Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
Question 1: In 1998-99, The Committee
recommended the inclusion of a cost-benefit analysis in each year's
FCO Annual Report. Is it the FCO's view that the analytical tables
in the appendices provide such an analysis? How can the Committee
discover, for example, the return in terms of export earnings
on investment in commercial staff at Posts abroad?
The 2001 Departmental Report sets out costs,
and the benefits they buy. The tables in the annexes mainly cover
costs. Inevitably, some outputs (eg deterrence, conflict prevention,
information gathering, policy formulation) are not numerically
quantifiable: their costs are shared across the FCO's network.
But the Report for the first time includes, at the start of each
chapter, a table showing expenditure by Objective (the Objectives
are listed on page 20); and the links between costs and benefits
are brought out as clearly as possible. For example, the costs
of Invest UK (Table 9 on page 43), can be compared with the results
listed on page 40 and the specific successes noted at Figures
1 and 2 on pages 41 and 42. The work of commercial staff abroad
is part of BTI's integrated trade and investment support, delivered
increasingly through the Internet. Following the 1999 Review of
Export Promotion, more attention is being devoted to the development
of the UK's exporting base and the exporting skills of UK companies
(for further background see BTI's recently published Expenditure
Plans Report: Cm 5123). BTI's new performance monitoring arrangements
will, over time, enable it to assess more precisely the impact
of its programmes, and hence the targeting of its resources to
maximise benefit to business.
Question 2: What are the internal FCO
procedures for the creation of a) new positions in existing Posts
overseas and b) new Posts? Who originates these proposals and
how; who considers them and by what process; and who decides and
how? Is there Treasury involvement at any of these stages?
Proposals for new positions in existing posts
come from the posts themselves (and from business): proposals
for new posts come from a wide range of sources: Ministers, business,
foreign governments, existing posts and, of course, the Committee.
The procedure entails sponsorship by the relevant Command, support
by the Board of Management, and the approval of Ministers. HM
Treasury are not directly involved. Each case is different; but
all involve judgements about priorities for resource allocation,
taking account of the need for dialogue with the foreign government
concerned or changes in its political relationship with the UK;
economic changes, increasing or decreasing business opportunities
for UK firms; changes in demand for entry clearance services;
the relative effectiveness of coverage on the spot or from a nearby
country; costs; and security.
Question 3: The Committee wishes to receive
a classified paper updating it on measures taken to improve security
of those serving at overseas posts, and on the progress of inquiries
into the death of Brigadier Saunders. The Committee may wish to
pursue any matters arising from this paper in a private session
at the end of proceedings on 24 April
Question 4: In a letter to my predecessor
dated 21 December 2000, Sherard Cowper-Coles informed the Committee
that the text of the BTI/DTI/FCO Memorandum of Understanding was
being considered by the Treasury and by the NAO. May the Committee
have copies of any reports produced by HM Treasury or the NAO
as part of their consideration of the Memorandum?
HM Treasury have confirmed that they are content
with the Memorandum of Understanding. The National Audit Office
are still considering it. BTI, DTI and the FCO are now operating,
on an interim basis, in accordance with it.
Question 5: The Committee welcomes the
inclusion in the FCO Annual Report of a table summarising progress
on the 60 Measures for Change. In the comments on Measure No 30
it is stated that the current plan is for contract signature for
a new management information system to take place in "Autumn
2000". Should this read "Autumn 2001"? What is
the proposed timetable for full implementation of this system?
The Committee are correct: the text on measure
30 in Appendix J should have read "autumn 2001".
The new integrated global Management Information
System will deliver real time management information using the
new IT infrastructure: the benefits will come on stream over the
2 years following contract signature.
Question 6: What progress has been made
on recruitment into senior positions of people from the commercial
sector? The Committee particularly wishes to know:
in which FCO posts abroad such people
are now serving?
at what level and in what capacity
they are serving?
what assessment has been made of
the success of the policy of such recruitment?
Staff recruited (or seconded) from the commercial
sector are now serving as Consul General and Director of Trade
Promotion for Canada in Toronto; as Economic Consul in Frankfurt;
as Head of Commercial Section in Ankara; as First Secretary Commercial
in Osaka and in Hong Kong, and as First Secretary External Affairs
in Washington. The next Director of Trade Promotion in South Africa
and Consul General in Johannesburg comes from Shell via the DTI.
In London, the Chief Executive of FCO Services; the Chief Economic
Adviser; and the Deputy Head of the IT Strategy Unit were also
recruited by open competition; as was the Barbados-based Regional
Financial Services Adviser, the Head of the Policy Planning Staff
came from Oxfam; the Africa Conflict Adviser from the BBC; and
secondees from the private sector are working in Management Consultancy
Services (PWC), IT Strategy Unit (KPMG), Environment Policy Department
(British Airways) and South Asia Department (Standard Chartered
Bank). British Trade International, through the DTI, has also
undertaken two open recruitment competitions in the last year
for posts in the UK: the new Chief Executive of Invest UK was
recruited from the private sector, as were six new International
Trade Directors for the Trade Partners UK English regional operation.
BTI also benefits from the private sector expertise
of inward secondees from business and industry. Over 100 executives
have contributed to the trade and investment promotion effort
over the last year, most of them as Export Promoters, working
alongside Trade Partners UK Headquarters teams. The Invest UK
operation has also benefited from 6 inward secondments, mostly
to their North American operation, over the past year. In the
same period, a further 10 executives have worked at Embassies
and High Commissions overseas under our Short Term Business Attachment
Scheme on, eg, oil and gas in Angola, Venezuela and Brazil, multimedia
opportunities in Hong Kong, and infrastructure and construction
opportunities in Bangkok Airport.
Open competitions to recruit senior staff with
commercial sector experience and other specific skills (eg in
IT, financial management), bringing in twenty five officers at
senior middle management level, are further strengthening the
Diplomatic Service cadre.
In addition, we have sought secondments to,
as well as from, the private sector. Many current senior Heads
of Mission have benefited from such secondments, eg to British
Gas, SmithKlineBeecham, SCB, BP, Accenture, Unilever, BAE Systems
and BP Amoco.
We are convinced that these initiatives have
much improved the service we provide to UK companies. All our
posts are now aware that the first customer for their political,
economic and market expertise is British business.
Question 7: What is the latest position
with regard to the prospects for peace in Sierra Leone? Are recent
reports that rebels groups are preparing to participate in elections
accurate? Is the UN as a whole in Sierra Leone operating as effectively
as the British contingent?
The ceasefire signed in Abuja on 10 November,
initially for 30 days, appears to be holding. UNAMSIL has begun
pushing east from Freetown into rebel-held areas, allowing the
Government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) to extend its authority: it
intends to hold elections as soon as the security situation permits.
But much of the country remains under rebel
control. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which undermined
all previous peace agreements, has not yet laid down its arms
and allowed UN and GOSL access to all parts of the country, as
it is required to do under the terms of the Abuja ceasefire. President
Taylor's regime in Liberia continues to support the RUF and to
promote conflict in neighbouring Guinea. The United Kingdom co-sponsored
UN Security Council Resolution 1343, adopted on 7 March, which
will impose sanctions on Liberia from 7 May if Liberia fails to
demonstrate that it has ceased, inter alia, to provide support
to the RUF.
The RUF have yet to take the necessary steps
to register themselves as a political party. Documents on electoral
plans have been passed to RUF representatives, but rebel groups
cannot participate in elections unless they first disarm and demobilise.
The UN and the United Kingdom share common objectives,
and undertake complementary actions, in Sierra Leone. Co-ordination
between UNAMSIL, UK Forces and other UK personnel is good, and
continues to improve. We have provided 8 headquarters staff to
UNAMSIL, including the Chief of Staff, and 15 military observers.
On 30 March the Security Council passed a resolution increasing
the mandated strength of UNAMSIL to 17,500 troops and authorising
a new four phase concept of operations. The increase will enhance
the mission's capacity and effectiveness. UNAMSIL is bringing
itself up to full strength, with the Bangladeshi contingent nearly
complete, and the Pakistani contingent expected to deploy soon,
and to be fully in place by July.
Question 8: What is the latest position
with regard to the Cyprus proximity talks?
The fifth and most recent round of UN settlement
talks took place in Geneva from 1-10 November. On 8 November the
Secretary General made a statement to the parties setting out
the UN's comprehensive approach to a settlement. This statement
was made on the basis of "oral remarks" and the parties
were asked not to disclose details. Mr Denktash, supported by
the Turkish government, subsequently announced publicly that so
far as he was concerned the proximity talks were over, but that
he would continue to co-operate with the UNSG's Good Offices Mission.
We see no justification for Mr Denktash's withdrawal, and strongly
support the UN Secretary General's efforts to resume the process.
The UK Special Representative in Cyprus, Sir David Hannay, continues
to remain in close contact with all the parties, including the
US and UN.
Question 9: What has been the FCO's involvement
in drawing up the EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement with
Macedonia? Are there any plans for further such agreements with
countries in the Balkans?
The UK has championed the Stabilisation and
Association process to give the countries of the Western Balkans
a perspective of eventual membership of the European Union. During
the negotiation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement
(SAA) with Macedonia the FCO played an active role, encouraging
the Macedonian government and supporting the Commission and Presidency.
Other countries are following: Croatia is already
in negotiations and should sign an SAA later this year. We are
encouraging the Commission to support the efforts of other countries
in the region (Albania, Bosnia and FRY) to meet the conditions
necessary to negotiate an SAA. The Commission's High Level SAA
Steering Group for Albania will report by the end of the Swedish
Presidency on its work to help Albania ready itself for negotiations.
Question 10: What have been the consequences
for UK/China relations of the ongoing dispute between the United
States and China concerning the so-called spy plane affair?
We are pleased that the US aircrew have now
gone home, and that the US and China are working for a full resolution
of the incident. There has been no impact on UK/China relations.
20 April 2001