§ Mr. Harvey
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on external consultants and advisers in each year since 1979. 
§ Ms Stuart
[holding answer 15 February 2001]: Departmental expenditure on external consultants and advisers, by financial year since 1992–93 is in the table.
£ million Financial year Expenditure 1992–93 21.936 1993–94 19.097 1994–95 20.766 1995–96 20.564 1996–97 15.789 1997–98 13.480 1998–99 7.181 1999–2000 8.717 2000–01 14.428 1 This figure covers the period April 2000 through January 2001
Figures for the period 1979 to 1992 are no longer held locally and retrieving the figures from central archives would incur delay and disproportionate cost.
The trend for the Department is downward but part of the explanation for the decreasing trend in departmental expenditure is the adoption of a new definition of consultancy, agreed by Ministers during 1997–98 and implemented in-year. This definition removed confusion between contracted services and consultancy proper; the figures for earlier years are therefore artificially inflated by including some doubtful categories. The significant reduction in 1998–99 is explained by being the first full year in which this distinction had been made.