HC Deb 27 July 1964 vol 699 cc971-2
2. Mr. A. Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish in HANSARD a table of figures giving the quarterly percentage rise and fall in the costs of administering the Foreign Services, taking January, 1952, as 100.

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

No, Sir. The separation of administrative costs from the other costs of the Foreign Service would be unduly expensive of time and effort. Moreover, any comparison of costs would be misleading in view of the changes in the load and organisation of the Foreign Service since 1952.

Mr. Lewis

Will the hon. Gentleman try to give some information without going to too much cost or trouble? I am anxious to find to what extent the Foreign Office has saved money since the Government came to power, because this was one of the promises that they made during the last election. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I should like to put to my constituents during the election period either proof that the Government have kept their promise or, as I suspect, proof that this is another broken promise?

Mr. Mathew

The hon. Member will remember that I told him on 13th April that, apart from anything else, we have entered into diplomatic relations with no fewer than 22 additional countries since 1952 and the increase in staff in the Foreign Office has been only 39. I think that this is no mean achievement for a public Department.

Mr. Mayhew

Can the hon. Gentleman say what specific administrative economies have been carried out following the Plowden Report on Representational Services Overseas? In particular, have the Government accepted the recommendation that heads of missions should report annually on the work of their missions?

Mr. Mathew

Close attention is being paid to that part of the Plowden Report and every effort will be made to make every possible economy.