HC Deb 09 March 1922 vol 151 cc1509-10W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is receiving representations on the improvement of the Consular Service, both as regards the employment of first-class men and their adequate payment; and whether the Foreign Office has considered the desirability of suggesting to British merchants abroad, particularly those in China who are practically free from taxation of any sort, that they might usefully make a contribution towards raising the standard of the Consular Service in their country?


A resolution has recently been received from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce urging a still further improvement in the Consular Service. It will not be possible, however, in the present state of the national finances to incur additional expenditure on the Consular Service. Entry into the Consular Service is by Civil Service examination preceded by an interview before a board on which business interests are represented. Successful candidates go through a course of instruction, including economics, before proceeding abroad. I am afraid that there are serious practical difficulties in the way of any system whereby British communities abroad should contribute towards the maintenance of British Consular establishments, otherwise than by the payment of the prescribed fees.