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Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the Government has taken to improve consular services for UK citizens abroad. (248108)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continually seeks to improve on the service delivered to British Nationals overseas. Our overarching approach is set out in the Consular Strategy 2007-2010, a copy of which I will place in the Library of the House.

Examples of recent steps the FCO has taken to improve the service we offer includes: an increase of over 100 per cent. in the number of Missions which can take payment for services by credit card; passport applications and the majority of consular forms are now available on the internet; the public can register with our online crisis registration tool, LOCATE, supporting our consular response during a crisis; internet enabled computers have been installed in some consular waiting rooms; registered British nationals resident in a some countries can now receive SMS updates with important information; and we have modernised and improved on the training package for consular officials—including a requirement for staff to pass a customer care skills assessment.

We have improved and increased our monitoring of the service we provide to British nationals, and will use that information to identify how we can still further improve on the services we provide.