Parliamentary Q & As are always a mine of information, some of it trivial, other parts rather more important. The data elicited earlier this week by one Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan (and one has to wonder what the point of asking the question was) probably falls into the former category but does illuminate how Whitehall is run and where taxpayers’ cash goes.
It shows that the Department for Transport is spending £120,000 in this financial year on media monitoring. To be fair to the DfT this amount is less than half what it was five years ago, though in part this appears to be down to ministers deciding they no longer care what coverage they receive in esteemed local publications (regional media monitoring was abandoned in June 2011) and merely regard their image in the national media as important.
Dr Whiteford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what media monitoring services her Department has purchased in each of the last five years. 
Norman Baker: The cost to the Department of press cuttings services and the services of the Central Office of Information’s Media Monitoring Unit for each of the last five years is provided in the following table for the central Department and its seven executive agencies.
|Central Office of Information’s Media Monitoring Unit|
|(1) To date (2) The DfT(C) press cuttings cost for 2007-08 and 2008-09 do not include regional (local) press cuttings provided by the Central Office of Information (COI). The central Department stopped purchasing regional press cuttings in June 2011.|
In addition to those receiving press cuttings the following agencies use other media monitoring services. Costs are as follows:
|Additional media monitoring|
|(1) To date. (2) Highways Agency’s charges for 2010-11 were part paid in advance in 2009-10 and part in arrears in 2011-12.|