Ministers' Private Offices

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the size, in square metres, of the offices assigned to each of his Department's Ministers is; and how many officials, at what grade, work in the private offices of each of his Department's Ministers.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 8 October 2013, Hansard, column 138W, on the staffing of private offices.

Ministerial private offices are a key link in handling ministerial correspondence, organising the ministerial diaries, supporting Ministers on external engagements and visits, conveying Ministers' views to officials and overseeing the provision of advice to Ministers, handling communications and policy discussions with other Government Departments, and providing Ministers with general information and views from their Departments. Notwithstanding, we have cut the administrative costs of private offices by 25% from 2009-10 to 2012-13, reflecting the broader administrative savings we are making across the Department.

In relation to office size of each private office, the Secretary of State's is 61 square metres, the Senior Minister of State's private office is 35 square metres (who also has a Foreign and Commonwealth Private Office), and the five Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of States' offices are 40, 42, 42, 42 and 56 square metres respectively. Such dimensions are substantively unchanged from the last Administration. To assist the hon. Member, I would note that (as stated in the answer of 28 June 2006, Hansard, column 457W), the private office of John Prescott when he was a Cabinet Minister was 802 square feet.

The Department will be making further savings from office space when we move to Marsham Street later this year, sharing a building with the Home Office. The move will save my Department a net £9 million per year, and save taxpayers a total of £220 million over the lifetime of the building's lease commitments. This illustrates the scope for sensible savings by councils and the wider public sector from better property management and sharing of services.

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