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Middle East Office (Functions)

Volume 466: debated on Monday 27 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the exact functions of the Middle East office in Cairo; and what personnel are employed in that office.

As the answer is long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The principal functions of the British Middle East Office are, firstly, to report upon events and issues, political, economic, financial and social, affecting more than one territory in the Middle East; secondly, to develop and ensure the co-ordination of His Majesty's economic, financial and social policy in that area and to make recommendations as to action required.

The British Middle East Office consists of a Head (Sir J. M. Troutbeck, K.C.M.G.) and a Deputy Head (Mr. J. W. Wall), both of whom are senior Foreign Service Officers, and of a Development Division, together with a small subordinate staff. The services of the Middle East Representatives of the Treasury, the Ministry of Fuel and Power and the Ministry of Civil Aviation are also available to the Head of the British Middle East Office.

The members of the Development Division are available to advise Middle East Governments on social and economic development at their request, and in the three years since the Division was set up their services have been in increasing demand.

The Division consists of highly qualified advisers on labour, health, forestry and soil conservation, statistics, entomology, animal husbandry (this post is at present vacant).

Examples of their work are: the organisation of central statistical offices for the Persian and Iraqi Government; collaboration with the American consortium, Overseas Consultants, Incorporated, in advising the Persian Government on the implementation of their seven-year plan, with special reference to agriculture, forestry and soil conservation, animal husbandry and statistics; advice to the Middle East Governments on measures to combat the desert and Moroccan locusts; advice to the Middle East Governments on the preparation of labour legislation and trade union and national insurance policy; assistance to British companies in the Middle East who are large employers of labour, such as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Iraq Petroleum Company, in the development of social welfare amenities, trade co-operative societies, etc., and advice on the application of local labour legislation to their own labour problems; advice to the Egyptian Government in the control of their cholera epidemic in 1947–48; and assistance to various Middle East Governments in the recruitment of British technical advisers.