Britain needs spies: William Hague searches for the next James Bond

  • @bobjwilliams

The Foreign Secretary William Hague today launched a scheme aimed at recruiting the next generation of British spies.

Mr Hague, who was visiting Bletchley Park with the Director of GCHQ, Iain Lobban, announced a new scheme aimed at encouraging budding James Bond types to join GCHQ and the British intelligence agencies.

Mr Hague also outlined plans for a £480,000 donation from his department to secure the future of Bletchley Park, the spiritual home of code breaking in the UK.

The estate in Buckinghamshire, which houses the National Codes Centre and the National Museum of Computing, was used during the Second World War as the main site for code breaking and decryption.

Today Mr Hague paid tribute to those who worked in the building. The cracking of the virtually unbreakable Enigma and Lorenz Cipher machines is credited with helping win the war.

Speaking to Bletchley veterans and staff, William Hague said: “Bletchley Park was the scene of one of the finest achievements in our nation's history. Without the code-breaking geniuses of Bletchley Park our country would have been at a devastating disadvantage during the war.”

Bletchley is home to the world's first semi-programmable computer, Colossus, and is of significant historical importance to the UK.

The donation from the Foreign Office, and the subsequently unlocked £5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding, look set to ensure its future.

Iain Standen, CEO of the Bletchley Park Trust, said: “The Bletchley Park Trust is enormously grateful to the FCO for the contribution of £480,000 to complete the £2.4 million match funding necessary to unlock a further £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.  This will allow the Trust to commence the vital restoration of historic code-breaking huts, and the creation of a world-class visitor centre and educational exhibitions.”

Speaking today Mr Hague also launched a so-called 'spy drive' to find the next generation of GCHQ apprentices.

William Hague spoke of the importance of finding the next generation of intelligence workers, regardless of their academic background.

He said: “Young people are the key to our country's future success, just as they were during the War. It will be the young innovators of this generation who will help keep our country safe in years to come against threats which are every bit as serious as some of those confronted in the Second World War.”

Following a successful pilot of the scheme the first young apprentices will walk through the doors of GCHQ this autumn.