HC Deb 24 June 2004 vol 422 c1507W
Mr. Laws

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many press officers were employed in his Department in each year from 1990–91 to 2003–04; what the total cost was in each year; and if he will make a statement.[162848]

Fiona Mactaggart

Records of numbers and costs before 1996–97 have not been kept.

Press office numbers and costs for the following years are outlined as follows:

Numbers Cost (£)
1996–97 16 369,000
1997–98 13 332,000
1998–1999 13 329,000
1999–2000 16 345,000
2000–01 131 863,000
2001–02 235 1 million
2002–03 39 1.7 million
2003–04 39 1.9 million
1Expansion of the Home Office press office followed an external consultant's review of its staffing and operation in 1999 and recommended the creation of the Newsdesk so as to better meet the demands of the media. This improved efficiency from "losing' in excess of 20 per cent. of the calls pre expansion, to a position where from June 2003 to June 2004 91.8 per cent. of the 67,070 press calls received by the Newsdesk were answered.
2The Home Office press office and the prison service press office merged in May 2001.

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