HL Deb 22 March 2001 vol 623 cc173-4WA
Lord Acton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any new diplomatic posts have been opened over the past four years; and whether there are plans to open new diplomatic posts overseas. [HL1344]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

See below.

Since 1997, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has opened the following posts to support the delivery of the foreign policy objectives my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary set out on coming to office.

Posts with resident UK-based staff
Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina) (1997) British Embassy Office
Chongqing (China) (2000) Consulate General
Denver (USA) (2000) Consulate
Dilj (East Timor) (2000) British Office
Gothenburg (Sweden) (2000) Consulate General
Pristina (Kosovo FRY) British Office

In addition, the British Trade Office in Hong Kong became a Consulate General in 1997.

Posts with resident locally engaged staff only
Lome (Togo) (1998) Consulate
Calgary (Canada) (1999) British Trade Office
Fukuoka (Japan) (1999) Consulate
Ahmedabad (India) (2000) British Trade Offices
Bamako (Mali) (2000) Consulate
Bhopal (India) (2000) British Trade Office
Conakry (Guinea) (2000) Consulate
Goa (India) (2000) British Trade Office
Hyderabad (India) (2000) British Trade Office
Port-au-Prince (Haiti) (2000) Consular Office
Pune (India) (2000) British Trade Office

In addition, the following posts have been upgraded from ones with only locally engaged staff to ones with resident UK-based staff:

Bangalore (India) (1999) British Trade Office
Nagoya (Japan) (1999) Consulate
Monterrey (Mexico) (2000) Consulate

As a direct result of the additional resources secured in the spending review last year, we are able to announce that we shall open three new embassies with resident UK-based staff in capital cities in the near future:

Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)

Chisinau (Moldova)

Pyongyang (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)

In addition, we shall upgrade the posts in Bamako (Mali) and Asmara (Eritrea) to UK-staffed posts from the LE posts currently open; and upgrade the post in Lahore (Pakistan) to an entry clearance operation from a British trade office. Pakistan is a country where we are already well represented but Lahore is a city where we now need a stronger presence.

Upgrading the post in Bamako will allow HMG to engage further with the Malian Government and to continue with our efforts to secure peace and stability within West Africa.

Upgrading the post in Asmara will be a cost-effective means of engaging more effectively with the Eritrean Government, promoting growing trade opportunities for British business and providing improved consular and visa services.

Opening in Bishkek will allow HMG to build up a strong bilateral relationship with the Kyrgyz Government and better to promote stability in the strategically important region.

In Chisinau, an Embassy will allow HMG to work with the Moldovan Government and keep a close watch on the Transdniestria conflict.

In December my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Opening an embassy in Pyongyang will allow HMG to engage fully with the DPRK, improving our capacity to analyse political, economic and social developments and to help support recent positive developments in inter-Korean relations.

These new post openings mean that, net of closures, we shall since 1997 have expanded our diplomatic network of posts with resident UK-based staff by 12, in addition to having new locally-staffed offices in a further 10 cities (net of closure, seven) This strengthening of our global network will enable us better to promote UK interests and a strong world community.