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Diplomatic Service: Finance

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost to the public purse of his Department’s consular services was in each of the last 12 years. (286156)

Consular Services are funded from fees and not from general taxation. Our aim is to ensure that we cover our costs from fee income. The exception is capital funds which are funded from tax. However the yearly cost of capital, that is depreciation and interest, is covered by fee income.

Cost of assistance to UK citizens abroad is covered by a levy of approx. £15 on all passports sold in the UK by the Identity and Passport Service and overseas by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). For around £1.50 a year, every British passport holder has at their disposal a global network of professionals who often provide the first line of support when things go wrong.

Each crisis response, as agreed by HM Treasury (HMT), which costs greater than £150,000, is funded from the Emergency Disaster Reserve (EDR). The EDR funds are made up of a small fee levied on the passport price of approximately £1. These funds are held by the Treasury. The FCO has to make a substantive case to HMT to access these funds.

For a fee we also issue passports overseas, as well as emergency and temporary passports.

We charge for legalisation services to business and the public in the UK and overseas.

There are another 60 notarial services that we provide overseas. Examples include birth and death registrations.

The cost of Consular Services for the last eight years is shown as follows. The cost of collecting data beyond this period would be prohibitive, as it is not available on our current systems.

This excludes the cost of crisis activity which is funded directly from the Treasury:


Cost (£ million)

















Consular is continually looking at ways to bring costs into closer alignment with income by delivering value-for money services, promoting efficiencies and reviewing its fees.