Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Foreign Office's wine buying quango scrapped

Published:  15 October, 2010

The Foreign Office's wine purchasing committee has been abolished in this week's quango cull.

The Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines (GHACPW) may have been scrapped, but the Foreign Office, which has admitted the committee does not cost very much to run, is looking at ways to retain its functions.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: "The future of the cellar and the committee are currently the subject of a rigorous, zero based internal review within the FCO.  While that review has not been concluded, it is clear that the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee will not continue as an Arms Length Body. The review will decide what is required from any new body, and what shape it should take."

In a response to a freedom of information request from the Guardian newspaper last week asking how much members of the committee are paid, Robert Alexander, head of government hospitality in the protocol directorate of the Foreign Office, said: "The members and chairman of the GHACPW are not paid. They offer their advice to government hospitality at no cost, although they are entitled to claim travel expenses to attend meetings of the committee.

"The committee meets only four times each year for half a day. The four members of the committee are all masters of wine, and the chairman is a retired diplomat, Sir David Wright. I act as secretary to the committee. The committee was established in 1922, and has existed, in one form or another, since."