§ Ms. Richardson
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has implemented to ensure that recruitment and promotion policy in his Department does not directly or indirectly discriminate against applicants who were mature students or women returning to work following a career break due to child care.715W
§ Mrs. Chalker
Within both the mainstream diplomatic and aid wings, upper age limits on recruitment have been raised wherever possible. In the Home Civil Service cadre, the upper age limit for entry into most grades is now 55 years.
Entry competitions to both wings are open to any eligible applicants with the required qualifications, including those gained as mature students.
Promotion in the diplomatic service is determined by assessment of performance in a variety of jobs both at home and overseas. Seniority is not affected by career breaks. In the aid wing, staff attend a promotion board whose members are given guidance on equal opportunities policy.
Arrangements exist in both wings to allow for the reinstatement of officers who resign but later wish to resume their careers. A flexible approach is adopted to requests for special unpaid leave for domestic reasons.