HC Deb 26 May 1892 vol 4 cc1886-7
MR. LEVESON-GOWER (Stoke-upon-Trent)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been drawn to the speech delivered by Lord Dufferin at the annual dinner of the British Chamber of Commerce in Paris, wherein His Excellency is reported to have said— In modern times a very proper prominence is given in entrance examinations to political and economic subjects. Every year the Secretaries of all our Embassies are required to produce an elaborate Commercial Report, a duty which, as I have been able to judge, is carried out with zeal and diligence. Every week in Foreign Embassies our attention is drawn by the Foreign Office to questions affecting English trade with other countries"; and whether, in view of this statement by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris, the Government will consider the desirability of re-introducing Political Economy — which they have expunged from the list of compulsory subjects—as one of the necessary subjects for the entrance examination for the Diplomatic Service, so as to ensure that members of the Diplomatic Service, whether at home or abroad, may be acquainted with at least the rudiments of that science?


Lord Dufferin appears to have overlooked the change which has recently been made in the subjects of examination. They were adopted after very careful consideration as those best calculated to test the real qualifications of the candidates, and to afford as little room as possible for "cramming." There do not appear to be any sufficient reasons for making further change, but consideration will be given to the best means of encouraging the members of the Diplomatic Service to study such branches of Political Economy as would assist them in the preparation of their Commercial Reports.


Might it not be arranged that the examination in Political Economy should be placed on the same basis as the examination in International Law?


Yes, I think that would be a very desirable way of meeting the views of the hon. Gentleman and of many others who take an interest in this matter. It will require some careful consideration before it can be finally settled, and probably the Treasury will have to be consulted with regard to it; but it is in that direction the opportunity for examination will be afforded.