HC Deb 03 May 1887 vol 314 cc824-33

(Sir Herbert Maxwell, Sir Henry Holland, Mr. Jackson.)

COMMITTEE. [Progress 2nd May.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 4 (Mode of computing superannuation allowance to be granted in certain cases).

Amendment proposed, in page 2, lines 16 and 17, leave out, "profits of his employment," and insert "salary and emoluments of his office."—(Sir Herbert Maxwell.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'profits of his employment' stand part of the Clause."

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I wrote to ask the hon. Baronet who has charge of the Bill what he actually means by this Amendment, "profits of his employment," and "salary and emoluments of his office." I should think these words are very nearly synonymous, and I should say that when any of these colonial officers is drawing pay from any office he holds under the Government in any of the various Colonies under consideration, that he would frequently get advantages which are of a pecuniary nature, and which are profits; and I think these would come under the form of profits which would pay him better than if they came under this Amendment. I should like to know why the hon. Baronet proposes to introduce this Amendment, instead of retaining the words "profits of his employment.


I would submit to the hon. Gentleman that these words more clearly express, and in more technical language, that which was intended by the first drafting of the Bill. It is an improvement in drafting, that is all.

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

But it makes different sense. The difference between the original and the new drafting is this— that the pension could only be calculated in the existing drafting on the profits derived from the office; but under the new drafting, it is calculated upon the gross salary received, and that is very different. A man may receive salary as a Governor of a Crown Colony, which may include the expense of the Government of his house, and so on, and a variety of other things which are by no means a profit to him, and so far as I can gather, the pension would be calculated, not on the net salary, but upon the gross salary of such an official; and, therefore, it might lead to abuses. I have road this Clause 4 very carefully; but I see that the new words it is proposed to introduce makes the clause quite different, and, to my mind, most objectionable.


I think if the hon. Member will read the new clause which I propose to insert instead of Clause 3, and will read that, in conjunction with Clause 4, he will find that the maximum pension is included, and every safeguard is taken that the pension shall bear the proper proportion to the joint services of the Governor.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 (Application of 28 & 29 Vict. c. 113, and 35 & 36 Vict. c. 29, to High Commissioner of Cyprus).

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

I rise for the purpose of moving the omission of this clause; and I hope the Committee will pay some attention to it. This is a clause to include in the category of Colonial or ex-Colonial Governors, the High Commissioner of Cyprus. The Island of Cyprus means a not loss to this country of £35,000 a-year—that is to say, there was voted out of the Consolidated Fund, to make good the loss occasioned by having the island, something like £35,000 a-year. There may be any number of High Commissioners of Cyprus, as the island is a healthy place; but I want to point out that the High Commissioners may die off, or to avoid the danger of so dying off, some may be disposed to run away from their appointments, and thus get this pension. When we come to consider the loss which this island is already to the taxpayers of this country, I think it extremely unreasonable we should be called upon to contribute something like £1,000 a-year, or two-thirds of the salary of the High Commissioner of the Island of Cyprus, and thus increase the tax already placed upon the taxpayers of this country, owing to the inability of the inhabitants of Cyprus to pay sufficient taxes for the administration of the island. Cyprus is by no means a Colony, in the ordinary sense of the term, and if this is to go on, we do not know where it is to stop. I should like to know for what reasons the Government have come forward and included this clause in the Bill; I should like to know how many of these ex-Commissioners there are to whom it is proposed this Bill shall apply; and to have some estimate as to what may be the ultimate cost of including this clause.


Of course, I do not propose to go into the question as to whether it was desirable to take Cyprus under our care; but we have got it, and we administer it as a Crown Colony. We are bound to do so, and the consequence is we are bound to have an Administrator there. It follows that if we are to get a good Administrator, we must deal with him in the same way as with Governors of other Colonies, and reward him accordingly. The only object of this section is to bring the Administrators of Cyprus into the same position as the Governors of other Colonies. Cyprus is not, in the strict sense, a Colony; but it is governed as a Crown Colony. In respect of the other question which the hon. Gentleman asks, may I state the first Governor of Cyprus was Lord Wolseley, who has no pension as such Governor. The next Governor, Sir Richard Biddulph, was one who has likewise no pension, and the present Governor, Sir Henry Bulwer, has not retired from the service; therefore there has been, at present, no Governor at Cyprus enjoying a pension. If the hon. Member is right in saying it is a healthy place, he may hope the Administrators may live for some time before retiring, and will, therefore, not require pensions for any length of time.


I merely wanted to ask whether those gentlemen who have been High Commissioners would, supposing the Bill were now law, be entitled to receive a pension; and whether any existing law would enable them to retire on a pension?


No, Sir; there is no such law.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

When I first entered Notice of opposition to this Bill, I had sincere doubts as to the course I ought to pursue. Naturally, I am an unsuspicious person, and I have found that I am of too confiding a nature; but when I found this clause in the Bill, I, of course, strongly objected to it. Owing to my ignorance of the technicalities as to the entering of notice of opposition to certain clauses in regard to certain points to which I object, I unfortunately made a mistake in dealing with it. I can now, however, very easily see the reason why the Government have shown an inordinate amount of anxiety about this Bill; it is in order to protect their properties in this veritable white elephant—the Island of Cyprus. The Island of Cyprus, we all know, is one of those very undesirable subjects about which there is great doubt whether it was of any use whatever, or likely to be of any protection to this country. It weighs upon this country in every possible way, and tends rather to promote a casus belli in connection with other countries; and, what is further, we see that the Government are trying to make a Colony of it. It has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Henry Holland) that hitherto it has not been considered a Colony; and, accordingly, it is proposed to make provision for the Governors of the Island similar to the provision made for the Governors of other Colonies connected with the British Empire. What are the Government doing now? They know the difficulties that beset them on all sides in connection with the occupation of Cyprus and the suspicion of Continental Governments, and they are now trying to get in this thin end of the wedge for carrying out their policy of peace without honour in connection with this Island. Consequently, I shall take upon myself to move the omission of the clause, and I shall oppose it by every means. I sincerely hope I may get assistance in disputing this insidious attempt of the Government to press the Bill through always at this late hour of the night.


I confess I am at a loss to understand the terms in which this clause is drawn. The right hon. Gentleman states that no past Governors of this Island can be entitled to pensions.


They will be entitled to pensions for services; but not for service in the Island only.


Not entitled to pensions quâ Governors of Cyprus for all practical purposes, for the purposes of this section, they are not entitled to pensions at all. That being so, I want to know why the draftsman has drawn the clause, so that it will apply to persons who have ceased to be Governors of the Island before this Act is passed, as well as those who cease to be Governors after the passing of the Act? The two persons who have been Governors—Lord Wolseley, and another gentleman whose name I did not catch—what is the object of taking power to give them pensions if they are not entitled to them? The right hon. Gentleman has not explained that. The section is made retrospective, although the Colonial Secretary says there is no necessity to make it retrospective. At least, he should explain what seems the very peculiar framing of the section.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I think I must move to report Progress, for this is no time to take a discussion on such a Bill. I recollect, when Cyprus was taken in charge, there was a great parade of intended improvements in administration, and it was said though this would involve some charge upon this country at first, later on that charge would be reimbursed. But now we have the Government coming for money— sponging on the taxpayers of this country—by a clause that, I think, requires a closer scrutiny than it can receive at this hour. As my hon. Friend (Mr. M. J. Kenny) has pointed out, not only have we the statement that no High Commissioner who has served previously to the passing of the Act is entitled to a pension, lout we have here words that distinctly bring those gentlemen within the meaning of the Act entitling them to pensions. The words of the clause would apply to Lord Wolseley and the other gentleman not named. We should like more detailed information, and I feel constrained to move to report Progress.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sitagain."—(Mr. Chance.)


I hope the hon. Gentleman will not persist with this Motion. I am sorry if I have not explained the point, which seemed a very small one. This is not a question as to the general expenditure of Cyprus.


You are asking for money.


We have Cyprus on our hands. We have not the Sovereignty, but we have to govern it as we govern a Crown Colony. We must have a Governor, and surely no one can doubt that service as Administrator of Cyprus should be on the same footing as the administration of a Crown Colony? In respect to the point raised by the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), it is, as I said before, not a question whether the Governors, who in the past have done their duty in the Island, should be pensioned for it, but that service there may be counted in with services entitling to a pension. I really hope, after this explanation, we may go on with the Bill of which we have passed the most material part.


I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Chance) will press his Motion. In addition to the points I have urged, it has been clearly shown that the two preceding Governors of Cyprus have managed their affairs in so good a manner that, beside being Governors, they have enjoyed many other honorariums. They have held other posts, they were officers of high military rank. The first High Commissioner, Lord Wolseley, was a general in the Army, and enjoyed many subsidies that accrued to him from that position. I do not understand why the Treasury Bench, and, notably, the right hon. Gentleman who has the Bill in charge, press the measure with such pertinacity? Possibly, it is because they are a Conservative Government nominally, and consequently consider that Cyprus is specially under their care. The Island was first acquired by a Conservative Government, and they feel bound, in every possible way, to pay in an inordinate and exorbitant way such officers as they may promote to high office in the Island.


I believe it is the fact that Sir Henry Bulwer, the present High Commissioner, served for many years in Natal, and I presume the clause is only that he, and others in like position, may not lose the advantage of service in different parts of the world.


The hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) has expressed his opinion that a Tory Government press on the Bill, because it contains provisions for the benefit of Governors of Cyprus, in whom he supposes the Government are specially interested; but I may remind him that the Bill was drafted by our Predecessors in Office.


If all the Governors of Cyprus were like those of the past I do not know that I should care to criticize this clause. I do not exactly know the salary of the High Commissioner—I suppose some £2,000 or £3,000 a-year. But what would be possible under the clause is that persons holding minor appointments, not gentlemen of Lord Wolseley's rank and character, might be suddenly thrust into this position, and have their pensions calculated upon the high rate of pay attached to the office, and by that means a fraud would be perpetrated upon the taxpayers. If we have an undertaking that such things would not be done, probably my hon. Friend (Mr. Chance) would withdraw his Motion.


I can only give the assurance that no Government would appoint to a place like Cyprus a man not competent for the duties of this important position. The object of the Bill is to secure good men for the post, putting them in the same position as regards pensions as other Governors. The new clause, as the Committee will see, limits the amount of pension to two-thirds of the amount of the salary and emoluments. I trust hon. Members will now allow us to proceed.

MR. ILLING WORTH (Bradford, W.)

I hope the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chance) will consent to withdraw his Motion. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Henry Holland) that there should be no distinction, so far as the Governor is concerned, in consequence of the policy under which Cyprus was occupied. Under the conditions we obtained the Island, we are bound to administer it.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

That is quite true; but is not the responsibility shared with, the Turks, and should not the Turks pay a share?


A certain subsidy is, by Convention, paid to Turkey; the surplus accrues to this country, and the administration is ours.


But with a loss of £25,000, whence is the surplus to come?


I do not think my point has been met. I agree that it is quite reasonable that Governors of Cyprus should be entitled to have their time in Cyprus allowed in calculating the period for earning a pension, and if that was all the clause effected, I should not oppose it. But my objection is, that this section does a great deal more than that. It does not confine itself with enabling the Government, when pensioning those gentlemen who have served as Governors of Cyprus, to to take into account the time served as Governors of Cyprus, it empowers the Government to give pensions simply for service as Governor of Cyprus. It bears that interpretation; but I venture to say the proper way to carry out the object said to be in view, is not to draw the section in this retrospective manner, but to add a Proviso somewhat in this form— Provided always, That in the case of any person who has served as Governor of Cyprus in calculating his time of service, the time of service as Governor of Cyprus shall he taken into consideration.


It has reference to the present Governor, now acting as such.


I am willing to withdraw my Motion on condition that the "Report" stage is taken at a reasonable hour, and after a reasonable interval of time.


Yes; certainly.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 (Definition of permanent Civil Service of a Colony).

Amendment proposed, in page 2, lines 35 and 36, to leave out the words "or superannuation allowance."—(Sir Herbert Maxwell.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

May I ask, would service in a self-governing Colony be calculated in fixing pensions in the term of service of those who subsequently held office as Governors of a Crown Colony?


The sum he receives from a Colony, and is entitled to receive, will be deducted from the pension he receives in respect to work in Cyprus or anywhere else.


That is not exactly a satisfactory answer. I object to persons who hold office conferred on them by a Colonial Government, practically an independent Government, claiming the time they have so served, together with the term served under the Imperial Government. I think there should be a limitation in Clause 6 to the term in a Crown Colony only to prevent abuses that might arise.


I would call the hon. Member's attention to Clause 2 as amended, which provides that the Treasury shall determine the portion of the payment from the Consolidated Fund, or moneys voted by Parliament, and that there shall be no payment there from in respect of any employment in the permanent Civil Service of a Colony. The Imperial taxpayer will not be called upon to pay for pensions in respect to service in a self-governing Colony.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

Then there can be no harm in defining that. If you introduce the word in line 35 "of any Crown Colony" that would meet the object.


That is not the Amendment under discussion.

Question put, and negatived.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

New Clauses—

On the Motion of Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, the following Amendment made:—In page 2, leave out Clause 3, and insert the following Clause:—

(Provision for pensions.)

"A person shall not receive by way of pension, under the Colonial Governors (Pensions) Acts, 1865 and 1872, an amount which, together with any pension for service in the permanent Civil Service of the State or of a Colony, exceeds the sum of £1,000 a-year, or two-thirds of the salary and emoluments of his office in that service, whichever is greater. But his pension under the said Acts shall not be reduced by reason of his pension in respect of the said service being an emolument within the meaning of section 7 of 'The Colonial Governors (Pensions) Act, 1865.' "

On the Motion of Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, the following Amendments made:—In page 2, after Clause 6, insert the following Clauses:—

(Provision against double pensions.)

"A person shall not receive a pension under the Colonial Governors (Pensions) Acts, 1865 and 1872, or this Act, and also under section 12 of 'The Superannuation Act, 1859.' "

(Explanation of terms.)

"The expressions 'permanent Civil Service of the State,' 'permanent Civil Service of Her Majesty,' and 'permanent Civil Service of the Crown,' are hereby declared to have the same meaning, and this Act and any enactment relating to salaries and pensions shall be construed accordingly.

"In this Act 'pension' includes superannuation allowance."

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Tuesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 251."]