1 Introduction |
1. Our remit is to examine the "expenditure,
policy and administration" of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (FCO), and its associated bodies, the British Council and
BBC World Service. This Report builds on our previous inquiry
into FCO Performance and Finances which scrutinised the
effect of the Spending Review 2010 (SR2010) on the FCO and its
associated public bodies, namely the BBC World Service and British
Council. During the later stages of preparing our Report on that
subject, we learned that the World Service proposed shortly to
make an announcement of the specific measures it was taking to
implement the spending reduction imposed by SR2010. These measures
were announced on 26 January 2011, in the form of a Written Ministerial
Statement, with supporting detail provided in an e-mail to Members
of Parliament from Peter Horrocks, Director of the BBC World Service.
We decided to exclude detailed consideration of the World Service
from our Report, to enable us to take further written and oral
evidence on this subject. Our FCO Performance and Finances
Report was published on 11 February 2011, dealing only with
the 'core FCO' and the British Council.
2. On 9 March we took oral evidence on the World
Service cuts from the following witnesses:
- Jeremy Dear, General Secretary,
National Union of Journalists, and Luke Crawley, Deputy General
Secretary, Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre
- Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC World Service,
and Jim Egan, Controller, Strategy and News and Richard Thomas,
Chief Operating Officer, BBC Global News, and
- Mark Thompson, Director General, BBC.
The following week, on 16 March, we took oral evidence
from the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, and the FCO
Permanent Under-Secretary, Mr Simon Fraser, as part of our inquiry
into Developments in UK Foreign Policy. We took that opportunity
to question Mr Hague on the proposed changes to the World Service.
The transcript of that session is printed separately.
We have also received 51 pieces of written evidence. We thank
everyone who has contributed to this short inquiry.
3. The greater part of this Report deals with
the proposed reductions in spending on the World Service over
the Spending Review period, 2010-14. In a final section, we comment
also on the Government's proposal at the end of this period to
transfer responsibility for funding the World Service from the
FCO to the BBC. We recommend that this should not proceed until
satisfactory safeguards are put in place to prevent any risk of
long-term erosion of the World Service's funding and of Parliament's
right to oversee its work.
1 HC Deb, 26 January 2011, col 12WS, and "BBC
World Service cuts outlined to staff", BBC News Online,
26 January 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12283356,
see also Ev 38. Back
Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2010-11, FCO
Performance and Finances, HC 572 Back
Developments in UK Foreign Policy, Transcript of session
of 16 March, HC 881-i Back