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Government Overseas Services

Volume 82: debated on Tuesday 2 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to maintain and expand Government services abroad to assist British exporters in the promotion of both visible and invisible exports.

The promotion and protection of Britain's economic and commercial interests overseas, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry and other Departments with an interest in international trade, remains a major objective of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Over a third of Diplomatic Service and senior locally-engaged manpower overseas (excluding clerical and secretarial support staff) is devoted to this task, a proportion which has remained steady despite the reduction in Diplomatic Service manpower overall.In view of the continuing need to control public expenditure, I cannot promise that more money will be available for Government services abroad for exporters. But the search will continue for improvements in efficiency and for the most cost-effective deployment of resources. Where it becomes necessary to look for further sensible economies, the quality of service will be paramount.