Tony Blair was accused of using taxpayers' money to try to improve his image after it emerged the number of Government press officers has tripled under Labour.
More than 3,200 press officers are now paid from the public purse across Whitehall and various quangos.
And the Central Office of Information, the Govern-ment's official public relations department, now has a budget of #322 million - almost three times what it spent in 1997, when Labour came to power.
There are even three press officers dedicated to managing publicity for John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, who has been stripped of departmental responsibilities.
Conservatives accused the Government of wasting public money on "the wages of spin".
But Ministers said the extra spending was a result of the increase in media outlets, including the increasing popularity of 24-hour news channels and websites.
The figures were revealed by Ministers in response to questioning by West Midland MP Caroline Spelman (Con Meriden), the Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government.
The Government now employs 3,259 press officers, including 1,815 in Whitehall departments and 1,444 in quangos ranging from the Health and Safety Executive to the Big Lottery Fund.
The Ministry of Defence has 229 spin doctors, while the Department for Work & Pensions has 181 and the Home Office has 145.
Mrs Spelman said: "This began when I tried to find out how many press officers had been employed to try to improve John Prescott's image."
"The reason they have spent so much on PR is because they have had so many PR disasters. It is a bit of a cheek to ask taxpayers to stump up for the cost of dealing with bad publicity."
But Cabinet Office Minister Pat McFadden (Lab Wolver-hampton South East) said the figures included staff working in communications departments who were not actually press officers.
However, he refused to give a figure for the number of press officers employed, saying only that it was "a fraction" of the 1,800 claimed by the Conservatives.