Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180
TUESDAY 16 JULY 2002
JAY KCMG, MR
CMG, MR SIMON
GASS CMG AND
180. I will tell you why: because I have got
an axe to grind. I put down a parliamentary question, and so I
think has Mr Chidgey, to Mr Straw.
You will recall that Mr Straw came here and he told us that his
bedtime reading was The Statesman Year Book, though he
had not got to Andorra fully because he had noticed that that
was a fully independent state in the United Nations, but his second
thing was that he looked at national income extracts of the Overseas
Territories. If you remember, there was the controversy about
whether or not Gib should have been able to provide it. It is
a matter of history. Now they have provided it. This is very interesting.
I asked him to put in the library of the House of Commons the
equivalent accounts or income statistics which he felt Gibraltar
should have applied in relation to all the other Overseas Territories.
That was on 3 July and on 10 July he replied, "I will write
to my Honourable Friend as soon as possible". I put it to
you, Sir Michael, that in fact when they received that question
the blood drained from people's faces because in fact the Overseas
Territories elsewhere than Gibraltar have not supplied those,
have they, not completely? They are not available. If I am wrong,
why are they not in the House of Commons library this afternoon?
(Sir Michael Jay) I will need to look
into that too, Mr Mackinlay. I do not know the answer to those
questions. I will look into them as soon as I get back to the
181. So I can expect by this evening to have
the Overseas Territories' accounts or statistics appropriate and
equivalent to what Jack Straw criticised Gibraltar for not making
available? They will be in the House of Commons library this afternoon,
(Sir Michael Jay) I cannot promise you that.
182. But you will promise me if they are not
you will tell me why, will you not?
(Sir Michael Jay) I promise you that we will be in
back in touch with you this afternoon on these issues.
Sir John Stanley
183. Sir Michael, any response to the Committee,
please, to the Committee Clerk.
(Sir Michael Jay) Indeed.
184. I think that I am almost finished on the
Overseas Territories but I just want for the record to say that
although the question is to a politician it is presumably some
of your folk who advise him on this. Why cannot I get a response
(Sir Michael Jay) I will look into it when I get back
to the office, Mr Mackinlay. I have not myself been following
these particular questions in detail and I will look into it and,
as the Chairman suggested, write to the Committee.
185. I am happy about that but what I do not
want is anybody to think that they have got the safety of the
harbour of the parliamentary recess, because I am telling you:
I want to know the position by the end of the day, bearing in
mind that the reply should have been on 10 July. I would now like
to turn to asset management. Page 136 refers to our flagship embassy
in Berlin. I am correct in saying that this is a PFI, I think,
and certainly there is a little picture, I think, of our Berlin
embassy. I have two questions because I have to say to you that
when I visited it I thought it was a very unattractive building,
although I am not an expert on architecture. In the ambassador's
office you look out of the window and there is a thing which looks
like a water tower which you face. My first question is, who in
hell looks at the design and the science and marketing and says,
"This is a wonderful thing"? What advice do you get
on buildings which are not only expensive but are intended to
be flagship? Secondly, I think I am fair in saying that your predecessors
have boasted in their reports how it is a wonderful place for
holding exhibitions because there is a big area, and your colleague
is nodding, but there is no air conditioning. I found that quite
extraordinary. As I say, personally I found it an unattractive
building but my judgement might be wrong, although I would like
to know who the hell assesses these things. Second, it is quite
extraordinary to me to have this lovely exhibition here and no
air conditioning. What do you say to that?
(Sir Michael Jay) I was there at a time of year when
the absence of air conditioning did not matter.
186. The reverse was true for me.
(Sir Michael Jay) On the question of how a decision
is taken, I think I am right in saying that there is an architectural
competition to design our flagship embassies. There was an architectural
competition to design the embassy in Berlin.
187. Yes, but we are still on architecture.
Who judges the architectural design?
(Mr Collecott) The competition in Berlin was certainly
judged by outside experts from the architectural world. I cannot
remember who it was. In the case of less prominent buildings then
clearly we contract architects to produce designs for us and we
also have quite a cadre of in-house architects who will provide
advice on which architecturally is the best solution or which
of the possible solutions will work architecturally as part of
the feed into the decision which has to be taken internally on
what kind of building to build, but we do have in-house architects.
188. After we have structured and built the
building is that when it goes to the PFI management company, because
there is a management company there, is there not?
(Sir Michael Jay) It is owned by a company. We lease
189. Would the decision on things like the air
conditioning be a matter for us as the commissioning people or
is it for their stewardship?
(Mr Collecott) It would have been part of the original
specification whether or not a particular part of the building
should or should not have air conditioning, so it was our responsibility.
190. Finally, on page 144, it says "Corporate
sponsorship". There is a nice table there, and I do not want
to be disrespectful but it does not tell me the foggiest idea
really what these sponsorships are for. It tells me the value
of them. The Haj delegation, there is a project of £30,000
on that and other sponsors are British Airways and Noon Products.
Consular publicity, I suppose I understand, but what are the conditions
of these sponsorships? What is that Haj delegation and the money
from British Airways?
(Sir Michael Jay) The Haj delegation is a delegation
which goes every year from the Foreign office to help Muslims
from Britain who are making their Haj pilgrimage and the Foreign
Office for the last few years has sent a delegation which consists
of Muslim staff from the Foreign Office, plus some doctors who
give their services voluntarily and led by prominent Muslims,
in order to ensure that they provide the consular help which very
large numbers of British Muslims going to the Haj each year need
and that has been hugely welcomed by the Muslim community here
and it is something which I think is a very good thing.
191. What does British Airways get in return?
(Sir Michael Jay) I do not think they get anything
in particular in return. What they have done is to offer help
with the air fares, as I understand it, to the Haj delegation
and that is what the sponsorship consists of.
192. Are you comfortable with that sort of thing?
(Sir Michael Jay) That would fit into the guidance
that is selling into the wider markets initiative which enables
us, subject to the criteria in the guidelines, to make our budget
go further by getting support from others for certain activities.
193. What was the VIP suite transport, Lexus
GB? What is that?
(Mr Collecott) I do not know. We would have to come
back to you on that on detail. It may well be cars which are provided.
194. You put it in the report. I did not write
(Mr Collecott) I do not know the specifics of that.
Sir John Stanley
195. Sir Michael, we will have a note on that
too. Thank you very much. Last but, I am sure you will agree,
most important of all, your people.
(Sir Michael Jay) Yes.
196. To the Committee on Standards in Public
Life on 6 July, Sir Michael, you said, "We have 15,500 people,
of whom 9,500 are nationals of foreign countries employed abroad,
. . ." You also said, " . . . in order simply to manage
5,500 people in 240 places around the world, we need a degree
of flexibility, a degree of acceptance of a diversity of gender,
. . ." You also said, "So I think there are a number
of forces which are pressing for change in the way in which the
civil service as a whole, and certainly we in the diplomatic service,
manage our people." You have acknowledged that there are
forces pressing for change in the way in which the Diplomatic
Service manages its people. How are you going to respond to these
(Sir Michael Jay) Perhaps I could take
the diversity agenda first. I think it is one of the most important
things we face. We have targets which are set for us for gender
and ethnic diversity which we are working towards. If we take
first of all the gender issues, we have a target, for example,
which we have not quite met although we are not all that far off,
of having 13 per cent of the senior management structure at the
Foreign Office as women by 2002. I think we are at 10.6 per cent
at the moment and we hope to be able to reach the target of 20
per cent in 2005. Those are targets and we meet those targets
by a variety of methods, partly by our recruitment policies but
also by the way in which we are changing some of our management
arrangements, for example, to encourage family friendly policies
in the Foreign Office, more job sharing, flexi-time working. We
have recently opened a nursery in the Foreign Office in order
to encourage women who might otherwise want to stay at home to
continue working either full or part time. There is a very conscious
effort to try to develop the sort of policies which will enable
the women whom we have recruited and whom we have trained and
who might otherwise want to leave us to stay with us so that we
can meet diversity targets. That is something which we are doing
both at home and overseas. Our targets are less than those of
the Cabinet Office as a whole and the Civil Service as a whole
because the global mobility requirement which we have, just the
fact of managing 5,500 people through 240 posts, makes it a lot
more complicated than if everybody was in London. That is what
we are attempting to do in order to increase the number of women
recruited to and staying in the Foreign Office. I myself, and
each member of the Foreign Office board, take certain responsibilities
on him or herself and I have myself responsibility for pushing
forward the gender agenda, if I can put it that way, because I
attach a very great deal of importance to that.
197. Yet you have no people from ethnic minorities
in any senior management post as yet.
(Sir Michael Jay) We have now. We did not when the
annual report was produced. Since then we have got two members
of ethnic minorities who are now members of the senior management
structure, and we are therefore beginning to move in the right
direction. I hope this will improve. I am confident this will
improve over time. The recruitment figures are good in the sense
of the policy level recruitment figures for 2001/2002 and Alan
might like to say what the ethnic minority proportion was.
(Mr Charlton) Yes. We recruit every year about 35
people at the policy entrant level and of the people we have offered
jobs to this year 14 per cent are ethnic minority.
198. That is quite good.
(Sir Michael Jay) I am not satisfied with these figures
yet but we really are determined and committed to working to meet
our targets and to ensuring that the Foreign Office at home and
abroad is a better reflection of the diversity of Britain than
it is at present.
199. Obviously we travel a fair bit and we go
to a number of posts, and I have to say that the staff in those
posts are always excellent. I think we have all been very impressed.
One thing which did impress me was that when we went to Madrid
there was a young woman from an Asian background there, and also
in Ankara; very impressive. Do you think it will be a long time
before we have an ambassador from an ethnic minority background?
(Sir Michael Jay) I hope not. I hope it will certainly
be while I am in this job.
14 Note by witness: The Parliamentary Questions
raised by Andrew Mackinlay and David Chidgey were answered on
16 July (Hansard, vol 388, col. 175w). Back
Ev 82 and Ev 85-86. Back