HL Deb 26 March 1998 vol 587 cc254-5WA
Lord Dholakia

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it remains their intention to appoint individuals to diplomatic postings from outside the ranks of the career civil service; and whether any such appointments have yet been made. [HL1050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, on 19 January (H.L. deb, col. 1246ߝ1248). In many cases professional and linguistic expertise is required for ambassadorial posts and the Foreign Secretary and I have been impressed by the calibre of DS officers of ambassadorial and equivalent rank. If an individual from outside the FCO, who had served the nation with distinction, had the right personal qualifications and experience to do the job, we would certainly want to consider inviting him or her to serve as an ambassador in one of our major embassies. No appointments have yet been made at this level.

However, through the short-term business attachment scheme we have seconded 10 business people to increase the number of commercial posts at first secretary level overseas; we have eight private sector full-term appointments in a range of jobs and grades from second secretary to counsellor at home and overseas; six private sector appointments to locally engaged jobs overseas; and seven secondments from other foreign ministries.

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