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British Overseas Interests

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1986.

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Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East 12:00 am, 5th February 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the means by which his Department secures its objectives of promoting and protecting British interests overseas; how he is monitoring their implementation; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

Foreign and Commonwealth Office departments and posts work to agreed objectives and their performance is subject to regular assessment and review. This permits flexibility in our response to changing circumstances, such as the steadily increasing demand for commercial activities.

Photo of Mr Peter Thurnham Mr Peter Thurnham , Bolton North East

What detailed assessment is my hon. Friend making to show how the Department is doing its job?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

I am delighted to say that we have recently instituted a diplomatic wing top management system which requires posts, departments and under-secretaries to examine their objectives and performance in time for each annual expenditure survey. This is a major new management tool, which supplements the existing arrangements.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

How were British interests protected in Iran in 1980 when the British ambassador evicted five American citizens from the residential compound of the British embassy? Is the Minister aware that that decision was seen as an affront to American public opinion? Is he further aware that there has been a row in North America in the media about what happened four years ago over the hostages crisis? Do the British Government intend to apologise to the American Government for their disgraceful actions?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

At that time, and subsequently, we worked extremely closely with the Americans. Those events took place six years ago.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames , Crawley

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways of securing British interests overseas is through the effective use of the British Council? Will he assure the House that he will fight for every resource that the British Council needs to advance our interests?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

The council performs a valuable role, but that role and its funding must be seen in the context of the FCO's overall resources.