No Need to Wait For Labour’s Procurement Card Spending Story

Yesterday the Lobby was intrigued to receive a mock up credit card bearing the name ‘Conservative Government Rishi Sunak’. It was handed out by Labour Press, who have since rebranded their Twitter account to “The GPC Files”. The card featured a QR code, which takes hacks to a site counting down to Monday morning…

GPC stands for Government Procurement Card – hence the Lobby merch. GPCs are used by government departments for visa-based purchasing to speed up the process of obtaining goods and services. Some departments have been pretty shoddy in publishing their transactions.

Guido initially presumed Labour’s campaign was going to be about this lack of transparency. The Ministry of Justice, for example, haven’t published GPC spending since March 2015. 

It seems Labour were less subtle than this, however. During his search, Guido stumbled upon Emily Thornberry’s written questions to ministers this year. It turns out the Shadow Attorney General has submitted over 350 questions on departmental GPC spending over the last few months.

  • Of the Department for Transport, she’s learned about the purchase of 350 gift bags given to participants at the UN breakfast reception
  • Of the Cabinet Office she learnt of a fraudulent transaction in February 2022
  • Of the Foreign Office she learnt that £3,000 was spent on catering for a Queens Birthday Party at the British Embassy in The Hague
  • Of DWP, she learnt that the then Secretary of State flew Business Class to the Paralympics
  • That the Cabinet Office claims items purchased from Go Outdoors Retail and Decathalon UK were purchased by COBR “for national resilience and emergency planning purposes”
  • Of Natural England, she forced DEFRA to reveal the quango gave out 170 mugs featuring a photo of an Anglesey church as part of a post-Covid “morale boost” exercise after lockdown

Having flicked through quite a few of Labour’s questions and the answers they received, almost every answer reveals that the government spends money on wining and dining foreign dignitaries, or putting up ministers and civil servants in hotels abroad during international conferences. Maybe there is a story buried in there somewhere – Guido hasn’t yet been able to go through the 350 written government answers. Hopefully Monday morning’s news is more than ‘government has diplomatic service that host cocktail parties’…

If readers fancy combing through the expenditure answers and finding any evidence of caviar munching and champagne swilling by civil servants, please email any egregious examples to We will be more than happy to highlight them…

mdi-timer 10 February 2023 @ 11:42 10 Feb 2023 @ 11:42 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments