Developments in UK Foreign Policy

UKFP 02: Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from the Head, Parliamentary Relations Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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 uncertain times.

22 September 2010