HC Deb 10 March 1976 vol 907 cc418-9
38. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will investigate in consultation with the other EEC member States the possibility of establishing a single Embassy/High Commission to represent the European Community in developing countries.

Mr. Ennals

I recognise that this possibility has attracted some attention. It is a question on which we hope to receive the views of the CPRS team, led by Sir Kenneth Berrill, which is currently studying the whole field of our representation overseas.

Mr. Arnold

In the course of its investigations of the Diplomatic Service, should not the Central Policy Review Staff undertake a feasibility study which would bear in mind the possibility of setting up a specific experiment?

Mr. Ennals

I shall bring that question to the attention of Sir Kenneth Berrill. It is worth considering. There are advantages and disadvantages. For example, we are often in trading competition when we seek to promote the interests of our own exporters.

Sir Bernard Braine

Bearing in mind the special rôle of the British aid programme in developing Commonwealth countries and its qualitative performance, will the right hon. Gentleman resist any suggestion of this kind until there is greater co-ordination between donors? Otherwise there will be a great risk of damaging the programme of aid that Britain offers to developing countries.

Mr. Ennals

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said. It is true that the proposal, which is certainly worth examining, would be a long way off. In those cases where we have a significant aid programme it is most important that it should be effectively administered. That is one of the considerations that we shall have very much in mind in any changes or recommendations that may flow from the CPRS review.