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Vanity purchase

It was never going to knock JK Rowling off the bestsellers list but the revelation that the Department for Education and Skills had flogged 1,166 copies of its indescribably tedious annual report raised eyebrows. Did 1,166 people really fork out pound;31.95 for such political platitudes?

All became clear when Education Secretary Charles Clarke admitted in a parliamentary question that his department had been responsible for 750 of the purchases. Although HM Stationery Office, the report's publishers, kindly gave the DfES a discount when the cost of typesetting and design (pound;42,346) is added to the purchase costs it takes total DfES spending on its own report to almost pound;60,000, or pound;80 per copy.

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