Letter: The uses of embassies

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Sir: I was concerned to hear, yet again, that the Government is looking to sell off some of this country's embassies and other diplomatic properties abroad - because they are too grand (report, 25 May).

These buildings serve as our shop window in every corner of the globe. They provide a foothold for British companies seeking to export British products. A great many contracts have been agreed within their walls - with the essential assistance provided by embassy staff able to brief companies about local business life and culture.

We trust Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Boots and similar high-street names because they offer a quality shopping environment in prime sites. That is why they are successful - and that is how our embassies have managed to contribute to our trading success (with efficiency that has been, perhaps, too quiet).

Our embassies are not broken, Mr Brown, so please do not try to fix them.