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Diplomatic Service: Gifts and Endowments

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 24 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department issues to envoys appointed by the Prime Minister on the acceptance of (a) payments, (b) gifts, (c) rewards and (d) other emoluments from (i) non-governmental agencies and (ii) foreign governments. (281711)

Part-time special envoys appointed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister offer their services and expertise on a voluntary basis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not employ them or offer contractual terms to them. We reimburse relevant expenses when envoys undertake visits or engagements at our request.

Political appointments made by the Prime Minister to high commissioner posts are subject to the civil service code, like all FCO members of staff. As such they may not accept benefits of any kind from a third party, which might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgement or integrity. We insist that staff observe the highest standards of propriety, avoid any perceived conflict of interest and refuse all gifts, unless they are of insignificant value.