38. Mr. BECKETT
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether premises used as Consulates are chosen and paid for by his Department directly or whether an allowance is paid for rent of premises; whether, in the latter case, any steps are taken to see that the most adequate and dignified premises for the money available are secured; and whether the allowance paid is regulated by the cost of the premises secured?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)
Salaried consular officers are granted office allowances by the Foreign Office covering the expenses of running their posts. These allowances include provision for the actual amount expended on the rent of the consular premises, except at certain posts where there are Government-owned premises. The premises are selected by the officers themselves in consultation with the Foreign Office, and every effort is made to see that the most suitable premises available at a reasonable rent are secured.
Will the Under-Secretary answer the last sentence of the question: 1109 whether the allowance paid is regulated by the cost of the premises secured?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, wherever these trade Consulates are, it is almost safe to say that they are in the shabbiest and meanest buildings, and that very often the British Consulate has a room in some shipping office?
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
In view of the hon. Member's question, I have made very careful inquiries, and I do not think there is any evidence that he is correct in his statement. If he has any specific information, I should be glad to receive it and I will look into it.