HC Deb 20 July 1970 vol 804 cc29-30
48. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to make a decision on the number of staff employed in the Foreign Office and their overseas departments, and in the expenditure incurred by the Foreign Office.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The numbers of staff employed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and in Missions abroad, and the related expenditure must depend on the results of the review of tasks begun under the previous Administration in the light of the Duncan Report. This process will continue.

Mr. Lewis

Is that not a strange reply, because the Foreign Secretary knew this before he made his promise during the General Election to cut the costs of public administration and the number of civil servants? Cannot he give some idea of how many staff he will cut down and how much money he will save in the Foreign Office? Since the electorate was expecting action on this, must they now be disappointed?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Not yet, Sir, is the answer. We have not made the review. But, if the hon. Gentleman is interested, may I say that since 1964–65 there have been reductions of over 8 per cent. in staff covering functions now carried out by the Diplomatic Service.