The Spectator

Letters | 27 September 2012

Bureaucratic excesses

Sir: Your otherwise excellent leader on the billions wasted by Department for International Development (22 September) fails to mention the duplication and excesses in the department and its parent Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Around the world there are only three classes of country: those whose money we want, those who need our money and those to whom we are indifferent, at least financially. In the first group we need embassies or high commissions but no DfID, in the second we need DfID but no FCO, and in the third we need neither. It is absurd to send aid to India, for example, a country richer than ours. It offends the Indians and implies we know how India should be run better than they do. Of course, money is not everything and we may seek politically to influence those in the second and third groups. Today there are plenty of ways to do that, through the UN, special meetings and short ministerial visits, without the costs, and now dangers, of permanent missions. And those countries may wish to have missions in London which need not be reciprocated. And while we are at it, we should eliminate the British Council wherever it fails to earn its keep.
Tim Ambler
Senior Fellow, Adam Smith Institute,
London SW1

Remember the Musketeers

Sir: It is always interesting to read the review of a biography by someone who actually knew the subject, as in the case of Alistair Horne’s review of The Spy Who Loved (Books, 22 September). However, he perpetuates some of the myths about Christine Granville (aka Krystyna Skarbek) — tales that either have no basis in fact or that give her credit for the work of others. Christine did not alert Churchill to the news that Operation Barbarossa was about to be launched.

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