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Diplomatic Service

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many serving (a) Heads of Mission and (b) Governors of Overseas Territories were born in each of the UK regions. (99486)

In order to answer this question officials would need to contact all of our overseas missions and the overseas territories. This would incur disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what percentage of the members of internal selection boards held by her Department to appoint ambassadors in the last five years were educated in (a) the state school sector, (b) the independent school sector, (c) Oxford and Cambridge and (d) other universities. (99487)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not hold this data as a matter of course on all its staff. The data has been collected in order to answer this question. Of the 42 current members of internal selection boards to appoint Heads of Mission, 19 (45 per cent.) were educated in the state school sector, 23 (55 per cent.) were educated in the independent school sector, 26 (62 per cent.) went to Oxford or Cambridge universities and 14 (33 per cent.) went to other universities. Two (5 per cent.) did not go to university. We do not keep historical information on the members of selection boards.

All posts in the diplomatic service are filled on the basis of fair and open competition, through the internal selection boards of the FCO or, where appropriate, interview or selection panels involving external stakeholders for the post in question. Information on educational qualifications is of no relevance to the process of appointing Heads of Mission and is not sought by selection boards. The FCO is committed to recruiting a talented and diverse work force which reflects the society it serves, and its recruitment policies are designed to encourage applications from the widest possible range of backgrounds. The Department is active in outreach activities such as career fairs, work experience schemes and community business events, to support this policy.