Select Committee shares PCS concerns that move could have serious effect on UK’s relations with other countries
An influential group of MPs has today backed a call by the PCS for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reverse its decision to axe UK embassy posts around the globe.
The foreign affairs select committee says the risks posed by the FCO’s decision to cut almost all junior diplomatic posts from UK embassies could reduce its ability to react to crises overseas.
In its departmental annual report published today, the committee concludes that the FCO is underfunded and the position has been worsened by recent government cuts.
Noting PCS’s opposition to the cuts to UK-based staff, the report concludes they are “an error”, adding: “We believe that our conclusion last year that the spending reductions demanded by the [October 2010 spending review] could ‘have a serious effect in terms of the UK’s relations with other countries, out of all proportion to the amounts of money involved’ is borne out by this move.”
The committee goes on to say that events of the past year have shown the importance of having trained, experienced staff in post, and adds: “That the FCO is voluntarily choosing to reduce this resource is a highly questionable decision.”
The committee recommends the government provides extra funding to allow the FCO to keep junior posts overseas to ensure the department has the skills and experience necessary.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We’re pleased the select committee shares our concerns about the very damaging effect of cutting so many UK embassy jobs, and we ask the government again to provide the extra funding needed.
“Instead of ploughing ahead with politically motivated cuts to the civil service that are not only unnecessary but clearly counterproductive, the government should heed the warnings and invest in staff.”
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