Freedom of Information

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 13th October 2011.

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Photo of Andrew Griffiths Andrew Griffiths Conservative, Burton

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2011, Official Report, column 1124W, on freedom of information, if he will place in the Library a copy of the archived Government Procurement Card invoices and spending records for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister became a separate Department in May 2002 and existed until May 2006 when it was reformed as the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Records of Government Procurement Card invoices and spending records are not available from May 2002 to March 2004. The Department does hold Government Procurement Card spending (transaction) records from April 2004 until April 2006, but as was explained in my answer to my hon. Friend Charlie Elphicke, on 11 July 2011, Hansard, column 57W, these records were contaminated by cloned cards.

These records have now been placed in the Library of the House.

The fraudulent (cloned) transactions are shown as credits back to the account but with the lapse of time it is no longer possible to cross check these records against invoice and investigation records kept at the time. Identification and retrieval of actual invoices could be accomplished only at disproportionate cost.

Please note that the records we hold were supplied by the Card issuing company (Barclays). The term ‘Merchant Category’ is a broad description employed by the banks to designate the business where the card was used not the type of product purchased.

Departmental guidance is clear that any unauthorised or unknown transactions appearing on card transaction reports (invoices) such as cloned card incidents must be reported immediately to the card issuing company. Under the terms of the contract any financial loss arising from this type of fraudulent activity is the responsibility of the card issuing company who will take forward any investigation. There will be no threat/risk to departmental funds.

My Department is committed to greater transparency over the use of the Government Procurement Card than under the last Administration, and has strengthened checks and balances to ensure protection of taxpayers' money.

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