§ 3. Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he has taken to reorganise the Foreign Service since the publication of the Duncan Report; and if he will make a statement.
§ Lord Balniel
Adjustments have been made in the scale and disposition of our overseas representation. This has contributed towards an 8 per cent. reduction in the size of the diplomatic service. The report did not propose a reorganisation but provided a set of guidelines for the more effective deployment and management of the service.
§ Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler
I thank my right hon Friend for that reply. Since he recognises the increasing importance of economic factors in foreign policy decisions, is he satisfied with the organisation of the export Department, does he consider that his Department has adequate statistics on economic matters, and will he publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT a 470 chart showing how liaison on economic affairs is maintained between his Department and the Department of Trade and Industry?
§ Lord Balniel
The Government fully accept the conclusion of the Duncan and Plowden Committees that commercial work should be a first charge on the diplomatic service, and about 30 per cent. of the diplomatic service staff overseas are engaged on this work. The provision of statistics on economic affairs is certainly an important part of the work of our commercial attachées overseas. They have to make their own assessments and I have no reason to believe that the statistics available to use are inadequate. As to my hon. Friend's suggestion of a chart, there is, of course, constant liaison between the Foreign Office and the DTI, but perhaps I could explain it to him in detail.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts
Will the Minister consider publishing a progress report on the extent to which the main recommendations of these two reports have been implemented by his Department, particularly in this vital field of strengthening commercial and economic representation on post, so that we get more detail than is possible in an exchange of questions and answers across the Floor of the House?
§ Lord Balniel
I shall certainly consider the right hon. Gentleman's point. Perhaps we may discuss it to see how we can most effectively make information available to the House.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Is the Minister able to divulge the reactions and the feelings in our high commissions overseas about the Duncan Report? From per sonal experience, I have found shivers of dismay at the terms and the findings, and what has been happening following the Duncan Report.
If the hon. Gentleman will give me specific examples of these shivers of dismay, I can make inquiries about them. I know that parts of the report are not enthusiastically welcomed and I shall certainly consider them. Perhaps, again we can discuss this matter together.