§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This also is really an enabling Bill to make it possible to implement the White Paper policy set out in May last year in Cmd. 9768 on Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. Its purpose in regard to the Special List, to which I and, I know, many hon. Members on both sides of the House attach the utmost importance, is to put the Government in a position to be able to meet various financial obligations which we have assumed under certain special agreements entered into with certain Colonial Territories, such obligations as payment of pensions, contributions to salary while an officer is en disponibilité, and contributions, if necessary, to compensation.
This is not, I think, the occasion for me to speak of the compensation schemes for those who leave the Service. We are here far more concerned with those who stay on in the Service. Nor, I think, would it be in order for me to speak at length on the efforts which we have made in recent years, with much backing from the Territorial Governments concerned, to secure recognition of the paramount importance of having impartial and independent public service commissions in territories which are gaining independence within the Commonwealth. In this way, and by the signature of public service agreements, we have shown the great importance we attach to this, and that promotion and other Civil Service matters should be, as in the United Kingdom, kept away from political control. This is not the occasion to discuss these issues, but they are of the first importance.
I am glad to see one of my predecessors on the Front Bench opposite, and he would, I am sure, agree with me that no Secretary of State for the Colonies could fail to be conscious of his solemn obligations to the Overseas Service and of the indispensable work which its members are doing for the welfare of Colonial Territories. I, like my predecessors, have seen at first hand in the last three and a half years much of their courage and 926 loyalty and good humour, patience and integrity.
I have seen men and women facing situations which they never envisaged when they first joined the Colonial Service. I have seen them meeting new situations quite different in kind but just as challenging as those which confronted their predecessors, and I have seen them giving complete and absolute loyalty to new Governments which have emerged in the Colonies in recent years. I have watched them, as one is bound to do, facing often many frustrations and disappointments but never letting their enthusiasm be soured or their courage grow dim. They have, I think, to an unequalled degree what Lord Milner, another great predecessor of ours, once called the British trump card;The power of our individuals overseas to fit into the most incongruous situations and make the best of limited opportunities without troubling their heads about the imperfections of systems.But it must be our task as far as we can to try to perfect the system.
These are people for whom the House have a special regard and responsibility. In 1954, my predecessor, Lord Chandos, proclaimed the formation of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service as the successor to the Colonial Service. His statement announced safeguards for officers whose service is cut short owing to constitutional changes. It was really quite a revolutionary statement for, for the first time, it was recognised explicitly that Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have a definite obligation towards certain categories of officers.
The purpose of setting up the new Service was to define these categories, to separate them from that huge body known as the Colonial Service and give them a collective title. The statement of 1954 was not an end but the beginning of a new deal. The next step was the issue of the White Paper, Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service, in May of 1956. There were two aspects of that White Paper on the policy and organisation of Her Majesty's Overseas Service.
In the first place, we announced in the White Paper our intention to recruit people with the necessary qualification far secondment to Colonial Territories approaching self-government and to Commonwealth countries that had already attained that status, on request from the 927 Governments concerned. We said at the time that lists would be prepared of those who were ready and available to accept service of this kind and, if the demand rose to substantial proportions and regular employment for a number of years could be foreseen, these people would come into the regular employment of the United Kingdom Government for service overseas. This body of officers has since been generally referred to as the Central Pool.
Secondly, in the White Paper last year we argued that this was only part of the problem. We said, and I think with general agreement, that where constitutional changes took place which fundamentally affected the conditions of serving officers, compensation schemes had been and would be negotiated with the Governments concerned, but where, as in the Territories which comprise the Federation of Nigeria, acute staffing difficulties existed, special arrangements must also be made to help create conditions which would encourage officers to remain in Nigeria.
So the White Paper proposed as its second proposal, subject to the agreement of the Governments concerned, to establish a Special List of officers of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service who would be in the service of Her Majesty's Government and would be seconded to the employing Governments. In the first place, this Special List would apply to overseas officers in the Federal and Regional Governments of Nigeria, bust it might later be extended by agreement to other Territories.
As to the first part of these proposals, the Central Pool, I am sorry to say that experience has forced me to the most reluctant conclusion that there are very formidable difficulties in the way of the proposed policy for a central register and pool as outlined in the White Paper. The main difficulty that we have found is guaranteeing a continuing career for an officer recruited into the Central Pool initially for a particular job in a particular territory, and guaranteeing him also a succession of jobs of ascending importance and level of responsibility during his career. This has been a great disappointment, but in order to see the matter in perspective, we should look at the picture as a whole.
928 Governmental Departments concerned with the problem of supplying experts for service overseas have their own records of suitable people, and these can be called upon by any Department which is in search of a suitable officer. In practice, however, we have found that younger suitable men are not likely to be available at short notice for assignments overseas, and the useful part of these records is that confined to older retired officers who are mainly interested in short-duration jobs. We have come to the conclusion that younger officers must either be found by advertising or by selections from serving officers in the United Kingdom and the Colonial Territories.
Some indication of the way in which our mind was moving was given in the House on 26th March last year by the Lord Privy Seal, deputising for the Prime Minister. He said:…the creation of a pool of administrative and technical officers must wait evidence that there is a substantial demand for their services and that regular employment for them can be foreseen for a number of years. It is intended to test this demand by improving the existing arrangement by which members of the Home and Overseas Civil Service can be made available to Commonwealth countries without prejudice to their pension rights."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March, 1957; Vol. 567, c. 96.]My right hon. Friend added that legislation would be necessary. Here is the legislation, and provision is made for this in Clauses 2 and 3 in respect of the Home Civil Service.
Clause 2 provides for the making of Orders to govern pensions earned while in the Overseas Service, and Clause 3 provides for the preservation of pension rights already acquired. The House realises, and all hon. Members who are well-informed about Colonial matters know, that many appointments are already being made to the Colonies on secondment or temporary transfer from Home Government Departments, like the General Post Office, and from local authorities and other public bodies, like the B.B.C. Over the last three years I have been deeply indebted to my colleagues' Departments and bodies like the B.B.C. for the co-operation they have shown. These Clauses will help forward this good work. When the Bill is law we shall ask the Government of the Colonies to enact comparable legislation to preserve the pension rights of officers in their 929 own service who have been transferred under the Bill.
So much for the first purpose, the creation of a register and Central Pool. As to the second purpose of the White Paper, I he Special List, there is a more hopeful situation to record. The 1954 White Paper, as I have said, was not an end but the beginning of a new deal. Thereafter we considered urgently not only the general question of the future structure of the service but the particular problem that arises, especially in Nigeria, where officers have to be given the right to retire, with compensation, if they wished to do so, yet neither Her Majesty's Government nor the employing Governments want them to go. We decided, therefore, as I announced then, that as and when circumstances make it desirable officers of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service should be offered transfer to the Special List.
Those in the Special List will be actually in the service of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and will be seconded to the overseas Government. Salaries and terms of employment will be as agreed between Her Majesty's Government and the Territorial Governments. Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will pay their pensions, recovering the money from the Government concerned, and will look after them if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own. If a displaced officer cannot be found other work immediately, he will, if necessary, be kept on full pay for up to five years, the commitment being shared between Her Majesty's Government and the Territorial Governments.
On behalf of the British Government, I signed Special List agreements with the four Nigerian Governments at the Constitutional Conference last June. Pensionable officers in the service of these Governments have been invited to join the Special List. We are now only in the very early days of that opportunity. They have five years in which to join. So far about 120 officers in Nigeria out of the 2,000 eligible have applied to join, but I repeat that they have five years in which to make up their minds, and the applications are coming in pretty steadily. Curiously enough, and not because of this debate, there were twenty applications 930 this morning. I cannot claim to be satisfied with the position any more than can any other hon. Member who knows the staffing problem in Nigeria.
We have arranged with Sir John Martin, who will be well known on both sides of this House and who is the Deputy Under-Secretary of State responsible for Overseas Service matters, to go to Nigeria. He is now in that country examining the position. I have asked him to consider any alternative arrangements, either within the framework of the Special List or outside it, which might help to ensure that overseas officers will remain in Nigeria so long as their services are required, to assist in the difficult transitional period before and after the attainment of self-government and until African civil servants are available to take their places. The application to Malaya of the Special List procedure is the subject of current and cheering negotiations with the Government of Malaya.
This is the background to the Bill, and in the course of my observations I have referred to certain Clauses in it. The House will notice that the Bill makes no distinction between the Special List officers and those in the Central Pool, but refers in Clause 1 to officers to be available for civilian employment in the public service of overseas territories, and thereafter in the Bill to "officers to whom this Act applies". This is because we think that in practice it would be undesirable, and indeed unnecessary, to draw a hard and fast line between the two categories of officer. For example, Special List officers whose services are no longer required in Nigeria, and who are held on unemployment pay under the directions of the Special List agreements, may become in effect the first members of the Central Pool for, service in the overseas territories.
Subsection (4) of Clause 1 ensures that no servant of an overseas Government can be appointed without the consent of the Government concerned, which ma be either specific, directed to the individual, or as part of a general arrangement like the Special List agreements. So if at any stage an appointment under the Act of any particular individual serving, for example, in Ghana were under consideration, this Clause would ensure that the appointment would not be made 931 without the consent of the Government of Ghana. In the case of Malaya, where a Special List agreement is under consideration, appointments under the Act would, of course, be in accordance with the terms of any such agreement. I hope it is not necessary for me to stress that no overseas Government need fear that Her Majesty's Government will entice its staff away or enrol them either in the Central Pool or in the Special List.
Clause 4 of the Bill contains special provisions relating to police officers. These are necessary because United Kingdom police officers are protected when they are on temporary transfer from one police force to another by statutory provisions regarding discipline and the right of reverting to their parent force. The Police Overseas Service Act, 1945, extended similar protection to members of home police forces enlisting in an overseas police force under the control and at the expense of a Secretary of State. Under such an arrangement many United Kingdom policemen are now serving in Cyprus. Clause 4 of this Bill, and the Second Schedule to it, amend the 1945 Act so that individual police officers can be appointed under this Bill for limited periods with service overseas.
Finally, in regard to the Clauses, under Clause 6 officers can be appointed to a wide variety of public services under overseas Governments, municipal or local authorities or bodies corporate established for public purposes, or to any Federal Government or outside authority like the East African High Commission.
I have heard of anxiety being expressed by some officers serving in Nigeria lest, in consequence of transferring to the Special List, their pensions under the eagle eye of the Treasury should become automatically liable for United Kingdom taxation, whether or not they are resident in the United Kingdom for tax purposes. In the ordinary way, as hon. Members will know, Special List pensions being paid out of United Kingdom Government funds would be chargeable to United Kingdom Government tax, even in the case of non-resident pensioners. It has been agreed, however, that so much of a Special List officer's pension as 932 relates to his service with overseas Governments, or other public bodies overseas, will be exempted from Income Tax if he is not resident here. This provision will be embodied in an early Finance Bill.
As to Estate Duty, if when the pension arrangements envisaged in the Bill are completed they are found to involve more liability to Estate Duty than would have arisen if benefits relating to overseas government service had been paid directly by the overseas Governments concerned, then exempting legislation will also be introduced to deal with this point.
I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House are deeply concerned about the staff position, primarily in Nigeria, but not exclusively there. It may be of some interest, therefore, if I conclude by giving the latest recruitment figures for the year that has just ended. The figures deal only with Colonial Office appointments, that is, overseas officers appointed to the administration or to professional branches where full professional qualifications are required. In 1956, 1,467 officers were selected for appointment. Last year the number grew to 1,689. These figures are not quite comparable, because the 1956 figure left out cases in which officers had declined appointment, but even allowing for this fact we more than held our own in the year that has just ended. Of particular interest is the fact that we made 284 appointments, mostly on contract to Nigeria, and this is higher than the total number of entitled officers—that is, those entitled to retire with compensation—in either the East or the West taken separately.
These figures are encouraging but, as I said, I am by no means satisfied with the situation in Nigeria, nor are the Governments concerned. However they are encouraging, and the service still offers a fine career for men of courage and imagination. This Bill will help us to do our duty by them and, through them, to the territories which they serve.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Can the Secretary of State say how many officers declined appointment?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I am not certain, but I will let the hon. and learned Gentleman know at the close of this debate.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I think that all of us are in general agreement regarding the principles set out in the Bill. Although, to some extent, the Bill is a complicated one because of the provision made in regard to pensions, nonetheless the principles underlying it are pretty simple.
The Bill records, of course, another stage in the adaptation of the Colonial Service for the broad purposes which we as a nation pursue in our Colonial policy, and regrettable as some of us may fear and feel are the effects of that policy on the Colonial Service, I think that we are right to try to adapt the Service to meet the growing needs and changes brought about by the fulfilment of British purpose.
One is tempted to look back at the Service as one knew it a few years ago. After the war we made some serious efforts to reorganise the Service along new lines, and I should like to pay tribute to the excellent work done during the war years by the members of the Devonshire Committee and to the influence of their work on subsequent changes which took place. In mentioning the Devonshire Committee, I should like to associate with it, and with the work of the Colonial Office in this field since, the names of Sir Ralph Furse and of Sir Charles Jeffries, both of whom made the organisation of the Colonial Service a great deal of their life work. I think that they carried through excellent jobs.
One should also, I think, understand what happened in the years immediately after the war. We adopted a policy of more liberal recruitment and of improved facilities for training. We are grateful to the universities, particularly London, Oxford and Cambridge, for the help they gave in equipping themselves for training cadets in the new tasks which our colonial administration was expected to discharge.
In the Colonial Services themselves, we also removed racial discrimination so far as pay and promotion were concerned and we offered new facilities for the training of local people in their service so that they might take up responsible positions in local administration. We also provided for the poorer Colonies various schemes whereby they could get well qualified 934 persons for the jobs they had in hand. As the Secretary of State has reminded us, we set up Public Service Commissions in order that justice might be done in the respective territories. One final example of what has been done in the last decade or so is that of breaking down the isolation and insularity of officials in the field.
The effect of all this reorganisation was to bring the United Kingdom Government into the work, particularly the Treasury, to pay for recruitment schemes, for the training of the Service and for a number of special schemes under which expert distiguished people could go and perform services in the respective territories. After all that reorganisation work, there was. I think, great hope in the Service, and a renewed capacity for service which all of us certainly appreciated.
The Secretary of State paid a tribute to the work, the loyalty, the integrity, the efficiency and the quality of the Colonial Service. I should like to join with the right hon. Gentleman in my testimony from my experience of its high quality. Sometimes, I think, the critics of anti-colonialism have not sufficiently recognised the very high standard of the work and the great contribution which these men and women made to civilisation and the extension of freedom.
The work done has been described by a number of writers, such as Sir Charles Jeffries and Kenneth Bradley and in biographies by governors, but I think that the public would appreciate most the work of Grimble in his description of the spirit of administration so wonderfully well set out in his Pattern of the Islands. Everywhere the imagination of the public has been struck by the humanity shown, the insight, and the enlightenment of his administration. May I say that the number of such men is by no means small; they are pretty general in the Service.
When we look back on our colonial history, I think, too, that we are impressed by the very great contribution which some of our distinguished governors and others have made to colonial well-being. I think, for instance, of a man so little known as Dundas and of his work for co-operation among the Chagga people in Tanganyika. I think, too, of people like Cameron in Tanganyika and Nigeria, of Guggisberg in the Gold Coast, of Arden Clarke in the Gold 935 Coast, of Selwyn Clarke as a Japanese prisoner in Hong Kong on behalf of our people there. There are many others who have added distinction to our country's annals. These men have helped to achieve the great purposes of British colonial administration, in pressing back the frontiers of barbarism and in bringing civilisation into a larger field. These men have won the affection and the regard of the colonial peoples.
But now the transformation to Commonwealth has gone on apace. It has progressed far more rapidly than many us foresaw even a few years ago. That transformation has brought out one or two important facts. Perhaps we have not adjusted with sufficient speed the institutions and structures of government in our Colonial Territories, and perhaps, too, we have not been sufficiently diligent in seeking out and training colonial people for the tasks which independence brings to them.
The result of the coming of independence has been the tremendous anxiety felt by our own administrators and professional and technical staffs and the feeling that perhaps their own careers would suddenly come to an end and that they would be left stranded. The number of territories now reaching independence and emerging towards independence tend undoubtedly to contract the opportunities of these people.
I think that we now see in many of our territories the premature loss of men of experience and high quality whose knowledge could be of immense importance in future development. Even when independence has been reached, and in spite of the generous arrangements that have been made by a number of the independent Governments in consultation with the Colonial Office, there is still that anxiety in the hearts of these men.
I think that hon. Members of this House will recall the anxiety expressed a year or so ago by a Commonwealth Parliamentary Delegation to West Africa, led by Mr. Walter Elliot, when they expressed fears as to what might happen when the Imperial framework was withdrawn on the adoption of independence.
I should like to say in passing how all of us deplore the death of Walter Elliot. I had the privilege to serve under him on 936 two occasions in West Africa. He showed enormous insight into the problems which he had been asked to explore, considerable friendship to the Africans he met, and he won the regard of their heads and hearts for the quality of the work which he did. The Africans have lost a great friend, and we ourselves have lost a very wise counsellor in regard to the work in Africa.
Mr. Walter Elliot and the rest of us who were members of that delegation were alarmed by what we saw in Nigeria, in Ghana and elsewhere, with the gradual crumbling of our administrative and technical services. We had a feeling that perhaps tremendous difficulties would be experienced in those territories when independence came because of the inadequacy of their own services, the absence as yet of civil service tradition, and the immaturity and inexperience of many of those who are now being asked to carry on the administrative and technical work under independent government.
We were alarmed that so little had been done up to that point to cope with the situation that we saw arising—a situation which continues dangerous today. There are altogether far too few people carrying on. We saw in Nigeria, as well as in the Gold Coast, visible changes because of the paucity of officers available from African ranks to carry on much of the necessary work indispensable to good Government and good order in those territories.
In 1954, as the Secretary of State has reminded us, the name of the Service was changed to the Overseas Civil Service. Undoubtedly, the Government did their utmost in trying to come to terms, not only with the men but with Governments, so that adequate compensation and pensions could be paid to those who felt that they should withdraw. I must confess to some profound disappointment with what the Secretary of State has told us this afternoon in regard to the creation of the Central Register and Pool. One can appreciate the considerable difficulties and I still hope that the experiment has not been altogether abandoned. But at least it did mean that there was a register of civil servants who were prepard to go forward and carry on provided that the Secretary of State, with the local Government, could make proper arrangements on their behalf.
937 I can see the difficulty of guaranteeing in many cases continuous employment. We must remember that we have had to tackle somewhat similar problems before when independence has been won. On the whole, I think we have managed to absorb in one service or other those men who became redundant in Ceylon, in Palestine, in the Sudan, in India and in Burma, and one would hope that the task would not prove too formidable in the future with other territories as independence is reached. We want our remaining responsibilities in the dependent territories to be met by at least some men who have had experience in some of the territories which have reached independence. I would like to know a little more about the experience of the Colonial Office in regard to the Register and the Common Pool which it had contemplated in 1954.
In regard to the Special List, I had been under the impression—it may be a completely false one—that virtually all the Overseas Service men, the expatriate pensionable staff in Nigeria, would now go on to the Special List. I should like to know whether or not that is the case. We were informed this afternoon that that Special List will possibly extend to Malaya. Is it contemplated that further steps will be taken in regard to other territories?
I am not happy about the division which is now occurring inside the Overseas Service. On the one hand, we shall have the Special List people in Nigeria and possibly elsewhere, and at the same time we shall have alongside them another group of people who are normally Overseas Service people without the special privileges which are attached to the Special List. Therefore, I should like to know how far it is likely that this Special List can be extended and to what extent the reconsolidation of the Overseas Service can take place.
These divisions are likely to create certain difficulties—the word jealousies is a little too strong—but a certain pique as between one group of officers and another. I gather, too, that the Treasury will hold the responsibility in regard to the appointments to the Special List. I can only hope that the Treasury will be much more forthcoming than it has been in the past. It is the Treasury, I think, which has 938 blocked the Secretary of State in his ardent desire to get something moving for the Service in this field in order to cope with the changes brought about in the emerging territories. Therefore, I hope that the Treasury will not create difficulties for him in the days to come, when he is trying to make the Special List widely applicable.
I also hope that the Secretary of State will feel that he is reasonably free to bring in people for service in the territories overseas from the other public services. It is true that schemes have existed in regard to teachers and police. I should like to know whether this transfer or seconding from the home public service of people of experience is likely to be widely extended into fields where qualification and experience are specially called for if the service in those territories is to be efficiently carried out. I hope that the pension rights of such seconded persons will be preserved, their seniority in the staff list to which they belong will not be prejudiced, and that because of the increasing requirements for development of our overseas territories the Secretary of State may use reasonably freely this method. I should also like to be confirmed in my view that the Special List will consist not only of members of the Overseas Civil Service, the expatriate, pensionable officers already in it, but of men who may be seconded from the Home Civil Service.
There is also the very difficult problem of recruitment. All of us have been alarmed in recent years at the falling away of candidates, the fact that there has not been quite the enthusiasm among the younger people that was once experienced for this kind of service. I wonder whether it is possible now to meet that situation to some extent. I was very pleased to hear the encouraging report which the Secretary of State gave about recruitment. I wonder whether it is possible for cadets, once they are selected and appointed, to be put on the Register which was contemplated in 1954 and then transferred to the Special List for the permanent appointments which they receive. In these jobs in territories emerging to independence and in those which have become independent, there is not the glamour and prestige which existed in the days of the district officer, when he could exercise great authority in his district and was tremendously respected by the local people.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
In order to avoid any misunderstanding, the majority of those appointed in Nigeria were, as I pointed out, on contract. This is not a case like that of the cadet officer of the past at the start of a long career. These men were appointed on contract, and, that being so, the conditions are quite different.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
I must confess that I did not appreciate that a large proportion of expatriate people in Nigeria are now contract people specially appointed for special work.
The point that I am making is in regard to recruitment. I wonder whether the prestige of the work can be enhanced if the men go from the Register to the Special List.
I think all of us must agree with the pension arrangements in the Bill. They are sensible and calculated to meet some of the difficulties which the Secretary of State is experiencing. There is, however, one point that I wish to make in regard to pensions. I wonder whether it is possible for the Secretary of State to reconsider the anomalies which have arisen in respect of the pensions which are payable to Governors under the 1911 and 1947 Acts. I wonder whether the anomaly of the difference of treatment as between those Governors and the Governors coming under the 1956 Act might be removed.
It seems to me that if the earlier Governors had not risen to their high rank in the Service, these men would have been treated far more generously when they came to pension age than they are now being treated. There are only about thirty-eight such Governors, and the cost to the Treasury would be very little indeed, and it would be a decreasing cost. I hope the Secretary of State will give some further thought to the problem so that the feeling of resentment can be removed. There is a particular difficulty in that no provision whatever is made for the widows of these Governors. I hope that, in addition to the small concession which the Secretary of State was able to offer a little time ago, something much more comprehensive will be done. As I have said, there are only a few such men and the cost would be very small.
I think that all of us will welcome the Bill. We want to see recruitment speeded 940 up. We want to see the scheme of the Special List extended into other territories. One hopes that as a result of all this the apprehensions of the Overseas Service will diminish and it will have something of the old confidence and assurance. Those belonging to it are engaged in a great job, a job of great distinction from the point of view of the great purposes for which British Colonial policy is now conceived.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I, too, welcome the Bill, belated though its appearance has been. I also welcome the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and those of the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in paying their tributes to the work of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service.
It was early in 1954 that some of my hon. Friends and one or two hon. Members opposite urged that action on these lines should be taken. From my recent tour of West Africa, I am afraid that it may be almost too late. What are the members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service in Nigeria thinking now? Some of them say that it may be better to join the local regional government service. Others—I am afraid there are more of them—are tempted by the extremely generous terms of compensation for loss of a career.
In some ways the compensation has been almost too generous. It is attractive today when investments have fallen. It is very difficult for most people in days of high taxation to acquire capital of any kind, and it is feared by some that unless they take their capital now and invest it the purchasing power of the £ may in a few years' time be less than it is today. There are, therefore, a number of factors influencing an overseas civil servant to take this compensation.
I wonder whether we really have considered what our object is. Is it merely to treat well a man who has served his country and his adopted country, as the terms of compensation do, or is it to make certain that the expanding Commonwealth will remain an entity? It is possible that those two objects may not coincide. It is also possible, I submit, that we may have to look again at the terms of compensation and, by means of 941 lengthening the period of freezing, induce civil servants, whose knowledge is of such value to territories such as Nigeria, to stay in their jobs.
There is one other item which has affected the climate of thought, and that is the action of some Governments in respect of past pensions. I can speak only about West African pensions. However, Ghana has not been as generous as has this country over retired officers. Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria have not been as generous as this country and many others in the Commonwealth about widows' and orphans' pensions. It is remarkable that the poorest territory in West Africa, the Gambia, has been much more generous than some of the richer and larger territories.
I hope my right hon. Friend will remember what was said in Colonial White Paper No. 306, 1954, where it was stressed that the Colonial Service was a single service under the Crown. The fact remains, however, that that Service has not been treated as a single service and that, despite the generous treatment proposed in the Bill, many members of it feel that their colleagues in the past have not been properly looked after.
The climate, therefore, is not ideal for this Bill at the present time and yet our object must be to provide good technical aid, in which I include good administrative advice. Administrators are not all that easy to find, even in industry. From the employing Government side, action must not be taken so to alter the ideas of commercial or other morality that civil servants no longer wish to serve. Actions by other countries, not in the Commonwealth—as, for example, at Abadan or Suez or even in Indonesia—have not helped to get those in this country to give up their possible careers here for service abroad.
What should be the future of this Special List? What size ought it to be? Should it not operate, not only in Nigeria and in Malaya—I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said, that discussions are taking place with Malaya—but also in the Central African Federation, and what about Singapore? Could we be told something more about that?
What Departments will be embraced in the Special List and what are the criteria by which its possible members are judged? Am I right in saying that the 942 purpose of the Special List is to assist Nigerian Governments to retain in their service officers whom they want to keep and who without the special safeguards might decide to leave?
Surely, if we are considering a Special List that is all-embracing, the Nigerian Governments in their own right should not have a veto on who should be recommended. I gather that applications must be recommended by the Governors and in the case of the Eastern and Western Regions by the Public Service Commissions also. That is a suitable safeguard, but I hope that it will not degenerate into a veto.
Could my right hon. Friend say, too, whether those on the Special List could be seconded anywhere? Could they go to the United Nations, to the Colonial Development Corporation or to the Trucial coast, where we have such a major interest? I hope that they can. I do not agree with some of the objections I heard in West Africa that members of the Overseas Civil Service were engaged to serve in one country and should not be sent anywhere else. The new Service should be like the Army and one should be able to be seconded wherever the interests of the Commonwealth lie.
It is somewhat difficult to comment further without knowing what percentage of the Civil Service is leaving Ghana, Malaya or Nigeria at the present time, although I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said about the encouraging recruitment figures. I support, however, what the right hon. Member for Wakefield has said in the hope that some of the new recruits could be put straight into the Special List. If there is a Special List and an old list, sooner or later there will be a divergence between the two types which will not be of benefit to the Commonwealth.
I regret that under the Bill the Treasury seems to have so much control. I hope that it is control over the broad size of the Special List that may become the common pool, and will not be used over actual detail to decide who should be taken on and who should be refused. If that were done, I believe that our trade—which in Nigeria is worth £250 million a year—would suffer, not only to this country's detriment but to that of the Treasury also.
943 Nevertheless, there is much to commend in the Bill. I hope that the seconding, whether of police, teachers or doctors—there is nothing like enough of it today—will be expedited and increased. I hope that we shall not be frightened of expanding this potential common pool and this Special List. It is, after all, an investment in the British way of life. If we find that too many are taken on, will it not be possible to employ some of them temporarily, while they are awaiting a new job overseas, in some of the Ministries of this country at present occupied by the home Civil Service?
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in a most encouraging Commonwealth tour, is no doubt discussing with his fellow Prime Ministers the future of this country, of the Commonwealth and of the Free Trade Area in Europe. It might well be that if we look upon this Special List in a generous spirit it could form the cement to a Western headquarters which might be instrumental in producing a prosperity for those who believe in our Western way of life such as we have never seen before. But if we allow the cement to lie in the open and disregard it, the whole concept might perish.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), because I wish to discuss some of the points he has raised. First, however, I should like to join with the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in expressing our very great regret at the death of Walter Elliot. He was a great friend of many people in this House. He had a mind of such extraordinary activity that nearly every political problem was thrown up into greater interest by him. For me personally, he has enlivened even the dullest morning on the Scottish Standing Committee. He took a particular interest in the subject of colonial development.
As the Secretary of State has said, this is an enabling Bill. In so far as it will help us to do justice to those men who have worked in the Commonwealth and who, as has been said, have deserved so well, both of the countries in which they 944 work and of this country, I welcome it; but I share the doubts expressed by the hon. Member for Wavertree about the position of some of the pensioners. They have been making representations and the hon. Member himself, I believe, has taken part in putting them before the Government. I hope that the Government will bear in mind what the hon. Member has said, that the Colonial Service is one service and that everyone in it has a right to look to the Government for reasonable pension provisions.
As to the importance not only of the Colonial Service in the past but its continuing effect upon the world, I should have thought that there could not possibly be the slightest doubt. If we look at the situation in the Far East today we see the success of India, which I should have thought was due largely to the fact that the traditions of the British Civil Service have continued there, and we have succeeded in leaving behind us a great many Indians to carry on those traditions. We can contrast that situation with the one existing in Indonesia where, for all that the Dutch did—and they did a great deal—they seem to have failed to create an Indonesian Civil Service. That is a great lesson to the Western world, and I regret that the Secretary of State has not found it possible to go further in this Bill.
As the hon. Member for Wavertree said, we are in a difficult position in that Britain has a contracting field for the Colonial Service; but the hon. Member also pointed out that there is an expanding need in the world—in the Commonwealth generally and in Asia and Africa outside the Commonwealth—for technical assistance, administrative ability, and guidance in all sorts of ways. We should now consider whether we ought not to found the kind of Commonwealth service which has often been recommended, recruited from throughout the Commonwealth, with the help of Commonwealth Governments, and available not only in the Commonwealth but also in other territories which need technical assistance. The hon. Member mentioned the Trucial Coast; Iraq is also in great need of technical assistance, and there are other possibilities in Asia, Africa, the West Indies and South America.
I do not think that we can provide immense amounts of capital for the 945 development of these countries, but we should be able to supply some staff, notwithstanding the fact that there is a great demand for highly-skilled people of all types in this country as well as abroad. I believe that many people would welcome the sort of work which would be open to them in these countries if they could be assured that it would be continuing work; that they would form part of a service, and would receive a reasonable pension and other emoluments at the end of their service.
I do not believe that the numbers need he so very great. We must look more and more to the training of the indigenous peoples for much of this work, but it is the top-level people who are important at the moment, and who can do such an important job. The Secretary of State seemed to indicate that there might not be such a big demand for these experts, but I would have thought that there was a considerable demand. There are all sorts of development schemes, both in the Commonwealth and outside. There is, for instance, the Colombo Plan, and Point Four. All these projects need technical staffs.
I quite understand that the difficulty lies in questions of promotion and of holding up the prospects of people, besides the terms of service. We already go a good way in the secondment of people from different Departments to do different jobs, but the Civil Service must accept a far bigger movement within itself. I understand that the Indian Civil Service already has a continual change from Department to Department—even from the Treasury to the Foreign Office. I sometimes think that that might do our Foreign Office a lot of good—and perhaps also the Treasury. I think that it is possible to have a considerably greater degree of interchange between services than exists at present. But that does not meet the demand for an overseas Commonwealth-recruited service available to serve in any country.
For people who will spend much time overseas on technical jobs it is important that there should be an opportunity to come back to this country and do a shift at home, with a certain amount of retraining in industry or the home Civil Service Departments in order to catch up with developments and new techniques. That is not impossible to arrange. It 946 might require a staff college at home to provide a basis for retraining, which could be carried out when jobs were not available overseas.
The essential requirement is that these people must be employees of the Commonwealth. If they are working for another Government their rights of pension and pay must be guaranteed by this Government or the Commonwealth Governments as a whole. A scheme of this sort—limited, and perhaps now in need of amendment—was put forward by Sir John Sargent, who had long experience in India and had to face the problem of heavy demands being made for technical personnel which he was unable to fulfil. I believe that the details of that scheme are to be found in the Colonial Office or in some other Government Department, and I think that it should be looked at again.
We now have a tremendous opportunity for developing the Commonwealth both as a source of recruitment and development. There are also great possibilities for under-developed countries generally. I do not know how quickly we could take the idea put forward in the Bill to its next stage, but I agree with the hon. Member for Wavertree that time is not on our side in these matters. We are losing a great many people who might be interested in this work, and creating conditions in which people will be very uneasy about accepting overseas employment. I believe that uneasiness is unnecessary; such work still offers great opportunity.
For a short time after the war I worked for U.N.R.R.A., when conditions were rather different, but we found that there was a continual request for administrators, technicians, educational experts and so forth, and that there was no sound method of recruitment. In those days we rang round to various Ministries asking for help, but although they tried to be helpful all that they usually said was, "We have old so-and-so who is out of a job just now. He might help you for a month or two." There was then nothing like the Register or the Special List that we have now, and we had very great difficulty in undertaking our very valuable work. I hope that we shall be able to develop considerably further the ideas contained rather inadequately in this Bill.
947 The only other point which I wish to raise concerns the position of the African Colonies and the people working there. I had not appreciated that most of the people were employed on contract.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
The figures that I gave did not apply to most of the people in British territories in Africa; they concerned Nigeria. I said that many of those people were on contract.
§ Mr. Grimond
I presume that they would be available for transfer to the Special List if they fell within the terms of the Bill.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Each case must be examined on its merits. I cannot give an assurance that they would. They certainly would not be ineligible—but the same criteria would have to be applied to them as to anyone else. But they are recruited for specific jobs and for a period of years, and are not really comparable with administrators and other officers with whom we are concerned in order to maintain the structure of Government.
§ Mr. Grimond
I should have thought that the people on contract would be a valuable addition to the List. I hope the Secretary of State will say something more about this when he winds up the debate.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I welcome the Bill and also the presence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I hope that he will soon be fully recovered from his accident. I support the argument put forward by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) in regard to Governors. We discussed this matter in a previous Bill. I moved an Amendment, which was not carried, to the effect that these people should receive better pension, and especially that there should be better provision for their widows. As their number is now thirty-eight, my right hon. Friend may agree to reconsider that point.
This is a very important Bill, which will have enormous consequences in the future in binding the Commonwealth together. We must remember the work that has been done in the past and encourage more people in the belief that 948 they are joining a band of people who are greatly respected. For that reason I was very pleased to see, by way of a letter in The Times yesterday, signed by Lord Halifax, Lord Mountbatten, Lord Pethick-Lawrence and others, that a plaque is being put up in Westminster Abbey to commemorate the work of previous overseas civil services. The second paragraph in the letter says:In August, 1947, Parliament passed a Resolution expressing the gratitude of the nation for the spirit which these services had shown in the discharge of their duties. From our own personal experience of their competence and high sense of responsibility we can testify how fully this tribute was justified…They were originally mainly British in their composition, but the policy of Indianisation pursued during the quarter of the century preceding 1947 tended to include in them an increasing Indian element.We must keep that very much to the fore. Their high sense of responsibility and competence has helped, we must remember, to build up the British Commonwealth, and I am glad that their service has now been commemorated.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) who, I know, has worked extremely hard to get this Bill through the House of Commons. This idea is a practical one, and that is proved by the fact that the police have for many years been able to transfer from one service to another. When I was in Tanganyika recently I found that Malayan police were in the service of the Tanganyikan Government.
I would ask one or two questions of my right hon. Friend. The White Paper says:There is no doubt that such developments are now essential.That means the development of Her Majesty's Government's Overseas Civil Service. The White Paper goes on to say:Various oversea governments have already said that they would like to be able to look to Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom for help in finding such officers.I should be grateful if we could know which oversea Governments have asked for officers. If we had a list, it would encourage people to know that there were jobs for them in many territories and not only in the British Commonwealth.
I should like to know the criteria for joining this Special List. Are women to 949 be allowed to join it? Are Africans, Malayans, and Indians permitted to do so? If we are to bind the Commonwealth together, Indians should be allowed, for example, to go and work in Africa and Malaya and in other territories. That would be very beneficial, as I have found from experience that it is very often easier for somebody who has been trained by the British and who is not necessarily British to put over the British viewpoint to an African, even than a British person himself.
So far as I know, women can get only a certain way in this service. They can become administrative assistants, but I have never known a woman to be a district officer, for instance. What is to be the future of women in this service? Can their service be extended to several territories under this scheme? For example, many will be needed for Community Development. If so, this will be one of the most beneficial oversea developments in the future.
The White Paper says that fifty years of age is to be that of retirement, but that is a difficult age for either men or women to get other jobs. I suggest their service might be extended to sixty, when they they would not need another job, or they might retire at forty-five, at which age it would be very much easier for them to get other jobs. The amount of pension which they will receive when they finally retire is out of all proportion to what they get in a large lump sum. Many of them will be tempted to take the lump sum and retire early rather than to risk getting a pension some time in the future, and be unable to obtain further employment.
What will be the position of women government servants when they marry? I understand that most of them have to resign on marriage. In a recent Report by the United Nations Commission on the subject of Tanganyika, I read in paragraph 470:If women government servants marry, they must resign. They can re-enter the service if they are prepared to work full-time, and if they do they are taken on a temporary basis and lose all their pension rights.What will happen to women on the Special List? The United Nations Report ended by expressing surprise that this practice should be still in operation. I suggest that persons, even if they are in 950 temporary service, should have security. If they get on to the Special List, they should be allowed to count their service for pension. That is an extremely important point.
People may be just a little nervous of going over permanently to the Special List in present circumstances. Could they be allowed to do so for three to five years before they made up their minds definitely whether they wished to join it? Having worked in Malaya very happily for a very short time under the administration of a Malay, I am able to say that some people may be a little nervous of this change in their conditions, and should be allowed a period before they come to a definite decision.
What is the position of doctors and nurses? I see that teachers in Government service are mentioned but there seems to be no specific mention of doctors. I should like them to continue in the Overseas Service to gain knowledge of tropical diseases. Trying to deal with tropical diseases requires a completely different method of approach in this country from dealing with them in the tropics. The service of these doctors should be continuous, and they should be given encouragement for research work in overseas territories.
I hope that everything will be done to see that people have an assurance of security for their future. One of the dangers of this type of service is that people may be chopped and changed about too much in the different territories and different types of jobs. I should like to know that they will get definite security in a territory of which they have knowledge for as long as possible. I should also like to know whether it is proposed to take African, Malayan and other civil servants into this service on the Special List in future.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
The Secretary of State for the Colonies must be feeling happy for once, because of the welcome that has been given on all sides to the Bill. I, too, welcome the Bill, and I also welcome back the right hon. Gentleman in view of his recent illness. There were rumours in the Press at the weekend about his impending departure, but the right hon. Gentleman is back. We shall now all watch him in his evasive action for some months to come.
§ Mr. Johnson
Having said that, I turn to the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers), who is a good feminist. She put up a good case for her sex. I would like the Minister to tell us where we can place these ladies when they come into the Colonial Service. Perhaps in the Co-operative movement as in Kenya—training African women coffee Co-op officers. One looks and wonders where to place ladies of ability and charm in the colonial scene. I hope that the Minister will think about this matter, because we should like to hear from him on the subject.
There are ladies in the Ministry of Labour who could do a good job in the Colonies. Women are on the move in places like West Africa. There are many women's organisations and we could send out ladies to advise them. They might do it slightly better than some male members of the I.C.F.T.U. have been doing for some years in certain parts of Africa.
Many of us have been immensely perturbed in the past year or two by the number of first-class men of integrity and ability who are leaving the Colonial Service. Why are they leaving? Some two years ago I had a long conversation about this exodus with a gentleman named Dr. Azikiwe, who, despite his vicissitudes, still manages to remain in charge of the Eastern Government of Nigeria. The Colonial Secretary said that about 284 people have gone to Nigeria in the last year, but they are not sufficient to make up the wastage in East and West Nigeria respectively. Are we to accept this position?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
They are more than the entitled officers, who are those entitled to go on compensation in East and West Nigeria separately.
§ Mr. Johnson
Are they more than the wastage of those who will be leaving us in the years to come? Dr. Azikiwe was immensely perturbed by this. Why are these people leaving?
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to look beyond his speech and not to think merely in terms of service, pensions, wages and material things of that kind because it is not only a financial matter. It is perhaps a good thing that some of 952 them are leaving. I am certain that Africans need in Africa only people who like the continent and like the people there—people who are keen on the work itself over and above the questions of pension and pay. Some do not like serving black elected African Ministers. It would be a good thing if the generous compensation terms enabled those people to leave. In that way by financial choice they would leave and make way for others.
I have been immensely disturbed to find some in commercial circles in Africa who use such a picturesque term as "Africa is a dead duck". It is no good people talking about Africa in that way because they dislike Africanisation not only in the Civil Service but at higher levels. I hope those people will accept the terms and leave. Against this, I think there is one situation where the European can be listened to, for I met cases of nepotism in which, under the cloak of Africanisation, the European civil servant was passed over on his way to promotion by an African civil servant. There is no excuse for an African, because of his clan or family, being able to advance up the line of promotion. But all these things are happening and help to explain the exodus which is taking place.
It is said that the Africans are pushing on too fast politically and in this way disappointing and depressing Europeans who therefore do not stay. I wonder if that is always the case. When one talks to African Ministers one finds they do not want that. They know as well as we do that for many years to come Africa will need these skilled, devoted and gifted administrators. The need is there. It is a physical fact. I think I am correct in saying that in Tanganyika there are possibly no more than 250 out of a population of 8 million Africans at the School Certificate level. For many years to come they will need Europeans to guide and advise. T.A.N.U. and other African organisations know that is true. Given the pay and given the pension, I hope we shall get men to go out and serve under Ministers in Africa, whatever their colour.
A little time ago an hon. Member made a comparison, which I do not think was odious, between our colonial administration and that of the Dutch in 953 Java and the East Indies. If we must have empires—and we have had them in the past by historical accident—I think ours is the least bad among them. We have only to look at India, Ceylon and Ghana to see where lie the hearts of people who have left us in the Metropolitan State. It is a delicate, difficult and dangerous job to hive them off to self-government and leave our own people behind under the independent coloured Government.
I want to quote something which I think may help some people who get a little depressed by the actions of black nationalist leaders in Africa, and who say there is little hope left for some of our young men who want to work like their fathers worked twenty or forty years ago. There has been difficulty in East Nigeria, and not long ago civil servants were leaving in scores. Dr. Azikiwe sent a New Year message to "Eastern Nigeria Today", from which I wish to quote. Of all people, "Zik" has been most attacked for his Africanisation, for going too fast and squeezing out Europeans. He paid tribute tothat band 'of gallant heroes who defied the tropical climate in order to generate the social mechanism which has enabled us to bridge the gap between the days of the porters and the hammock bearers, on the one hand, and this modern era of mechanical progress on the other'".Then he singles out the European public servant for special comment in his New Year message and said:I must confess that at every stage in the evolution of our Public Service in Nigeria, both the expatriates and the indigenous civil servants pursued their careers with missionary zeal and a sense of duty, for which this Government must be eternally grateful…Here I should like to repeat the assurance which I gave publicly on my return from the Constitutional Conference that we want our expatriate friends to give us the benefit of their expert knowledge to help formulate and implement our policies and we want them to work with us and not for us. It is my hope that a great number of expatriate officials will stay with us, especially during the difficult transitional period that lies ahead.As the Colonial Secretary said, there is good will at this end and at that end for our people to go out and labour in that field where they are so badly needed.
I think it would be a great mistake to think only of English, Scots, Welsh and Irish going overseas to specific British Colonies. If one goes to East Africa one finds quite a number of New Zealanders 954 working in the Tanganyika public service. I should like to see many of the so-called "colonials" in our administration. Whether we like it or not—and most of us do like—it those New Zealanders and other Dominion men have a different approach from many of our people who go out there.
One hears tales in Southern Rhodesia about how well the Italians worked with the African population on the Kariba Dam scheme. One finds that New Zealanders are just as easy and acceptable when working with the African people as are the Latins. They bring a new breath of air to what many colonials feel has been a rather pompous approach. Let us widen this field and, if possible, get a Commonwealth team to work in what today is a Commonwealth effort. Really, I think it is an Atlantic Alliance effort because the amount of American money going into Africa really shames me sometimes. I would not demur if not merely New Zealanders, Australians and Canadians, but Americans went there. That would add a new whiff of energy and new life. It would give a new slant to administration in this field, which we would welcome.
I am very glad that we are going ahead on these lines, because the headaches will not only be in the West, but in East and Central Africa in the near future. On my last visit I met quite a number of people in East Africa who were asking what was to happen to them in twenty years' time. It was not only Dr. Azikiwe about whom people were worrying, but about African Congress leaders in the east and the centre. Let us look ahead in welcoming this Bill and think not merely of people indigenous to these islands, not only of English, Scots and Welsh, but particularly of New Zealanders, Australians and Americans also. They can all come in and make it a genuine Overseas Service.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
Like other hon. Members, I welcome the Bill. I used to be in the Colonial Service myself, and I still keep in touch with many colleagues overseas. There is no doubt that with the march of events many of them are feeling a little insecure about their future. This particularly applies to men in the thirties and forties who have heavy commitments, 955 who perhaps have children to educate or who are buying a house here. They are concerned, and I believe that the provisions of the Bill will give them some reassurance.
So far, most of the uncertainty has been confined to territories which are on the threshold of complete independence, but it is permeating through the Service. It is my belief that in areas which have reached full independence the abolition terms have, on the whole, been generous and have not caused hardship, and I believe that in other areas which are to become independent the terms will be no less favourable. Nevertheless, we must bear in mind human nature. There is always before us the melancholy situation of British officials who served in Egypt.
I have three questions which I should be glad if my right hon. Friend would investigate. The first concerns pensions. In the old Colonial Service the pensions rule did not work at all fairly. In a wealthy colony or one with a high standard of living, such as Malaya or Hong Kong, an officer was paid more highly, and his pension was based not only on the length of his service, but primarily on his emoluments during his last three years of service. This meant that he received a very much higher pension than an officer of equivalent grade in East Africa or Aden. It seems to me that under these new arrangements, with the Special List and the Central Pool, officers appointed in the future should all have exactly the same conditions and that arrangements should be made by my right hon. Friend and his advisers to see that at the end of the day they all draw exactly the same pension.
The same difficulty arose when officers were on leave. An officer from, perhaps, West Africa or the West Indies who was on a fairly low scale of pay had only that small amount of money to spend in the United Kingdom when he came home; he was paid the same amount as he was receiving in the West Indies. On the other hand, an officer in exactly the same grade who was serving in Malaya, for example, received two or three times that amount of pay and when he came home on leave he had two or three times the amount to spend than had his colleagues from the West Indies or, for 956 example, from Aden. There is scope for all these matters to be ironed out in these new arrangements.
The second point I wish to make is about the composition of the Special List and the Central Pool. In my opinion, the list should not be confined to officers from this country. In my service I knew many from India, Pakistan and elsewhere who were very sound officers. We should retain them and recruit more from those Dominions. I also agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) that we should recruit officers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We should make our needs known to those Dominions in order that we can get all these officers into the Central Pool and make it a Commonwealth service serving the Commonwealth.
The third point concerns the name. In the old days men in the Colonial Service were very proud to serve in it and to give a lead to local peoples. It was a good life's work helping these people among whom our fellow countrymen went out to live. Regrettably, the word "colonial" now has an unfortunate meaning. This is quite wrong, but it has acquired this meaning largely through misunderstanding, I think, primarily, on the part of foreigners.
We had to change this. The name has been changed to the Overseas Civil Service. In my view that is a very bad choice. It is rather nebulous. I think it would be difficult to owe loyalty to a service with such a name. Secondly, the name is a tongue twister; it is, in fact, a hissing and an abomination. I ask my right hon. Friend to think about a change of name, and I suggest that the name should be Her Majesty's Commonwealth Service.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
We have waited a long time for this Bill. We are glad to have it at last, but I think that the Secretary of State has already realised that those of us on both sides of the House who are interested in the subject are somewhat disappointed in the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman said that it is an enabling Bill, but I have looked at it with apprehension because in some respects it seems to be a disabling Bill. 957 The hand of the Treasury is all too evident in it. I very much hope that in Committee we shall be able to delete Clause 1 (3) because it appears to me that the Treasury is taking upon itself not merely general supervision, as it naturally must in such a matter, but also particular supervision, with the result that it may interfere even in the appointment of an individual officer. That seems to me to be monstrous. I stand to be corrected, because I am not familiar with the terms of service of the Foreign Service, but I very much doubt whether the Treasury possesses, and certainly whether it exercises, that power in Her Majesty's Foreign Service. Why should the Overseas Service be any less independent?
Just how much or how little the Secretary of State is ultimately able to perform under the Bill seems to depend very much upon his relationship for the time being with the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time being, whoever he may be. That, therefore, limits the potential usefulness of the Bill. We are asked to pass legislation which will depend very much indeed upon the power relationship within the Government hierarchy at any particular point in time.
Provided that the Treasury were much more generously minded than the Treasury usually is, the Bill could be interpreted in a very wide way. Just how wide it could be interpreted I am not clear, and I should be grateful if in his reply the Minister would make clear to us exactly what the scope of the Overseas Service is intended to be.
The Bill refers throughout to "the Secretary of State". That, I presume, could mean any Secretary of State, and would cover both the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and also the Foreign Secretary, if suitable. Clause 6 defines "overseas territory" as…any territory or country outside the United Kingdom;That means, therefore, that it is not confined to the Commonwealth. It is a very interesting point but we should like to have it developed, as, in presenting the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman made no reference to such possibilities. As the Bill could concern persons whose service was related either to the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office, or the Foreign Office we really should have 958 a more adequate explanation of what machinery could be used.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he was disappointed by the response to the Central Pool, but he has not really told us what efforts, what experiments, have been made, or in what direction or in what relation to these other Departments they have been made. Those of us who had in mind something much more exciting than what the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have in mind in relation to Commonwealth service are entitled to a great deal more explanation of why he is now so pessimistic.
Is it purely the dead hand of the Treasury, or what are the real reasons that, apparently, make it so difficult to envisage an overseas service of a kind to which almost every previous hon. Member who has spoken has referred? They have referred to something that is not just a holding operation in, say, Nigeria—important as that might be—but something creative and positive, which will contribute to the Commonwealth and give us the kind of advantage which will, in many countries, be our only one. It is the sort of relationship that we may get through administration, university education and highly skilled technical co-operation, and the like, on which our influence in the Commonwealth is likely so largely to depend.
The right hon. Gentleman said that among other reasons for despondency was the fact that those who seem to be interested in the Central Pool were largely the older men who had, in fact, retired, but who were prepared to take on a short-term job of a particular kind. He said that there was difficulty in attracting any of the younger people to the pool. Why is that? Is it because the kind of employment offered does not attract them? This idea that everyone should be on contract is not very satisfactory.
I am particularly concerned about the younger administrative officers who are, as we know, in a peculiar position. It is known that when a country gets to near-self-government or to full self-government, it is the administrative rather than the highly technical people who are likely to be dispensed with, but it is of the utmost importance that, whilst in the Service, they should be of good quality. That applies equally to East Africa or to Central Africa, where self-government may not 959 be approached for many years but where there will in the future be a gradual but increasing supplanting of officers of European origin by educated Africans. We would like to know just what are the difficulties in attracting younger people.
If one of the problems of this conception of having a much more dynamic Overseas Service than it seems we are likely to have is the difficulty of guaranteeing continuous employment, I wonder whether one could interpret fairly widely the reference in Clause 1 (8) to "other employment"? I can envisage certain circumstances in which it might be desirable for the Secretary of State to say to some officer, "At the moment we really have no suitable job for you in the public service, in the narrow sense, either here or overseas, but you might do some extremely useful work in other approved employment in the academic field, or even, in certain circumstances, in the commercial field."
Is that the kind of idea behind that reference to "other employment"? We want to do everything possible to make this overseas service attractive to our high quality younger people. They have to feel that they have the chance of a really satisfying service. It is not just a matter of pay or pension, important as that may be. It is also the idea that thought will be given to the best way of employing their talents at any particular time.
There is another very serious criticism, and this was touched on by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. M. Clark Hutchison), who has his own personal experience in the Colonial Service. Many of us have thought that if we were to have a Bill of this kind at all an opportunity should be taken to deal with the situation which has existed for so long, for historic reasons, in the Colonial Service, whereby someone serves in a territory at the rate of pay and conditions of service that the territory can afford. That means that when he sees an opportunity for promotion, such an officer, very naturally, leaves that territory and goes where he thinks he may be better off.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) said that during his term of office some effort was made to assist the smaller and poorer territories to obtain specialist services 960 which otherwise they might not have been able to secure. As I understood him, however, that applied only to certain special jobs and not to the ordinary run of the administrative service. For example, as I have mentioned before, when I was in Zanzibar not very long ago, one complaint, among many, was that they had had, I think, seven directors of education in ten years—
§ Mrs. White
That may be so in certain authorities with which my right hon. Friend may be associated. It is very disturbing for some of these territories to realise that they are just jumping-off grounds for persons with their eyes on better paid jobs elsewhere. One therefore hopes that it may be possible so to interpret the Bill as to overcome this difficulty. It should be possible for a man to be sent where he will be most useful; that his own personal pay, pension rights, and so on, should be safeguarded as personal to him, and that Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom should make suitable financial arrangements with the other Government and, if necessary, make up the difference between what the receiving-end Government can pay and what the officer is entitled to receive. Were that done, we would have fewer of these changes, which can be so very disturbing to the countries concerned, and fewer unsuitable appointments, which are sometimes made, even at the rank of Governor, simply to enable a person to obtain promotion which otherwise he would not have had.
Whether or not this is a good or a bad Bill will really depend very much on how it is interpreted. I can only say that we were rather disappointed at the pessimistic interpretation that the Secretary of State seems to be placing on it at the moment. I hope that the trend of this debate will have convinced him that there are those of us on both sides who would like him to show a very much more positive and creative attitude to the overseas service than he seems to have at present.
§ Mr. Callaghan
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There are four backers to this Bill, of whom three are present. But one important backer is not here, and that is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. We are all conscious in this 961 debate of what a large part the Treasury plays in the Bill. Indeed, the Financial Secretary is to move a Money Resolution in relation to it when the Bill has secured its Second Reading. The Treasury plays a large part, and various things cannot he done without its consent. I wonder if it would be possible for a Government Whip to see if the Financial Secretary can be present, because I am sure that it will help with his education if he can hear what is being said on both sides of the House.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
It is always a pleasure to agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), and today I find myself agreeing with almost everything she said about this subject. The hon. Lady said at one stage that far from this Bill being an enabling Measure it looked rather like a disabling one. I am not so sure that I could follow her that far, but I must express my conviction that this Bill seems to enable the Secretary of State to do very little, to do very little too late.
Tributes were rightly paid by my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) to the men of the Overseas Service. I cannot think of any more devoted and dedicated body in the whole of the Commonwealth than the men who devote their lives to the service of the less well-equipped, less advanced and less sophisticated peoples of our great family of nations. Theirs is a service which brings its own satisfaction, but it is not an easy job and it is not an easy life. I said "Hear, hear" rather loudly when my right hon. Friend said that this House owes a debt to the men of the Overseas Service. That being so, I think that the Measure we now have before us is quite inadequate to meet the need.
I remember how some of us were disappointed when in 1954, after much prodding on the part of some of my right hon. Friends, the White Paper appeared. If we are so concerned about the future of this Service, we should pay some regard to the feelings and susceptibilities of the men engaged in it. It was well-known in 1954 that there was a growing feeling of dissatisfaction in the Service. It was because these men were devoted and loyal and were the right stuff that they kept 962 their grumbles very largely to themselves. That was in 1954 and this Bill has only just appeared.
I should like to know—and this is the first of the questions I want to ask—why there has been this long delay. The right hon. Member for Wakefield talked about the contraction of opportunity, and other speakers in the debate have implied that part of the trouble is that the men already employed in the Service know that it is virtually dying on its feet. Is this correct? If it is not, it may be leading us to false conclusions.
I remember some years ago conducting a survey into the prospects of the Colonial Service, and I came to some very interesting conclusions. We are faced here with a dilemma. On the one hand, with the political ties between the Colonial Dependencies and the mother country weakening, with more and more of these territories moving towards self-government and mastery over their own affairs, administrative changes in the colonies and in this country in the Colonial Office are inevitable, and these are bound to lead to anxiety among those serving and also those who, in normal circumstances, would be attracted to join them.
I remember when in East Africa in 1954 being told by one promising young district officer that he felt like looking over his shoulder all the time at the men who had served in the Sudan and those in that incomparable Civil Service, the Indian Civil Service, and who were now elsewhere. These anxieties were natural, and inevitable, but it is clear that if, as a result of these anxieties getting a grip, the Service is allowed to run down, the consequences to the whole of the Commonwealth and ourselves would be tragic.
The fact of the matter is that political advance in all these territories which have achieved or are about to achieve independence has far outstripped their administrative capacity. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) quite properly quoted Dr. Azikiwe and other political leaders, who have in the last few years made it absolutely clear that they want British administrative assistance to continue and on terms satisfactory to the men concerned. They recognise that the kind of disinterested advice and expertise 963 which these men can provide are absolutely essential if their young democracies are to find their feet, master their environment and develop their resources.
So we have a situation in which the demand for good men from the United Kingdom is not diminishing, but is increasing. I allow at once that where administrative officers are concerned, particularly the senior ones, opportunities of the right kind are contracting, but, since I made my survey, which was three years ago, I believe that the picture has not altered. In fact, if anything, a new emphasis has been given to my conclusions.
In the first eight years after the war, three times as many forestry and legal officers were required as in the eight years immediately previous to the war, four times as many administrative officers and medical officers, seven times as many veterinary officers, twelve times as many surveyors and geologists, and twenty-six times as many educational officers. The reason for this is quite clear. Economic, social and political development is quickening all the time in the Colonial Empire, and the demand for expertise increases accordingly. What I am driving at—and I am sorry that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is not here to hear this—is that colonial development is not just a matter of finding money. It is not just a matter of providing capital goods. It is, first and foremost, a matter of finding the right kind of men with the right kind of knowledge to guide, train and to enthuse the colonial cadres who will take over in the end.
I was most interested when my right hon. Friend gave some figures of the recruitment to the Colonial Service in the last two years, but I should have liked to have been given another figure, and perhaps my right hon. Friend, when he replies, may be able to give it. My information is that the demand has been so great in recent years that there is quite a considerable lag between the vacancies being notified to the Colonial Office and the appointments being made. I should like to know whether that lag is disappearing, and whether the number of young cadets is increasing. In short, the conclusion which one reaches is that at a time when anxiety is getting keen and when a number of the senior men in the 964 Overseas Civil Service are thinking in terms of taking their compensation and getting out, the field of opportunity, far from contracting, is widening, except, as I have said, in the administrative service.
As a result of this dilemma, we are faced with two related problems; first, how are we to provide continuity of employment and good prospects of advancement for those men already in the Service; and, secondly, how are we to ensure recruitment? One administrative officer in the West Indies told me a few years ago: "Remember, the chief source of recruitment to the Service are those already in it." Just as a doctor very often hopes that his son will follow him in his noble profession, so the colonial administrator hopes that his son will find happiness and a vocation in the Service. Unfortunately, in the last two years a number have been saying "I hope my son will not follow me, because the prospects are no longer bright."
In the past, colonial servants did not belong to a single unified service working to the same set of rules and answerable to the same master. It is true that they were recruited by the Colonial Office, and they were selected by the Secretary of State and many of them were appointed directly by him. But they were employed by colonial Governments and once appointed they were the servants of those Governments and of no other. As many hon. Members have said, the terms and conditions of service varied widely.
Is it not now the position that the Secretary of State has less and less control over appointments and that more and more the public service commissions are making them instead? I am convinced that there is no way out of the difficulty except by providing a single unified service with pay and pensions underwritten by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, although increasing discretion will have to be left to the local public service commissions and to the Governors to make the actual appointments.
I can see no reason even now why the re-employment of officers made redundant through no fault of their own but through political or administrative changes in these colonies should be left to chance or good will or to the whim of the Treasury. How are we to attract into the Service men whose intellectual quality and 965 character is such that they could find a niche almost anywhere else in these days of full employment? How are we to keep them in the Service unless we guarantee that once redundancy occurs their future will not be left to chance? Indeed, redundancy often occurs because a man has done his job well and has hastened the day of self-government.
I should like to know why there should be two categories, one being those on the Special List. Why should there be two kinds of colonial civil servant? What is the reason? We have not yet been given an explanation. Perhaps my hon. Friend will tell us that there are technical or financial reasons, or that the Treasury insists that the Special List should cover only a small, narrow, exceptional category of men in order to save money. If that is the truth, let us be told so.
The 1954 White Paper fell far short of what was required. It did not allay anxiety about prospects and pensions at the time. I do not see why the pensions for the whole Service should not be funded and located in the United Kingdom. The Bill, I readily allow, moves in the right direction, but it moves timidly and half-heartedly and is manifestly the product of a titanic struggle between the Colonial Office and the Treasury.
I should like to know how many officers in West Africa have thrown in their hand during the three years which have elapsed since the White Paper. I should like to know too how many officers in the Eastern and Western regions of Nigeria have taken their compensation. I should also like to know what has become of them. Have they sought similar service elsewhere, or have industry and commerce gained them?
The other day a young, brilliant administrative officer serving in one of the key territories of the colonial empire came to see me. He told me of his fears and doubts. If he stuck to his post, which was a senior one, there was the chance that a glittering prize lay ahead. He was not particularly concerned about that. He liked the job, and he had done a good job. He had helped in a territory where there has been a very rapid transformation, and he felt that he had made some contribution to it. He was young and married and had children, and he had to think of the future. He had had attractive offers from business houses. He wondered what he should do. I could have 966 shown him the Bill, but I doubt whether he would have obtained much encouragement from it. I do not know what he will do, but I do know what large numbers of other officers of similar age and distinction have already done. They have taken their compensation and gone.
I should like to know also why the Special List is limited to Nigeria. We have had nearly three years to think about this. There are other territories in which serving officers are filled with doubt and apprehension. We have been told today that there is a possibility of a similar list being negotiated with the Governments of Malaya and Ghana. I am glad to hear it. I should like to know when the negotiations opened and how long they will take to complete.
I should like to know whether the proposal will be limited to Malaya and Ghana. What about the Caribbean territories and some of the remote islands about which people hardly ever hear but where men are doing a fine job? Why should the matter be dealt with in piecemeal fashion? Why should we select one area and then go on to another? The men in the Service, certainly all the specialists except language experts, should be capable of being moved from one territory to another as need arises. Why cannot we treat this as a unified Service in which every man entering knows he has equality of opportunity and prospects with his fellows?
Is the Treasury responsible for the niggling treatment? What is the meaning of Clause 1 (2) and (3)? I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East. Why should the Treasury determine the conditions under which these officers are appointed? There is also the matter of Clause 1 (6). It seems to me that the Secretary of State has extraordinarily wide powers to terminate appointments. If that provision is read with Clause 2 (4) it seems to me that he can do what he likes in respect of these appointments subject to not being challenged in Parliament.
I am not sure that these provisions are likely to inspire confidence among the members of the Overseas Service. I have with me a letter from a very distinguished ex-Colonial Secretary. He asks me the question which I have just asked. He writes:What does Section 2 (4) mean? As a layman, I can only read it to the effect that the 967 Secretary of State can do anything he likes with an official pension. How encouraging!I will not read the rest of the letter because it is, perhaps, unnecessarily harsh.
If these provisions were linked with an intelligent system of interchange with the home Civil Service, well and good, but we have had no evidence that this is intended. If it is intended, I hope my hon. Friend will give the House some information.
In short, as one who has had the proud privilege of being able to visit a very large number of Colonial territories during the last decade and has been struck by what he has seen of the devotion and hard work shown by the Colonial Service everywhere, I must register my acute disappointment that the opportunity has not been taken in the Bill to tackle the problem more boldly and with greater imagination and generosity. The Secretary of State, quite rightly, paid a great tribute to the men of the Service and said that the House owed a debt to them. I should have thought that this is one of the very few issues which cannot be judged on grounds of immediate expense. Clearly, we are moving into—indeed, we are already in—a phase of difficult and delicate relations with the peoples of the colonial empire. We cannot afford not to have the best men guiding, training and inspiring the colonial peoples.
Enemies of our way of life in the world are to be found everywhere. There is plenty of cynicism, plenty of uncertainty and doubt, plenty of fear. The colonial civil servant is much more than an ambassador for this country. He is forging the links in a chain of understanding, trust and friendship which alone can ensure that the Commonwealth, of which Briain is only a part, can endure. On the quality of their leadership, on the example they set and the confidence they inspire, will depend whether the new self-governing States of the Commonwealth decide to stay within the family circle. On those grounds alone—there is no need to advance any other—I should have thought that they were entitled to a better deal than they are receiving now.
§ Mr. Callaghan
On a point of order. I did, some twenty minutes ago, raise the question of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury being here. We have a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury here. Can 968 he tell us whether the Financial Secretary will attend the debate?
§ Mr. Callaghan
In that case, will you allow me to move a Motion, "That the debate be now adjourned"?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not a Motion I can accept. The Ministers who are present can answer for the Treasury.
§ Mr. Callaghan
We have a Motion to be moved later on—I trust I am being perfectly courteous in this matter, Mr. Speaker, though I am not at all sure how far the Treasury is being courteous to the House—which is directly related to the Bill; it is, in fact, the Money Resolution. A great many strictures are being made this evening about the attitude of the Treasury, and it is surely reasonable to suggest that we should have a Treasury Minister here in order that he may know what our attitude is, and, indeed, what is the attitude of the House in this matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
These are not concerns of mine, and they are not points of order in any way. It is not a matter in which I have any power to interfere, and the debate must go on. We are dealing now with the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Callaghan
But, Mr. Speaker, these are the reasons which would lead me to submit to you that it would be reasonable to move the adjournment of the debate. What has in fact happened?
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I disagree profoundly with the pessimistic tone of the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine). He made a number of niggling points, which seemed to me to be points much better dealt with in Committee than on Second Reading. As I understand the procedure on Second Reading, it is to consider the principle of the Bill. In my submission, the Secretary of State has made a good case for the principle of the Bill in general, though I have certain objections to it in detail.
969 The hon. Member for Essex, South-East, criticised the Bill for being too little and too late. That is the kind of cheap criticism which could be made of any Bill at any time. It seems to me that our function is to consider the principle of the Bill, and then, in Committee, when the hon. Gentleman may wish to make his small points, to consider whether the Bill can be improved. It is our task to make the Bill as good a Bill as possible.
I hope that the reservations I have in welcoming the Bill will not recoil upon me as being Committee points. Briefly, I consider that the Bill should be tightened up in certain ways. There are certain terms in it which merit definition yet which are not to be found in the definition Clause. Discretions are given too widely throughout the Bill, particularly to the Treasury, and it seems to me that the Treasury will in course of time be in conflict with the Secretary of State. The powers which are given are not in all cases clearly defined, and it seems to me that some of the looseness in the Bill will make for difficulty in administration.
The general principle of the Bill is good. It attempts to solve some of the essential problems in a very practical way. There is no doubt that legislation in this matter is much needed and, although it may be that the need has existed for some time, that is no reason for discarding a Bill which makes a reasonable and practical attempt at a solution.
Like other hon. Members who have spoken, I have had the opportunity—I say it humbly—of visiting some of the Colonies, and I know some of the problems involved. I do not profess to know—like some hon. Members who have spoken—what all the problems are, nor do I profess to know all the solutions, though I know of some of them. In the places I visited, I had conversations with officers in Her Majesty's Colonial Service and with others not in the Service, who could, perhaps, take a more objective view. It seems to me that the Colonial Service is doing excellent work. The question which the House has to consider is, will it continue? Will the Bill help it to continue? Does the Bill do enough? It is easy to say of any Bill that it does not do enough, but at least the one now 970 before us takes a step in the right direction. It confronts in its own way the essential, urgent current problems which await solution.
I shall put four of those problems as tersely and briefly as I can. The first is the problem presented by the rapid diminution in the number of trained and experienced officers in the public service in the Colonies. The second is the failure of the present attempts to retain expatriate British civil servants in their respective offices. The third is the counter-attraction which the British Government strangely and inconsistently offers them to retire prematurely a—very serious matter which must be tackled, and which, in my opinion, the Bill makes some attempt to tackle. Fourth is the insufficient number of trained, indigenous civil servants available and coming forward, efficiently to take the place of those who are retiring.
Those problems have a number of causes, of which I shall mention only two, which are related. The latest and short-term cause is that the existing officers have been given the right to retire with the pensions they have earned plus a lump sum for compensation. To this privilege they have become entitled in Nigeria, as has been mentioned, owing to the change of masters, as it is called, on transition from colonial status to the higher status of self-government. The Colonial Secretary took the view—I think quite correctly—that he could no longer guarantee their terms of service. Because of this, it is estimated that about 25 per cent. of the expatriate civil servants have opted to retire, and it is estimated that in about two years' time very few expatriate British civil servants will remain. That is the kind of problem the Bill is designed to tackle.
One cannot blame the civil servants for so succumbing to the inducement which the British Government—not only the present Government, but past Governments—have offered to them to retire prematurely from their posts, in that way reducing the numbers of the British civil servants in those posts. Their reasons are many and are almost coercive, particularly having regard to the present high cost of living. One is the attractive lump sum, which, at a time when the cost of living is high, makes it practically impossible for civil servants with 971 family responsibilities to do other than retire. Another reason is the uncertain conditions of service under new Governments, conditions which may not be as attractive as those enjoyed at present. A third reason is that under the new régime the rates of pay and superannuation may fall if these civil servants stay on.
A fourth and very important reason is that these civil servants are attracted to leave the service because they want to get into industry and commerce before the men who are now being turned out of the Forces. There will be great competition in trade, industry and commerce, and those civil servants who retire prematurely and at a comparatively young age must look to the future and consider what competition there will be when they retire.
This almost spectacular diminution of expatriate British civil servants in the Colonies would not be serious if new men were coming forward to take their places, but they are not coming on with sufficient celerity to enable trained personnel to be put into all the places which are being vacated by those who are retiring.
That brings me to the other aspect of the cause of this diminution in the expert Civil Service in the Colonies. I have mentioned the recent and short-term cause. I now mention the older and long-term one. In my submission, past British Governments have not done their duty to our Colonies in this way. They should have foreseen the time when, in the march of events, those Colonies would achieve higher constitutional status and would need to man their own Civil Service. They did not take time by the forelock, and they did not educate the indigenous races as they should have done. If they had done that, the men—in the case of Nigeria, the Nigerians—would be coming forward now in sufficient numbers to fill the places which are being vacated. But past British Governments neglected their duty in that way, and they have only themselves to blame for the shortage of indigenous manpower that is arising.
What is meant by the term "officer" in the Bill? Who is an officer? The Bill does not define the word. Is "officer" to include a military officer as well as a Civil Service officer? I have 972 a case at present—I shall not mention the name or the area from which it comes—of a thoroughly expert, highly-educated civil servant who is now in a Colony. He has been given a high-up job under a superior officer who has no knowledge of the requisite technique and there is chaos in the office and trouble between them. That is the kind of thing that might ensue if "officer" is to mean other than a Civil Service officer. Before the Bill reaches the Statute Book, the term "officer" should be so defined as to ensure that incompetent persons are not given authority.
I should like to ask the Minister a few questions. Who are the officers to be appointed? How is their fitness to be tested? What must be their qualifications for appointment, and what is meant by the wordsarrangements…with Governments of overseas territoriesin Clause 1? Subsection (2) seems to me to give a veto to the Treasury as against the Secretary of State. If that is so, it may cause difficulty in administration. To me, these are important questions. The testing and the qualifications are important matters, not only to the Colonies but, indirectly and in the long run, to the solidarity of the Commonwealth of Nations. Unless these Colonial Territories when they achieve higher constitutional status are properly administered, and by their own men, the solidarity of the Commonwealth of Nations may indirectly, or perhaps, directly, be affected. On the whole, this is a good Bill, but it has certain defects which I hope will be cured in Committee. I hope that it will reach the Statute book and achieve the aim that it has in view.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
I should like to add a word of assessment and appreciation of the Bill as I have served in the Colonial Service and as it touches upon the most vital and important issue in this vital and important age in which we live. It seems to me that the fundamental object of the Bill is to ensure the continuity of the British Imperial mission. I think that when history comes to judge us it will say that our British Imperial mission was the most significant contribution that we have made to the advancement of mankind.
973 The immediate object of the Bill, as I see it, is to ensure that those who carry on the mission shall have their careers continuable in the immediate future. It is proposed to achieve that object by securing for certain of them—not all of them—that the debt of honour which Her Majesty's Government owe to them will be fulfilled. We owe them a debt of honour because they have been selected by the Secretary of State and they are subject to his Regulations. It is our duty to see that they are not let down in mid-career while we stand impotently by. If they are rather anxious about this, one cannot wonder. They may be wondering about what happened to the British employees of the Egyptian. Government who were let down so shamefully while we stood by quite unable to help them.
I shall not detain the House for long, but I want to say a word or two with special reference to the Bill about the Imperial mission of this country—I make no apology whatever for using the phrase—and to those who carry it out, with a special reference to the administrative service. As to the mission, we have completed the first and, perhaps, the easiest part of it, which we might call the Lugard era, of maintaining law and order and establishing sound administration.
We are now, however, entering a far more tricky period. We must nurse to maturity and responsibility the fierce and elemental nationalism which our own policy has created. We have to cherish the humane and civilised standards of behaviour and forms of government with which we have endowed the Colonies and we have to guide the economic development that we have started. To do these things in the atmosphere which we have created, we must have men of character, vision and infinite patience. It is the most important thing that we have to do for the world and it calls for the very best men that our country can produce.
Those who have served have a splendid and honourable record, but I am particularly concerned with those whose jobs are yet to be done. Those are the men that this Bill is about. In the 1954 debate on the organisation of the Overseas Civil Service, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport), whom I am glad now to see in his place on the Front Bench as Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth 974 Relations, who had the singular good fortune to win the ballot for Private Members' Motions on two Fridays running, we discussed the question and I ventured to say that the morale of the Colonial Service was very low and that the Service itself was quite chaotic. I hope that the Bill will take steps to arrest the decline in morale and improve the outlook for those in the Service.
I want to ask my right hon. Friend especially about the recruitment of young cadets just embarking on their careers. I have heard it said that we are asking too much of them, and that we are asking for an act of faith and sacrifice that is not fair. Looking at Colonial Paper 306, which was published four years ago, we could not blame a young officer if he were to say, "This gives me nothing certain to look forward to." If we look at Regulation 5 in the Appendix, we find that it says:A serving Member of Her Majesty's Over-sea Civil Service, while having no claim to employment otherwise than in the office which he has been offered and has accepted, shall be eligible for consideration by the Secretary of State for employment in any post which he may be requested or authorised to fulfil.In other words, the young officer says to himself, "If a nationalist government kicks me out, I am on the garbage heap at 45 and have no redress". That is not the basis on which we should ask young men to build their life's work. I hope that the Bill, developing a hint in Colonial Paper 306, puts some heart into these men who are contemplating entering what will be an enormously responsible Service. The gist of the Bill is that we shall say to these young cadets, "Do not worry because, in the last resort, if the Government have made a Special List agreement with the Government of the Colony in which you will serve, you will then be the United Kingdom's 'baby' and the Government, if you are transferred to the Special List, will guarantee your pension and take you on the payroll until you are 50, and, if you are sacked unfairly, will try to find you another job."
I am not certain that this is all we ought to offer to officers in these circumstances, because if we look at Cmd. Paper 9768, published in May, 1956, on which this Bill is based, paragraph 7 (iv) reads:Officers transferred to the Special List will accept an obligation to serve Her Majesty's 975 Government in the United Kingdom up to the age of 50 in any post to which they may be assigned from time to time.I think it might well occur to junior officers who are about to embark on their careers that this offers them very much less choice than they might have had if they had remained in the Colonial Service in the circumstances which prevailed before the war. I am not sure that this is an attractive proposition for them.
Secondly, I feel that it is open to doubt as to who decides whether an officer is to be transferred to the Special List or not. It appears, on the face of the Bill, that this is subject to Treasury veto. It is written into the Bill, and the Treasury could say, "We will not accept this man," or "We will not accept this group of men". I should have thought that not enough security is given to an officer entering the Service.
It has been suggested by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) that the Special List ought to embrace all officers in the Overseas Service. I do not think that that criticism is quite fair. I do not see how it could be done, because the Special List only has any meaning by virtue of a Special List agreement which has to be negotiated with a competent Government. Such Governments are not everywhere in existence. A young officer going into the Tanganyika Service, for example, could not ask to be put on the Special List because the Tanganyika Government are not in a position to negotiate a Special List agreement with the Government. The suggestion that is made is unrealistic, and I think that the Secretary of State has been unfairly criticised.
I think that we are still asking a very great deal of young men in their second and third years at universities who are thinking of entering the Overseas Service. I hope that this last-ditch guarantee in the Bill will give them enough certainty of outlook to enable my right hon. Friend to recruit the men whom we need. I would like a definite assurance that he is seeking the men of the right calibre and that it is his prime objective to obtain them by this Bill and will sympathetically consider Amendments designed to that end.
It would be of great interest to the House if he could let us know how many vacancies there are in the administrative branch of the Service in various Colonies. 976 He told us that recruiting was improving, but he did not indicate to what extent the supply was satisfying the demand. I do not think we can emphasise too strongly the importance to the Service of obtaining young men of the coming generation, because they have grown up in a world in which nationalism exists.
Nationalism is the creed and faith of the Africans who are the men they will have to work and deal with in the territories to which they are appointed. Nationalism is a part of their world and they understand it. At Oxford and Cambridge and other universities they meet the young men of the Africa of tomorrow. They have an insight into and a sympathy with their passions and their dreams in a way which the old hands can never have, because it was not a part of their world. These men have a decisive part to play in the world, and we in this House must do everything we can to ensure that they are forthcoming from this country to play it.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
There are one or two observations I should like to make on the Bill. First of all, I welcome the principle underlying it. The Bill may be rather belated, but I think its principle demands the support of both sides of the House.
I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when he complained about the absence of any representative from the Treasury, because I am sure the Colonial Secretary will agree with me that he is merely an instrument of policy and that decision lies with the Treasury and that without the Treasury this Bill would not exist. I should like to support my hon. Friend in his plea to the Colonial Secretary that, as a matter of prestige, he ought to instruct one of his officers to call at the Treasury so that the Financial Secretary can be brought here and we may put questions to him.
I have been through this Bill very carefully. I should like to know exactly how the salaries and conditions of service are to be determined. For example, I should like to ask whether the salaries and conditions of service will be basically those which operate in this country. Or are they to be the subject of a negotiated arrangement between the home Government and the colonial or local territory 977 to which these officers may be posted? If so, I should like to know what will be the machinery of review. Who will be the authority to determine any revision of salaries, conditions of service or pensions? Will it be the Treasury of this country? I think that is a fair point, because to anyone who launches out into a career and has to consider various claims upon his desires in relation to his future, one of the basic factors is, "What kind of salary will I receive? What are the prospects of promotion? What will be the means by which I can get my salary adjusted in accordance with any change in the economic circumstances with which I might be faced?" Therefore, I would say to the Colonial Secretary that this is a moot point. It is not clear to me how the salaries and conditions of service are to be determined, how they are to be reviewed and regulated. Who will be the authority for that?
I agreed with the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) when he referred to Clause 2 (4), which deals with superannuation rights. The one thing about pension rights to which anyone is entitled is whether there is any certainty about them. He wants to know if there is anything in his contract of service affecting his contributions, or, in a non-contributory scheme, as here, whether and how it affects any or all of his conditions of service, such as pensionable service. He wants to know whether there is any security of his pension rights yet. This subsection says nakedly:Any order under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order there-under.I think the Colonial Secretary would be advised to explain it. Such a decisively worded provision must have a purpose. I can understand it in relation to salaries, but I cannot understand it in relation to pension rights.
I come now to what may be a Committee point, but I must put it to the Colonial Secretary. I refer to paragraph 5 of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum. It says:Under the Police (Overseas Service) Act, 1945, a member of a home police force can be allowed to engage in police service overseas, with a statutory right to revert to his former rank in his home police force at the end of his police service overseas.I should have thought any police officer seconded abroad and having served a 978 period of years there, and having done his duty with merit, would have experienced some promotion. Would it not be advisable, to encourage such overseas service, to offer something a little better than reversion to his original rank, the rank the officer had when he went overseas? Would it not be advisable to make provision to ensure that when an officer returns to home duty from overseas he returns to a comparable rank at a comparable salary? This provision as set out with such pride in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, that an officer, if he returns, will be assured of the rank he filled when he took overseas service, is really rather discouraging, and it wants some explanation.
However, I think this Bill is a step in the right direction. Anyone who has followed the correspondence in The Times and the Manchester Guardian during the last few years will agree that the Colonial Territories which are emerging as self-governing territories, including those which have achieved self-government, are most anxious to secure the services of competent British personnel to carry on the administrative and technical work involved in government. I hope the Bill will be followed by wider measures so involving agreement between the Government in the United Kingdom and the colonial and local Governments to ensure reciprocal arrangements, to encourage the flow of expert personnel, such as nurses, doctors, teachers, technicians and so on, between the Colonial Territories and Britain, so that the work we have done in the past, in India and in the other countries which have been referred to in this debate, may be continued to the benefit of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in such a way as to redound continuously to our credit and helpfully to the territories which are emerging as self-governing and independent.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Colonel Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I was lucky enough a year ago in Malaya and Singapore and a month ago in Nigeria and the Southern Cameroons to meet a great many of the people who may he affected by this legislation, and so I hope to be able to make a useful contribution to this debate. Like everyone else who has spoken in the debate, I was enormously impressed by the 979 extremely high quality of the people concerned. Like other hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken, I am sorry that the Bill has came a little late. If it had come a few years ago, it might have been more effective. However, there is no use in complaining about that now, and what we now have to do is to try to make the Bill as good as possible.
My right hon. Friend told us—I think I have the figures aright—that 120 out of a potential 2,000 have so far applied to join the Special List. He made it quite clear that his hopes had not by any means been completely fulfilled. I would say that this figure is a very disappointing one indeed. That is obviously why so many of those who have spoken in this debate have been asking themselves what is the reason for it. I am glad indeed to hear that Sir John Martin is now in Nigeria looking into this and kindred problems. I am sure that the report he makes after meeting the people affected, considering the great expert he is, will be a very useful one.
Like other hon. Members, I think the main reason the response has been so disappointing is that the lump sum compensation and the pension which can be taken is so generous, and the political uncertainty in some territories is so great. These two things taken together have induced a great many people to go.
I found in Eastern and Western Nigeria last month that about 25 per cent. of the administrative officers have gone in the last two or three years and that about 25 per cent. to 30 per cent. have already decided to go during the next couple of years or thereabouts. I think those figures are accurate. It was extremely difficult to find anyone in the administrative service who will stay. I can count the administrative officers who have decided to stay, who have said that they are going to do so, on the fingers of one hand, out of dozens to whom I spoke.
It is, therefore, probably too late to persuade many to stay in the East or West Regions of Nigeria, and that is very unfortunate indeed, particularly in view of the attitude expressed by Dr. Azikiwe, a rather new attitude expressed so frankly in the New Year message which has been read from the other side of the House today.
980 In the North, though, the administrative and technical officers have not yet had to make up their minds and they will not have to do so for about two years, I think, until self-government is achieved in 1959, as we all hope it will be. So there a great deal may, perhaps, be done if very careful thought is given to this question. As everybody knows, the Northern Region is now making great progess in training new administrative officers among the Northern Nigerians themselves. I was very impressed indeed by the School of Administration in Zaria, where I spent half a day. It is very much a pet of the Premier, the Sardanna of Sokoto, who is very interested in it indeed. I was also very impressed by the School of Arabic Studies in Kano, which is doing excellent work in somewhat different fields, in an Islamic context. But unfortunately Northern Nigeria is not as far ahead as it would like to be in these directions.
The Government in the North would like the great majority and perhaps even all of the colonial officers in that Region to stay. One of the main things that I learned from talking to officers in the colonial service there is that they would be much more likely to stay if they could take part of their lump sum—perhaps half—on opting to stay, with the certain knowledge that they could have the rest when they went.
It is an idea very well worth while considering. It came from many with whom I spoke. I am sure that my right hon. Friend has it in mind as a possibility. I cannot see that it would cost any more if that were done. Bearing in mind that many of these men are between 30 and 40 years of age and have young children at school their attitude is, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Let us have half the lump sum now. We can then offset that other half against some of the political uncertainties that are bound to arise throughout Nigeria."
The second reason why so many people have already decided to go in the East and the West, and may decide to go in the North, is the very wide powers which the Secretary of State has under Clause 1, to which reference has been made on both sides of the House. One officer to whom I spoke said, "It seems to me and my friends that the Government can say just what they think is a reasonable job and 981 what they think is adequate pay, and there is no appeal against either of these decisions. Furthermore, there is no appeal against postings and no appeal against conditions of service."
This may seem on the face of it a somewhat unreasonable attitude, but I found it widespread. We might bear in mind that we all recognise that one of the greatest deterrents to recruiting in the Army has been the upheaval that officers and N.C.O.s, particularly those who are married, undergo. The upheavals which those who join the Special List might undergo could be far greater than anything normally experienced by Army officers and N.C.O.s. There would be difficulties of educating children in remote parts of the world, constant moves to new territories, problems of accommodation and all the other things which make life difficult for married men of 30 or 40 years of age with young children to bring up. These wide powers in the Bill must be looked at very carefully if these anxieties are to be allayed.
Several hon. Members have also spoken about secondment from other home Government Departments. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said something very interesting and welcome on the subject. I was most impressed in Nigeria and Malaya by the fact that more and more technical officers will be required as those countries develop. Not fewer but more men and women will be required in somewhat different conditions. Undoubtedly they will be well paid. People like veterinary surgeons, forestry experts, doctors and school masters are wanted in increasing numbers.
I should like to feel, more than I do at present, that the Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, of Health, and of Education were Commonwealth-minded in these things and did not think it any more unusual to send doctors and veterinary surgeons and forestry experts to Western Nigeria or Malaya, or wherever they might be required, than to Sussex or Northumberland. It is a general criticism, quite outside any party context, that some Government Departments have never been Commonwealth-minded at all. Those concerned with the police and the Post Office may be the outstanding exceptions which prove the rule, but other Government Departments could very well think much more in terms of the Common- 982 wealth than they do at present. I am sure that the Colonial Secretary would be the first person to welcome that.
As everyone has said in the debate, the idea behind the Bill is excellent and welcome. It is a good thing that, as it is an enabling Bill, it provides the Government with a great deal of flexibility to bear in mind and act upon the suggestions that have been made. I am very comforted by my right hon. Friend's obvious determination to make the scheme work really well. That is essential if we are to adjust ourselves to the enormous possibilities of our future relations with a country of the great importance of Nigeria. If we are to avoid what I think is a serious risk of a complete administrative and technical breakdown in some territories, it is of crucial importance that the terms of service in the Special List should be improved and that all the criticisms and suggestions made in the debate should be considered so that the Bill may become the real success which all of us wish it to be.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
In your absence, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I have ruffled the calm waters of this debate a little by twice asking for the presence of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and then endeavouring unsuccessfully—and I was not surprised that I was unsuccessful—to move the adjournment of the debate until we had the advantage of the hon. and learned Gentleman's presence. I made the attempt because this is in essence a Treasury Bill. It is formally introduced by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who have a very close interest in it, but, if I may tell them so without any disrespect, they are no more than Treasury agents in this matter.
They are the people who will recruit and appoint officers for this new Overseas Service, with the consent of the Treasury. They will fix terms of remuneration on a basis which the Treasury may consider appropriate. They intend to fix superannuation provisions, subject to the agreement of the Treasury. It is not unreasonable, therefore, for us to expect a Treasury Minister to be here. If this had been a Bill relating to the home Civil Service it would not have been introduced 983 by any Departmental Minister but by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in his capacity as the person who looks after the conditions of the Civil Service.
A number of observations have been made from both sides of the House about the position of the Treasury in this matter. I wish to make some myself at a later stage, but I should prefer to make them when the Financial Secretary found it convenient to be present. The debate has now proceeded for over three hours and we have not had any word from him or any explanation why he is not here. In order that I might regulate the length of my remarks and keep them within reasonable compass, I should be very happy to give way while we hear when he is likely to be present, so that apposite remarks may be made in the presence of the Minister who will influence the final consultations. I make this request to the Treasury Bench now. Can they kindly give an indication to the House whether or not the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is coming to this debate? If not, is some other representative of the Treasury coming here?
I am putting it extremely courteously and it is not an unreasonable request to make. May we have an answer from the Secretary of State? If not, I hope that at some stage during this evening we shall have an answer. The Government have other business to get through. I do not know whether they hope to get it through by ten o'clock or not. There are two hours and ten minutes to go. I do not know whether the other Orders are essential for today and I do not know whether the Government want this Bill today or not. I can tell the Treasury Bench now that I am capable of speaking until ten o'clock or until the Closure is moved, unless we can have an answer to what I regard as a serious point, namely, some indication by the Treasury Bench why the Financial Secretary is not here and whether he is prepared to come.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
When the matter is put that way I am prepared to answer the hon. Gentleman. It has never been the practice of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury automatically to attend this House when a Bill mentions in various Clauses the consent of the Treasury. Were that his obligation my hon. and learned Friend would spend his 984 entire life in this House instead of getting on with other important work which he must do elsewhere. In this case it is clearly appropriate that when we are entering into considerable financial obligations, which we gladly do for the sake of the service and the territories, there should be the restraining hand of the Treasury in the background. It is not true, however, that the Treasury will be vetting individual applications. I myself have virtually blanket authority in this matter and I shall not refer to the Treasury all the individual applications to join the Special List.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if, when we examine the Bill Clause by Clause, there are Clauses where it is felt to be appropriate that there should be a Treasury spokesman present, I will convey that wish to my hon. and learned Friend the Financial Secretary. However, no arrangements have been made for him to be present here tonight, and I do not think it is reasonable that the hon. Gentleman should regulate the length of his speech—interested though we would be to see if he could emulate practices in the American Senate—by the presence or absence of the Financial Secretary. I will pass on all he has said to the Financial Secretary with whom, needless to say, or rather with whose predecessor, I have had many consultations about this Bill. It will be for my hon. and learned Friend to decide whether it would be appropriate for him to turn up at various stages of this Bill.
§ Mrs. White
With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman says he has blanket authority, but the subsection of Clause I to which I drew his attention earlier states specifically that the Treasury's consent is required to the appointment of a particular officer.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I followed time-honoured language. I am letting the hon. Lady and the rest of the House into a domestic secret.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am grateful to the Colonial Secretary for giving us that explanation. Let me say, however, that it is not our view. We do not wish to hound Ministers or to compel their presence in the House when they might be engaged on other duties, like trying to save £50 million, although I am bound 985 to say that there were occasions during the lifetime of the Labour Government when a considerable amount of hounding went on. In this case the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is not merely somebody who is concerned in a Clause. He is the second backer of the Bill. His name appears there. Admittedly the name is that of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Pewell) but I take it that the mantle of Powell has descended upon Simon and that between them they share tie responsibility.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I resign from this competition of erudition, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
There is a point here. I am sure the Colonial Secretary sees it, by his comments. The Treasury hand is written right through the Bill and later I shall ask the right hon. Gentleman to deny, if he can, that the reason for the delay in producing this Bill is because of differences with the Treasury. It is a delay that, in the view of a number of us, has been fatal to the success of the Measure in certain of the territories discussed here this evening.
None of us here can compel the Financial Secretary to come to the House. Yet I take it that he is within five minutes' walk of it. It would not take the hon. and learned Gentleman long to walk across, and it would have been reasonable that he should have been here. Therefore, I ask the Colonial Secretary to convey to his hon. and learned Friend, as he has promised to do, the observations made from both sides of the House in this debate about the attitude of the Treasury on the employment of colonial civil servants.
Whilst I think that this Bill is welcome, it is a hotch-potch. I do not believe that anybody in 30 or 40 years' time who writes the history of the Overseas Service will say about the principles underlying the employment of overseas colonial civil servants today what historians today can say about the prin- 986 ciples which underlay the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms which led to the establishment of the home Civil Service 100 years ago.
I was sorry to disagree with my learned and hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) in springing to the assistance of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), who made what I thought was an excellent speech. It seems to me that there will be groups of people employed overseas in future, and that we shall not know into which group anybody comes. We shall have those willing to go on the Special List, those who will not be willing to do so and who will presumably be employed on some other terms. There will be indigenous officers, there will be contract officers—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I know, but I was hoping that when a Bill was produced to deal with the future Overseas Service, this hotch-potch might be reduced to a framework into which these people could be fitted more easily. From what has been said on both sides of the House today it is clear that it is the uncertainty of the position of these officers that is causing, in the words of one of my correspondents in West Africa, the whole idea to go sour on them, This Bill is welcome because it goes a stage forward, but I do not think that the Colonial Secretary will find that it will last in its present form. There will have to be a substantial review of our staffing arrangements for the overseas territories within the next few years in order to put them on a more permanent basis.
Now I come to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) about the appropriate Secretary of State. From my reading of the Bill, and because his name appears on the back of it, I take it that it is the Secretary of State for the Colonies who will be responsible for the Special List. My hon. Friend thought that it would also include the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations or, indeed, even the Foreign Secretary. I do not know whether that is true or not. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary will be able to tell us? If it is, it seems to me that the time is coming when this should be taken 987 out of the hands of the various Secretaries of State, for a number of reasons.
In the first place, I can see that the jealous pride of the newly emerging nations may engender a feeling that they will not want to be under the wing of the Colonial Secretary, ample though it may be. Incidentally, the pinion has been slightly injured recently but we are glad to see that it has now recovered. They may prefer to be dealt with by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. If this is the case, if we are to have groups of Secretaries of State concerned with this matter, we shall get into a state of confusion.
I should have thought there was a case for saying that the Civil Service Commission might handle this matter, since it handles the home Civil Service adequately; indeed it does so extremely well. This would remove any semblance of patronage, although that is fast going out of the door in the Colonial Service. It seems to me that it would make for an administratively tidier arrangement if the Civil Service Commission handled it. I have no fixed views about this but, if more than one Secretary of State is to be concerned in the List, it might be an administrative improvement.
Now I come to the question of the Central Pool. I, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), regret very much the abandonment of that pool, and the fact that it has taken us two years to reach this conclusion. We must ask the Colonial Secretary some questions. The right hon. Gentleman said that his colleagues in other Departments play up well if he asks them to lend men to go to the overseas territories. I expect they do, but more than that is required.
Is it dependent at the present time upon the good will of the Department concerned whether it releases an appropriate man for service elsewhere, or can the Colonial Secretary put his finger on the man he wants? I imagine that the first of those alternatives is correct. That will not be very successful in the future. Hon. Members who have seen the inside of a Government Department know that what tends to happen is that if it gets a request for someone and the Department cannot refuse, it sends the fellow 988 it likes least and wants to get rid of most. That is not the sort of person we want to see going out into the Colonial Territories. If the right hon. Gentleman is abandoning the Central Pool and is to rely upon the good will of his colleagues in other Departments to supply him with men, how will this arrangement be made? What choice will the right hon. Gentleman have about the people he hopes he will get?
The Bill has been very much delayed, in fact for eighteen months, because of the failure of the Treasury to match up to the needs of the situation. It has haggled and argued and wrangled about the conditions of service under which these men are to be employed and has failed to give the guarantee that was necessary to enable the men to take on the job which had to be done. The consequence is that in at least one territory the opportunity has been dissipated to a large extent. The Treasury is acting in accordance with the worst traditions I could expect from it. I think most hon. Members agree that we can offer very little to the Colonial Territories except skill and brains. It is surely worth our while to pay what is necessary in order to get them.
Suppose these problems were posed in terms of the cold war. We would get a very different response and a vastly different decision. Suppose it were said that the Russians were sending out 500 administrators, technicians and specialists into the Colonial Territories and were willing to pay for them. The whole Treasury Front Bench would be falling over itself to say how wrong and wicked this was. Well, here is the cheapest way in which we can maintain a continuing influence in these territories, where the emerging nations want us to do so. One reason why I feel rather savage about the Treasury is that by the expenditure of an infinitesimally small amount we could guarantee the salaries of all the necessary men. We need not enter into all the fine shades of difference about which the Colonial Secretary will be haggling with the Treasury. We could do the whole thing.
I am told that the French Government which, between periods of resignation, seems to be able to get things done, have taken over the whole responsibility for the payment of the salaries of French civil servants in Colonial Territories. 989 What a wonderful and rich investment this would be, and what a good return we could get for a very small expenditure.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I do not know why the hon. Gentleman should object to that statement, unless he wishes to support the Treasury. Perhaps he is casting his mind forward to Thursday and thinking that Government supporters will have to support the Treasury and defend the proposition of paring off the last £50 million irrespective of what happens.
§ Mr. Osborne
The hon. Gentleman suggested that the French Government were getting a good return for their expenditure, but that is not true in every case, for example in Algeria.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I accept that point, although that was not in fact what I said.
Some of us believe that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury should be present during the Committee stage of the Bill so that we can put these considerations to him with some force and try to get the Treasury to behave generously about the Overseas Civil Service and the Special List.
I agree very much with what was said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) about the need for movement overseas from home Departments and back again. In view of the fact that the Central Pool is now being abandoned, I should like to see a regular call upon our home Departments for movement out to Colonial Territories. I believe we should find a vast untapped reservoir of men in home Departments who would be ready, indeed anxious, to go for five years or any other contract period, to get a spell of service overseas. The experience would strengthen our home Departments and broaden them.
I would ask another question about salaries. Although the Bill is not an enabling one, I understand that under it the Colonial Secretary will determine rates of pay of these officers and will prescribe them. The hon. Baronet the Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) said there would be equality of salary for them, no matter where they were serving. There is obviously variety 990 in the capacities of territories to pay and—
§ Mr. M. Clark Hutchison
May I point out to the hon. Gentleman that I am the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, and that I am not a baronet.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If only the hon. Member were a member of the Liberal National Party I guarantee that he would be a baronet within eighteen months. As it is, he will have to wait a little longer. He is on the East Coast of Scotland. I am told that they do very well on that side of Scotland, so perhaps he will not have very long to wait.
There is variance in the capacity of territories to pay. What will the Colonial Secretary do when one territory comes to him and says, "We should like to have half a dozen of your chaps but we cannot afford to pay for them"? Would the Government be in a position under the Bill to subsidise the salaries of those officers? I presume we should not approve of cut-price officers. Are the Government free to put in some measure of subsidy so as to give top price to the people needed, irrespective of the capacity of the territory to pay?
A point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle), about the courses which these officers take before they go overseas. Somebody has referred to these officers as emerging slightly pompous, and said that the fresh breezes of New Zealand should blow through them because that would help the officers a great deal. Whatever we may think about this point, I ask the Colonial Secretary whether he has recently had a chance of looking at the courses undertaken at Oxford and Cambridge by these men. I do not know whether Oxford and Cambridge are the two best universities for this purpose. There might be something to say for the red-brick universities, which seem more appropriate. [Interruption.] I know that I may be offending hon. Gentlemen who went to Oxford or Cambridge, but I hope they will be able to sustain my criticism.
The breadth and nature of the courses will obviously be of great importance when the men go out into the territories. I ask the Colonial Secretary what review is made of the courses which are taken by these young men and to what extent there is consultation with or control by 991 the Colonial Office about what is done in those two universities at the present time.
It is not now necessary for me to make the lengthy speech to which the House was looking forward. In view of what the Colonial Secretary has said, I conclude by saying that we give a modified welcome to the Bill. We think it represents a step forward in the course and history of the Overseas Civil Service. We think it will help. There is a great deal to be done very quickly and we hope that when we get to the Committee stage we shall have assurances from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that will lead us to the conclusion that the Treasury will not throw away the Commonwealth for the sake of 6½d.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)
I will do my best to answer a number of questions which have been raised, although a great many of them can more properly be dealt with on the Committee stage. On that occasion, whether fortified by the attendance of other Ministers or not, I will do my best to give appropriate answers to what really are Committee points.
I must first apologise to the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), who for the moment is not in his place, as I cannot at this moment give the precise numbers of those officers who in 1956–57 were selected for appointment to the Overseas Service and declined, but I will send him the information.
This debate has certainly shown the passionate interest of hon. Members on both sides of the House in the welfare of the main instrument of Colonial development, Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. I am very glad that the speeches have taken on such an interested, and, at times, such a vehement tone. I do not in the least resent that. I have been very anxious for this Bill for some considerable time. I am delighted that it has now been possible to introduce it, and I believe it will make a substantial contribution to the cause we all have at heart.
I say this about what may appear to be some slight delay in the introduction of the Bill. Clearly it raised a number of new problems and new issues. It was also highly desirable when we finalised 992 the Special List that we should do so in a form which was likely to commend itself to those overseas Governments with which we were anxious to make Special List agreements. It would have been absurd had we introduced a Bill which bore no relation to what in fact the overseas Governments—who are the essential parties in the Special List procedure—were prepared to agree.
There was bound to be a great deal of discussion and inevitably some delay, but, in order that the ill effects of the delay should as far as possible be offset, I made a statement, through the medium of a White Paper, in May of 1956 making it quite clear that there was going to be a Special List. In so far as that could bring solace and comfort to members of the Overseas Civil Service the promise that there would be such a list and that legislation would be introduced for it must have done something to retain their confidence.
I recognise that by itself no Act of Parliament can solve our problems, either of recruitment or of the maintenance of a healthy service on the scale that we all desire. A great many other considerations enter in and not the least is the attitude of local governments. I have lost no opportunity on my many visits to colonial territories to impress on political leaders the necessity of casting their mantle over the Civil Service in the way in which British Ministers have been accustomed to, which means that Ministers must take responsibility for unpopular decisions and not lay the blame on officials. If attacks are made on officials the Ministers responsible must instantly leap to their defence. Not the least of the difficulties some of us have found in recent years has been the fact that individual civil servants have been mentioned adversely by name in a number of legislatures and charges have been made against them which have not been answered and they themselves were precluded from making any answer at all. Those are the sort of circumstances which work against that peace of mind and contentment which we are all anxious to achieve.
I can, of course, introduce with the consent of the Treasury and of my colleague and with the approval of Parliament—such legislation as seems desirable. 993 but that by itself will not do all we need. This is bound to be a business in which co-operation between ourselves and the local governments is imperative. When I say co-operation, I mean not only by words, which are always welcome, but by deeds, which are even more welcome. There are now many evidences that responsible Ministers in the territories most concerned fully appreciate this fact and I hope they are taking every opportunity of making it abundantly clear.
A number of very important points have been made in this debate and I shall certainly ponder on all the suggestions that have been made. I shall come more educated to the Committee stage than I would otherwise have been. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) regretted what he called the loss in the appeal of the services and my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) also referred to the same theme. We ought to get this into perspective, as I think my hon. Friend clearly did. In spite of the political unsettlement in different areas, in spite of the many other attractive opportunities in commerce and industry open to professional people, we are still recruiting over the whole field at four times the pre-war rate of recruitment. So I do not think we ought to take too seriously a charge that there is a loss of appeal to the services. In administration the rate of recruitment is about the same as pre-war, but in the professional branches it is much higher and, over the whole field, it is four times what it was before the war.
My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East was quite right in saying that there is an increasing demand and what matters is the gap between what we can supply and what the demand is shown to be. There is a substantial gap, but we are recruiting at four times the pre-war level over the whole field. I am most grateful to those of my officers and others who have so quickly got out the figures which are really "hot" from the printer. The number of vacancies in administration on the last day of last year was 130, and in all branches 1,384. That is a substantial improvement on 1956. At the end of 1956 we had 170 administrative vacancies and 1,456 vacancies in all branches. The proportion of vacancies to the total number of overseas officers 994 in the service now is very roughly about 7 per cent. We must do what we can to close that gap, but we ought to see the gap in perspective.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Would the vacancies include omission from the list of Malaya, Ghana and possibly other countries?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
Yes, that is taken into account. The proportion now is 7 per cent. of vacancies in the Colonial dependent territories and the figures have been adjusted to take account of that fact.
I was also asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East and a number of other hon. Members for the number of officers leaving Ghana and Nigeria. These figures represent very substantial losses. If the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) thinks I am unduly pessimistic, I hope she will realise that no greater disservice could be done to the cause we all have at heart than to be unwisely complacent. There is a very real problem here. I believe that in the Special List we have a potential dynamic appeal which, properly presented and developed, may well help to meet the situation.
I believe there is some dynamism in this Bill, but I was being brutally frank when I drew attention to the fact that all is not well and we ought not to think it is; above all we ought not to allow those in whose hands is the cure of these ills to believe that all is well. In Ghana, approximately 400 officers have left, which is approximately 50 per cent. of the entitled officers—that is, officers entitled to compensation. About 50 per cent. have retired. The retirement scheme in Ghana dates from July, 1955, and the retirements have, therefore, been spread over quite a long period.
In Eastern Nigeria, 51 have retired, which is 23 per cent. of the entitled officers. In Western Nigeria, 68 have left, which is between 23 per cent. and 24 per cent. of the entitled officers. In both these territories retirement schemes date only from the autumn of last year.
We come to the question which has run through the debate and which a number of hon. Members have raised—the appeal which substantial compensation terms are bound to make to officers who are confronted with very difficult decisions. My hon. and gallant Friend 995 the Member for Lewes (Colonel Beamish), who has had another singularly successful tour in Colonial Territories, and other hon. Members have raised this point, among them my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney). In a way, the very nature and size of the compensation scheme has been one of our great disadvantages, but I would ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in this respect to put themselves in my position: in fairness or propriety, we could not have used the financial weapon to induce officers to stay against their better judgment. For example, we could not have said, "We will not use our best offices to try to get good compensation terms for loss of office or if a situation arises which makes you want to retire."
If we had not been so successful in our negotiations with Colonial Territories and if we had not obtained such substantial compensation, no doubt some officers who have left would not have left, but I think I should have been doing my duty very badly by those officers if I had failed to get them the best possible compensation terms. Side by side with that has gone the duty to try to do everything one can to induce them to stay.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) used a phrase about abandoning the central pool. It is too early to say that that will be so. I have no wish whatever to do that, and as long as there is a reasonable chance of success being achieved that way, I have every intention of preserving the framework into which it can fit. Indeed, as I said to the right hon. Member for Wakefield it might be that some Special List officers in Nigeria who were not wanted for further employment there might themselves form the beginnings of the central pool for employment elsewhere.
I made this quite clear and I also repeated the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal in March last year that it was intended to test the demand for such a poolby improving the existing arrangements by which members of the Home and Overseas Civil Service can be made available to Commonwealth countries without prejudice to their pension rights."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th March, 1957; Vol. 567, c. 96.]That, in fact, we have done, and Clauses 2 and 3 of the Bill are expressly 996 designed to do it. We are not abandoning the central pool, although I am bound to say that at this stage I think that the Special List procedure is the more fruitful line of approach.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
In connection with the Central Register, in 1954 a time limit was given to the Overseas Service for people to apply to go on to the Register. Is it now said that the response of the Overseas Service was so poor that it hardly justified the existence of the Register? What was the experience of the appeal which was made by which they might apply for admission within six months?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I said at the start that there was very little indication that such a register and pool would appeal to younger people, who would be recruited for a particular job in a particular territory. I said that it was more likely to have an appeal to older people.
One of my hon. Friends rightly pointed out that the Special List demands a Special List agreement, and this is the reason that a distinction is drawn between officers on the Special List and others. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East made some mild fun out of the suggestion that there would be a series of different people serving in the Colonial Service who would be on different terms, but that seems to me to be quite unavoidable. Nothing that we do in the House will do away with the growing system of recruitment on contract terms. Anybody who has had to deal with the political leaders in emerging territories knows how reluctant they are to saddle themselves, as they regard it, with a lifelong obligation to people whose skill may well have been acquired by people of their own Territory long before the lifetime of the European officers has been exhausted. We are seeing more and more recruitment on contract terms and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
Incidentally, the Special List is not meant to deal with officers recruited on contract terms. The leader of the Liberal Party said that he thought they would be particularly appropriate for the Special List, but the Special List is meant to deal with people who are pensionable, which they are not, and who are eligible for compensation, which they are not. That is not to say that in exceptional 997 circumstances the United Kingdom Government and the local Government alike might not agree that some officer could qualify both for pension and for compensation and could find himself on the Special List.
The point which I was trying to make was that nothing we do can alter the fact that there will be a growing number of people on contract terms. We therefore cannot have the tidy arrangement which we should like to have and which nostalgic and other considerations might lead us to think preferable. There are bound to be distinctions, also, between Special List officers and other members of the Overseas Civil Service for the simple reason that the Special List set-up involves a Government which is qualified and ready to sign a Special List agreement.
In respect of both the Nigerian Governments, there have been 120 applications. Sir John Martin will make recommendations to me and he will most certainly look into the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes—the suggestion of an officer taking half his compensation and remaining. I must say, however, that the Governments concerned in Africa up to now have not shown any great liking for the idea of officers remaining who have already drawn some of their compensation. That is not to say, in view of the very grave situation, that this is not a suggestion worth considering. It has been put to Sir John Martin, and I think it well worth pursuing. As I have said, however, there are bound to be officers employed on the Special List and other officers of H.M.O.C.S. who are not so employed. In Nigeria, so far there have been 120 applications.
Discussions are going on now in respect of Malaya, and in my opening speech I ventured to hint that they were taking a fruitful turn, but it is not for me to state to the House what will happen in Malaya which is no longer my responsibility, nor have the talks yet been concluded.
A number of hon. Members, primarily my hon. Friend the Member for Waver-tree asked why this should not apply to the whole of the Colonial Service. May I here say to all my hon. Friends how grateful I am for the work they have done in this particular field. This interest is, of course, common to all Members, 998 on both sides of the House, but I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree, who has been persistent in this matter, deserves special praise, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East for his admirable articles on this very matter in the New Commonwealth. They are entitled to be singled out, but, as I say, hon. Members on both sides are equally zealous in this sphere.
At first sight, that would appear to be an obvious thing to do, but I must, at this stage, put in a ward for Her Majesty's Treasury and remind hon. Members of the obligation there is on the Treasury not to enter into open-ended commitments without knowing exactly where they will lead. I do not normally find myself in a position of publicly defending the Treasury—though I naturally stand by every decision that the Government arrive at in their collective wisdom—but I think that it is reasonable to point out that if there is to be a Special List there should be special circumstances surrounding it.
As an experiment, we have applied it to Nigeria and it seems to us that we should first concentrate on dealing with the situation in Nigeria, and making the scheme a success there. I must point out that, in some other territories, neither the officers nor the Governments may altogether like the Special List procedure. Clearly an agreement must be introduced which is acceptable to the local Government and will also be welcomed by the officers themselves. Certain Governments, and it is no secret that this is the view of the Central African Federation, feel strongly that their services should be locally based. It has also been borne in on me in recent months and years that overseas officers in Nigeria and Malaya have, in many cases, shown notable reluctance to accepting the provision of compulsory transfer from one territory to another, which is a special feature of the Special List arrangements.
The arrangements would also, I think, apply in East Africa. There, also, I have reason to believe that the officers would not altogether welcome the provision under which Special List officers transferred to a particular territory can have their appointment terminated at twelve months' notice by the Government of that territory. These are matters that I would, on another occasion, be glad 999 to develop, but I am only too ready to negotiate Special List arrangements where the officers want them and the emerging Government are ready to negotiate them, and I will lose no opportunity to do so.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield also asked me about the progress in the seconding from the home public service, and whether this will be extended. It will, indeed, be pressed on with vigour. I have a summary of the various Government Departments that have helped in this way, and I will gladly show it to the right hon. Gentleman to illustrate how widespread are the links between the various Government Departments, and public organisations, municipal and otherwise, in the United Kingdom.
He also asked if I would look again at what he called, not unjustly, the anomaly in regard to the pensions of those Governors who did not enjoy the advantages of the 1956 Act. I have taken, as I think the Governors concerned would themselves agree, a very close personal interest in this matter. I was very anxious to find a way out of the difficulty, but—as I think any Minister would find in seeking to make changes in pension laws in order to meet what are undoubtedly hard cases—the difficulty is that it does not stop at the particular category of pensioners, eminent though these are, with whom we are concerned; and the repercussions in every field of public service would be widespread. I have reluctantly had to tell those Governors that I could see no way in which I could meet what they wanted. I made one or two suggestions which they did not think were really adequate—nor did I, for I recognise the hardship that had been caused.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree and many hon. Gentlemen opposite asked what the criteria are by which people are appointed to the Special List, and my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers) asked a number of questions, with which I shall try to deal, including that one.
All pensionable overseas officers in Nigeria are eligible to apply, and that provision, I may tell my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, most certainly includes women. But it does not include local officers—Nigerian officers. The 1000 object is to keep officers in the Service, and the scheme is not really needed for local officers. I think that a moment's thought will show that that is so. But, of course, it includes any officer from any British Dominion who is a member of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. All of us who travel widely in the Colonial Territories know what an invaluable part Dominion people are playing in that Service. All of them who are members of the Service would be eligible to apply.
Officers must be recommended by the Governor, and in self-governing regions by the public service commission also. Such officers could normally be taken on the Special List. There is no question at all of there being an individual scrutiny by the Treasury, though the conventional wording might legitimately give rise to such a fear.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East asked whether—though he might have known this phrase from the particular jargon of this business—we intended to "top up" salaries in the poorer territories. That is not our intention. There are many difficulties in the way of "topping-up" salaries, not least the encouragement which it gives to local Governments not to pay a proper salary themselves. The salaries will be agreed between the United Kingdom Government and the territorial Government, and if there is disagreement, this would go to arbitration.
I was sorry to hear from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Colonel Beamish) that some of the officers whom he recently met felt that Clause 1 of the Bill might turn the scale in favour of their not applying for the Special List. I am delighted to know that Parliamentary productions of this kind are scrutinised with that sort of care, because it is an earnest of the importance which they attach to this Bill and to any measure which is designed to give them the necessary encouragement and peace of mind. I can assure such officers that there would be no question of recommending scales of pay that were unworthy, or transfer to jobs that were patently unsuitable. Nor would they find, in fact, that they were being confronted with more likely dangers in the field of transfer than are common to all who join a service in which constant changes are so often the fate of officials.
1001 I was also asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree about employment under the Commonwealth Relations Office or under the Foreign Office, and I was asked by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East whether the Secretary of State was uniformly the Colonial Secretary or whether he could be transferred into the Commonwealth Relations Secretary or Foreign Secretary in certain circumstances. In regard to recruitment and employment of experts under the technical co-operative scheme, this is not covered, as the hon. Member knows, by any specific legislation, but is carried out by administrative action. It is not intended that this Bill should change the existing procedure, because there are cases where it is convenient to look to H.M.O.C.S. for the supply of an expert to be sent out, as under the Colombo Plan, and there would be no bar to employment of that expert being made, or being stated to be made, under the provisions of this Measure. The responsibility for bearing the cost of pay and any superannuation contributions would thus be borne by the United Kingdom.
In the case of Foreign Office appointment to S.E.A.T.O., these posts are normally filled by secondment from the United Kingdom Government, or from the Foreign Service, but if a person in the Overseas Civil Service were recruited, the provisions of this Bill could, if necessary, be applied. In cases of this kind, negotiations on the terms and conditions of service would be in the hands of the Commonwealth Relations Secretary or the Foreign Secretary, and not of myself. The phrase "Secretary of State" has been expressly used so as to provide for that contingency.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I ought to have realised this, but I do not. What happens when Nigeria becomes independent? Is it still the responsibility of the Colonial Secretary?
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
When I have started on this business, I remain the responsible Minister, but if somebody is transferred to a territory which is already independent or is in the crucial stage of becoming independent, it would be the Commonwealth Relations Secretary or the Foreign Secretary who would be the responsible Minister.
1002 The hon. Lady the Member for Devon-port referred to the age of 50 as being a difficult age for a man who finds himself out of a job and seeking further employment. The actual words of the White Paper, as the hon. Lady will remember, are:If an officer becomes unemployed through no fault of his own, he will be left on full pay for as long as may be necessary up to a maximum of five years or until he reaches the age of 50, if that is earlier.I am very glad to say that, with the full agreement of the Nigerian Government, we have introduced into agreements with them the age of 55 instead of 50, which is a very welcome improvement. The hon. Lady also asked me about doctors and nurses, and if they would be eligible for the Special List. I am glad that last year we were able to recruit for Overseas Service 100 doctors and 126 nurses. I know of no field where service is more needed and more valued than in the nursing and medical professions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. M. Clark Hutchison) asked a number of questions and referred to the variation in pensions. I know that what he says is so. I do not think I should be in order in going in detail into the pensions of the various territories in East Africa or West Africa and their relative value in relation to the United Kingdom pension increases, but that is a subject which in our view is worth discussing at some time because it is a very important one.
I know that from time to time I draw the attention of Colonial Governments to the feelings of Members of Parliament on this matter, but the Overseas Colonial Service has never been completely unified and conditions have never been completely uniform, nor has it been home based or controlled directly by Whitehall. Of course there are disadvantages in this, but there are also great advantages. It derives from our general colonial policy of devolution, which is bound to include devolution in salaries and other public service matters Salaries and establishments are determined by Governments and by Legislatures in the Colonies, which must be allowed some responsibility.
My hon. Friend asked whether Commonwealth candidates were eligible. I can answer that with an emphatic "Yes", either for the Special List or for Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service generally.
1003 My hon. Friend also said that he did not like the termHer Majesty's Overseas Civil Service".He suggested that it should be the "Commonwealth Service". This would not, I think, be suitable because it would imply that Commonwealth Governments had a responsibility for the Service, whereas responsibility lies solely with Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. It would also imply that the Service was intended to operate in Commonwealth countries more widely than it is likely to do. I think that the name which has been chosen is a good one in the sense that it is acceptable to Most officers to whom I have talked, and it is certainly more acceptable than "Commonwealth Service" would be to newly independent countries.
The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle) saw some significance and something sinister in Clause 2 (4) of the Bill which provides that a pension order may be revoked or varied by a subsequent order. This is necessary if pension arrangements are to be kept up to date. Clearly, they change for the better from time to time, and an order must then be revoked and another introduced. Orders are subject to negative Resolutions of this House, and any Order which appears unfair could be debated in the House.
I have done my best to answer a wide range of questions, leaving a number of detailed points to be dealt with in Committee. I do not in the least resent the criticisms to which I have been subjected, because I know that underlying them there is a general belief that the Bill will do good, and in that spirit I welcome the speeches which have been made. I commend the Bill to the House, and, through the House, send a message of good will to all who are serving in the Overseas Civil Service and the thanks of the nation for the splendid work they are doing.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Finlay.]
§ Committee Tomorrow