Our governance

Details of the management board and terms of reference for the board and sub-committees

FCO management board

The role of the FCO management board is to provide corporate leadership to the organisation in delivering the policies and services decided by ministers.

The board is chaired by the Permanent Under Secretary and is made up of eleven members:

  • Simon Fraser, Permanent Under Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service
  • Barbara Woodward, Director General Economic and Consular
  • Robert Hannigan, Director General, Defence and Intelligence
  • Sir Simon Gass, Director General, Political
  • Matthew Rycroft, Chief Operating Officer
  • Iain Walker, Director Finance
  • Menna Rawlings, Director Human Resources
  • Nick Baird, Chief Executive, UK Trade and Investment
  • Shan Morgan, HM Ambassador, Buenos Aires
  • Rudy Markham (Non-Executive)
  • Julia Bond (Non-Executive)

The FCO Management Board is supported by three sub-committees:

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee supports the board in its delivery of the policies and services decided by Ministers. The ARC assists the Permanent Under Secretary (as Accounting Officer) and the board in their respective responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance.

Human Resources Committee

The purpose of the HR Committee is to take a corporate view of the department’s human resource policies and operations, to ensure that they contribute as effectively as possible to the delivery of the department’s business needs. The committee has members based both in London and overseas to provide a balanced user perspective on proposed policies.

Operations Committee

The role of the Operations Committee is to ensure that the network changes and efficiency savings are made in a timely and coordinated way; to support the foreign policy priorities with the right IT, estates and HR strands of Diplomatic Excellence; and to take responsibility for investment decisions.

Locarno Group

The Locarno Group supports the development and implementation of the FCO’s foreign policy through direct discussion with and advice to the Foreign Secretary, drawing on the knowledge, experience and continuing engagement with foreign policy of senior FCO alumni.

It acts as an additional source of advice to the Foreign Secretary on issues relating to the Foreign Office and foreign policy. It meets formally at least once a year and can be consulted by ministers whenever necessary. The participants give their time voluntarily.

The group held their first meeting on 24 November 2011.

The group’s discussions are treated as confidential advice to ministers on the formulation and development of foreign policy. They will not be made public without the agreement of the Foreign Secretary.

Membership

The group is made up of senior FCO alumni, selected for their breadth of experience and expertise. The members of the group as of November 2012 are:

  • Sir Michael Arthur
  • Sir Daniel Bethlehem
  • Charles Crawford
  • Sir William Ehrman
  • Dame Glynne Evans
  • Ann Grant
  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock
  • Sir John Holmes
  • Matthew Kirk
  • Sir William Patey
  • Dame Anne Pringle
  • Sir Stephen Wall

Members of the group may end their involvement in the group at any time by mutual agreement with the Foreign Secretary.

Foreign Affairs Committee

The Foreign Affairs Committee examines the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which includes the diplomatic service. The committee is appointed by the House of Commons. It comprises 11 backbench Members of Parliament from government and opposition parties.

The committee publishes Annual Reports which summarise its activities throughout the year. It also runs inquiries. Witnesses in a typical inquiry include ministers and officials from the FCO, together with a range of other witnesses depending on the nature of the inquiry. The usual culmination of a Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry is a report made to the House. The committee reaches conclusions and makes recommendations to the government in its reports. The FCO gives a detailed response to the committee’s reports within two months of publication.

European Scrutiny Committee

Another committee which examines the FCO’s work in the European Union (EU) is the European Scrutiny Committee.

This is the principal committee in the Commons for scrutinising the EU and the UK government’s interaction with it, and in particular it assesses the legal and/or political importance of each EU document and decides which should be debated by Parliament.

Its main purpose is to ensure that the House of Commons and other organisations and individuals have a chance to influence UK ministers on EU proposals and to hold UK ministers to account for their activities in the EU Council of Ministers.

House of Lords European Union Committee

The House of Lords European Union Committee scrutinises and reports on proposed European legislation before it is agreed in the EU and starts its work at the earliest possible stage in the EU decision-making process. The Minister for Europe at the FCO often appears before its enquiries.

Other parliamentary bodies relevant to the FCO

In addition to the Select Committees mentioned above, we maintain close links with a number of other parliamentary bodies whose work is relevant to the FCO. These include:

  • All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs): There are over 130 APPGs with a specific focus on overseas countries and regions, and others dealing with international issues of particular interest to the FCO (climate change, human rights etc)
  • The UK branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the International Parliamentary Union (IPU)
  • UK parliamentary delegations to the Western European Union (WEU), the Council of Europe (CoE) and other international or regional parliamentary assemblies.

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