§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the President of the Council if he will list for 1997–98 and each subsequent financial year the amount spent by(a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons; if he will list the proportion of this cost incurred in respect of (x) food and (y) alcohol in each case; and if he will list the average cost per hotel room or similar unit of accommodation provided in each case. 404W
§ Mr. Robin Cook
I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 14 February 2002,Official Report, columns 559–60W.
§ Mr. Wills
Estimated expenditure by both officials and Ministers on entertainment for the financial year 2000–01 was £60,768, in 1999–2000 was £71,166 and in 1998–99 was £45,087. Information for 1997–98 is not readily available.
These figures differ from those previously provided by the Department in an earlier answer in the previous Parliament on 8 May 2001, Official Report, column 55W. The reason for the discrepancy is that a significant amount of expenditure that should not have been included in the total for entertainment had been miscoded as such by officials. The majority of the miscoded amount was for working lunches for panel members conducting interviews of candidates for judicial office. The effect was to overstate the true figure by approximately 20 per cent. for each of the three years covered above in the 8 May 2001 answer.
I apologise to the House for this mistake. The errors resulted from an incomplete understanding of existing guidance by staff and the Department has drawn the attention of budget management staff to the correct procedures to be followed. Comprehensive guidance is to be re-issued before the end of the financial year.