HC Deb 07 April 1998 vol 310 cc147-8
8. Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)

If he will issue guidance to ambassadors to promote the creative talent of Britain. [36538]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

Our ambassadors already promote Britain' s creative talent as part of their general role in export promotion and public diplomacy, but we have nevertheless been examining closely what more we can do. Bodies such as Panel 2000, the creative industries task force, and the creative industries export promotion advisory group bring together the public and private sectors to work out a strategy for developing the export potential of the creative industries. Our missions abroad will have an integral part to play in implementing that strategy.

Siobhain McDonagh

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he assure the House that the effective change that the Government made will be communicated to all our ambassadors overseas?

Mr. Fatchett

Our ambassadors are keen to play a full part. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet our ambassador in Lisbon, who is responsible for the Expo there later this year. The whole House will be delighted by the preparations made for the British involvement in that Expo, and a great deal of credit must go to our ambassador and his team.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley (South-West Surrey)

Will the Minister ensure that he commends the activities of the British Council, the traditional role of which has been to ensure that both contemporary and traditional Britain is better valued and respected around the world, not only through its English language and educational scholarships, but through the promotion of creativity, culture and British values?

Mr. Fatchett

I am delighted to join the right hon. Lady in singing the praises of the British Council. I have always been impressed by its work, which I have seen in many parts of the world. I hope that it can build on the secure foundations that this Government are offering it, unlike the previous Government, whose cuts in the British Council budget made it difficult for it to plan ahead.

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