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Diplomatic Service: Funding

Volume 638: debated on Tuesday 27 March 2018

6. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for the diplomatic service after the UK leaves the EU. (904588)

I am delighted that, as a result of conversations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I was able last week to announce the creation of 250 new diplomatic positions and 10 new sovereign posts, which means that for the first time in years this country has the most sovereign posts of any European diplomatic service, and more than France.

I wonder whether the Secretary of State can tell us how many of those diplomats are going to be stationed in far-off places such as Camden. More specifically, will he tell us how many are going to be stationed in Brussels and how much these new unelected Brussels bureaucrats are going to cost the public purse?

Perhaps I should have said that those 250 new diplomatic posts are in addition to the 50 extra diplomatic positions that we are putting into our European network.

Is there a possibility of using some of the Brexit dividend to further expand our diplomatic posts, particularly in the Commonwealth?

My hon. Friend anticipates developments that may unfold in the next couple of months. I do not wish to steal my own thunder, though, so he will have to contain his impatience on that.

Wait till you hear what I have got to say!

There will be no Brexit dividend. The question is how we will be able to find the resources for these posts around the world, where we will have to do more bilateral work, rather than less. Is that not the reality? Is it not a fact that the Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent report pointed out that half the 50 so-called improved posts were actually smoke and mirrors?

I am afraid the hon. Gentleman is talking complete nonsense. There are 50 new posts in the European network and, in case he missed my earlier answer, 250 more globally. That allows us to have 10 whole new postings—legations, missions, embassies—around the world and will take the representation of this country to the biggest of any European power. That is a fact of which the House should be proud.

I hope that those 250 posts may have been partly the product of the continued reports of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the previous Parliament about the utter paucity of resources for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, given the task that it now faces in presenting global Britain. How much more revenue money has my right hon. Friend been given to fund those posts?

I thank the Foreign Affairs Committee, in all its incarnations, for the support that it has given to the cause of more money for the Foreign Office. The figure that my hon. Friend is asking for is £90 million.