§ 57. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will seek to recruit and second more business men into the commercial sections of the Diplomatic Service.
§ Sir Geoffrey Howe
The Diplomatic Service is keen to attract more people with business experience, though our general policy remains to recruit, through the Civil Service Commission, for a varied long-term career, and not for specific posts.
In 1982, we raised the age limit for entry to the administration grades from 28 to 32, with the specific aim of attracting candidates with relevant experience. The age limit for entry to the executive grades is 45. In 1983 we held an additional special competition open to candidates between 32 and 41, which succeeded in recruiting four offices at first secretary level from outside the Civil Service.
The Diplomatic Service also operates a programme of interchange of staff with private industry and commerce. Secondments last for two or three years; at present, 10 Diplomatic Service officers are seconded to British companies, and two posts within the Diplomatic Service are filled by private sector secondees. It is a valuable exchange which we hope to continue and expand.