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Departmental Public Expenditure

Volume 506: debated on Thursday 4 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 23 February 2010, Official Report, columns 34-5WS, on departmental expenditure limits, for what legal services resources were requested. (319676)

Government departments make a contribution to the costs of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (OPC) according to a formula which was introduced in 2004 following a Cabinet decision. Under the formula, departments contribute to the cost of the OPC in proportion to their share of the total volume of enacted legislation in the last five years. The £11,000 is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's share of £8.8 million held on the Cabinet Office's baseline for OPC. The Cabinet Office also invoices departments for their share of the OPC's costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 23 February 2010, Official Report, columns 34-5WS, on departmental expenditure limits, to what activities the administration costs for modernisation of his Department relate; and under what budget headings those costs were incurred. (319677)

This year, Treasury has made available administration budget funds to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Corporate Services programme from the modernisation fund in order to make working practices more efficient in future. In particular, money has been invested in two restructuring initiatives: in the UK, an early retirement scheme was run for the delegated grades; and overseas, posts have bid for funds to make efficiency gains in their local workforce engaged in corporate services activity. Funds were also used for the FCO Comprehensive Spending Review Value for Money programme. £400,000 was also passed on to UKTI to be spent on their modernisation programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 23 February 2010, Official Report, columns 34-5WS, on departmental expenditure limits, to what programmes the restructuring costs referred to relate; and under what budget headings those costs were incurred. (319678)

This year, Treasury has made available administration budget funds to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in respect of our Comprehensive Spending Review Value for Money programme. Money has been invested in early departure schemes for both the Senior Civil Service and delegated grades.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 54WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, what cost savings he plans to implement in relation to his Department's back-office operations; and whether he expects staff redundancies to form part of the cost savings process. (319679)

Details of the next stages of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office programme of streamlining referred to in the statement have yet to be finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 54WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, how much he plans to require the (a) British Council, (b) BBC World Service and (c) FCO Services Trading Fund to contribute to his Department's budget. (319680)

I refer the right hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 214W, namely that the British Council will make available £5 million to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and that the BBC World Service will make £7.7 million available to the FCO, including an underspend of £4 million in 2009-10. These contributions will not result in permanent reductions in their baseline, but are for 2010-11 only. FCO Services Trading Fund will make a special dividend payment to the FCO of £3 million in financial year 2010-11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 54WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, what annual limit will apply to the funds available to his Department under the foreign exchange adjustment account; and if he will make a statement. (319681)

For the financial year 2010-11, £20 million will be available as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office foreign exchange adjustment account. No arrangements have been made for departmental budgets for financial years beyond this, as such arrangements will depend on the outcome of a future comprehensive spending review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 54WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, how the operation of the new foreign exchange adjustment account differs from previous arrangements to manage his Department's exposure to exchange rate movements; and if he will make a statement. (319682)

The foreign exchange adjustment account will be a departmental unallocated provision which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will draw on as necessary to manage the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations. It is not a return to the Overseas Price Movements Mechanism under which the FCO budget was adjusted from the Treasury Reserve to reflect foreign exchange rate movements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 February 2010, Official Report, column 54WS, on Foreign and Commonwealth Office finances, what assets will be sold to make funding available for his Department's budget. (319683)

I refer the right hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) of 22 February 2010, Official Report, column 213W, namely that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes details of disposals quarterly in a letter to the Foreign Affairs Committee. For commercial reasons and in order to realise maximum value from disposals, we do not publish details of planned disposals in advance.