Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and consular services. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

30.09.2014Universal suffrage to elect the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017: a legal primer
In August 2014 the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress decided that the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong should be directly elected in 2017 by universal suffrage. However, the candidates (expected to be two or three in total) will still have to be approved in advance by a nominating committee, whose composition and method of formation will remain unchanged from that of the 1200-person strong 'Election Committee' which elected the current Chief Executive in 2012. Critics argue that this nominating committee will have an in-built 'pro-Beijing' bias. The decision has triggered a wave of protest. This briefing summarises the legal context of recent events, including the UK's own obligations.
10.06.2014Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: recent developments
Between 1968 and 1973 the British Government cleared the entire Chagos Archipelago of its inhabitants, opening the way for a US military base on the biggest island, Diego Garcia. The Archipelago was made a colony, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT - now an overseas territory). Two main disputes have arisen from these events. One has been between the Chagos Islanders and the British Government over the legality of the former's removal and whether they have a right to return. The other has been between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over the BIOT. The British Government has now commissioned a new study on the feasiblity of resettlement and some hope that this and other developments may open the way for progress on the sovereignty issue as well ahead of the UK 2015 general election.
New interim government chosen after Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was ousted from office. New elections promised for July 2014. The country is plagued by violence and fighting. Fighting is often over the country's huge oil wealth. Distinction between official security forces and unlawful militias is blurred.
10.04.2014The Arms Trade Treaty
A legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. It provides, for the first time, an international legal and regulatory framework for the arms trade based on respect for international law and human rights. The UK ratified the treaty on 2 April 2014. Primary legislation was not required for ratification but secondary legislation was amended and the UK's Consolidated Criteria, which are the basis upon which official decisions are made about whether to approve licence applications for arms exports, were updated. 31 states have now ratified the treaty; 50 are required for it to enter into force.
05.03.2014Combating violence against women and girls around the world
As 8 March, International Women's Day, approaches, this note briefly surveys efforts to combat violence against women and girls around the world, focusing strongly on those that involve the UK.

Research Papers

17.03.2014Ukraine, Crimea and Russia
In November 2013 the Ukrainian government decided not to sign a planned Association Agreement with the EU and demonstrations ensued in the capital Kiev. The 'Euromaidan' demonstrations turned violent in early 2014 and in February, some European foreign ministers mediated a compromise, involving a unity government and early elections.
21.01.2011UK Defence and Security Policy: A New Approach?
Both the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review were published in October 2010, five months after the Government took office. This paper examines the main priorities and recommendations set out in each of those documents
23.06.2008British foreign policy since 1997
British foreign policy since 1997. House of Commons Library Research Paper 08/56.

Select Committee Reports

15.12.2011Government response to the ninth report from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on UK-Brazil relations....
Government response. Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Foreign Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]
14.09.2011FCO's human rights work 2010-11.
Government response. Foreign and Commonwealth Office report [Commons]
07.09.2011Spending reduction in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Public Accounts Committee report [Commons]
14.07.2011Role of the FCO in UK government.
Government response. Foreign and Commonwealth Office report [Commons]
26.05.2011FCO performance and finances.
Government response. Foreign and Commonwealth Office report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House pays tribute to the important role Commonwealth scholarships have played in educating young people from Commonwealth countries, especially those in the developing world; ...
That this House congratulates the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan on its 50th anniversary this year; notes the major impact of the plan in producing leaders and highly-skilled ...
That this House notes with concern the potential impact of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) decision to withdraw funding from Commonwealth and Chevening scholarships on the ...

Lords Library Notes

14.04.2011Debate on 28 April: Co-ordination between Government Departments on the use of Soft Power
This Library Note provides background information for the debate on 28 April 2011 on co-ordination between Government departments on the use of soft power.


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses