HC Deb 11 March 1929 vol 226 cc945-8

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I hope we shall have a word or two from the Secretary of State in regard to a Measure upon which many questions have been asked. I am somewhat surprised that those hon. Members who have taken a strong exception to Departments of State issuing orders in regard to other Bills have not raised the same objection to the Secretary of State for the Dominions issuing orders, as he is permitted to do under Clause 3. When we have asked that some regard should be had to the position of those people who are lower paid in regard to the question of making pensions retrospective, we have had great difficulty in securing any concession from the Government, but under this Measure they are quite prepared to admit the principle that this Bill has been in operation since the 9th March, 1922, in respect to the pensions of Dominion Governors and other officials who may be brought under its operation by an order of the Colonial Office. I think the Government should have some regard to those in their service who are lower paid.


I do not intend to detain the House for more than a few minutes, or to raise any question of principle. I recognise that if I did raise any point the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State would have a very ample reply because he would say that this is an agreed Measure, and that hon. Members on this side who held office in the Colonial Department were in agreement with the proposals of this Bill. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would consider that as being a very ample and full reply. But, assuming that to be the case, I want to state the position which one or two of my colleagues feel in regard to this Measure. We are not going to divide the House, but we do think that in the matter of these Colonial Governors, and other highly-placed officials, that the Government is acting with undue haste in giving them considerably increased pensions at the expense of the State, when they are not by any the first who should be considered in this respect. We think the Government ought to act, not so much on behalf of this section of the community as on behalf of poorer sections which are much more in need of help than are these people. We think that an increase of pension from £1,300 to £2,000 is a shocking increase, which is unjustifiable at any time, and particularly unjustifiable at a time when, we are told, the nation's financial burden is almost too much to be borne by large masses of the people. I rise to protest against the passing of the Measure. I regard it as a grant from a rich Government to its rich friends. It is a grant to people who are not worthy of the first claim upon the nation, while poorer people who have a much finer claim are neglected. I should be neglecting my duty to my constituents if I did not voice, not only my own objection, but that of two or three of my colleagues, to what we think is a bribe by a rich Government to its rich friends outside.


The House will feel, I am sure, that the Bill does deal with a real grievance, the remedying of which has been long deferred. So far from it being hasty legislation, the inequalities which it redresses have been clamant ever since the great War, and it is more than a year since a Committee representing all parties was unanimous in agreeing as to the way in which the inequalities should be dealt with. It is not the case that ex-governors will get £2,000 a year or anything like it. That pension will be paid only in an extreme case where a governor has been for something like 18 years governor of a first class colony with a good many other years of civil service behind him. Only then has he any chance of aspiring to such a pension. Sir Hugh Clifford, with something like 45 years service, will not be able to get a pension of £2,000 when he retires in two years time. The £2,000 is an outside figure. On the whole this very deserving class of civil servants, whose efficiency is so essential to the welfare of our Colonial Empire, will not be over-rewarded by this scale of pensions. The Committee referred to mentioned the extreme hardship of one case where a gentleman who had been a governor and for whom there was no suitable opening available, after his first governorship, has never yet had a pension.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Now that this admitted grievance is being dealt with, can the right hon. Gentleman come to an understanding with Colonial servants that in future the Governor of a Dependency who retires is not expected to take up a directorship in a company which has financial, mining or other concessions in the Dependencies? That is really a point of substance. It may have been necessary in the past for these gentlemen to take advantage of the knowledge gained in the service, but it is admitted to be undesirable, and I hope that in future some rule or gentleman's understanding can be arranged.


There are already pretty strict rules governing that matter.

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