Memorandum by the Foreign and Commonwealth
Thank you for your letter of 16 February. Your interest
in alternative approaches to public consultation is timely in
view of our targets for electronic government.
The FCO policy-making process is less directly
linked to the UK citizen than it would naturally be in government
departments dealing with domestic policy. It has not therefore
undertaken any of the approaches to public consultation you describe
in the period since 1997.
But there are a number of ways in which we reach
out to the public and seek feedback. FCO departments have always
kept closely in touch with relevant specialist organisations and
their views are sought in traditional ways.
In April 1998, I set up Panel 2000, a 32 member
public/private sector committee tasked with looking at all aspects
of the international projection of the UK. It invited contributions
from a wide range of organisations and issued a Consultation Document
in September 1998 which was circulated widely. After further feedback,
the Panel 2000 recommendations are now being implemented. They
include the use of British Embassies as showcases, and rolling
programmes of major events abroad.
In recent years, the FCO has sought to project
itself in Britain as well as overseas. It has held a number of
Open Days to which MP's, students and community groups have been
invited. Feedback from attendees has been very positive. This
year, the FCO is participating in the "Millennium String
of Pearls" festival; a number of Open Days will be held between
May and October on different themes. They will be for the general
public, who will be encouraged to seek further information on
specific subjects and to contribute their views.
The award-winning FCO website has a feedback
form enabling on-line comment on any subject to be sent back to
us. Customers can also register their areas of interest and be
sent automatic updates on relevant subjects. Recruitment information
has been placed on the website; we also run successful work attachment
I am conscious that our FCO experience may not
be entirely relevant to your main areas of interest. Nevertheless,
I hope the above is helpful. Do come back to us if you need further