Supplementary information from Sir Richard
Wilson relating to his evidence of 16 June
When giving evidence to the Select Committee
last week as part of its inquiry into the operation of the Government
Information and Communication Service, I promised to provide the
Committee with further information on the funding arrangements
for the Strategic Communications Unit.
The establishment of the Strategic Communications
Unit was announced by the Prime Minister in January 1998. The
Unit was formed as a direct result of a recommendation by the
Mountfield Review of the Government Information Service about
the need to improve strategic communications so that the key Government
messages are better communicated across and outside Government.
The estimated staff costs of the Unit in 1998-99
is £415,000. A further £345,000 has been allocated for
the maintenance and development of the strategic planning systems
AGENDA (the replacement system for Cab-E-Net). Expenditure on
AGENDA in 1999-2000 is expected to be £300,000 (this includes
some development costs). For future years, the estimated annual
running costs of AGENDA is £200,000. The funding arrangements
are under discussion as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
You also asked about attendance of officials
at Cabinet. I understand that it is not unprecedented for the
No. 10 Chief Press Secretary to attend as an observer, and that
this happened in the latter years of the last Administration.
25 June 1998