HC Deb 23 October 1940 vol 365 cc1021-2
1. Mr. Mander

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to secure that, in future, the Foreign Office shall be open to all classes of the community?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension if he assumes that candidates for the Foreign Office and Diplomatic Service are now restricted to any particular classes of the community. For the past 18 years entrance into this Service has been by open competitive examination held by the Civil Service Commissioners and equivalent to that for similar grades of the Civil Service as a whole.

Mr. Mander

But did not the Minister of Labour say the other day that there was very close liaison now between the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Labour with a view to introducing a different type of citizen into the work of the Foreign Office in future? Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to elucidate that statement?

Mr. Butler

I always think that statements made by my colleagues in the Government should be elucidated by themselves, but I would say that we welcome any association with the Ministry of Labour. Having been in the Ministry of Labour myself, I know what experience they have of foreign relations, and the closer communication we have with them the better.

Mr. Mander

In view of the fact that the Minister of Labour made specific reference to the arrangement of his Department with the Foreign Office, surely my right hon. Friend must know something about this arrangement?

Mr. Butler

I have already said that we have close connection with the Ministry of Labour and would welcome any assistance or advice that can be given by the Minister of Labour or his Department, which, owing to their knowledge of foreign relations, is very great and very important.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether there are any proposals under consideration for the modification or modernisation of the entrance examination?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member will be aware that examinations are at present suspended owing to the war, but I have no doubt that, with progress and looking to the future, every opportunity of improving the present system, where it can be improved upon, will he taken.

Mr. De la Bère

Does not the Foreign Office contain too many hereditary principles?