New inquiry into FCO Performance and Finances

19 July 2011

The Foreign Affairs Committee has announced a new inquiry into FCO Performance and Finances

The Spending Review 2010 announced a 10% real terms cuts in the FCO’s budget over the four year Spending Review period. The budgets of the British Council and the BBC World Service were also reduced, by 25% and 16% respectively. In February 2011, the Foreign Affairs Committee produced a Report into the immediate effects of these budget reductions. The Report concluded that the FCO was one of the major "losers" in the spending review and that budget cuts to the World Service and British Council posed a "severe challenge" to these organisations.

This inquiry will inquire into how the FCO, and its associated bodies, the British Council and BBC World Service, is implementing the demanding spending cuts and adjusting to reduced Government spending. Attention will also be given to the recently announced changes to the FCO’s global network and the Department’s greater emphasis on commercial activity.

The FCO laid its annual report, detailing its financial performance for the year ending 31 March 2011, before the House on 30 June. The 2010-11 Annual Reports of the BBC World Service and British Council were published on 12 and 19 July 2011, respectively.

The Committee will look in particular at the following matters:

  • The implementation of spending cuts within the FCO and their effect on the FCO’s core business, including the department’s overseas network and staffing levels;
  • The FCO’s financial management;
  • Spending allocations and effectiveness within the FCO;
  • The FCO’s new emphasis on commercial activity and how this will impact on the Department’s diplomatic work;
  • The work and performance of the British Council and the BBC World Service, and the implementation of the agreed spending cuts within these organisations.

The Committee will hold two oral evidence sessions for this inquiry on Tuesday 8 and 22 November.

Call for evidence

Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to submit written evidence to the inquiry on the matters outlined above. Written evidence should be received by the Committee no later than Friday 14 October for submissions relating to the FCO and Friday 28 October for submissions relating to the work and performance of the British Council and BBC World Service.

View guidance on submitting written evidence.

Form of written evidence

Submissions must be no longer than 3,000 words. Each submission should contain the following information:

  • a short summary in bullet point form;
  • a brief introduction about the person submitting evidence, perhaps explaining their area of expertise;
  • any factual information from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses; and
  • any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.

How to format submissions

Each submission should use:

  • numbered paragraphs, and
  • MS Word format with as little use of colour/ logos as possible.

Submitting evidence

Submissions should be sent as an e-mail attachment to and titled ‘FCO Performance and Finances Inquiry’. Paper copies may be sent to Foreign Affairs Committee, Committee Office, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Inquiry related questions

Please contact the Committee on 020 7219 3309 or by email to

Media enquiries

Members of the press with enquiries should contact Alex Paterson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 1589, or 07917 488488, or by email to

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