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FCO Services

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

FCO Services today becomes a trading fund of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr Christopher Moxey was appointed as chief executive when FCO Services became an executive agency in April 2006 and will continue in that role for the FCO Services trading fund. The necessary statutory instrument comes into effect today (SI 2008/590).

FCO Services is our in-house support organisation, delivering key services to enable our global network to function efficiently. It protects our staff, buildings and communications from the wide variety of threats they continually face in many parts of the world and has particular expertise in secure logistics, secure IT and in the security of buildings. It is already a substantial business employing nearly 1000 staff and with an estimated turnover of around £125 million in 2007-08.

As an executive agency FCO Services has made real progress in customer satisfaction, internal efficiency and financial performance. I am now moving it to trading fund status where the additional commercial disciplines and freedoms will enable it to enhance service delivery and innovation and improve overall value for money. FCO Services will remain part of the FCO as a trusted partner under our overall strategic direction. The FCO will be assured of a continuing reliable supply of vital support services.

At the same time we will ensure that all the services FCO Services provides will be regularly tested and benchmarked for value for money; FCO Services will be encouraged to increase business with non-FCO customers, enabling it to finance its own investment plans and deliver economies of scale to the FCO. The more arms-length management arrangement will free up FCO resources to focus on the Government’s strategic priorities abroad. This move is in the best interests of the FCO, the Government and the taxpayer.

In his written ministerial statement of 18 March, my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown announced a set of key targets for FCO Services in 2008-09 to encourage the creation of a stable business and improvements in performance. FCO Services will report to Parliament on its success against these targets in its 2008-09 annual report.

Copies of the new framework document covering FCO Services’ role and responsibilities will be placed in the Library of the House. A copy will also be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at: www.fco.gov.uk.