HC Deb 22 May 1985 vol 79 cc1005-6
17. Mr. Thurnham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the latest estimates for numbers employed in his Department during 1985–86.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The average estimated provision for staff employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including the Overseas Development Administration, in 1985–86 is 9,885.

Mr. Thurnham

Does my right hon. and learned Friend expect to make any further reductions beyond those projected in the Government's expenditure plans for the next three years?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

No, Sir. Staffing levels in my Department have already been substantially cut. Since 1969, the diplomatic staff has been cut by more than 17 per cent., and the overall reduction since 1979 is over 14 per cent. We are working towards the manpower targets for 1988 that are set out in the Command Paper to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Dalyell

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied with the human and industrial relations between his Department and the staff of GCHQ Cheltenham? Specifically, will he look in detail at the case of the distinguished cryptoanalyst, Mr. Hamilton, who is no longer working in Cheltenham?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

If I am asked a question about that specifically, I shall try to answer it.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there are already too few diplomats, especially diplomats of the second grade—implying that the posts are too small—and that ambassadors have to spend most of their time cleaning cars and doing washing up, which is not efficacious for diplomacy?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's graphic illustration of the effectiveness of our economy campaigns, which need to be maintained, but within the bounds of reason.