The Foreign Office

The Foreign Office

The Foreign Office

The Foreign Office

Excerpt

For the sake of uniformity within the series to which it belongs -- a series devoted to the British Departments of State severally -- this book is entitled The Foreign Office. The title is not altogether unsuitable, for to most people the Foreign Office stands for the sumtotal of British activity in the field of foreign affairs just as the Quai d'Orsay and the State Department represent the sum-total of French and American activities in the same field. Nevertheless it may be well to emphasise at the outset that the Foreign Office is, strictly speaking, merely one part of Her Majesty's Foreign Service, and that the purpose of this book is to describe the larger entity.

Here, too, a word of warning is necessary. It is much easier to describe what the Foreign Service is than to state what it does. The structure of the Foreign Office, though necessarily complex, is probably no more difficult to define than that of any other Department of State. Some of the functions of the Foreign Service, on the other hand, have a quality of apparent vagueness and real empiricism that defies plain definition. And this springs from the very nature of diplomacy. The great majority of the other Departments of State are simply the working instruments with which the British people regulates its own affairs. Their primary function, that is, consists in carrying out the policies prescribed by Parliament and embodied in legislative acts. As a rule this is a straightforward administrative task presenting no insuperable difficulty, for the policies relate to a sphere in which their creators are not only well-informed but also sovereign. (It is true, of course, that some of the functions of the Home Departments, and notably those of the Board of Trade, lap over into spheres lying outside the sovereignty of the United Kingdom; but in so far as they do so, the Foreign Service takes a hand in the work that has to be done). If for example Her Majesty's Government, with the support of the Parliamentary majority of the day, decide that the school leaving age must be lowered, or that the postal rates must be raised, or that some other unwelcome thing must be done in the domain of internal affairs for reasons that seem to them good, execution of the decision follows almost as a matter of course. It may indeed call for much skill, tact and patience; it may meet with great opposition from the minority parties; it may . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.