A fun spat is rumbling on between Labour MP Kevan Jones and the Brandon Lewis, the junior minister at the Department of Local Government. After DCLG put out a guide to saving money in Local Government before Christmas, Jones has decided to spend the new year testing the department on whether they meet their own standards on waste. Unfortunately for him, his Written Questions scatter-gunning is not really working. Plenty of answers of zilch, but also plenty of snowballs back in Kevan’s face:
Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what costs his Department incurred in respect of staff canteens since May 2010. 
Brandon Lewis: The Department for Communities and Local Government has a staff canteen at its headquarters, Eland House. The facility is a non-subsidised, directly-operated outlet by the Department’s facilities management supplier. DCLG has held a ‘Nil subsidy’ policy for the Eland House staff canteen since May 2010 and the facility has been run at no cost to the Department.
Mr Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much his Department has spent on potted plants and flowers since May 2010; and what the nature of such expenditure was. 
Brandon Lewis: Unlike the last Government, we do not spend taxpayers’ money on pot plants or the display of cut flowers. The incoming Administration terminated the contract for internal departmental plants in September 2010. This contract had been signed under the last Administration by the (then) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and was costing taxpayers almost £7,000 a year. I also refer the hon. Member to the answer of 28 June 2011, Official Report, column 731W, on the Audit Commission’s £6,500 flower display bill under the last Administration; this was also terminated in September 2010.
Tory sources point out that while they are greatly enjoying highlighting how wasteful Labour were, they would like to point out that each question Jones puts down is costing the taxpayer £160. That’s an expensive fishing trip…