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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Yorkshire puddings and the FCO

Friday, December 14, 2007

Meg was featured in the December issue of News + Views, the magazine for FCO staff, with the following question and answer article.


The crisis in Burma has taken up a lot of your time recently what more can the FCO do to help find a peaceful solution?


Getting an international consensus is crucial, particularly engaging China and India. We have a “stick and carrot” approach condemnation backed by sanctions, with financial help should democratic change begin.


Change will not be quick or easy, so we will have to work hard and continually monitor and tailor appropriate responses. I’m grateful for the long hours put in by many staff, both in London and overseas.



How well does the FCO work with other government departments?


On the whole well, but in some areas we could do better. We need to find ways of including other departments in our deliberations.


Overseas I’ve been impressed by how our High Commissions and Embassies often have staff from a number of government departments working very successfully together.



This is the first time equality and diversity issues have been included in the portfolio of an FCO Minister. What do you hope to achieve?


An environment where all our staff can develop their talents, achieve their best at work and have a good home/social life. 


I want to see more women aspire to the top and get there. We’re competing for skills and talents in a big pool so the Foreign Office has to be an attractive career option for a wider group of people.



How can we make it easier for FCO staff to balance a demanding career with family responsibilities?


Organisations that care for their staff and plan for their development get a return in spades - the FCO has to lead on this issue.


Ensuring partners get worthwhile careers is not easy. An idea I am keen to look into is whether we can work more closely with global organisations to help provide a wider range of job opportunities for partners. I also want to learn from staff who make this work.



If you could change one area of foreign policy what would it be?


Dinners for all visiting heads of states should start with Yorkshire pudding served the proper way like we do in Yorkshire. This means before the meat course, on its own with gravy and mustard or horse radish.



What has been the most interesting place you’ve visited as an FCO Minister so far?


It’s difficult, but I’d have to say Tonga. I knew little about it before I went other than it’s a Pacific Island with a good rugby team. It’s beautiful and the people are very friendly. Showing respect is very important, and wearing grass mats, particularly following bereavement, is one way they show it.  I also got to meet the King! 

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