Infromation: The Foreign and Commonwealth
Faster and more
reliable secure communications to aid a quicker and more co-ordinated
response to global foreign policy issues is promised with the help of
a 5.8 per cent real increase in resources over the next three years,
announced today by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown.
The Foreign and
Commonwealth Office will be implementing a radical programme of modernisation
made possible by a comprehensive upgrading of its information technology
Robin Cook said:
"I am delighted
with this significant increase in funding, enabling us to invest in
modernising our diplomatic capabilities and so deliver more for Britain
abroad, while also tackling the remaining problems created by the cuts
imposed on the BBC World Service and the British Council in the mid-1990s.
"With the extra
money we shall invest in a modern, secure, efficient and effective IT
and communication system, the most radical transformation of the way
the FCO works since the invention of the telegram. This will enable
us to pursue UK interests more effectively and to improve our commercial,
consular and entry clearance services to business and the public. I
am especially pleased that we shall be able to build on British Trade
International's successful launch.
"Our Public Diplomacy
work will receive a major boost from the additional resources we have
secured for the BBC World Service and the British Council. The BBC World
Service will be able to replace ageing short wave transmitters and expand
on-line and FM broadcasting services. The British Council will be able
to establish new knowledge and learning centres and intensify its work
in, for example, Russia and China."
including diplomatic, commercial and consular and entry clearance work
will rise to £1,143 million in 2001/02, to £1,198 million
in 2002/03 and to £1,238 million in 2003/04. Expenditure on the
BBC World Service and the British Council will also increase, to £180
million in 2001/02, £199 million in 2002/03 and £210 million
in 2003/04 for the World Service and £143 million in 2001/02, £152
million in 2002/03 and £159 million in 2003/04 for the Council.
The increased funding
will enable the FCO, including British Trade International, to increase
its investment in new information technology and security upgrades by
£10 million in 2001-02, £21 million for 2002-03 and £31
million for 2003-04. As well as improving diplomatic capabilities, this
will secure important benefits for consumers of the commercial, consular
and entry clearance services. This will be reflected in a new Public
Funding is also
being provided to increase the FCO's effort on European issues, enabling
better and more effective lobbying with all EU institutions and further
enlargement. This will equip the FCO to continue to deliver on European
issues and to influence EU developments.
will allow British Trade International, through Trade Partners UK and
Invest UK, to provide an integrated customer-focused service to British
companies and inward investors.
The FCO will participate
in new arrangements for handling cross-cutting issues, including conflict
prevention, cleaning up nuclear waste in the former Soviet Union, and
the fight against illegal drugs. The Foreign Secretary will chair the
inter-departmental Committee on Conflict Prevention outside of sub-Saharan
Africa. This will improve the Government's ability to deal with threats
to UK interests.
The FCO has set
itself an ambitious 3 per cent efficiency target, to deliver better
value for money for taxpayers and produce savings to help fund modernisation.
Its capital investment programme will also benefit from up to £100
million of recycled receipts from the disposal of under-performing or
1. Key figures:
2. Figures do not
include the global cross-cutting conflict prevention budget
3. The FCO's baseline has been reduced by £32.8 million to reflect its contribution to the pooled budgets on conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and nuclear waste clean-up in the former Soviet Union.
4. For more details contact the FCO Press Office on 020 7270 3909.