HC Deb 15 March 1994 vol 239 cc661-2W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the use of freephone and freepost facilities currently being operated by his Department; how much these facilities are costing; for what purposes these facilities are being used; and how much his Department has spent on operating freephone and freepost facilities in each financial year since 1979.

Mr. Lang

[holding answer 14 March 1994]: Only one freephone service is operated by the Scottish Office—"Drugline Scotland", which opened in March 1992, providing a 24-hour telephone advice, information and referral service for people who have concerns about their own or someone else's drug use. In the year 1992–93, it cost £11,776. As part of the initiative to make the Scottish Office more accessible, people are now able to telephone the Scottish Office from over 20 offices throughout the country without charge. Cost figures are not yet available, as the service has been operating only since October 1993.

The Scottish Office uses both business reply and freepost response facilities, mainly to encourage people to provide information to Departments or to respond to Government initiatives or campaigns. The costs of the two services are not separately recorded but the total costs of items returned through the Department's central postal services for each year from 1983–84—the earliest year for which figures are available—are shown in the table. The cost of operating the services cannot be isolated from other mail handling costs.

Year Expenditure on Business Reply/Freepost £ Year Expenditure on Business Reply/Freepost £
1983–84 43,596 1988–89 55,953
1984–85 19,958 1989–90 66,551
1985–86 51,295 1990–91 44,092
1986–87 51,522 1991–92 65,222
1987–88 62,550 1992–93 26,762

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