Departmental Staff: Pay

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons on 25th June 2019.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

What recent steps he has taken to ensure that staff working in his Department are paid (a) on time and (b) at the correct rate.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has well-established processes in place to ensure that our staff, wherever they work around the globe, are paid correctly and on time.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

I am disappointed that the Secretary of State is not answering this question, because in the last set of questions he said of the Interserve dispute going on in his Department:

“If we failed to pay any of our staff on time, I take full responsibility.”—[Official Report, 14 May 2019;
Vol. 660, c. 88.]

I understand that nothing has happened, and in fact the FCO is now the second Government Department to set up a food bank to help its staff. Are these really the actions of a person who wants to lead this country? He cannot even sort out what is going on in his own Department.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

The hon. Lady is completely misinformed to say that nothing has happened. What did happen is that Interserve changed the date in the month on which the salary of some of the lower paid workers in the Foreign Office was paid, and it made some errors in calculating what was owed. It was thanks to the personal intervention of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who not only wrote to the CEO of Interserve but called people in the Foreign Office to account, that, first, those people were properly paid, and secondly, they received a subsequent and additional good-will payment.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Chelsea and Fulham

One set of staff who are deservedly well paid are Her Majesty’s trade commissioners. The nine have been in place for a year and have been a big success. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the new position shows how well the Department for International Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office work together to promote trade by hiring the right people to lead that work?

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State

My right hon. Friend is a champion of international trade. Trade commissioners are of great value and of course—in line with the question on the Order Paper—they are paid appropriately and on time.