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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 December 2007, 00:11 GMT
Whitehall festive costs revealed
Christmas decorations
Spending last Christmas across Whitehall was 127,003
Government departments spent 461,203 on Christmas parties, decorations and cards from 2002 to 2006, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives.

The Northern Ireland Office tops the list on 97,129, followed by what is now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The Conservatives' figures were compiled from parliamentary answers given by ministers.

A government spokesman stressed staff typically paid for their own parties.

He also pointed out the figures covered five years in a large organisation which employs thousands of people.

Spending last Christmas across Whitehall was 127,003.

'Tighten belts'

The figures show 182,000 was spent on Christmas cards between 2002 and 2006, while 260,000 went on parties and 19,000 on festive decorations.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond said: "Many thousands of hard-pressed families who are struggling to make ends meet this Christmas will be angered to read these figures.

"At a time when everyone else has to tighten their belts, it would be good to see government departments setting an example."

The third-biggest Christmas spender was the Department for Transport, on 87,785, with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport next, on 67,732.

The lowest spender was the Scotland Office, on 2,636, followed by the Department for International Development, on 5,050.

The Tories received no reply from the Department for Children, Schools and Families; the department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Foreign Office; the department for Universities and Skills; the Home Office, and the Treasury.

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