HC Deb 26 April 1961 vol 639 cc400-1
15. Mr. Tilney

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent Her Majesty's Government have retained responsibility for attaining improvement in the level of pensions of former Sudan civil servants for whom they are responsible.

Mr. Heath

The responsibility for attainnig an improvement in the pensions of these officials rests with the Sudan Government. Nevertheless, as I told my hon. Friend on 22nd February, we have thought it appropriate to make representations to the Sudan Government about an improvement in pensions on several occasions.

Mr. Tilney

Now that the Sudan Government say that they cannot afford it—and I have sympathy with their view—do Her Majesty's Government intend to do anything about it?

Mr. Heath

I have told my hon. Friend and the House that the main responsibility for this rests with the Sudan Government. If we find a suitable opportunity to approach them again about this matter, we shall do so.

Mr. Healey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, whatever the juridical situation, Her Majesty's Government have a very strong moral responsibility for looking after these men? I strongly support the argument of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) that, if Her Majesty's Government fail to carry out their responsibility, it will be an appalling advertisement for British citizens who are now being asked by the Government to accept similar duties in other parts of the world.

Mr. Heath

In other parts of the world, the Governments concerned are carrying out their responsibilities. In this case, the Sudan Government are carrying out their responsibility for paying the pensions. Let us be quite clear about that. The particular question involved here is a pensions increase. On that matter, we have pressed the Sudan Government to see whether it is possible for them to carry out that responsibility.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these men who have given so much to the Empire and the Commonwealth should be treated with all possible generosity by Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Heath

We are anxious that they should be treated as well as possible. As this is the responsibility of the Sudan Government, we are asking that Government to treat them as generously as they can.

Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe

In view of the sudden and unexpected turn of events in the Sudan, which originally gave rise to this problem, would not my right hon. Friend agree that while there may be, juridically, no doubt that the responsibility is that of the new Sudan Government, morally Her Majesty's Govern-men cannot escape responsibility?

Mr. Heath

The difficulty which arose at the time of independence was about the arrangements for the payment of pensions. The Sudan Government are paying the pensions, and I have every confidence that they will continue to do so. Now there is the question of whether there can be a pensions increase, and we have pressed the Sudan Government to see whether that is possible. Meantime, this remains the responsibility of the Sudan Government.