HC Deb 13 January 1997 vol 288 cc32-3W
Mr. Milburn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the actions his Department has taken on each of the recommendations contained in the Cabinet Office report on the Government's use of external consultants. [10163]

Mr. Hanley

Following the efficiency scrutiny on the Government's use of external consultants, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Overseas Development Administration produced action plans which were agreed with Ministers and submitted to the efficiency unit. Both Departments produced guidelines to cover all the points made in the report. The revised guidelines, in the form of office instructions, were brought to the attention of all staff to whom they were relevant.

In addition to revising their guidelines, the FCO and ODA have also tightened up their procedures on the use of consultants. Last year, it was agreed that consultancies for internal purposes costing more than £50,000 should be authorised by Ministers.

The great majority of ODA expenditure on consultants is undertaken at the request of, and for the benefit of, overseas Governments and institutions; where relevant to this type of activity, the scrutiny recommendations have been implemented in full.