HC Deb 22 February 1966 vol 725 cc232-3
Q8. Mr. David Steel

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that recent major crises in the Commonwealth have involved British foreign policy as a whole, he will reconsider his earlier decision about the merger of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office into one Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir.

Mr. Steel

Does not the First Secretary think that to implement this proposal would not merely bring us into line with all other Commonwealth countries, but would lead to the more efficient implementation of foreign policy and to considerable savings?

Mr. Brown

I do not think so. At the moment we are making progress in co-ordinating the work of the Departments. We have a unified secretariat. I think that the way it is going is the right sort of pace.

Sir G. de Freitas

Since the two external services are now to be combined into one service, is it not even more important that there should be one Minister here to deal with the relations of the 21 different countries, many very young and all looking to us for guidance?

Mr. Brown

As things are at the moment, yes; we certainly believe that.