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Volume 469: debated on Monday 10 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British embassies and consulates have been (a) closed and (b) opened in each of the last 10 years; and if he will list the closures by country. (170324)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has closed eight British embassies, six British high commissions, and 18 British consulates since May 1997. Operations were also suspended at the British embassy, Abidjan, in April 2005 and the British consulate at Port-au-Prince in July 2005 owing to the security situation there.

During the same period, the FCO opened seven British embassies, four British embassy offices, one British office and six British consulates. Three British consulates were also upgraded to British embassies.

The FCO continuously reviews the deployment of its resources and aligns them flexibly in line with UK interests.

In respect of the missions that have closed in the last 10 years, I refer the right hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Europe (Mr. Hoon) gave to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood) on 6 February 2007, Official Report, columns 821-22W. Since this reply was given, the following missions have closed:

In 2006-07, the British high commission in Kingstown, St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

In 2007-08, the British high commissions in St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Georges, Grenada are to be closed.