The British Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committe have launched an enquiry into British Consular Services world wide and has invited interested groups and individuals to contribute their views. But time is running out. 
This particular notification came to by way of ‘Prisoners Abroad’
If anyone has a suggestion or recommendation to make, its probably make it to the address below. 
I was around when Jo Parham set up Prisoners Abroad – good to see its still going strong.
I am not sure if they have Microsoft Word in Thai prisons – as they seem to have in Cambodia.
Now’s the time to act. cannot help. But please free to send whinging comments their way, er, as opposed to here. No more than 3000 words to the committee (small ones if possible).
You do not have to be a prisoner to comment – I guess not many will able to – this is open for everyone who has a constructive comment.


Consular services can be the most high-profile aspect of the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the aspect through which UK citizens are most likely to come into contact with the department. In 2012, the FCO dealt with over 1 million general consular enquiries and over 100,000 consular cases, including over 20,000 cases requiring consular assistance.  

Under the Coalition Government, consular services have been made one of only three overarching priorities for the FCO. Following an internal review prompted by its handling of the Libya crisis in early 2011, the FCO has overhauled its consular crisis response mechanisms, including through the launch of an expanded consular crisis centre in London in October 2012. In April 2013, the FCO launched a new overall three-year consular strategy, ‘Consular Excellence’, with the aim of providing ‘the best consular service in the world’ by 2016.

The Foreign Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into the FCO’s consular services, and invites submissions of evidence and possible recommendations on the department’s performance in this area. The Committee would welcome submissions which assess in particular:

i. how the UK’s consular services compare with those of similar countries;

ii. what UK nationals can legitimately expect from UK consular services and whether current consular service provision meets these expectations;

iii. recent and planned reforms to the FCO’s provision of consular services, since 2010 and as set out in the new 2013-2016 ‘Consular Excellence’ strategy, including changes to notarial and legalisation services, the withdrawal of on-the-ground consular services from some European cities, and the increased handling of consular work through centralised call centres and online;

iv. the FCO’s consular support for UK nationals in situations of particular difficulty or distress abroad, and their families, such as the families of UK nationals who die abroad, UK nationals in foreign criminal justice systems and their families, and UK nationals involved in international hostage taking and child abduction situations;

v. the FCO’s handling of consular crises;

vi. the FCO’s communication of consular information to the public, in both normal times and crisis situations (and including the department’s accession to the Twitter Alerts Service in November 2013);

vii. the role, status and performance of Honorary Consuls;

viii. the transfer of authority for the issuing of UK passports overseas to the Passport Office, under the Home Office;

ix. how the FCO works on consular affairs with other Government departments and agencies, companies and civil society;

x. FCO staff training and deployment for consular affairs;

xi. the FCO’s mechanisms for evaluating and further improving its consular services and dealing with complaints; and

xii. the charging structure for the FCO’s consular services, and the overall level of consular support which the FCO provides to UK citizens.

Call for evidence:

Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to submit written evidence to the inquiry. Written evidence should be received by the Committee no later than Monday 20 January.

Please note: As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Foreign Affairs Committee website.

•         Please click the link here: Submit written evidence online.
Form of written evidence:
Submissions must be no longer than 3,000 words. The main body of any submission should use numbered paragraphs. Each submission should contain:
•         a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form;
•         a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, perhaps explaining their area of expertise or experience;
•         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.
Submissions should be in MS Word format (we cannot process PDFs) with no use of colour or logos.
Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence

Are they good in a crisis?

Inquiry-related questions:

Please contact, or 020 7219 6106.

Follow the Committee on Twitter: @CommonsForeign


Committee Membership is as follows:
Rt Hon Richard Ottaway (Chair) (Croydon South), Conservative; Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay), Conservative; Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife), Liberal Democrat; Rt Hon Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), Labour; Mike Gapes (Ilford South), Labour; Mark Hendrick (Preston), Labour; Sandra Osborne (Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock), Labour; Andrew Rosindell (Romford), Conservative; Mr Frank Roy (Motherwell and Wishaw), Labour; Rt Hon Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling), Conservative; Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border), Conservative


  1. My first comment to the Committee will be why the British Embassy in Bangkok did not clearly publicise this Enquiry and invite comments from British Nationals in Thailand and in particular what did the Ambassador do to get British Nationals to respond.

  2. I have to admit having written and submitted my experiences of the consular services at Wireless Road I'm feeling calm, relaxed and strangely relieved almost as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I admit I had to take several deep breaths as I wrote what I hope will concur with other ex-pats consular experiences here in LOS and Andrea I have you to thank for providing me with this feeling of calm even if it is 3.25 am here.

    I received the following email…

    Thank you for submitting written evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry on FCO consular services.

    We will be in touch if we have any further questions.

    I sincerely hope they don't ask me questions about Croquet as I can't play the game. :-((

  3. Do they have a big enough data base and time to take all the complaints which must run into 10s of thousands. I have never known anyone in my 15 years in Thailand to have had a satisfactory outcome be it when in trouble or needing assistance and Graeme Smiths comments just about sum up everything about the British Embassy. They really are just a waste of space which needs a total refurbishment and as most of the people who have previously left Thailand this is just a waste of time. Someone who was in trouble and never received any help will just shrug it of as the horse already bolted AS I WILL.. They know they have problems and as the calls are or should be recorded, they would find out what really goes on. They wouldn't be interested in sitting listening to thousands of recorded calls so what makes you think that they would sit and read all the comments or grievances people have now.

  4. I have to agree with Graeme and ap.

    Despite what they now say, they don't want feedback. They already know the problems and the complaints. Unless of course they are not being passed on. At consular and ambassador level, they are aware because the diplomats regularly talk to each other and compare notes. German diplomats particularly seem more "customer conscious".

  5. Yes it's mock (i.e. meaningless) bureaucracy. People will write in complaining about the embassy not doing anything for those in the shits, abandoning Brits in Pattaya, not lifting the phone, not replying to emails etc. The answer will be that the foreign office must cut face-to-face services to concentrate on the very serious calamities (cough) and to allow the internet and the social media to play a bigger role in consular work. In this way the British government will indeed offer the best worldwide help service (cough, cough). Years down the road, one can anticipate that anyone wanting assistance anywhere in the world will need to ring a freephone number in UK – which won't be free. "Lines to Liverpool are engaged, please try again later."

  6. It cannot be just coincidence the Daily Mail today announced that Liverpool had overtaken Chipping Norton as the most promiscuous place in the UK.

  7. I will send my thoughts on consular support in wireless road but have no expectation of it making any difference because real assistance doesn't seem to be in their remit they di offer a very nice tea though End of!!!!

  8. I cant see things ever changing because the embassies already work very well for the people who staff them. The Brits who go there in the hope of some real assistance will lm sorry to say be sorely disappointed

  9. My only contribution would be to suggest they end the practice of Thai people interrogating British Citizens at the gatehouse 'like they are some sort of criminal' before allowing access to the embassy! Apart form that I find that services and responseses are fine, although I've never been destitute or in jail in Thailand.

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