Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100 - 103)



Mr Illsley

  100. Which areas have lost out in the churn? What do you now consider to be lower priority as opposed to higher priority?
  (Mr Green) One of the key changes was in Western and Southern Europe where we reduced our coverage, particularly in Germany. We managed to reduce our coverage without reducing our impact though because of electronic services and we were having far too much tied up in infrastructure costs in those different city locations. Having taken them out we are now able to spend more on programme activity than we were previously. The key shift was from Western and Southern Europe more to Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
  (Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws) We have also had a rethink in some of the places in Latin America where we do think that the United States has such an impact, for example, in teaching English and so on where we really cannot compete at all. We have had to rethink our presence in some of those areas and that has obviously been met with a great deal of unhappiness from people who feel very strongly that it is important that we have a British presence.

  101. You have churned some 5.8 million from some overseas directorates which is going to be redeployed. You mentioned you have moved out of some areas in the last year, are there likely to be any future closures of overseas directorates as a consequence of that particular 5.8 million?
  (Mr Green) We constantly have to make sure that our priorities are the right ones. For instance, we would like to be in Afghanistan as soon as it is possible for security reasons to get in there and open up our own operation there. We are constantly having to relook and make sure that we realign our priorities. Most of the significant changes and reductions have already happened.

  102. The last time you appeared before us your staff restructuring was under way. Has that been successful or is that still continuing?
  (Mr Green) It is still continuing but I think it is working well. We have allocated three per cent of payroll costs to staff over to training because it does involve a lot of retraining and development and we want to try to keep as many staff as possible. There will be some reductions in staff numbers but we want to do it by retraining and upskilling the staff rather than shedding them and getting new ones.


  103. When the Committee does travel we make it a point of honour whenever possible to visit the Council offices and we have had a very happy relationship with the Council and I hope that will continue. Thank you and your colleagues very much indeed.
  (Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws) Thank you very much for receiving us. I am pleased that we had this intense connection with a small group of you but I am sorry some of your other colleagues could not be here because it is always nice to—

  Chairman: Nonetheless it has been very valuable. Thank you.

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