The Role of the FCO in UK Government - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents


3  Foreign policy leadership

77.  As part of his conception of the role of the FCO, Mr Hague has set out his belief that the department should play more of a leadership role in Government. In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary, in July 2010, he told the FCO that it had "not been encouraged to be ambitious enough in articulating and leading Britain's efforts overseas and foreign policy thinking across Government".[136] In its submission to our inquiry, the FCO said that "demonstrat[ing] FCO leadership" in the new National Security Council (NSC) had been one of the immediate tasks on which the department had been focusing since the change of Government in 2010. The FCO seemed keen to stress that, compared to the Foreign Secretary, "no other Minister holds the lead on more areas" of the 10 identified as priorities in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).[137] Mr Hague told us in September 2010 that he was determined to "place the Foreign Office back at the centre of Government".[138] He has suggested that this would represent a change from the situation he inherited on taking office: he does not regard the FCO as having always led UK foreign policy under the previous Government.

78.  Our witnesses largely agreed with the Foreign Secretary that the FCO had become marginalised within Government. Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations said that "the last 15 years [had] not been kind" to the department.[139] Lord Hennessy said that the FCO had been "somewhat eclipsed in the past few years"; his impression was that UK diplomats felt "quite battered".[140] David Miliband admitted that during the war in Lebanon in 2006 the FCO's "'house view' [...] didn't find expression in the policy of the Government", and that this had been "quite tough" for the department; although he also noted areas where the FCO had shown "real energy and confidence".[141] LSE IDEAS, the Centre for Diplomacy and Strategy at the London School of Economics, told us that "the traditional view of the FCO as a global diplomatic network using its local assets and specialised expertise to drive British foreign policy from the heart of government has been undermined in recent years".[142]

Conditions for FCO leadership

79.  The Foreign Secretary has suggested three ways in which the FCO can play a greater leadership role within Government: by restoring what he regards as a healthier relationship with the Prime Minister; by asserting its role more strongly in relation to other departments; and by developing and deploying the knowledge, experience and expertise of its diplomats.[143]

THE FCO AND THE PRIME MINISTER

80.  Mr Hague told us that "Prime Ministers have often got into the habit of not using the Foreign Office to the extent that it should be used".[144] He did not want to see the FCO "shut out of foreign policy decisions".[145] Under the present Government, Mr Hague argued that:

the planets are in alignment for the Foreign Office in political terms. [...] We have a Prime Minister well disposed to the Foreign Office being at the heart of government. We have a Foreign Secretary dedicated to that task and used to working closely with the Prime Minister to make sure that a wide range of foreign policy advice is listened to.[146]

He told us that "it is a characteristic of this Government that the principal adviser to the Prime Minister on foreign policy is the Foreign Secretary".[147]

81.  Our witnesses largely agreed with Mr Hague that the FCO's role crucially depended on the attitude of the Prime Minister of the day towards the department, and the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. They also felt that the recent period had been one of prime ministerial dominance.[148] However, they noted that historically the personal and political dynamic between Prime Ministers and their Foreign Secretaries had been subject to significant fluctuations, and that it would be too simplistic to see the relationship as a one-way process in which power has only drained inexorably from the FCO to No. 10 Downing Street.[149] Sir Malcolm Rifkind listed Gladstone (1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94), Chamberlain (1937-40), Eden (1955-57) and Blair (1997-2007) as peacetime premiers who had had a dominant foreign policy role, "sometimes at the expense of the authority of their Foreign Secretary".[150] Lord Owen listed the events of 1921-22 (a range of post-Versailles Treaty negotiations), the late 1930s (appeasement) and 1956 (Suez) as instances which showed that "the Blair presidential style is not a totally new problem".[151]

82.  Whilst noting the ups and downs of particular Prime Minister-Foreign Secretary pairings, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, among other witnesses, acknowledged that there had been a longer-term trend for Prime Ministers to play a more prominent international role. This was a consequence of the tendency for previously 'domestic' issues to be handled partly internationally, principally but by no means exclusively within the EU, and in particular through rising numbers of summit-level meetings.[152] Sir Peter Marshall contended that "there is an inevitable element of the presidential about modern government".[153] For example, rather than the previously typical three or four meetings a year, the European Council (of EU Heads of State or Government) met six times each in 2009 and 2010, and as of early March is scheduled to meet seven times in 2011. Meanwhile, the role of foreign ministers in the EU has been eroded: since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in December 2009, they no longer routinely attend European Council meetings.

83.  Mr Hague told us that the FCO's closeness to the Prime Minister matters, because

unless there is a strong Foreign Office in its relationship with the Prime Minister, it is possible for Governments—one might argue that we have seen this at times in the past—to make important international decisions without full use of the expertise that a Foreign Office is meant to muster.[154]

Our witnesses agreed with Mr Hague that, when the FCO does not make its influence felt with No. 10, poorly-grounded foreign policy decisions can be the result. Lord Hennessy described Suez in 1956 and probably the Iraq war decision in 2003 as "aberrations" from collective decision-making.[155] Sir Oliver Miles said that "most of the foreign policy disasters of the last hundred years" had arisen because "the Prime Ministers of the day deliberately bypassed the Foreign Office".[156]

84.  Lord Hennessy suggested that it can be of tangible diplomatic benefit to the FCO and the UK if the FCO is seen abroad to have "clout [...] within the Whitehall hierarchy".[157] Sir Edward Clay wrote similarly that "if our foreign ministry and its servants want to be effective and taken seriously abroad, they and their ministers need to be taken seriously at home, and in Whitehall".[158]

FCO ATTITUDE

85.  In September 2010, Mr Hague told us that on taking office he had been surprised to find that his ambitions for the FCO would require "something of a cultural change" in the department. Mr Hague said that:

the habits of years, or even decades [...] have induced something of a sense of institutional timidity. [...] the Foreign Office has not been as used as I would like it to be to being prepared to lead on all occasions within Government and to say, 'Here are the ideas. This is the expertise. This is the knowledge that is necessary to frame foreign policy. Here we can confidently set out what it is going to be'.[159]

Mr Hague told us that since taking office he had sent a lot of papers back to officials for further work to make them less timid and more assertive with respect to other departments.[160]

FOREIGN POLICY EXPERTISE: THE FCO'S CORE ROLE

86.  The third theme which emerges from the Foreign Secretary's discussions of FCO leadership is the FCO's need to have and to deploy its own foreign policy expertise. This point was made even more strongly in the other evidence we received. Our witnesses stressed the overriding importance of the quality of the information, analysis and judgement generated in the FCO and provided to the Government—and argued that the kind of foreign policy leadership which Mr Hague seeks for the FCO would be neither possible nor desirable without it. David Miliband told us that "the Foreign Office as an institution succeeds or fails by the quality of the work that it is able to provide".[161] Sir Peter Marshall noted similarly that "as long as the members of the Diplomatic Service are masters of their business, they will not be left out in the cold";[162] and Sir Edward Clay also linked the strength of the influence the FCO could exercise in Government to the quality of its understanding and capacities.[163] Sir Oliver Miles told us that in "most of the international crises in which [he] was personally involved [...] the Foreign Office commanded confidence because of its professional understanding of the issues and knowledge of the personalities and history behind the events of the day".[164]

87.  For a large number of our witnesses, providing foreign policy expertise was not simply the means for the FCO to secure a leadership position in Whitehall but was the department's central role for Government—and one which was vital be fulfilled to a high standard. In his account of the FCO, Sir Peter Marshall distinguished between the department's "advisory" and "executive" functions, the former being "what to do" and the latter "how to do it",[165] and a number of witnesses stressed the importance of the advisory function in particular.[166] Lord Howe told us that it was "essential" for a Government foreign policy decision to be founded on advice from the FCO about the "objectives, nature and success or otherwise of that policy".[167] Former Ambassador Sir John Graham told us that: "The fundamental role of the FCO is to contribute to the development and implementation of policy, so that, where it may affect other countries, the likely reactions of and impact on those countries are taken into account".[168] On the basis of his very recent experience, in this case of determining policy towards Russia, David Miliband told us similarly of the particular need that he had had for the FCO to be able to advise on the likely Russian response "if we do X".[169]

88.  Lord Howe, and former Ambassadors Sir John Graham and Sir Oliver Miles, all said that, if the FCO was to fulfil its advisory function, diplomats needed to feel confident that, where they judged current policy to be mistaken, they could pass on their views to their superiors or to Ministers without fear of adverse consequences, and with a reasonable expectation that their views would be taken into consideration. Sir Oliver said that if diplomats felt that questioning current policy would be damaging or pointless, it carried "grave dangers for the national interest".[170] In this context, a number of witnesses regretted the demise of the valedictory telegram, in which a number of departing Heads of Mission had in the past taken the opportunity to question policy.[171] The Foreign Secretary told the Public Administration Select Committee in September 2010 that he had told Ambassadors that he would "read every e-gram they send" and that "if they want to send differing advice or differing opinion from what may emerge from Foreign Office or other governmental structures, they can do so and the Secretary of State will read it".[172]

89.  Our witnesses stressed with striking unanimity that a key requirement for the FCO to be able to discharge both its "advisory" and its "executive" roles was specialist knowledge of foreign states and peoples. For many of our witnesses, this constituted the department's core contribution to Government:

  • Former FCO Deputy Legal Adviser Anthony Aust said: "The challenges facing the FCO and its diplomats remain [...] knowledge of the local language; the local ways of doing business; and the concerns of the foreign country".[173]
  • Former High Commissioner Sir Edward Clay told us that "The FCO's unique role and contribution within government is to assess the significance of developments beyond the UK to British interests".[174]
  • The Canadian academic and former diplomat Professor Daryl Copeland said that "the FCO's knowledge of and connection to people and place in the world represents its core value proposition as an instrument of international policy".[175]
  • Former Ambassador Charles Crawford identified "understanding foreign governments and cultures" as one of two core tasks for the FCO.[176]
  • Former Ambassador Sir David Logan told us bluntly that "'Abroad' is the [Diplomatic Service's] USP".[177] He went on: "what distinguishes the [Diplomatic Service] both from its foreign peers and from other UK government departments is superior expertise in foreign countries and regions, and the resources to exploit this effectively on behalf of British interests".[178]
  • David Miliband said: "The FCO's "core mission [...] is to know and understand things that other people don't". He went on: "It has to have the long-term understanding of trends in societies and regions that enable it to make a distinctive contribution, both in analysing what's going on and what's going to happen".[179]

90.  Several witnesses supported their view that the quality of FCO policy work mattered by referring to instances in which damaging or embarrassing UK foreign policy outcomes had resulted not from the FCO's exclusion from influence, but from shortcomings in its reporting and judgement:

  • Lord Owen and Sir Malcolm Rifkind both highlighted the recently declassified internal FCO report which David Owen commissioned as Foreign Secretary after the UK failed to foresee the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. The report identified "failings in the conduct of British policy", arising from factors including: a lack of resources at the post in Tehran for political reporting, as opposed to commercial work; a decision to maintain contacts only with the regime, rather than the opposition too; a failure at the FCO in London to treat seriously some of the reporting from post in Tehran; and an insufficiently deep awareness of some aspects of Iranian history and culture.[180]
  • The Franks Review of the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982 concluded that the view of the likely course of the sovereignty dispute which FCO Ministers and officials had held in early 1982 had proved to be a "misjudgement", which had arisen from a failure to appreciate sufficiently the attitudes and possible behaviour of the Argentinian leadership. What proved to be inadequate capacity for intelligence gathering on Argentinian military movements by UK defence and intelligence staff had also played a role.[181]

Sir Peter Marshall told us that such examples of "FCO vulnerability are less significant in themselves than as illustrations of the vital importance of discharging to the full the extensive advisory responsibilities of the Diplomatic Service".[182]

91.  Witnesses who stressed the continued value of specialist geographical expertise tended to be of the view that the fundamental nature of the diplomatic art remained unaltered, notwithstanding the recent changes in the context within which diplomacy was conducted. Sir Edward Clay argued that recent changes in technology and practice might have "made the collection of information easier, but the interpretation of its reliability and significance more demanding".[183] Sir Jeremy Greenstock suggested that the changing nature of the international policy-making environment was, if anything, increasing the premium on local knowledge. He said:

The world is fragmenting. [...] there is no supranational political decision making organisation. It is all about nation states, but nation states themselves are subject to forces that are fragmenting them. [...] The world is becoming more à la carte, complex and ad hoc, and on any issue you could have a different set of partners or opponents from the previous issue you were dealing with. Nowadays you must have an ad hoc response to such issues, which may need a small country here, a region there, or a collection of states across the globe that only your diplomats can bring together for you. That is going to increase, not decrease. We are not globalising in politics and identity, we are polarising. Diplomacy has to interpret that, and the Government need instruments to understand how to get the most out of the next meeting on a given issue from the most important Governments at the table, which could be almost anyone.[184]

92.  We support the Foreign Secretary's wish to see the FCO "at the centre of Government", but we conclude that this will be neither possible nor desirable unless the department is able to provide the Government with deep foreign policy expertise and judgement to underpin and implement its decision-making. We further conclude that the provision of foreign policy information, analysis, judgement and execution constitutes the FCO's core role for the Government. We recommend that a statement along these lines be the overarching statement of the FCO's role for the Government—the FCO's 'mission statement'—that we have recommended in paragraph 48 be made. We further conclude that a central requirement for the FCO to be able to discharge its role for the Government is deep geographic understanding of countries and regions.

Performance measurement

93.  As part of the increased 'managerialism' seen at the FCO over recent years, the department—like the rest of Whitehall—has been required to report to the Treasury or Cabinet Office on its performance, including in quantified terms. Given that the FCO's prime role is in foreign policy-making and diplomacy, our predecessor Committee consistently questioned whether formal performance measurement of this type was appropriate for the department.[185] It did so partly because of the time taken up in fulfilling reporting requirements, an issue to which we return in the next Chapter (paragraphs 152-156). Our predecessors were also concerned that, at least as regards foreign policy as opposed to other areas of the FCO's work, measuring the FCO's performance was inherently difficult; and departmental performance might in any case be less closely related to actual outcomes than in the case of many other departments, because by definition other states are also involved.

94.  Witnesses to our current inquiry shared these concerns strongly. David Miliband, Jack Straw and Lord Hennessy all discussed the difficulty of measuring what the FCO does;[186] and Charles Crawford told us that performance measurement in foreign policy "assumes a 'cause and effect' clarity in policy outcome which [...] is simply impossible overseas". Mr Crawford characterised much diplomatic work as "insurance", which by definition does not become evident unless and until it is needed.[187] David Miliband, Lord Hennessy and Sir Oliver Miles all pointed out the particular difficulty, under the kind of performance reporting regime used by the FCO, of capturing the most valuable potential result of diplomacy, i.e. the avoidance of a war.[188] For his part, Sir Jeremy Greenstock described himself and his colleagues as having "play[ed] along" with quantification, because "the objectives exercise had to be done well [...] to get resources from the Treasury", despite the fact that he regarded quantification as "irrelevant to the role of diplomacy".[189]

95.  Under the reporting regime established by the Government, it appears that the FCO will be reporting two sets of information:

i.  Monthly 'update reports' on activities set out for the relevant period in the department's Structural Reform Plan. The monthly reports for the period from November 2010 to February 2011 had been published when we prepared this Report. In the case of some activities, the monthly reports note whether they were accomplished as planned. These activities tend to be one-off items, such as publication of a particular document, or a ministerial visit or participation in an international conference. For more substantive policy objectives, as the Foreign Secretary acknowledged to us, the monthly reports typically state simply "work ongoing".[190] Compared to the reporting which took place against the FCO's Departmental Strategic Objectives under the previous Government, the monthly reports required of the FCO under the present Government would appear to require less work, despite their greater frequency. However, they appear so far to contain little substantive information on the FCO's progress towards its policy objectives.

ii.  'Input' and 'impact' indicators, to be published with varying frequencies. The FCO Business Plan states that the 'impact' indicators are:

  • Trend of UK trade and investment successes (to be measured by level of high value inward investment secured/safeguarded and high value successes in key markets)
  • Trend in global low carbon investment (as indicated by metric to be defined to align with internal implementation planning)
  • Progress toward a stable and secure Afghanistan (as indicated by metric (to be defined) from monthly written updates to Parliament)
  • More effective, joined-up international system to prevent conflict and build capacity in fragile states (as indicated by metric to be defined which will align with the post-SDSR Building Stability Overseas strategy)
  • Smaller, better consular service (as indicated by trend in quality of service/customer satisfaction metric (under development))[191]

The Business Plan does not state a rationale for the selection of these indicators. Two of the FCO's five Structural Reform Priorities do not appear to be captured by them at all (build up international influence/bilateral relationships; pursue an active and activist policy in Europe). Meanwhile, we are sceptical of the extent to which "progress toward a stable and secure Afghanistan" or a "more effective joined-up international system to prevent conflict and build capacity in fragile states" could be captured in a single measure in each case; or, if it could, whether it is the best use of the FCO's time to be developing such an indictor, given the availability of considerable quantitative data from other sources. The fact that the introduction to the 'Transparency' section of the FCO Business Plan states that the 'input' and 'impact' information is being provided to "enable users of public services to choose between providers" strengthens our impression that the FCO's reporting regime has not been tailored to the nature of the department's work.

96.  The Foreign Secretary recognised "an element of truth" in the suggestion that the FCO might require a different performance measurement regime from domestic departments. However, he adhered to the need to put outcomes into the public domain. He told us that "where outcomes are difficult for international reasons, or rather intangible, we have to trust people to be intelligent enough to judge things with that in mind".[192]

97.  We welcome the fact that the departmental performance reporting requirements placed on the FCO by the Government appear likely to be less time-consuming than those of the previous Government. However, we conclude that formal performance reporting of the kind used across Government by successive administrations since 1997 often does not capture the nature of the FCO's foreign policy work, and definitely does not do so when performance is defined in quantitative terms. We are therefore disappointed that the Government appears to be requiring the FCO to participate in a performance reporting regime which is not tailored to the nature of the department's work, not least because it involves quantitative indicators for some foreign policy issues. The Foreign Secretary acknowledged to us that the use of the FCO's performance reporting regime involved "trust[ing] people to be intelligent". We urge the Foreign Secretary to follow this logic, and to be robust in resisting demands from the centre of Government for the reporting of foreign policy performance information which an intelligent observer would find redundant or not credible.

FCO co-operation with other departments

98.  Lord Jay set out the background to the recent development of the FCO's role in relation to other government departments:

there was a time, 20 years ago or so, when the Foreign Office had an almost unique expertise in abroad, when other departments did not deal with abroad so much, except for one or two—the Foreign Office did. [...] The work of virtually every department now has a lot of 'foreign policy' in it, whether to deal with the European Union or with other international issues. It took the Foreign Office a bit of time to recognise that that meant that its role would have to evolve fundamentally in order to respond to changes in Whitehall that were reflecting the way in which the world was changing.[193]

In this context, there has been a long-running underlying issue as to where the FCO falls on the spectrum between being, on the one hand, 'just another line ministry', and, on the other, being part of the 'centre of government' along with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, with a role between or above other departments.

99.  Lord Jay told us that, given the increasing international engagement of other parts of Whitehall, he had conceived the FCO's role as "servicing other government departments", or as a "support mechanism" for them.[194] It could be argued that this conception underlies the only reference to the FCO's role for the Government in David Miliband's 2008 Strategic Framework for the department, namely the provision of a "flexible global network serving the whole of the British Government".

100.  In the context of the Foreign Secretary's ambitions for FCO "leadership" in Government, David Miliband and Dr Oliver Daddow warned against focusing exclusively on the departmental position of the FCO. They stressed that concern about FCO "leadership" should not eclipse consideration of the operation of the Government as a whole, which was more important than the position of any one department.[195]

101.  We conclude that a wish for FCO "leadership" must not eclipse the need to develop more effective international policy-making by the Government as a whole.

THE FCO AND GLOBAL ISSUES

102.  The clearest division about the FCO's policy role among witnesses to our inquiry concerned the Government's handling of 'new', global, issues, as distinct from traditional geographically-focused foreign policy matters. Such issues include climate change, resource security, international demography, global health and some aspects of the international economy. Caterina Tully said that "the extent to which the FCO takes the cross-Whitehall lead on [...] new international policy challenges" was the "key choice on the role of the FCO".[196]

103.  Among our witnesses:

  • Some argued that the FCO should become the part of Government that leads cross-government policy on global issues. Professor Copeland and Caterina Tully both said that the FCO needed to take the cross-Whitehall lead on new international policy challenges if it were to be "at the centre of government" as the Foreign Secretary wishes.[197] Alex Evans and David Steven proposed radical Whitehall reorganisation, with relevant internationally-oriented parts of DECC, BIS and perhaps the Treasury being moved into the FCO, or at least significant numbers of their staff on secondment. In this conception, the FCO would take on for relevant international issues the kind of coordinating function performed for other issues by the Cabinet Office.[198] David Steven has urged the FCO to shift its self-conception from "lead department for foreign policy" to "platform for global issues management".[199] Daryl Copeland envisaged the department as the Government's "central agency for the analysis, coordination and management of all aspects of globalization".[200] Witnesses who urged that the FCO should take on an overarching "global issues" role argued that this function was not being carried out anywhere else in Whitehall, and needed to be.
  • Others rejected this conception for the future of the FCO, and argued that the department should focus on its traditional geographical expertise and network. Sir David Logan argued that the FCO needed only to be an "informed interlocutor" on generic issues and that—"particularly in current economic circumstances"—the FCO should have a "relentless focus on [its] core tasks".[201]

It was noticeable that witnesses in the first group were in the international academic/consultancy sector and had not been career FCO staff, whereas those in the second group were typically former senior FCO diplomats.

104.  Witnesses who advocated the "global issues" model for the FCO stressed that the department's geographical expertise would remain important, and that the "global issues" role should be additional, not alternative. Daryl Copeland said that the FCO needed both to give greater emphasis to the analysis and co-ordination of cross-cutting issues and to rebuild its geographic expertise.[202] As we noted in paragraph 91, Sir Jeremy Greenstock suggested that the need to tackle global issues was, if anything, increasing the value of local knowledge; and Daniel Korski argued similarly that geographic and "global issues" knowledge were mutually reinforcing. However, Mr Korski told us that the FCO had "agonised in recent years over whether to invest in functional or geographical skills. [...] it has often flitted between the two and, in the end, probably undermined investment in both".[203]

105.  Our witnesses broadly agreed that there was a need for enhanced cross-government work on global issues to be carried out in some format.[204] The organisational issues were then:

  • whether there needs to be a single institutional 'home' for all such issues;
  • the extent to which any such 'home' would need to have significant policy capacities of its own, rather than draw together work from other departments; and
  • where in Whitehall any such 'home' might sit.

106.  The Government has made clear that the new National Security Council (NSC) structures would be the overall framework in which it would handle global issues.[205] The SDSR identified two "global issues" as "priority areas", to be taken forward through the NSC framework: energy security, and the security impacts of climate change and resource competition.[206] The NSC held its first discussion of the latter in November 2010.[207]

107.  The NSC is a new Cabinet Committee established by the present Government. It builds on the previous National Security, International Relations and Development (NSID) Cabinet Committee established in 2007 under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It represents the further elevation of the 'national security' perspective in UK policy-making which was signalled most prominently by the publication of the first UK National Security Strategy in March 2008, also under Mr Brown.[208] The NSC's members are the Prime Minister, in the chair; the Deputy Prime Minister; the Chancellor; the Foreign, Defence, Home, International Development and Energy and Climate Change Secretaries; the Security Minister (Home Office); the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; and the Cabinet Office Minister. The intelligence and armed forces chiefs are regular participants. The NSC meets weekly. It is supported by a National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, led by a National Security Adviser.[209] The National Security Adviser, a new position, is also secretary to the NSC, chair of the PUS-level body which prepares its work, and national security and foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister. Compared to COBR, the NSC is conceived as a political and strategic decision-making body, whereas COBR is a day-to-day operational body to coordinate the central Government response to an emergency and is activated only once an emergency has started.[210]

108.  The Government has made clear that the NSC bureaucracy will operate primarily by drawing together the work of different departments, rather than by becoming a policy department in its own right.[211] This model is aimed largely at avoiding the kind of rivalry between the NSC and the FCO that is sometimes seen between their equivalents in the United States.[212] Under the SDSR, lead responsibility for various "global issues" is to remain dispersed around Whitehall: for example, at the FCO for the security impacts of climate change and resource competition, and at DECC for energy security and international climate change negotiations. The Treasury retains responsibility for international economic and financial issues. Where issues are identified as priority ones under the SDSR, the relevant lead ministers and departments are to work with other departments as necessary, and report to a Cabinet Office-chaired SDSR Implementation Board, and ultimately to the NSC itself.

109.  Alex Evans and David Steven wanted to see "global issues" handled in the FCO rather than the NSC partly because they feared that the "national security" agenda would be dominated by short-term matters which would inevitably crowd out issues with a longer-term horizon. The NSS and SDSR do not identify as priority areas of work several of the "global issues" which were of concern to Evans and Steven and like-minded witnesses. However, our impression is that the NSC framework is defined ultimately in terms of the make-up and methods of the Council, rather than any rigid or exclusive concept of 'national security'. For example, through an NSC Emerging Powers Sub-Committee, the FCO is using the NSC framework to address the UK's bilateral relationships with key states in fields well beyond security.[213] The Foreign Secretary also intends to use the NSC to secure cross-Government agreement on the FCO's planned White Paper on the Overseas Territories, the scope of which can again be expected to extend beyond 'national security' matters.[214] Sir Peter Ricketts, the National Security Adviser, told us that the NSS provided "a good guide to the risks which [the Government] would regard as falling within the scope of the NSC", but that it would be "important to retain the flexibility to consider other issues if necessary".[215] The main constraint on the NSC would appear to be time: its weekly meeting lasts for only an hour.[216]

110.  Evans and Steven recommended that the FCO become the Government's lead department for "global issues" largely through the transfer into it of parts of, or at least substantial numbers of personnel from, other departments. This recommendation would appear to be founded on the assumption that the FCO lacks the requisite knowledge, but that such expertise exists elsewhere in Whitehall. It might therefore also be argued that personnel dealing with "global issues" could be seconded from around Whitehall into the Cabinet Office, rather than the FCO. This would address a prime reason given by Evans and Steven for not giving the "global issues" lead to the Cabinet Office, namely its lack of capacity. (Following completion of the SDSR, the staff of the National Security Secretariat is being reduced by 25% to around 150.)[217] The Cabinet Office includes the European and Global Issues Secretariat, which—among other functions—supports the Prime Minister in the G8, G20 and European Council, which are among the key forums for the international management of "global issues". Sir Peter Ricketts told us that he and the head of the European and Global Issues Secretariat "talk all the time", but that their areas of work were "reasonably distinct".[218] Sir Peter also told us that he was to oversee a new "strategic thinking network" based in the Cabinet Office.[219]

111.  Daniel Korski told us that other departments did not have sufficient confidence in the FCO as a credible cross-departmental broker easily to take a cross-government lead from it. He said that other departments often tended to see the FCO as defending its own interests, rather than taking a wider Government view.[220] The effective handling of "global issues" must involve the Treasury, as the department responsible for international economic and financial matters; but it is not clear to what extent the Treasury, in particular, would work well under an explicit FCO lead. The FCO told us that it works closely with the Treasury on global economic issues under current arrangements;[221] but former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw noted that "there has been a long-standing suspicion of the FCO in the Treasury", pre-dating the last Labour Government.[222] David Steven told us bluntly that the "relationship between the Treasury and the Foreign Office [...] is not right at the moment. [...] It seems to be very difficult for those departments to work together effectively".[223] The Treasury remains, of course, the FCO's paymaster.

112.  The Foreign Secretary, together with Lords Hennessy and Jay, cautioned against any major Whitehall restructuring to accommodate the management of "global issues".[224] Sir Jeremy Greenstock told us similarly that "we need to focus on not where the furniture is placed, but the quality of the furniture itself".[225]

Case study: The FCO and climate change

113.  Climate change is a global issue where the UK is widely seen as having played a leading international role, even under pre-NSC arrangements. David Steven told us that it was "an issue where the Foreign Office has gone furthest in looking at new approaches" and had "pioneered quite a different way of thinking about diplomacy".[226]

114.  Tackling climate change became an official FCO priority in 2006, when Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP moved from the Department of the Environment to become Foreign Secretary. She appointed John Ashton as her Special Representative for the issue. Mr Ashton was originally an FCO official, who was granted leave of absence from the department in 2002 to found the environmental NGO E3G, and was then seconded back into the FCO to take up the Special Representative role. Mr Ashton has been retained in post by both of Mrs Beckett's successors as Foreign Secretary, David Miliband and—following the 2010 change of Government—William Hague. Mr Ashton has the personal title of Ambassador, and has direct access to the Foreign Secretary and is able to speak for him with interlocutors across Whitehall and overseas. We understand that the Government has also retained in post Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, who was appointed jointly by the FCO and MOD in November 2009 as the UK's Climate and Energy Security Envoy, with a brief to engage the military and security community in the UK and overseas on the implications for it of climate change.[227] Meanwhile, since its creation in 2008, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been leading for the Government in the international negotiations aimed at reaching a new binding emissions control agreement. Given the way in which these arrangements have been retained through the change of Government, our impression is that they are now relatively firmly established.

115.  In its Report on the FCO's 2008-09 departmental annual report, our predecessor Committee commented on the FCO's increasing use of special representatives and envoys such as Mr Ashton and Rear Admiral Morisetti. It concluded that such figures "can make a useful contribution to achieving the objectives of the FCO and the Government especially in new areas of work where mechanisms of co-operation across Whitehall or with foreign partners may not be well established".[228]

116.  The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, wrote to us about what he called the "very helpful role that the FCO plays in international climate diplomacy". He told us that the FCO complemented DECC's focus on the international negotiations by

deploying foreign policy assets to create the political conditions within nations that will be necessary for an effective response to climate change. This is crucial to underpinning the continuing effort to reach a legally binding agreement, and thus create the policy confidence required to drive a low carbon transition […] [The Foreign Secretary's Special Representative] has played a critical role […] in creating the international political conditions necessary for action to prevent dangerous climate change [and] […] has ensured that there is consistent engagement from FCO Ministers and officials in climate diplomacy.[229]

117.  The Foreign Secretary told us that Mr Ashton

has access to the expertise of Government across the board. He works very closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, so the Foreign Office can draw on the full expertise of that Department and outside expertise […] We don't have to have our own parallel expertise. What the Foreign Office really brings to the table are the connections in other countries and the analysis of decision making in other countries about climate change—that's where the Foreign Office comes in.[230]

118.  We do not support the recommendation made by some of our witnesses, that the FCO should become the lead department for cross-Government work on all global issues (such as climate change, resource scarcity or global health). Given the existence of much relevant expertise around Whitehall, the need for Treasury engagement in particular, and the creation of the National Security Council (NSC) structures in the Cabinet Office, we conclude that—where the formal engagement is required of several departments at Secretary of State level—many global issues could best be addressed through the NSC.

119.  We recommend that the Government as a whole should give greater priority to cross-departmental work on global issues (such as demographic and environmental change, international economic stresses, energy and other resource scarcities, migration and international health risks) and especially the linkages between them. We consider that such work would fall under—and be warranted by—the strategic objective identified in the Government's National Security Strategy, of "shaping a stable world". We recommend that the NSC should receive a quarterly synthesis of the 'state of play' with respect to such issues, or that an NSC Sub-Committee be created to consider such matters. We further recommend that the Government should ensure that it has early warning, monitoring and synthesis work across global issues available to it, if necessary through the secondment of additional personnel from Whitehall departments into the Cabinet Office and/or the strengthening of links between the National Security Secretariat and the European and Global Issues Secretariat.

120.  We conclude that the example of climate change shows how the FCO can play a key role in the Government's handling of a global issue, without its being the lead department—through the use of its overseas network and expertise, and through the creative use of individual appointments in London in the shape of special representative/envoy positions (which do not require major institutional change). We further conclude that the practice of seconding experienced personnel from departments and agencies such as DFID, the MOD and UKTI to certain FCO posts overseas could beneficially be extended to, for example, the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

121.  We recommend that the FCO should remain focused on analysing and influencing foreign states and peoples. In this light, we further conclude that the FCO has a key contribution to make to the Government's handling of global issues, by helping to provide early warning and intelligence from overseas posts on other countries' specific experiences of and approaches to global issues, by helping to identify potential UK action overseas and at international institutions, and by taking a lead on the implementation of such action.

THE FCO IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

122.  The Foreign Secretary's statements suggest that he sees the NSC as the vehicle through which the FCO may achieve the cross-Government foreign policy leadership he seeks for the department. In the Foreign Secretary's view, the NSC enables FCO leadership partly by binding the Prime Minister into a collective decision-making forum. Mr Hague told us that prior to the creation of the NSC, the FCO could be marginalised because of the way in which the Prime Minister and his staff could make foreign policy independently. The FCO told us that the way in which it was now participating in the NSC meant that the Council's decisions were "anchored in a clear understanding of the foreign policy imperatives and their implications".[231] The Foreign Secretary has also indicated that he sees the NSC framework as enabling FCO leadership by securing 'buy-in' from other departments for FCO-led policies, and for pushing foreign policy out through the rest of Whitehall. In the NSC's Emerging Powers Sub-Committee, which Mr Hague chairs, his task is to secure cross-Government agreement to strategies for the UK's bilateral relationships with a number of key states outside the G8 and EU.[232]

123.  Among our witnesses, only Sir Edward Clay expressed negative views about the creation of the NSC. He saw the new structure as potentially creating duplication and rivalry with the FCO, and as an "intrusion of prime ministerial power into foreign policy".[233]

124.  Other witnesses, although they emphasised that the NSC remained in its infancy, generally regarded the new Council as likely to enhance the coherence of UK international policy-making.[234] Sir Malcolm Rifkind, for example, cited Bosnia in the mid­1990s as a case when the NSC would have been valuable;[235] and David Miliband speculated that the existence of the NSC might have facilitated more effective cross-Government focus on Afghanistan between 2002 and 2005.[236]

125.  Our witnesses also saw the NSC as likely to be helpful to the FCO. For example, Lord Owen said that the operation of the Council "should ensure that [the FCO and the Foreign Secretary] cannot be sidelined by the Prime Minister".[237] Sir Jeremy Greenstock suggested that the fact that the NSC was not proposing to develop a substantial policy machinery of its own might lessen any temptation for a Prime Minister "to use it as a replacement Foreign Office".[238] The Foreign Secretary told us that he was having a weekly meeting with the National Security Adviser, with the FCO PUS also participating, to co-ordinate FCO and NSC work.[239] The FCO's input to the NSC is being led by the department's newly revamped Policy Unit (see paragraph 190).[240] As of November 2010, the FCO told us that it had written around half of the papers that had gone to the NSC.[241] The National Security Adviser, Sir Peter Ricketts, told us that the FCO was "at the centre of the work of the NSC". He suggested that the NSC could act as an "amplifier" for the FCO, "in ensuring that all the departments that are represented round that table are thinking about and taking into account the international dimension".[242]

126.  During our recent inquiry into The UK's foreign policy approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, we established that the Government's decision to announce a 2015 deadline for the withdrawal of UK combat forces from Afghanistan was not taken within the National Security Council.[243] We recommended that in its response to that Report, the FCO should explain why this key decision on a matter of great importance to national security was not taken in the NSC. We look forward to receiving the Government's comments on this matter.

127.  We welcome the creation of the National Security Council (NSC) and the way in which the FCO appears to be working in the new NSC structures so far. We conclude that the creation of the NSC offers an important opportunity for the FCO to shape the Government's international engagement and help to engender more coherent cross-Government action. We further conclude that it remains to be seen whether the NSC will provide the Government with a more timely and more accurate basis for foreign and security policy decisions than hitherto.

THE FCO AND DFID

128.  We gathered evidence in particular about the FCO's role in relation to DFID because 2010 marked the first time since the creation of the Overseas Development Agency that the Conservative Party returning to office did not re-merge this function back into the FCO (as it had done in 1970 and 1979), but left in place the separate development ministry created by the preceding Labour Government. Sir Edward Clay called the establishment of DFID "a huge innovation in the UK's international policy framework".[244]

129.  Some of our witnesses appeared not fully reconciled to DFID's separate existence,[245] but the Foreign Secretary—and his predecessor—argued that DFID brought value to the UK.[246] However, Mr Hague said that the relationship between the FCO and DFID had "not always been great".[247] Other witnesses agreed with him. Sir Edward Clay said that DFID had "sometimes behaved as an alternative overseas representative of HMG",[248] and Lord Jay referred to "times when it has got too divorced [from the FCO]".[249]

130.  The Government wishes to align DFID's work more closely with what it sees as the UK's national interests, and with the work of the rest of Government. Under the SDSR, development assistance is to be focused to a greater extent on fragile and conflict­affected countries which are deemed to represent the greatest national security risk to the UK. The Foreign Secretary told us that he had "drilled it into [FCO] officials that DFID are our best friends and [Secretary of State for International Development] Andrew Mitchell has the same message for his officials in DFID".[250] Under the SDSR, the FCO and DFID have joint lead responsibility for "building stability overseas", and are due to publish a joint strategy to this end later in spring 2011.

131.  Particular difficulties in the FCO's relationship with DFID have arisen because of the latter's larger budget, and the way in which it has been ring-fenced under the 2010 Spending Review. Given the disparity between the resources available to the two departments, witnesses including Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir Edward Clay and Charles Crawford proposed that funds allocated to DFID could be used for items previously funded by the FCO.[251] Lord Jay suggested that the distinction between development assistance and foreign policy funding could be drawn less starkly than at present: he said that "there are areas in between the two in which it is possible for a certain amount of DFID money to be used for things that are certainly in accordance with DFID's priorities, but also reflect our foreign policy".[252] The FCO is already increasing its own contribution to the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA), partly by raising its spending on ODA-countable activities, and partly by reclassifying as ODA some eligible work which was not previously counted as such. However, under the 2002 International Development Act, the International Development Secretary is only able to authorise development assistance where he or she is satisfied that its provision is likely to contribute to a reduction in poverty.[253]

132.  We conclude that there appears to be political will in the Government for the FCO and DFID to work more effectively together. We welcome this, as an important factor for more effective UK international policy. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the FCO set out how this approach will be put into practice.

THE HANDLING OF EU BUSINESS

133.  The FCO's institutional position in the Government's handling of EU business is ambiguous. On the one hand, the FCO is officially the lead Government department on the EU. The Europe Minister has always been an FCO Minister, and the FCO has traditionally played a cross-Whitehall oversight and coordinating role as regards other departments' work on EU matters. The UK's Permanent Representative to the EU has always been an FCO diplomat. On the other hand, the Cabinet Office also plays an inter-departmental role; and, among areas of EU business, the FCO leads on only some.[254] The FCO's role in the Government's handling of EU business is thus another area which raises the issue of whether the department is 'just another line ministry' or part of the centre of Government.

134.  We received three submissions on the FCO's role in the Government's handling of EU business from academic specialists, who all said that the FCO's role had diminished in recent years compared to the Cabinet Office. Our witnesses said that this was due, among other factors, to the increasing importance of the Prime Minister and the European Council in EU business; to the growing technicality of much EU business; to a reduction in FCO capacity on European matters in Whitehall; and to the increasing ability of many Whitehall departments to operate 'on their own' in EU business, rather than requiring FCO guidance. Our witnesses suggested that, at least until the change of Government in 2010, the FCO had largely acquiesced in the strengthening of the Cabinet Office's EU role in Whitehall. They said that the FCO's most important locus in the Government's handling of EU business was increasingly the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, which works increasingly as an 'all of Government' operation and deals direct with the Head of the European and Global Issues Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, who is also the Prime Minister's adviser on EU affairs.[255]

135.  The Foreign Secretary told us that, under the present Government, the FCO "is coming back into its proper role in the determination of European policy".[256] A Cabinet Committee on European Affairs has been re-launched, with the Foreign Secretary in the chair (and with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as deputy chair).[257] The Foreign Secretary told us that written clearance of other departments' EU policy now comes to him for signature. There is also a lower-level Ministerial Committee for more day-to-day EU matters which is chaired by the Europe Minister. The FCO told us that its "central role in these Committees places it at the heart of formulation of Government policy on the EU".[258] Overall, the Foreign Secretary said that "the Foreign Office [was] in a more central role in the determination of European policy, and arguably [had] a more central role than at any time since we joined the European Union".[259]

136.  Some witnesses were sceptical that the FCO could again play a cross-Government coordinating role on EU business, partly because of other departments' reluctance to see it as an 'honest broker' as opposed to a line ministry with its own interests. The Foreign Secretary told us that the FCO and the Cabinet Office were now working jointly, thereby removing duplication. He said that the Prime Minister's Adviser on EU affairs now copies to him, the Foreign Secretary, the advice that he sends to the Prime Minister.[260]

IMPROVING CROSS-DEPARTMENTAL WORKING

137.  A number of our witnesses suggested that there was scope to improve cross-departmental co-operation involving the FCO.

In Whitehall

138.  The Foreign Secretary and David Miliband both argued that cross-departmental co-operation could and should be led 'from the top', through meetings between Ministers and senior officials which were signalled throughout the relevant departments.[261] Other witnesses proposed that the criteria for staff performance assessment and promotion in relevant Whitehall departments should be set so as to reward cross-departmental working.[262]

139.  We were told that a major obstacle to effective cross-departmental working was department-based budgeting. Lord Jay said that this was something that the Government "certainly had not got right".[263] His experience of Government had been that "quite often […] we have had the policies and each department […] then had to fight separately with the Treasury to get the money".[264] Lord Jay hoped that the NSC could take on the role of ensuring that the cross-departmental budgetary implications of international policy were fully factored in, at the decision-taking stage: "joined-up money", in his words.[265]

140.  The Foreign Secretary saw "a good deal of scope" for the further development of cross-departmental budgetary arrangements, although he warned of the need to retain clear lines of accountability.[266] Sir Peter Ricketts noted that cross-departmental discussion of the SDSR in the NSC had probably enabled Ministers to find £650 million for cross-Government cyber-security work, "which wouldn't otherwise have fitted into any single budget". However, he thought that the "great majority" of Government security spending would continue to be done through departments.[267]

141.  We recommend that the FCO should set its staff appraisal and promotion criteria so as to create incentives for cross-departmental working.

142.  Looking to the longer term, we recommend that the Government should actively explore ways in which it could develop more cross-departmental budgeting for areas of international policy, while retaining clear lines of accountability. In the meantime, we recommend that the Government should do all that it can to ensure that the current system of departmental budgeting does not impede the more 'joined-up' international policy which it is seeking to foster through the National Security Council.

Overseas

143.  Whilst it may sometimes be difficult for other departments to work under FCO direction in Whitehall, the department's leadership role overseas, in its global network of posts, is clearer. The SDSR stated that "the UK's global overseas network should be FCO-led".[268] FCO overseas posts are increasingly conceived as 'all of Government' operations, with the Head of Mission co-ordinating the work of staff from a variety of departments. Lord Jay said that:

A large or even medium-sized embassy is now a mini-Whitehall. You have a dozen departments, all reporting directly back to their department in London […] the role of the Foreign Office in an embassy is to make certain that the Ambassador or High Commissioner—who will normally be from the Foreign Office, but does not have to be—has overall control over the whole operation, whether or not that involves reporting back to the Foreign Office.[269]

David Miliband, Lord Jay and David Steven all told us that cross-departmental co-operation works better overseas than in Whitehall, owing in some cases to physical proximity in a single post, and often to the urgency of the tasks at hand.[270]

144.  The FCO told us that the SDSR "provides a mandate to improve co-ordination of all UK work overseas under the leadership of the Ambassador or High Commissioner representing UK government as a whole".[271] The FCO detailed a number of steps it was taking to improve the coherence of the Government's work overseas, under FCO leadership:

  • It is agreeing a "set of common principles" that will "clarify the responsibilities of the representatives of different departments in countries and make it clear that they are co-ordinated under the overall leadership of the Foreign Office representative in that country, who is there representing not only the FCO, but HMG as a whole".[272]
  • It is working with other departments to ensure equivalence in the terms and conditions that they offer to staff overseas.
  • The Country Business Plans which are being drawn up by Heads of Mission for the 2011-15 period will "encompass all of HMG's activity in-country".[273]
  • When departments other than the FCO site staff or functions in FCO posts overseas, the FCO recovers the relevant costs from them in a process which our predecessors in the last Parliament concluded was "cumbersome and inefficient".[274] Mr Fraser told us that the FCO was working with other departments to agree a new charging model, which it was hoped would involve reduced bureaucracy.[275]

145.  Our predecessor Committee consistently encouraged the co-location of FCO posts and DFID offices in places where both existed. In his evidence to our current inquiry, Lord Jay backed this position, saying that "We need to think about a British Government office and a British Government presence".[276] Currently, 34 FCO posts are co-located with DFID offices.[277]

146.  To encourage the further co-location of FCO and DFID posts overseas, we recommend that the two departments jointly publish an annual list of their overseas posts, showing where they are co-located and where not, with an explanation where co-location is not taking place.

147.  Since the 1977 Report of the Central Policy Review Staff by Sir Kenneth Berrill, which first canvassed the possibility, the option has been raised periodically of abolishing the distinction between the Home Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service and creating instead a cross-Whitehall cadre of officials willing to serve overseas.[278] Daniel Korski supported this option in his submission to our present inquiry.[279] However, this proposal did not receive wide support from our witnesses. Simon Fraser argued that the step would be redundant, given that senior FCO jobs—including overseas—are advertised across Whitehall in any case, and that so many Whitehall departments and agencies already post staff to FCO overseas missions.[280]

DIPLOMACY AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW?

148.  A number of witnesses drew our attention to the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) conducted in the US under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published in December 2010.[281] Alex Evans said that as a result of the QDDR the US had put itself in a "leadership position" in the debate on the future of foreign ministries,[282] and the Foreign Secretary told us that the UK could learn from the process.[283] Under its Business Plan, the FCO is committed by the end of 2011 to assessing the merits of conducting a similar review for the UK.

149.  We welcome the fact that the FCO is examining the possible value for the UK of a US-style diplomacy and development review.


136   William Hague, "Britain's Foreign Policy in a Networked World", FCO, London, 1 July 2010 Back

137   Ev 78 Back

138   "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 1 Back

139   Ev w54 Back

140   Qq 1, 14 Back

141   Q91 Back

142   Ev w40 Back

143   The views which Mr Hague has expressed as Foreign Secretary on these issues follow closely those developed in several speeches he made as Shadow Foreign Secretary: "The Future of British Foreign Policy with a Conservative Government", International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), 21 July 2009; "The Foreign Policy Framework of a New Conservative Government", Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), 10 March 2010. Back

144   Q 253 Back

145   "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 1 Back

146   Q 252 Back

147   "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 35 Back

148   Q 1 [Lord Hennessy]; Ev w6 [Dr Daddow], w9-10 [Lord Owen], w40 [LSE IDEAS], w66 [Sir Peter Marshall] Back

149   Q 9 [Lord Hennessy] Back

150   Q 93 Back

151   Ev w9 Back

152   Q 93 [Sir Malcolm Rifkind]; Ev w54 [Daniel Korski] Back

153   Ev w66 Back

154   Q 251 Back

155   Qq 11-12 Back

156   Ev w47 Back

157   Q 7 Back

158   Ev w26 Back

159   "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 1; Mr Hague made a similar point when he gave evidence in February 2011: Q 252. Back

160   Q 252 Back

161   Q 109 Back

162   Ev w82 Back

163   Ev w28 Back

164   Ev w47 Back

165   Ev w67 Back

166   Ev w9 [Lord Owen], w40 [LSE IDEAS] Back

167   Ev w97 Back

168   Ev w51 Back

169   Q 109 Back

170   Ev w48 Back

171   See Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson, Parting Shots (London, Viking, 2010); Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2006-07, HC 50, paras 207-208. Back

172   Public Administration Select Committee, First Report of Session 2010-11, Who does UK National Strategy?, HC 435, Q 80 Back

173   Ev w46 Back

174   Ev w27 Back

175   Ev w15 Back

176   Ev w29 Back

177   Ev w51 (USP: Unique Selling Point) Back

178   Ev w51 Back

179   Q 109 Back

180   FCO, British Policy on Iran 1974-78, report by N.W. Browne, now published at http://centralcontent.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/pdf1/iran-document-british-policy-on-iran. The report was shown in advance to the late Sir Anthony Parsons, Ambassador to Tehran in 1974-79, and circulated with his comments as an Annex. Back

181   Falkland Islands Review. Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors. Chairman: The Rt Hon the Lord Franks, Cm 8787, January 1983, paras 296, 302, 312-13 Back

182   Ev w66 Back

183   Ev w27-28 Back

184   Q 173 Back

185   For example, Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2006-07, HC 50, paras 64-69; Foreign Affairs Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2009-10, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2008-09, HC 145, paras 291-298. Back

186   Qq 7 [Lord Hennessy], 103 [David Miliband]; Ev w59-60 [Jack Straw] Back

187   Ev w30, w32 Back

188   Qq 7 [Lord Hennessy], 103 [David Miliband]; Ev w47 [Sir Oliver Miles] Back

189   Q 170 Back

190   Q 295; see www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/publications1/annual-reports/business-plan. Back

191   FCO Business Plan 2011-2015, available at www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/publications1/annual-reports/business-plan  Back

192   Q 296 Back

193   Q 36 Back

194   Qq 36, 56 Back

195   Q 90 [David Miliband]; Ev w7 [Dr Daddow] Back

196   Ev w57 Back

197   Ev w15 [Professor Copeland], w57 [Caterina Tully] Back

198   Qq 133, 156; Alex Evans and David Steven, "Organizing for Influence: UK Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty", Chatham House, June 2010 Back

199   David Steven, "Foreign and Commonwealth Office", in Colin Talbot and Matt Baker, eds., Alternative Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 (Manchester University Press, 2007) Back

200   Ev w15 Back

201   Ev w53 Back

202   Ev w15; see also Ev w59 [Caterina Tully]. Back

203   Ev w54 Back

204   For example, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Q 182. Back

205   Qq 193 [Sir Peter Ricketts], 286 [William Hague] Back

206   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p 69 Back

207   A discussion for which DECC provided the papers, despite the fact that this issue is an FCO lead under the SDSR: Ev 88 [FCO], 140 [office of Sir Peter Ricketts]. Back

208   Cabinet Office, The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom, Cm 7291, March 2008 Back

209   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p 70 Back

210   Cabinet Office, UK Central Government Arrangements for Responding to an Emergency, March 2010, http://interim.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/349123/conops-2010-overview.pdf Back

211   Qq 194, 221 [Sir Peter Ricketts]; "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 38 [William Hague] Back

212   Q 228 [Sir Peter Ricketts] Back

213   Qq 219 [Sir Peter Ricketts], 260, 297 [William Hague]; Ev 78 [FCO] Back

214   HC Deb, 10 March 2011, col 76WS Back

215   Ev 138 Back

216   Q 191 [Sir Peter Ricketts] Back

217   Ev 137 [Sir Peter Ricketts]. Sir Peter's office supplied an organisational chart of the National Security Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, as of January 2011, which we publish at Ev w107. Back

218   Q 229 Back

219   Ev 140 Back

220   Ev w55 Back

221   Ev 86 Back

222   Ev w59 Back

223   Q 156 Back

224   Qq 30 [Lord Hennessy], 52 [Lord Jay], 268 [William Hague] Back

225   Q 168  Back

226   Q 120 Back

227   See Foreign Affairs Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2009-10, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2008-09, HC 145, para 252. Back

228   Ibid., para 255 Back

229   Ev w93 Back

230   Q 287 Back

231   Ev 79; see also Qq 252-253, 257-258; "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Q 38. Back

232   Qq 219 [Sir Peter Ricketts], 260, 297 [William Hague]; Ev 78 [FCO], 138 [Sir Peter Ricketts] Back

233   Ev w27 Back

234   Qq 8, 18 [Lord Hennessy], 53 [Lord Jay], 95-97 [David Miliband], 95, 109 [Sir Malcolm Rifkind] Back

235   Q 111 Back

236   Q 111 Back

237   Ev w11 Back

238   Q 182 Back

239   Q 260 Back

240   Q 285 [Simon Fraser]; Ev 138 [Sir Peter Ricketts] Back

241   Ev 78 Back

242   Q 189 Back

243   Foreign Affairs Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2010-11, The UK's foreign policy approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, HC 514, para 156 Back

244   Ev w27 Back

245   For example, Lord Owen: see Ev w11. Back

246   Qq 112 [David Miliband], 268 [William Hague] Back

247   Q 268 Back

248   Ev w27 Back

249   Q 76 Back

250   Q 268 Back

251   Q 99 [Sir Malcolm Rifkind]; Ev w27 [Sir Edward Clay], w32 [Charles Crawford] Back

252   Q 77 Back

253   See Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2010-11, The Implications of Cuts to the BBC World Service, HC 849, paras 51-62. Back

254   These are: the EU institutions, including the EU Treaties which govern them, and therefore also Treaty amendment; EU enlargement overall, although relevant departments lead the negotiation of individual chapters of any Accession Treaty; and EU external policy, including the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which includes the Common Defence and Security Policy; see Ev 86-87 [FCO]. Back

255   Ev w1 [Dr Scott James], w89 [Professor Hussein Kassim], w92 [Professor Dr Sonja Puntscher Riekmann] Back

256   Q 294 Back

257   HC Deb, 3 June 2010, col 601 Back

258   Ev 86 Back

259   Q 294 Back

260   Q 294 Back

261   Qq 112 [David Miliband], 268 [William Hague] Back

262   Q 136 [Alex Evans] Back

263   Q 41; see also Qq 54, 61, 64-67. Back

264   Q 49 Back

265   Q 61 Back

266   Q 288 Back

267   Q 210 Back

268   HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review, Cm 7948, October 2010, p 11 Back

269   Q 37 Back

270   Qq 37 [Lord Jay], 112 [David Miliband], 138 [David Steven] Back

271   Ev 90 Back

272   Q 270 Back

273   Ev 90 Back

274   Foreign Affairs Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2009-10, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2008-09, HC 145, para 84 Back

275   Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2010-11, FCO Performance and Finances, HC 572, Ev 60 Back

276   Q 80 Back

277   Letter to the Chair from the Foreign Secretary, 2 September 2010, printed with "Developments in UK Foreign Policy", oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 8 September 2010, HC (2010-11) 438-i, Ev 29-40  Back

278   For example, Lord Wallace, "Does the Foreign Office have a future?", Chatham House, 7 December 2007 Back

279   Ev w56 Back

280   Q 307 Back

281   See para 16. Back

282   Q 126 Back

283   Q 126  Back


 
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Prepared 12 May 2011