Our work with parliament

Accountability to Parliament

As a Non-Departmental Public Body spending taxpayers’ money, the British Council is formally accountable to Parliament. Our annual report and accounts are laid out before Parliament and our work is scrutinised by the Foreign Affairs Committee. Our Chair and Chief Executive are regularly called before the Committee to give oral evidence about our activity around the world. 

The Foreign Affairs Committee

The Foreign Affairs Committee's remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which includes the diplomatic service. As the British Council receives public funds from the FCO budget we are also subject to the Committee’s scrutiny. 

More information on the committee

Engaging Parliamentarians with our work

The purpose of the British Council All-Party Parliamentary Group is for Parliamentarians to learn more about, and better understand the British Council, and to support the British Council, offering advice and encouragement in both its every day and long term work.

The All-Party Group is made up of MPs and Peers with an interest in the work of the British Council and international cultural affairs. The Group holds regular events and meetings that are advertised in the All-Party Notices. The British Council provides the Secretariat for the Group. 
 
Officers:
  • Chair - Lord Bach
  • Vice-Chairs - Baroness Grey-Thompson, Baroness Hooper, Huw Irranca Davies MP 
  • Treasurer - Stephen Gilbert MP 
  • Secretary - John Glen MP 
In addition to our formal role in support of the All-Party Group, we also:
  • Inform Parliamentarians of the activity taking place in their constituencies, for example our work with schools like the Connecting Classrooms programme. 
  • Hold briefings and meetings for Parliamentarians on aspects of our work and our operations in specific countries. 
  • Submit factual written evidence to Government, Parliamentary Select Committees, political parties and individual Parliamentarians, for example in response to a Select Committee inquiry or a Parliamentary Question. 
  • Welcome delegations of Parliamentarians to our offices and operations around the world, for example when they are on an overseas visit organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union or the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. 
The British Council also works regularly with Parliamentarians to deliver our strategic objectives in the promotion of English, the arts, education and society.  For example, we invite Ministers and Parliamentarians to speak at conferences such as our annual Going Global international higher education conference. Where we fund visits abroad by Parliamentarians we publish this information.

Expenses

The British Council proactively publishes the details of all visits made by Parliamentarians which we have funded or part-funded. This adheres with the Information Commissioner’s requirements for a broadening of the information published via our FOI Publication Scheme, and is in line with rules set out by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Contact us

If you would like further information on our parliamentary activities you can contact Alistair MacDonald in our External Relations team on 020 7389 4636  or at parliamentaryaffairs@britishcouncil.org.