HC Deb 28 November 1973 vol 865 cc394-5
41. Mr. Guy Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will establish and maintain a register within his Department of contract and specialist personnel who have worked abroad under its auspices.

Lord Balniel

The Overseas Development Administration is studying the possibility of establishing a central personnel register on a computer.

Mr. Barnett

Is the Minister aware that this is not before time? Is he aware of the enormous fund of experience and expertise that this country now has at its disposal as a result of the many contract personnel and experts that we have sent to developing countries? Will he see that this has a top priority, in view of the great value of these people in our education system and within other spheres? Will this register, once established, be available to local education authorities and other bodies that need the information it may be able to provide.

Lord Balniel

The hon. Member will welcome the fact that we are studying the possibility of placing this information on the computer. Of course, the ODA appointments officers keep records of people interested in serving abroad under different disciplines, and the establishment of the register on a computer will certainly make the whole system more efficient and effective.

Mr. Haselhurst

Will my right hon. Friend say whether this will in any way help to ensure that qualified and experienced people can be sent to the more inaccessible territories, to which, in the ordinary course of events, they might not be directed.

Lord Balniel

We are at the moment studying the possibility of establishing such a register and it would make the whole system more effective in getting experienced people to places where their help will be most effective.

Mr. Pavitt

Will it be possible to use the register to ensure that people who go abroad on two-year contracts can return to the kind of specialty they had before they left, thus avoiding the problem of those returning finding that they have lost their place on the promotion ladder in this country?

Lord Balniel

The hon. Member raises a valid point and we shall look into it to see whether the register which may be established can assist in this way.

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