spending on Government procurement cards, as practiced by the Labour Government at taxpayers' expense at the likes of Sky City Casino, the Cinnamon Club, the Wolseley, Brasserie 44, Boisdales, Inn the Park, Mango Tree, Shepherds, Incognico, Buffalo Bar, Mr Chu's China Palace, Tantric Jazz and Fat Tuesdays. It was the Labour Ministers who had their hands in the taxpayer-funded cookie jar.

Indeed, in her answer of 6 May 2014, Official Report, House of Lords, Column 367W, my noble friend, Baroness Stowell, helpfully provided a breakdown of the £795,288 of hospitality spending from 2008-10 under the last Labour Government, which can be found online at:

The Department does not routinely provide take-away food for its staff, so this information is not centrally held in the form requested.

I would observe that during the time the hon. Member was a special adviser at HM Treasury from 2004 to 2007 under the tutelage of the Rt. hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Gordon Brown), a total of £125,020 was spent on hospitality for Ministers (as cited in 17 December 2008, Official Report, Column 824W). Based on The Economist’s purchasing power parity index, this would have been sufficient to purchase 65,856 Big Macs. I hope the hon. Member got fries with that.