UK

William Hague criticises 'time-wasting' Britons abroad

William Hague has criticised Britons who waste the time of consular staff with "ludicrous requests" and "bizarre demands" while abroad.

They included a caller who had lost their false teeth, and a tourist asking how to say "I love you" in Hungarian, the foreign secretary said.

A Briton in Greece struggling to erect a chicken coop also called, he said.

Mr Hague spoke at the launch of a summer crisis centre in London to help British nationals in difficulty abroad.

The government says the new centre means it will have 50% more staff than last summer to help deal with multiple crises around the world.

After praising Foreign Office staff, he said their job was not made any easier by the public wasting "time and scarce resources" with inappropriate requests.

"It is not our job, for example, to book you restaurants while you are on holiday," he said.

"This is obvious, you may think, but nonetheless it came as a surprise to the caller in Spain who was having difficulty finding somewhere to have Christmas lunch.

"If, like a man in Florida last year, you find ants in your holiday rental, we are not the people to ask for pest control advice."

'Dog minder'

Other examples included calls from Britons who could not find their false teeth, who were unhappy with their plastic surgery and whose jam would not set.

Image caption The government was accused of a slow response to the crisis in Libya last year

People should not call if their livestock needed checking, if they were looking for a dog minder "or if you want someone to throw a coin into the Trevi fountain [in Rome] for you because you forgot while you were on holiday and you want your marriage to succeed", Mr Hague added.

He said the expanded crisis centre would work with a new rapid deployment team to help British nationals caught up in natural disasters or political turmoil around the world.

Mr Hague said Britons in trouble would be able to contact the Foreign Office by text message by the end of the year.

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