Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from
the Head, Parliamentary Relations Team, Foreign and Commonwealth
At the Foreign Affairs Committee's 8 September
evidence session with the Foreign Secretary and Simon Fraser on
"Developments in UK Foreign policy", there was an exchange
with Sir Menzies Campbell on staffing in the US.
Sir Menzies referred to savings made in the
FCO's US Network, saying that locally, engaged staff had been
forced to work "a week for nothing". Sir Menzies went
on to say that this was an embarrassment to the Ambassador personally
and that it ill-served our reputation in Washington.
This is inaccurate. As the Foreign Secretary
said earlier in the session, locally engaged staff in the US were
asked to take a week of unpaid leave, not to work without pay.
This was part of a wider set of measures in response to extreme
financial pressures last Financial Year in the US Network, due
to the sterling's fall in value against the dollar and the loss
of the Overseas Pricing Mechanism (OPM).
The Ambassador is of course sorry that such
measures were necessary; but they were in line with local US employment
practice and did not represent an embarrassment to him personally.
Nor did they affect the Embassy's wider reputation in Washington
DC. We remain grateful to our local staff in the US Network for
their continued commitment and professionalism during these financially
22 September 2010