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Services Trading Fund

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the basis is for the Government’s position that the proposed FCO Services Trading Fund will be financially viable. (188324)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has assessed FCO Services’ business projections, which have been deliberately built on cautious assumptions. To protect FCO Services’ cash flow in the early years as a Trading Fund the FCO will make a short-term working capital loan of £10 million, repayable with interest over the first five years of trading. The FCO is content that FCO Services is not being burdened with excessive debt at start up.

FCO Services income from the FCO over the next few years is expected to be in the region of 80 – 90 per cent. of the total volume of FCO Services business.

Ministers have agreed a five year corporate plan for FCO Services and will agree its business plan on an annual basis. FCO Services Executive and Non-Executive Directors review performance throughout the year. In addition, FCO Services has in place corporate risk assessment processes, in line with best practice, which its Audit Committee oversees.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ensure that the proposed FCO Services Trading Fund is not sold into private ownership. (188325)

There are no plans to privatise Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Services. We have set up the Trading Fund on the basis that it gives the right combination of overall FCO control and reliability of supply, coupled with commercial disciplines and freedoms for FCO Services.

FCO Services has developed a comprehensive five year corporate plan, agreed with Ministers, to direct its future business activities which includes maintaining a strong, long-term strategic partnership with the FCO, delivering services at best value for money and guaranteeing the supply of business-critical services to the FCO.