Is the Foreign Office spending so much on champagne it can't keep track?
The UK Foreign Office has been unable to account for all the champagne it quaffs because "dealing with [the request] would exceed the appropriate [cost] limit."
Ok, maybe this is a bit unfair, but perhaps indicative nonetheless. The question is, does the Foreign and Commonwealth Office spend so much money on champagne that it is unable to track the costs?
In a recent freedom of information request, I asked the FCO how much money the department had spent on champagne since the UK general election in 2010. The response is as follows:
"Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act makes provisions for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit. The limit has been specified in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. For central government the appropriate limit is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one or more persons spending 3 1⁄2 days working days in determining whether the department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting it. Your request as presently formulated is widely-framed and will take more than 3 1⁄2 working days to locate, retrieve and extract this information. The information you have requested is not centrally held and would require contacting around 260 of our posts overseas and a large number of home departments. In these circumstances we are not obliged under the Act to comply with your request. You may therefore wish to refine your request to a specific post or a department."
To be fair, it might take a long time to count up all those bottles of Dom Perignon or 1928 Krug - or they might just not fancy their chances at extracting the pertinent information from offices around the globe.
May we suggest a Statutory register of bubbly?
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