On 17th October 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received answers to written question on the topics of civil service corporate credit cards, freedom of religion and the United Nations.
Civil Service: Corporate Credit Cards
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the rules and criteria for the issuing of corporate credit cards to civil servants; and how the use of such cards is monitored and audited.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government Procurement Card (GPC) is a payment charge card used for making low value purchases. Its proper use contributes to making efficiencies.
All Departments have a clear policy for card allocation. The GPC Steering Group, established after the last General Election, has developed minimum policy standards for central Government departments and their Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs). GPC Central Policy describes the roles and responsibilities for personnel that are required to govern and control local GPC programmes. These policies have been shared with the National Audit Office (NAO) and must be followed by all departments using GPCs. Before the last General Election there was no central oversight of Government GPC card use.
All Departments now operate compliance checking processes which include transaction logs that must be reconciled with bank statements and receipts each month; and the requirement for budget managers to reconcile GPC payment to ensure compliance with approved spend. The departmental controls, in accordance with GPC policy, include monthly compliance checking, including identifying off-contract spend and clear guidance for users on the correct route-to-buy.
All spend on GPCs over £500 is now published.
Freedom of Religion
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 22 July (WA 167), what steps they are taking with their European partners to ensure that the European Union guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, as agreed by the Council of Ministers on 24 June, are put into operation
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Following their agreement by the Council of Ministers, the European Union guidelines have been used to inform lobbying on freedom of religion or belief issues by EU country offices and the embassies of individual Member States. They have also guided EU activity in multilateral fora, for example in developing resolutions on freedom of religion or belief at the UN General Assembly. Implementation of the guidelines, and their effectiveness to date, is due to be discussed by the EU’s human rights’ working group in the near future.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the United Nations to ensure sufficient funding to support a paid, full-time Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, with a fully functioning office.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): I refer the noble and right reverend Lord to the answer given by the Minister for Europe, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), on 3 July 2013, Official Report, column 662W.