HC Deb 28 July 1960 vol 627 cc1829-31
1. Mr. Tilney

asked the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will take steps to provide supplementary pensions for former members of colonial and overseas services who are in receipt of pensions paid by former dependent territories, sufficient in amount to bring their total pensions up to the level of those civil servants of the United Kingdom who have benefited by the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1959.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Richard Thompson)

The question of increasing these pensions is one for the overseas Governments concerned and not for the United Kingdom Government. My right hon. and noble Friend when Commonwealth Secretary addressed the other Commonwealth Governments concerned, drawing their attention to the provisions of the United Kingdom Pensions (Increase) Act of 1959 and asking them to consider whether further improvements in their own pension schemes are now desirable.

Mr. Tilney

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have in my 'hand two letters, one from Mr. Bonar Law saying that No Servant of the Crown is at liberty to resign his appointment except by permission of the Crown, and this should be clearly understood by every member of the Colonial Service. and the other, directed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), informing a member of the Colonial Service that …your transfer from Sierra Leone to the Gold Coast does not in any way affect your status as a confirmed officer in the Colonial Service."? Does my hon. Friend not think that there is a responsibility on the Crown in this matter and that unless something is done the morale of the overseas service throughout the Commonwealth will suffer?

Mr. Thompson

Yes, Sir, I well appreciate the depth of feeling of my hon. Friend on this matter. He will recall that he led a deputation to discuss it with my right hon. Friend as recently as last month, but I regret that it is not possible for me to add anything to my Answer.

Mr. Callaghan

Would the Civil Service pension which has been quoted have been bigger if there had not been a transfer of responsibility for the territory? If it is the case, as I believe it is, that this man would otherwise have had the advantage of the Pensions (Increases) Act, 1959, is not the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) quite right in saying that there is a moral responsibility on the Government in view of the conditions under which these men took up their service?

Mr. Thompson

That is a specific point which I should like to look at if the hon. Member puts down a Question. As to the moral obligation, we have, of course, moral obligations in other directions as well.

Mr. Lipton

Whatever may be the legal position, will the hon. Gentleman make every representation to the Commonwealth Governments concerned? Does he not agree that these loyal servants of the Crown have been rather shabbily and meanly treated?

Mr. Thompson

If the hon. Member will refer to the Answer I gave, he will observe that I said that my right hon. Friend has drawn the attention of the Commonwealth Governments concerned to the matter.