§ Mr. Andrew Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were employed in a press or public relations function in his Department on 1 January in(a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000, (e) 2001 and (f)2002. 
§ Angela Eagle
The information requested is shown in the table:
Number of press officers at 1 January 1997 114 1998 14 1999 14 2000 13 2001 23 2002 31 1 At April—the nearest figure available.
This includes eight people employed as press officers for the Prison Service whose media relations operation moved to the Home Office in August 2001.
In addition at various times chief immigration officers and policy officials were on six-month attachments to the press office.
No one was employed in a general public relations function.
However as has been explained in previous answers, the expansion of the Home Office press office followed an external consultant"s review of its staffing and operation and recommended the increases. Staff levels in the press office had been static for some years despite the enormous changes in the media and their increasing demands for a 24 hours service.
The figures for 1997 through to 2000 of 13 or 14 press officers do not reflect vacancies and the complement would have been nearer 17 or 18. The office was in fact supplemented by secondments, loans and attachments.