Commonwealth Countries (British Firms)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19 December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Kettering 12:00, 19 December 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he receives from high commissioners in developing Commonwealth countries reports on the activities of British firms carrying on business locally; and for what purpose.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

High commissioners are under no standing instruction to submit routine reports on the activities of local British firms, but they do report, at their discretion, to my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Trade and Industry, where it is appropriate for the promotion or protection of British commercial interests.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Kettering

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that three weeks ago he told my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) that no advice had been given to British firms in Sri Lanka about wages. Surely the right hon. Gentleman recognises that one of the reasons for having high commissioners in developing countries is expressly to advise British firms in those countries on conditions of employment?

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

We are satisfied that British firms in Sri Lanka pay their employees wages based on rates laid down by the Government of Sri Lanka, but advice on local employment practices is offered by our commercial representatives abroad. I think this is the best and most effective way in which it can be undertaken.