§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Iain Macleod)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Immediately before the House rose for the Christmas Recess the Leader of the Opposition, in an exchange of pleasantries with the Leader of the House, described the business for the first week after the Recess as dull, but I am sure that in that stricture the right hon. Gentleman did not include this Bill, which is of immense significance to the Overseas Service; of great importance to something like forty overseas territories; of great importance to the House, and, indeed, of great interest to the British taxpayer, who is to be asked to meet a very large bill. Therefore, although the Bill is extremely short. it is of great importance.
As the House will realise, the purpose of this Measure is to give me legislative authority for carrying out the policy that I have already announced by statement to the House, and which I have expanded in the White Paper, Command 1193. with which the House will be familiar. There are two objects in this policy that march together. The first is that we should try to encourage those who wish to serve in these territories as long as they are able and are required to serve, and the second is that we should make it easier for these territories, particularly in the years of development, to have available to them. at prices that their Budgets can reasonably hope to meet, the experience and the "know-how" of men and women who are serving now in Her Majesty's Overseas Service.
When the Bill becomes law there will be a three-part structure in the Service. There will be the schemes of compensation, and these schemes are introduced not necessarily at any particular point of a territory's development—although, in practice, it is usually at the stage of full internal self-government—but when the Public Service Commission of that territory becomes executive, or, to put it in 37 simpler language, when it is no longer possible for the Secretary of State ultimately to control the conditions of service of the officer.
The second part of the structure is the public officers' agreement. This is normally negotiated somewhere near the time of independence, and safeguards conditions of service and other matters.
The third part is this new scheme, which reinforces both the other legs of this tripod and does not replace them in any way. I think, therefore, that the claim made in paragraph 2 of the White Paper, that this is a…vast scheme of technical assistanceis soundly based.
I do not claim for a moment that it is a new principle—it is not. It is very similar to that adopted by the United Nations, and similar to that used in the Colombo Plan and in the American Aid Programme, but it does show how thought is turning increasingly towards a basis of technical aid. The House will recall that when I spoke immediately before the Recess in a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates I gave something of a trailer to indicate that the Government were studying the setting up of a Department or of a Ministry of technical aid or assistance, and that seemed to receive a general welcome. I am not yet in a position to make a final announcement about that, but we hope to be able to give the results of our study to the House fairly soon—and by fairly soon "I mean a few weeks, and not a few months.
The different charges that we intend. in effect, to ask the British taxpayer to bear are set out in the second paragraph of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum; that is to say, the full cost of inducement allowances and the proportionate part of the pension or gratuity so earned; the education allowances for children of overseas officers, and also half the cost of the passages and half the cost of compensation.
In both the latter cases I feel that there is sound ground for the differentiation that is made. It is normal for local governments to pay to their senior officers, or to have arrangements with their senior officers for the payment of 38 passage allowances, and it seemed reasonable to us that, just as they contribute the basic element of the salary and we in future, if they so wish, will contribute the inducement part, so we should divide the passage expenditure between us.
In the same way. although it has always been a principle that the cost of compensation should be met by the territories whom the officer has served, we recognise that this is a very great burden indeed for territories, particularly if they are coming to independence and wish, as all territories do, to have a great programme of expansion, so we feel it reasonable to put forward this proposal that we should divide the cost of compensation with them.
As the House will have seen from the Bill, we pay these amounts, not to the individual officers, but to the Governments, out of moneys that I hope will be provided by Parliament. There is one distinction between the four different items I have mentioned. The full cost of the inducement allowances will, naturally, be paid to the Governments concerned less the equivalent amount of local taxation—otherwise, of course, we would be paying that amount twice —but the three items shown in the Memorandum as (b), (c) and (d) are more of the nature of expenses, and will be paid without that sort of tax deduction.
This, then, is an enabling Bill, and is a genuine one-Clause Measure which I do not think I need explain in great detail to the House. However, Clause 1 (4), which refers to the 1958 Act, does, perhaps, merit a word of explanation. We cannot use the 1958 Act for the purposes of this new policy because we are dealing with a different and much larger group of persons, and because we are now paying to Governments rather than to officers the sums that I have indicated. But it is possible to import some of the definitions from the 1958 Act into this Measure and so save, in effect, an interpretation Clause; and that is the meaning of subsection (4).
The point to which I should now like to turn is the size of this scheme, the cost and how we propose to carry it out. This is obviously what interests the House most of all. Hon, Members will 39 see, if they look at the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, thatThe officers to be designated will be expatriate officers recruited…In other words, it is not the country of origin but the method of recruitment which is the test.
There are some people in H.M.O.C.S. who are from Commonwealth countries and some from foreign countries, and they will not be excluded from the Bill. We will still pay, as it were, the difference. So the test is whether a man is designated by myself with the agreement of the Treasury—not necessarily the country of origin.
I have been asked whether this applies only to officers now serving, and the answer is, "No". It will be possible for these territories, if they conclude an agreement with us—and the vast majority, I know, certainly will—to make new recruits again within an agreed ceiling, and the provisions of the Bill will apply to them. In the same sort of way, we will not make it an absolute condition that every single person must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or Colonies, although the great majority, no doubt, would be so.
On the charge that this will involve, it is, as the House will see, extremely heavy. It falls on the Colonial Service Vote. The additional charge in 1961–62 is expected to be about £16 million, and if the scheme lasts for something like ten years, as I foreshadowed in my statement to the House, the total bill might be about £150 million. Therefore, the words on the back of the Bill, stating that I am supported by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, are no idle phrase. I am genuinely very grateful—and I am sure that I should say this because so much criticism is always levelled at the Treasury—to Lord Amory and to his successor, the present Chancellor, for the immensely imaginative approach which they showed and the sympathetic understanding that they gave me when I made these requests to them.
There is one matter which is of great interest to the House. It arose out of the problems of definition and of officers designated under the scheme. It has particular application to Kenya where a considerable number of people who are not, according to the definition, genuine ex- 40 patriates and, therefore, would not qualify under H.M.O.C.S. because, in a sense, they are Kenyans instead of people who have come from this country, would be excluded from the benefits of this scheme. We have been trying to find a way round this difficulty, and I think that we have succeeded.
I should like to read to the House the statement that we have agreed:We had discussions on this problem just before Christmas with a delegation of Government and Staff Associations representatives from Kenya, and I believe that we have dealt with the very difficult problem of the application of the scheme to the Kenya Service, with its large number of local officers, in a way acceptable both to the Government and the Staff Side of the Kenya Whitley Council. We have agreed a definition with them.To put it briefly, we shall regard as eligible for desigation under the scheme all those officers in the Kenya Government service who at present receive an inducement allowance by virtue of their entitlement under the pay revision in January, 1955, and who were recruited before the 1st October, 1954.That was the date of the creation, under Colonial 306, of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service.We shall also regard as eligible for designation all other officers who receive an inducement allowance at present, if, not having been in East Africa before except transiently "—I am sorry that this is so difficult to follow, but it is an extremely complicated problem—they can show either that they were recruited within three years of their first arrival in East Africa to take up work, or that they have always been entitled to assistance with overseas passages in the various employments they have pursued in East Africa since their first arrival to take up work there. In addition, of course, each officer must have been selected by a Secretary of State or the Crown Agents, or otherwise recruited to a post for which a normal channel of recruitment was a Secretary of State or the Crown Agents.I am sure that the House, and particularly those who have taken a close interest in this matter, will be glad to know that we have managed to reach an agreement on the difficult problem of the local governments in Kenya in a way that is acceptable to both the Governments and the Staff Side of the Kenya Whitley Council. If everybody in all the territories that are eligible for this form of exchange assistance took advantage of it, there would be something like 21,000 persons involved. Of those 21,000, 14,500 are serving on pensionable contracts and the remaining 6,500 on ordinary contract terms. We 41 will now have to add to this about 700 from Kenya to take account of the announcement that I have just made, and I think it is likely that that will be applicable to the other East African territories as well.
When I mention East Africa, I am sure that the House knows that it is perhaps East Africa, above every other part of the territories, that has been in the minds of Her Majesty's Government throughout, because over half of those 21,000 pensionable officers live and work in East Africa and nearly half of those on contract. But we now have—people in East Africa would say "at last", and I am very glad that we have it—the Report of Sir Gilbert Flemming's Commission which will enable us to create a new structure for the pay and allowances of the Service in East Africa, and it will form a yardstick for our consideration of territories in other parts of the world. Her Majesty's Government have already announced, and I now reaffirm, that the proposals put forward in the Flemming Commission's Report are broadly acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. Indeed, we are already having urgent consultations on these matters.
I hope that the House will agree to let us have the Bill reasonably quickly. On the face of it, although this is a dangerous thing to say, it does not look as if it lends itself to a prolonged Committee stage, whatever points of view may be put forward on Second Reading and perhaps Third Reading. But if the House feels that we can have the Bill in a reasonably short time we hope to complete by 1st April, 1961, the great majority of the agreements to which I have referred. That will mean a great deal of work, but some of the agreements, I think, can be concluded fairly swiftly.
I wish to make two more points. The first is that there are no strings whatever attached to this offer. It is a genuine effort to help in what the whole House recognises is a very real and difficult problem indeed. Those of us who have studied these matters closely know very well how very difficult those who serve in the public service—this applies to many others, too, but in relation to this Bill I am dealing only with the public service—have found conditions in many countries. I hope that by, as it were, taking the question of their in- 42 ducement allowances and other expenditures away from the arena of local debate in the different Legislative Councils we shall to some extent have helped them to remain, as, of course, they all desire, outside politics.
The House will agree that in all this we have, in effect, a double duty. We have a duty to the Overseas Civil Service, a duty which through the Bill and through the Flemming Commission Her Majesty's Government are discharging. We have a duty also to make certain that the administration of any country is as efficient as we can make it, that increasingly local people take an increasing part in it, and that, if the time comes in any particular territory for Her Majesty's Government to hand over their responsibilities to any other Government, we should leave as, perhaps, the most precious heritage of all, a well-tried, efficient, independent and incorruptible public service. It seems to me that those are the two duties which we should have in mind all the time as we consider the Bill.
The Bill puts a large expenditure on the British taxpayer, but it is an expenditure which will, I hope, be willingly met, because we understand how much it means. This is, perhaps, the most important proposal in relation to technical aid for the under-developed countries of the Commonwealth to be put before the House since the idea of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act became a reality. It is in that spirit that I put the Bill before the House.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
When the Colonial Secretary made his first announcement about these proposals in July last, I said that they would constitute one of the most valuable contributions to emerging nations that this country has ever made. Since then we have had the White Paper, and this afternoon we have had the pleasure of listening to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. My opinion is still the same. This is a far-reaching proposal, potentially of great value to the emerging countries, and we on this side of the House definitely support the Bill.
We welcome the Bill for two reasons, first, because it will help the emerging countries especially within the next five or ten crucial years of their development, 43 and secondly, because, of course, we have a duty to those who have until now been in our employment in the Colonial Service, a duty to see that their careers are safeguarded as much as possible and that, if they continue to work for newly independent countries, they should be able to work in conditions which are fair and satisfactory.
The plan which the right hon. Gentleman has outlined again this afternoon is important not only in making use of the undoubtedly wide and far-ranging experience in all sorts of fields which members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service possess. It is valuable also, I think, because it indicates that Her Majesty's Government now have a broader vision of the whole problem of aid to under-developed countries than they had when they first came back to office in 1951. It seems to us that they look upon it now as a larger-scale effort which is likely to continue very much longer than they thought in their earlier days of office. They now appreciate better, as, no doubt, we all do—I am not making any particular paint of party criticism here—the importance of the infrastructure of development, a subject to which I myself have many times in recent years tried to draw attention in the House and to which other hon. Members have drawn attention.
For many years, we conceived aid to the under-developed countries too much in terms of specific capital development in new industries, in new hydro-electric projects, new mining developments, and that sort of thing. We did not even here, in this House of Commons—we ought to have been better informed upon these matters than some countries are which have never had Colonies—fully appreciate the importance of the infra-structure of development, the provision of social services and the provision of technical advice. Now, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said this afternoon, the importance of technical assistance of all kinds is becoming very much better understood than it was.
In giving the Bill a Second Reading today, and in implementing its provisions later, we shall contribute, I am glad to think, to a world-wide extension of technical assistance and expert aid for the provision of the essential infra-structure of development, for the improvement 44 of education, for the improvement of public health, for the improvement of agriculture and for improvement in all sorts of ways where direct profit earning investment is impossible and where, nevertheless, if development does not take place, the profit earning investment proves to be a failure.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman still has in mind the thought which he aired a short time ago in one of his statements—I have forgotten just when it was —when he spoke of the possibility of establishing a new Department to look after aid. We on this side of the House feel that it would be a good thing to establish such a Department responsible for being aware of all the aid which is given by this country, whether through the Colonial Secretary, through the Foreign Secretary, through the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, or in whatever way, so that we balance our various expenditures one against the other and we keep our scale of priorities right in what we try to do in helping overseas countries.
If such a Department be created, I hope that it will absorb the Colonial Development Corporation, making it one of the major bricks in the new edifice, so that the expertise which that organisation has developed over the years and its appreciation of practicalities which has been so well developed recently, particularly under Lord Reith and his successor, can be made available to the Government as a whole and not be restricted, as it has been, to a particular sphere of operations.
We are, through this Bill, doing something similar to what we provided for when we passed the Commonwealth Teachers Act last Session. The Bill provides in fields other than teaching valuable expertise, skill and advice for underdeveloped territories. One thinks, naturally, of the examples one has most recently seen. I was in West Africa in December last and I visited, together with two hon. Members opposite, the Rice Research Institute, in Sierra Leone. Later, I went over to Ghana and saw the Cocoa Research Institute there.
What magnificent enterprises those are. What remarkable service they are doing not only for Ghana and Sierra Leone but for the whole world. After all, the vast majority of mankind lives 45 on rice, and what has been done in the Sierra Leone Research Institute is of value to the people of China, to the people of South-East Asia and to the people of India as well as to the people of Africa and other countries besides.
Similarly, the Cocoa Research Institute has in the last few years done work which struck me, as a layman, as almost miraculous. I profoundly hope that the provisions of the Bill can be used if necessary in Ghana, although Ghana became independent some years ago, if—I say "if"; I am not saying that it is so—there are any financial obstacles preventing members of that Research Institute staying on to do this important work.
It also helps the poorer Dependencies, which may remain Dependencies for quite a long time, in a way which has never happened before. In many instances the pay offered by Dependencies like British Honduras, or the Falkland Islands, which was mentioned in a debate while I was away, and other poor dependent territories had to be commensurate with their ability to pay. They often suffered. Time and time again there were advertisements in The Times offering posts in territories like that which indicated that they had found it impossible to recruit, on the terms and conditions of payment which they were allowed to offer, people of the required qualifications.
We are now glad to note that all this will be changed. Under these proposals it will, in future, be possible to provide a dentist for the Falkland Islands, or whatever expert may be required to improve the public health of the City of Belize, and so on. I am particularly glad to note that none of the cost of these new provisions is to be deducted from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote. Possibly, in the past, some of the salaries and allowances payable under the Bill might have been payable under colonial development and welfare legislation. It will now no longer count against that Vote, and we welcome that departure very much.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, one of the most notable areas where the provisions of the Bill are likely to be of particular value is East Africa. We welcome the Flemming Report, providing what appear to be very substantial salary 46 increases, ranging from 25 to 30 per cent. of salaries now paid to people working there. No doubt—and I am fully prepared to accept it—these are entirely reasonable proposals. They will make a contribution to making self-government in East Africa less risky than it might sometimes have seemed to be. In addition, we hope that they will provide substantial and satisfactory inducements to a number of those who would be entitled, if they wished, to return home to continue in the service of East African Governments.
I confess that I have not read the whole of the Flemming Report, but, as I read an accurate summary of it and listened to what the right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon, I could not help feeling how nice it would be if, now that Sir Gilbert Flemming is freed from this task, he might come here and turn his attention to seeing whether an improvement in remuneration and conditions of work might be provided for those full-time Members of the House who do most of the work of the House. That is an idea which the Government might consider.
As I have said, we welcome the Bill in providing these new, widespread opportunities for using the great skills which so many of the members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service possess in medicine, agriculture, public health, education, forestry and a vast variety of other techniques. However, we are also naturally obliged, because we are Members of the House of Commons and are concerned with those who are our former employees, to look fairly closely at the questions affecting them. First, I wish to mention particularly what appears to be a special problem of the employees of the East Africa High Commission.
I am not clear whether all that the right hon. Gentleman said about the new provisions concerning Kenya and East Africa generally will apply to the employees of the High Commission. I apologise if I have failed to follow precisely what he said. It is a little difficult to follow immediately on the heels of a Minister, because one is preoccupied with other thoughts in one's mind. I should like to know, however, how far these provisions will apply to the employees of the East Africa High Commission. We have had a report from Sir Jeremy Raisman and his colleagues 47 about the economics of the High Commission. I hope that before long the East African Governments will agree among themselves about a political reconstruction of the Commission, because, plainly, it needs reform, not merely in its economic structure but also in its political government.
Correspondence which I have seen suggests that employees of the High Commission are not clear about what their position will be under the terms of the White Paper. I understand that it has been suggested by some of them that any employee of the High Commission should have the right to retire from its service and to draw compensation as soon as any one of the East African Governments becomes independent. That indicates a fear on their part that the independence of one Government may end the existence of the Commission. I strongly hope that that is not so. It would be most regrettable if the Commission came to an end merely because one Government changed its status and political control.
I wish to say a word or two about the correspondence which has taken place about the employees of the East Africa High Commission. Wherever variations of these proposals come into operation —I know that there will be variations and that they will be arrived at by negotiation between Governments, in which the staff associations will be consulted—surely it should be a firm and cardinal principle of all such arrangements that they should not be used to compel people to retire but rather to induce them to stay on. In the case of the East Africa High Commission, considering all the special difficulties of an organisation which can exist only if three or four Governments agree to carry it on, it looks as though very substantial inducements will be necessary to carry it through.
I want to say a few words about arrangements for compensation and inducements to stay on which have been applied in the past. First, I refer to Nigeria, which I also visited during December. I think that the plan brought before us in the White Paper must owe something to the lessons learned from a somewhat unfortunate experience concerning the arrangements made for Nigeria before it became independent. 48 I have had some correspondence with the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about this matter. When I was in Nigeria I took the opportunity to make some necessarily cursory inquiries into what was happening. First, there was the grievance of the employees of the Nigerian State Railways. In future, where there are nationalised undertakings like that in existence, which are virtually State Departments but not legally such, will these new provisions apply? As I understand, they did not do so in the case of the Nigerian State Railways, and a good deal of discontent seems to have arisen as a result.
Secondly, I refer to civil servants of the Nigerian Federation. I cannot go into elaborate details about this in a Second Reading speech, and if it is impossible for anyone to deal with this matter this afternoon—since I see that no representative of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations is on the Front Bench; and I am not complaining about that—perhaps we may have some answers to these questions in Committee. when we consider whether Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill.
The first scheme, introduced in 1956. was not popular with the civil servants. and led to only a small number deciding definitely to stay on. A revised scheme was introduced in 1958, and that has also not been very successful. I was told that, regrettably, large numbers had decided to take their compensaition and go. although they had no political objection to working for an independent Nigerian Government and no special fears about any untoward or arbitrary action which might follow the independence of Nigeria.
It was just that the schemes proposed were not good enough, and that there had not been sufficient consultation with the staff before they were agreed between the Governments. From the correspondence it seems as if civil servants corresponding with each other are quite as capable of not replying to letters, and causing undue delay between letters, as we sometimes complain of in the House in reference to correspondence between Ministers and Members. I am merely using those examples as illustrations of the sort of difficulty which may arise.
49 How many of those eligible for further employment in the emerging countries are likely to be used, under the plans in front of us? Paragraph 20 of the White Paper tells us that the number coming within the scope of the proposals is about 20,500, to which the right hon. Gentleman has now added another 700, as he explained this afternoon. We are further told that the cost of the inducement pay and allowances is £7,255,000 and that the estimated future cost will be between £12 million and £16 million. It seems that in order to have formed that estimate some estimate must also have been made of the numbers expected to carry on and, therefore, of the numbers expected not to carry on. I wonder whether that estimate has been made, and how it works out.
Paragraphs 22 to 30 of the White Paper deal with the resettlement of those who, for one reason or another, do not stay on, and paragraphs 26 and 27 deal particularly with employment in the Home Civil Service. Her Majesty's Government give the proper guarantee that they will do their best to secure alternative employment for those who do not wish to carry on, but in the references to possible employment in the Home Civil Service there is no reference to pensions. I therefore think it right to refer to a matter to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) has drawn my attention. My right hon. Friend regrets that he cannot be here this afternoon, because of another engagement, but he has asked me to mention this matter.
It concerns a constituent of his who lost office in the Indian Civil Service in 1947. He was paid £5,000 compensation for loss of his career when India became independent. Subsequently, he came back to Britain and obtained a post as a temporary civil servant in the Colonial Office. Now, after taking the special examination for such people—which is also referred to in the White Paper—and being successful, he has been offered establishment in the Civil Service, in the Colonial Office; but he has been told that he must repay his £5,000.
In correspondence with my right hon. Friend, the Treasury justifies this request on the ground that this man's former temporary service, as a temporary civil servant in the Colonial Office from 1949 50 onwards, will be reckoned in calculating his eventual pension, and that it is, therefore, right that he should return the £5,000 which he received as compensation for loss of his office in India. To this argument my right hon. Friend's constituent and his organisation have replied, very reasonably, that the Compensation of £5,000 was for loss of a career; it was not an alternative to pension. It was for the loss of all his opportunities to serve the Indian Government and to go forward to high promotion, and to all the other things that used to go with service in the I.C.S.
They further point out that in the statement made to the House at the time, by the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury—who happened to be my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley—nothing was said to justify any other interpretation of the payment of the lump sum compensation. My right hon. Friend is already in correspondence with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and I am not suggesting that we should have answer on this case this afternoon, or even in Committee, since it is obviously not covered by the Bill. I am using this example of a possible miscarriage of justice in some of these arrangements to justify my asking whether members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service opting to retire and claiming compensation under the proposals of the White Paper, and then entering the Home Civil Service, will be in the position of this serving officer in the Colonial Office—whom the right hon. Gentleman no doubt knows—or whether it is possible to make a change in these arrangements, which seem rather unjust.
One final point has been raised by those members of the Overseas Civil Service who are likely to be affected by the White Paper. Paragraph 17 says:Officers who are required to retire as a result of constitutional change are in any case entitled to the payment of compensation in one lump sum at the time of retirement, and the principles for arriving at the scale of compensation would result in a rate somewhat higher than that established for those who are free to continue to serve.It is the use of the wordsfree to continue to servewhich has caused some anxiety, particularly among those employees of the East African High Commission, although it is 51 not a problem confined to that High Commission. These employees want to know what that phrase means. Are they to be told that when they are free to continue to serve they ought to continue to serve? Does it in any way imply that because they are free to continue to serve they have a lesser right to retire and claim compensation than those who are required to retire as a result of constitutional change?
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will take the point; indeed, he has probably come across it already. It is the use of the contrast, in that sub-paragraph, between those who are required to retire because of constitutional change and those who are free to retire, which has led to the supposition that a distinction will be made and that those who are not required to retire but, nevertheless, do so will be treated in a less satisfactory way than the others. I hope I have made that point clear.
I have put forward, I hope at not too great length, some of the points which have been raised with us about the Bill by those who are likely to be particularly affected. I hope they can be cleared up. I would conclude by saying that I regard the Measure as a whole, as I have already said, as a valuable one, and as one conceived in a generous spirit. I think it goes very far, and the intention behind it is clearly to do justice. I have raised these points only to be quite sure that it is not only clear but transparent that it does do justice.
I wish this scheme well. I hope it will be widely accepted by the Governments of the emergent and newly independent Territories for what it is—not an attempt to retain any strings of colonialism whatsoever upon them, but a frank and free offer of £16 million worth of help a year from this country; an offer which they are free to refuse to accept if they do not want it, but one which, if they think hard and long enough about it, many, I think, will wish to accept, because I am sure that they, too, have valued in the past the services of these people, and will think they now have an opportunity to keep them on their books, since it will enable them to receive salaries far in excess of what the Governments are able to afford to pay to their own citizens.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), I should like to give a welcome to the Bill, and, at the same time, to refer to some of the details covered in the White Paper. I think that we have to recognise the growing importance of a contented expatriate Civil Service in the dependent territories and particularly—the right hon. Gentleman has already referred to this—in the four territories of East Africa. I think that the key word is "contented" expatriate Civil Service. Therefore, I should like to raise two points.
First, to get that contentment we have to be satisfied that those who have to go because they can be replaced by indigenous civil servants get adequate compensation. Secondly, we have to be satisfied that those who want to stay do get an inducement to stay, rather than be penalised if they go. I will refer, first, to some of the points that arise about compensation. It has been made clear that this matter will be discussed at the time when the Public Service Commission is being set up and brought to 'finality when the Act of Independence is passed.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
May I correct my hon. Friend? Not necessarily at the time when the Public Service Commission is set up, but at the time when the Public Service Commission ceases to be advisory and becomes executive. That is the big change.
§ Mr. Wall
I appreciate the point my right hon. Friend has made and I thank him for it.
The White Paper does say, in paragraph 17, that when these discussions are taking place the local Civil Service staff associations will be consulted. I hope that that will be fully carried out. I have been told—I do not know how true it is—that those discussions did not take place to any serious degree in Sierra Leone, and that that caused a certain amount of anxiety. Also, in Kenya consultation took place after the White Paper was published. I am sure that the local Civil Service would have been much happier if it had had discussions with the Colonial Office in the territory before that statement was actually 53 published. What I am trying to point out is that these consultations are much more valuable if they take place before a decision is taken.
Secondly, there is the question of the lump sum compensation for those civil servants who wish to retire, or those who have no option to stay on. It is perfectly all right in the case of countries like Nigeria and India, great countries which have strong and viable economies, but there is a certain amount of anxiety in the case of financially weaker countries, such as Tanganyika, when there are suggestions that the country's finances may not be able to bear the burden of adequate lump sums for compensation. I do not know whether there is anything in this, but it is mentioned throughout East Africa, and it has, perhaps, contributed in a small way to the anxieties of civil servants in East Africa about the future.
Associated with this is anxiety about certain superannuation funds, widows' and orphans' pensions, and similar funds, which have been contributed to and are used by those civil servants now in these territories. There would be little anxiety if these funds were held in the United Kingdom but as they are not it is felt that they are, perhaps, too vulnerable to the independent Government, as they apply at present virtually exclusively to the expatriate staff and might be taken at a late date to apply also to new indigenous staffs—Tanganyikans, Kenyans, Ugandans, as the case may be.
The next point on the question of compensation is a fundamental one, also made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East, and that is that those who ask to stay on and to continue to serve the country of their choice should be given inducements to stay on. They will serve, perhaps, inexperienced Ministers and in countries where the political climate is bound to be a little uncertain. Will they be offered an inducement to stay, rather than those who go be penalised for going? In other words, will the carrot be used rather than the stick? I think that it is a very important point, because it will affect the morale of the Service, particularly in East Africa. to a great degree.
Finally, on the question of compensation, and another point also raised already by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East, do 54 civil servants have to pay back compensation that they have already received if, later, they get jobs in any of the Departments mentioned in the White Paper? There are a couple of pages in the White Paper devoted to various openings for people who retire from Her Majesty's Overseas Service, for example, the Home Civil Service and other Government Departments. If they decide to take up a new career in the Home Civil Service, do they have to forfeit the compensation which was paid to them, compensation which was for disruption of their life in the Service in the territory of their choice?
In India, those who went directly into the Home Civil Service forfeited, perhaps rightly—it is arguable that it was right—their compensation. Those who had a gap of two years also forfeited their compensation. But I think that the most serious point is the one to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, of a man who had served in temporary appointments in various Departments for a period of twelve years and who was eventually given an appointment on the establishment of the Home Civil Service, and who was then asked to forfeit compensation paid to him twelve years previously. Cases of that sort are, of course, rare, but they serve to undermine the confidence of the civil servants who are serving overseas today.
I come now to the next point, inducement. All of us appreciate the vital importance of maintaining a sufficient number of expatriate Civil Service officers as the countries of the dependent Commonwealth, certainly in East Africa. as they move towards independence— and also after independence. Leaders such as Mr. Julius Nyerere have gone on record as saying that he would require a large number of expatriate civil servants after Tanganyika has become independent. He has also said that, all other things being equal, preference will be given to the local man. that is, African. We must accept this as being fair, but it does raise the point that there is inevitably a degree of discrimination against expatriates.
Of course, the real criterion of whether the expatriate will stay or not will be the political situation prevailing in that 55 particular country at that particular time, but I should be out of order if I were to go into that in any detail. I mention it because it seems to me to be the key to the future throughout the dependent Commonwealth. If there is a responsible Government in power, and if he is convinced that he will receive generous treatment from Her Majesty's Government, then I think that he will decide to stay, because he has a sense of duty for the country that he has been serving and he wants to see it established on a firm basis as a full, sovereign member of the Commonwealth. Therefore, he will probably stay, provided he is convinced that he will get a fair deal. One of the matters about which he feels a certain amount of doubt is paragraph 3 of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, which says thatClause 1, subsections (2) and (3) require Treasury consent for the making of agreements…because he knows that the Treasury is the watchdog and sometimes bites rather hard.
Two issues arise. The first is the degree to which the recommendation in the White Paper covers all sections of the Civil Service, particularly those in countries like Kenya. It obviously covers full members of the H.M.O.C.S. Does it cover those who are expatriates by definition, but are not full members of the H.M.O.C.S.? There are also many other categories, but I will not weary the House about this, because my right hon. Friend has made a statement today which will do a great deal to allay anxiety in East Africa about this matter. The provisions of the Bill will, I understand, be interpreted widely, and they cover, as I understand them, even many of the local civil servants.
If I may interpret what my right hon. Friend said on the question of local civil servants, it was, I believe, that if a man joined the Service in a Colonial Territory where he happened to be at the time but he was not permanently resident he would receive guarantees for the future without becoming a fully established member of the H.M.O.C.S., but a man who emigrated to the territory years ago, and was resident there and then decided to enter the Civil Service, would probably not be covered by the terms of 56 this Bill. The House will probably feel that that is a fair division.
We must realise that when we speak of local civil servants they are, after all, subject to a degree of discrimination in that normally the African would be preferred, and members of the Civil Service are expected to train up their successors —indeed, to work themselves out of a job. Consequently, they need some reassurance. A civil servant in Tanganyika recently wrote to me and said that the House was always considering the resettlement and security of Africans, but he felt that what was now wanted was some provision for the resettlement in Britain of local British civil servants now serving in Africa.
To sum up, the treatment that we accord to our civil servants in the Commonwealth must not only be fair, but be seen to be fair. This is an excellent Bill, but in certain aspects it is a little vague. One of these aspects is the number of the categories of civil servants that it covers. That matter has been cleared up to a large degree by my right hon. Friend's statement today. The second instance of vagueness, which I hope the Under-Secretary of State will clear up later, relates to the principle of giving an inducement to keep those who want to stay rather than penalising those who leave. That is fundamental. I shall be glad if my hon. Friend can give us an assurance that the principle adopted will be that of inducing persons to stay, and that in itself will do a great deal to restore confidence, particularly in East Africa.
The Bill having been passed, and the necessary machinery put in motion, I wonder whether my right hon. Friend will consider making an appeal to civil servants, particularly in Africa, to emphasise that the House and the Government are standing behind them and to point out that they have an important duty to perform, that of bringing these nations forward to full sovereign membership of the Commonwealth, and that we in this House hope that they will decide to remain in their posts and fulfil this vitally important function for the future of the Commonwealth.
Appendix B of the White Paper refers to the Overseas Service. I am very glad 57 that this has been included in the White Paper, as it is a matter which is of interest to many hon. Members on both sides of the House. Briefly, the White Paper turns down the idea of an Overseas Service; that is, a Service which would serve the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. It is turned down for what appears to be a perfectly valid reason—that the jobs are not available for the numbers who are bound to leave H.M.O.C.S.
I put this point to the Minister. Inevitably, in the next few years, as is recognised in the White Paper, the Commonwealth Relations Office will expand. In addition, the Foreign Office will also expand. For example, a very large number of new territories which used to be members of the French Colonial Empire in Africa are now independent and will require ambassadors and Foreign Office staff. Surely civil servants from the Colonial Territories who know Africa, and who speak African languages, might be extremely useful in starting the new embassies in these countries. We already have a great deal of cross-posting at the top level. The Commonwealth Relations appointment of High Commissioner in India has been filled by the Foreign Office. The new Governor of Aden is, I understand, also an ex-member of the Foreign Office.
Although it may be felt that this Overseas Service cannot come into being now, can it not be recognised that it is an ideal at which we should aim, and cannot we start now by having a common entrance and common standards and overcome the snobbery that exists today between the Foreign Office, the Commonwealth Relations Service and the Colonial Service? We recognise de facto cross-postings at the higher level; cannot we have a General List, like the Army, whereby when one rises to a certain rank one is available to serve in any regiment or on any general posting? Cannot this principle be applied to high level civil servants serving overseas, in the Commonwealth or in foreign countries?
The House debated before the Recess the possibility of a Ministry for Overseas Aid. This ties up with the same concept. 58 I have received a most interesting communication from a British ex-civil servant who recently served in one of the North African territories which is not a member of the Commonwealth. He said that his job was to do with water conservation, but his Minister was far more interested in political affairs and there was, in fact, little water conservation. This civil servant had an interesting life and enjoyed it, but had very little to do because his advice was taken only on purely technical subjects and he was never consulted on general policy or asked to draw up particular plans. He said that as a technician he was losing his technique and, therefore, resigned.
This experience led him to suggest that what is needed is an organisation in Britain charged solely with making the service of British technicians abroad as effective as possible, and he adds that the Dutch Bureau of International Technical Help fulfils most of the duties which are required. This ties in with the concept of a Ministry for Overseas Aid.
I hope that in the light of these suggestions we can go a stage further and try to lay down a foundation for the creating of an Overseas Service which has interchangeable posting, serves not only Commonwealth countries but foreign countries, and also provides administrators and technicians for United Nations organisations and for technical aid throughout the world. I believe that there is a great future in this idea, and that if we start thinking on these lines we shall make sure that the British genius for administration, which we have displayed for so many centuries, will not be lost to the world.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). The last phrases of his speech attracted me very much, especially when he widened what he had said previously and declared that what we should do is not only to help the emergent territories and the Colonial Territories, but to be able to supply technical personnel of all types, where possible, even to foreign countries if those countries ask for them and need them. I entirely agree with the hon. Member, and I am sure that every hon. Member does so, too.
59 If this tiny Bill, however expensive it appears to be, is ultimately to be completely successful, it is fair to say that it must be the beginning of a crusade, and "a crusade" means that it should offer a signal to talented young men and women to go out into other parts of the world, particularly into the newly emergent territories and the Colonial Territories, in order to offer a term of service under contract, and then return to their former employers.
In this respect, I am a little critical of the Bill as it stands, because it gives inducements and compensation to those who are already serving but has not gone far enough—although this is touched upon again and again in the White Paper—in making clear how we are to bring new people in for a short period of time, say three years under contract, or a double period such as five or six years, and give them a guarantee that they will be re-employed by their former employers when they return. This is stated to be desirable in the White Paper. I should like to know what steps have been taken so far to implement the phrases in the White Paper which urge that this should be done and state how desirable it is. If in my speech, which I hope will not be too long, I talk mainly About medical personnel, I hope it will be accepted by the Secretary of State that whatever I say about them will apply, of course, to every other type of technical servant who is employed or may be employed in the future. I am emboldened in this view by the realisation that the Colonial Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) have both been Ministers of Health and will both accept that medical personnel also have a very important place in offering technical aid.
On 14th January last, there was a most interesting article in the British Medical Journal by Professor Hill of the Royal Free liospi.al. I had a copy of the article before it was printed and sent it to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and it has now gone to the Minister of Health. If I had had another copy it would have gone to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but it is now available in print in the British Medical Journal. Has it been 60 brought to his notice or to the notice of the Under-Secretary of State?
In the article, the difficulties that face us in the recruitment of personnel and getting them to the overseas territories are stated, and certain suggestions are made about how we might overcome these difficulties. In the first place, it is obvious, as we all know—certainly the Secretary of State—that we face a serious shortage of doctors to meet even our own requirements in the United Kingdom. It has not been made better by the fact that the Willinck Report suggested retrenchment and not expansion. I am not sure that we have overcome that unfortunate and mistaken view of a few years ago.
I am sure that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State are well aware of the shortage. The evidence offer on the shortage is that we could not staff our own provincial hospitals with junior registrars if it were not for the help of young medical men coming from overseas—from the Colonies and different parts of the Commonwealth, particularly India. None the less, although I deplore the fact that we have not had an expansionist policy and hope that we shall move on to it quickly in training men in this country, there is a startling difference between provision made for our own people and that made in territories in some other parts of the world.
In Britain, we have one medical man for every 900 of the population; in Uganda. it is one for 18,000; in Tanganyika, it is one for 22,000, and in Ghana it is one for 25.000. I have already declared that we made a mistake in being restrictionist, but if we have the will we must find some talented people and lend them to those who require them, as is suggested in the White Paper, in the Bill and in the Secretary of State's speech.
Contract service—I am speaking now about what happens with surgeons, physicians and administrators—has been impeded in the past, and is being impeded today, by facts like this: first, expatriates, when they do go overseas, tend to lose their places in the queue for promotion. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State accepts that point. Out of sight means out of mind in the National Health Service today when talented young men accept an appeal to become expatriates and do a term of 61 service abroad. We must stop that, but how?
The Secretary of State cannot wield a big stick. He cannot give an order that there should be a change in this attitude. He must persuade the universities and the regional hospital boards to agree with him. I ask him
now—and I hope that I shall have an answer—what steps have been taken to see that this is done? It has been talked about. I myself have asked questions about it. It is one of the greatest needs of all.
The White Paper speaks again and again of approaching employers to see whether (a) they will let people go and (b) take them back so that they do not lose through having been away. This is very important, and it means spreading the burden. I am sure that the Treasury should be keen about this, because it would mean that men going out under contract would not be asking for pensions, but would merely ask that they should not lose their rights of advancement on their return, that jobs should be given to them, and that their seniority should not be affected. This is a very important point.
The provision of money alone—though I am glad to see it—is not all that we need. We have to find the men to go out, and the more reasonably and cheaply it can be done, the more it is accepted as a duty, an obligation and a crusade, the better. Surely it would be a good thing for employers when these men returned. It would be surely worth while for them to have men in their posts who had returned from a period overseas, with all the experience gained and the responsibility which they had carried out there. I have no hesitation in saying that this is also an important point. We must see that they get their jobs back and do not lose by going away.
Secondly, expatriates are at a disadvantage when they apply for posts in the United Kingdom in answer to advertisements. Regional hospital boards and universities tend to give a few weeks for applicants to answer. That makes it very difficult for men who are the other side of the world. The time is not long enough. Moreover, if they are short-listed they have to run the risk of spending some hundreds of pounds to fly home to be interviewed. If as a result of the 62 interview they are not successful, then they are out of pocket by some hundreds of pounds.
This obviously means that they are at a disadvantage compared with men who are still in the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is fair to say that regional boards tend not to look at applications from abroad, except, possibly, to fill very senior posts. Moreover—and this is another point worth remembering—if an expatriate does succeed in obtaining a post here after years of service abroad, and if it is service with the National Health Service, the most he can get—and that only by means of grace—is four years' seniority allowed him, however long he has been away. This also seems to be an objectionable feature.
It is obvious that we need a careful re-assessment of the total need. I have no doubt that the Secretary of State has put this into hand. A few months ago the President of the Royal College of Physicians informed me that it intended to send out a very experienced person to travel round the world and advise it about the need. Whether this person is on his travels now or not, I am not sure. But the College had recognised that there was an immediate need to know what was happening and to what extent posts should be filled.
We need the guarantee I have mentioned from the universities and the regional hospital boards and all employing bodies—including Government Departments— that a man who goes out on a contract will be brought back to the same position and that the years which he has spent away will be allowed to him in assessing his seniority.
If men are short-listed for posts, other than very senior, important posts, it would be helpful if their applications were considered without their necessarily being present. It could be done with documents from a number of previous employers both in this country and where they have served as expatriates. For senior posts that would not be desirable, but in such cases air passage should be made available when men are asked to come to this country for interview.
I said at the beginning that to be successful this tiny Bill should initiate 63 a great crusade. A great crusade should be headed by very influential and important people. It has been suggested that not only should the presidents of the learned societies be involved, but the Duke of Edinburgh himself, who has an interest in medicine which he has shown in the past, should be asked to head the crusade. That would set a proper example and encourage young people. If a Commonwealth Council were formed to advise the Minister, it could be not only medical but technical and could also include those who teach. It would be a permanent all-embracing, advisory council to advise the Minister.
If we are to make a contribution of this type, it is because we believe that there are aspects of our culture, which have been gained at very great expense over the centuries, which are well worth handing on to people who need them. This tiny Bill, which has been described in the White Paper as a vast aspect of technical assistance, can become of much greater value than if now appears to be on the surface. It should spread, until it is accepted by every young person in the professions, that he should try sooner or later, and certainly between the ages of 30 and 40, to work at least two or three years in territories where his help is needed.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Sir Hendrie Oakshott (Bebington)
Like other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate so far, I warmly welcome the Bill. Like my right hon. Friend, I hope that it will have a quick passage, and I know that my right hon. Friend will not think me ungracious if I say that, while I do not suggest that the Bill is necessarily overdue, it is certainly full time that we had it.
Many of us have been anxious about the future of the Overseas Service, and the Bill goes a great way to releiving some of those anxieties. It also goes a long way towards meeting the necessity of what a leading article in The Times some months ago called the "underpinning" of the Service. Responsibility for that underpinning is now being assumed by Her Majesty's Government, and rightly so, because we have a great obligation to help the emerging territories on their way as they progress. To give them an efficient administration is, 64 perhaps, one of the best ways in which we can help them.
My right hon. Friend knows that Kenya is a territory of which I have some knowledge, and from which, as a matter of fact, I have just returned from yet another visit. What I have to say this afternoon will be confined to that territory. From my own knowledge, I would wish to pay a very warm and sincere tribute to the officers of the Service in Kenya. It is a long way from Westminster, but perhaps the assumption by the House and Her Majesty's Government of the responsibilities laid down in this Bill indicate at least some recognition by us of the great value which we place on the services of those men in the territories in which they work.
The Bill's provisions have to be considered along with the Flemming Report in their effect on Kenya. I am very gratified to find that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to accept the findings of the Flemming Report more or less in full, as I understand. My right hon. Friend knows that among non-European officers of the Service in Kenya, there has been some local criticism of the Flemming Report taken with the provisions of the Bill.
While I recognise their feelings in this matter, I suggest that the criticism may be founded more on political emotion than on logic. My hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) spoke of discrimination with the arrival of independence in favour of the African civil servants. If the Flemming Report taken with the Bill is in the other sense discriminatory also, there is good reason for it, and anyway I imagine that it is not impossible that the House may be asked to vote at least some of the cost of the Flemming awards to local civil servants in Kenya.
In speaking of the training of Africans in the Service, my right hon. Friend used a formula more pleasant than the word "localisation", which is the word generally used. That process is going on, and from my own experience in Kenya in the last two or three weeks I have found that the Government there is determined to get Africans trained as quickly as possible.
But I would utter a word of warning about this process, if I may. I believe 65 that there is a genuine danger in what has been called "a crash programme" of localisation of the Service. That can be extremely dangerous for all the communities in Kenya, because the complexities of administration cannot be learned overnight. Their learning takes a long time, and while the Government in Kenya is going ahead as fast as it can, there is a speed beyond which it cannot go. In the meantime, we have to hold the administration together, and I hope that this Bill will help towards that.
The Bill has been described in the White Paper and by my right hon. Friend this afternoon as a form of technical aid. That is exactly what it is. There is a very difficult period ahead in which efficient and knowledgeable administration will be vital. That is where the Bill comes in, for I hope that it will give renewed confidence to the officers of the Service in Kenya.
I beg the House to believe—and I do not think that any hon. Member will disagree with this—that in Kenya's progress and in its future these people are absolutely key men. In saying that, I am trying to look beyond the present and beyond the current elections in Kenya, in which, goodness knows, there are already problems enough. On the one hand, there is disillusionment and some bitterness among Europeans. On the other, only the week-end before last, in Nakuru, not very far from where I was, there were some serious disturbances between the two African political parties. Those are serious problems, and they may be repeated. However, I am trying to look beyond that, beyond the immediate problems to the next stage in Kenya's development when the influence of these officers will be vital.
I now come to a point made by my right hon. Friend, which in some ways raises the most important question in what the House is doing by the Bill. It is; Who does the Bill cover? Who is an expatriate? Who is a designated officer or person? I was delighted to hear the statement which my right hon. Friend read out about this, and, if I may respectfully do so, I should like to congratulate him on having persuaded all those interested—his colleagues and others—to accept this very generous and broad definition Which he has been able to reach.
66 As my right hon. Friend said, there is in Kenya a comparatively large number of European officers who were not recruited through the usual machinery of the Colonial Service in the United Kingdom but who joined locally. At the time of the Holmes Report, which I think was in 1947, there were over 700 of these officers, and, if I remember rightly, that Report recommended—and I believe that the recommendation was accepted—that these officers should be regarded as, for want of a better word, full members of the Service. In my judgment, it would have amounted to very nearly a broach of faith had they been excluded from the provisions of this Bill.
Apart from that, these men cannot really he spared. Had they been excluded and had they then decided to quit the Service, I sincerely believe it is not an exaggeration to say that the administration might have come close to breaking down. What the Government are doing in this respect is, therefore, not only generous but, in my view, very wise.
Finally, there seems to me to be one big question mark 'hanging over this Bill. Is it really going to achieve the result we desire? With all my heart, I hope that it will, because the continued service of these officers is absolutely essential to orderly progress in Kenya. But we have to face facts, and, as I see it, there are two risks. They are both human problems—nothing else. The first is the difficulty which officers, perhaps with a good many years' service, may find in changing their role from one which has been executive to one which is advisory, and moreover to advise people who, by the very nature of things, cannot have as much experience as they have, and also, perhaps. seeing the advice which they give in good faith and out of their vast fund of experience ignored. That would not be a pleasant or easy situation in which to find themselves. Many of them might find it difficult; some may find it impossible.
Secondly, there is the position of officers, say, for example, in their thirties. They are bound to look at the future with some uncertainty. In a rapidly changing society, they have no way of knowing for how many years their service will be wanted or how far a full length career lies before them. They may decide, in spite of the generous inducements in the Bill, that the interests of 67 their families and of themselves would best be served by looking for alternative employment now.
I mention these two matters, not in any spirit of pessimism or defeatism, but because I believe that they are risks which have to be faced. I only hope that they will not materialise, because those who would be affected by them are, perhaps, among the most valuable of all the officers in the Service.
I have a large number of friends and acquaintances in the Service in Kenya. Anyone who knows these officers will testify to the spirit of patience, unselfishness and, indeed, devotion with which they approach their task. The outlook for the future is uncertain—for some of us it is very somber—but I trust that this Measure will bring to these officers encouragement in what are very difficult times; and of this I am quite certain: the Kenya of the future, which I hope will one day be a peaceful and happy place for all its peoples to live in, will have very powerful reasons to be grateful to all these members of the Service for the part which they have played in its constitutional progress.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
. It must be something of an embarrassment to the Secretary of State for the Colonies to receive compliments from this side of the House. Therefore, I shall refrain from congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the Bill, except to say that we are, of course, glad that at last it has been introduced and that I am sure we shall all do our best to expedite its progress.
I wish to comment on some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Bebington (Sir Oakshott). I felt that his speech contained its own contradiction. The hon. Gentleman began by saying that he did not believe in a crash programme, but he finished by indicating—and I thought in a very sympathetic way—the risk that the expatriates in the services overseas would feel inclined, either now or in the near future, to withdraw their services and to live with their families elsewhere. This, surely, must be a matter receiving the attention of Ministers now being appointed in countries approaching independence. I believe it 68 is vitally necessary that the locally recruited services should he greatly expanded.
I fully agree with the hon. Member for Bebington when he says that the expatriates are devoted and dedicated men. I can confirm that absolutely from my own experience. Although for a long time I have been critical of the Colonial Service, I have never been critical, with one or two exceptions, of the men in the field, because I always found them devoted men, working very hard for a very small reward and genuinely trying to do what they could to help the people in the countries in which they worked. I know that many of them—indeed, most of them —would like to have an opportunity of carrying on the same sort of service, and I hope that the Bill will help them to do just that.
We have to recognise that Ministers in the newly independent countries will want to expand their services with local men, and the only criticism that I would make of the Bill is that there has been no emphasis laid on this point. In paragraph 31 of the White Paper, reference is made to the development of local public services. It says:It is the present practice and has been for many years for overseas governments to attempt to fill vacancies in their public services by local recruitment wherever possible and only to seek to recruit expatriate officers for vacancies for which suitably qualified local candidates are not forthcoming.I do not think that in the particular case of Kenya enough has been done to prepare local people for senior jobs in the administration.
On 20th December last, I asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many locally recruited people were serving in the Colonial Service. In reply, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies gave me the following information as far as the provincial administration is concerned. He said that the number appointed as provincial commissioners or senior district commissioners was nil and that the number receiving training was also nil. There are also, apparently, no training schemes except for eleven district assistants who were to appear before a selection board this month. As I say, apart from that tiny number there is no training scheme yet established in Kenya to enable the recruitment of local 69 people to fill these positions of responsibility.
As far as the central administration is concerned, the number of Africans in posts or in training for permanent secretaryships, for deputy secretaryships, for under-secretaryships and as senior assistant secretaries is nil in every case. There is only one African appointed as an assistant secretary in the Central Administration.
This needs to be looked at closely by the Colonial Secretary. Kenya will be independent in two years, certainly in no mote than three years, and it will be a guarantee for the expatriates, the sort of guarantee which, I am sure, the hon. Member for Bebington would like to see, if the locally recruited service is firmly established before independence takes place I should like to have seen far more money being spent on local training schemes so that Africans in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and the other territories about which we are concerned can be trained for jobs of responsibility. I do not think that enough is being done.
I am, however, glad that at last these provisions are being made. The total cost per year is about £16 million, which is only 1 per cent. of the national income of the United Kingdom. I believe that public opinion in Britain, which in the past few months has been deeply shocked by the events in the Congo, will be delighted to pay this amount as a sort of insurance against any possibility of a Congo chaos in any one of the territories for which we are responsible. I do not believe that there is any real risk of a Congo chaos in these countries, but it is important that when independence takes place we should leave behind a well-trained Service including expatriates who will be loyally serving the local administration.
I wish, however, to ask the Under-Secretary of State a number of questions. In particular. will the provisions of the Bill be available to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland? In relation to the High Commission territories, will staff recruited for service in Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland also be entitled to these facilities? We have it on the authority of the Morse Economic Survey that there is a great need to expand the services in the High Commission countries. Can we have it confirmed 70 that these facilities will be available in those countries?
I am sure that we would wish to make those facilities available to all personnel who have entered into contracts with the expectation of service over some years, whether they were recruited from this country or elsewhere. In regard to Northern Rhodesia, however, and particularly to recruitment for positions in the police force, can we be assured by the Under-Secretary that there will be a discontinuation of the present policy of recruiting senior police inspectors from South Africa and other territories where there is opportunity for local recruitment and training? I press the great need to recruit and to train local personnel as well as to give guarantees in the Bill which, I am sure, all of us are glad to endorse. We wish the scheme well and we hope that it will be acceptable and will be implemented in the five to ten years ahead.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
Like hon. Members on both sides of the House, I very much welcome the Bill. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Sir H. Oakshott), whose speech I so much enjoyed, that perhaps the Bill is a little overdue. It certainly has not come too soon. I have a feeling that if a Measure of this sort had been put forward a little earlier, a good many valuable men who have retired from the Colonial Overseas Service with many years of life before them might have stayed on and performed useful service.
The Bill attempts to deal with a dual problem with which, inevitably, my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary and. to a lesser extent, his predecessors have been faced. There was, naturally, a falling off of recruitment to the Colonial Overseas Service, for the natural reason that the old certainty of a career became less easy to guarantee in view of the large number of Colonial Territories which, happily, were likely within a reasonable time or in the near future to achieve their independence. At the same time, it has become increasingly obvious that in these emergent territories, as they are called, there is a tremendous need for technical and administrative advice and assistance of all kinds. I do not believe that any nation is in a better position to offer exactly the type of man. 71 who is best able to provide that kind of assistance than we are in Britain.
I was also very glad indeed that my hon. Friend paid a tribute to the Administration in Kenya. That also is long overdue from a good many of us in this House. A similar tribute should, indeed, be paid to all those serving in the Administration in all African territories for which we are still responsible. Let me be quite frank and say this. I cannot think of any more unenviable task than to be the Governor or Commissioner of Police, let alone to hold a more junior post, in any of these African territories which are likely in the near future to achieve their independence. The Administration still has to be carried on. Law and order must still be preserved.
At the same time, there is always the awful dilemma that if somebody takes action in time to prevent a minor disturbance becoming a riot, it is almost certain that some sections of the British Press will hurl at his head wild allegations of brutality. If, on the other hand, action is delayed and a minor disturbance becomes a riot, and the riot becomes something more serious still, there are, equally, accusations of delay in taking effective action.
The growing feeling that whatever one does will be wrong is one of the principal reasons for lack of confidence in the future of the Colonial Overseas Service. It has cost us a lot of valuable officials who have got tired of this business and have got out to other jobs when they might still have stayed and performed extremely valuable service in the administrative and other fields. I very much hope that this Measure will do something to rectify this by providing men with a new vista in one of the emergent territories when they achieve independence, who, perhaps, do not see the future as holding much for them in the old Colonial Overseas Service which they first entered.
I should like my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, when he replies, to say exactly what are the rules and regulations about paying back compensation. This is an extremely important aspect. There must be a number of former Colonial Office officials who have already received their compensation for the early disruption of a career and who would 72 now be available for employment under the terms of the Bill. This would not be confined even to the old Colonial Overseas Service.
I think of a number of extremely able men from the Sudan Political Service, who in many ways have just the technical knowledge that is required to assist independent territories, who received compensation for their retirement when the Sudan Political Service was wound up. They might not, however, be anxious to come back and serve a further term under a contract to a newly independent Government in Africa if it meant that the compensation which they had received from Her Majesty's Government at the time of their premature retirement would have to be paid back. I hope that my hon. Friend will deal with that point.
The second point which I wish to ask about is this. In Cmnd. Paper 1193—Service with Overseas Governments—which goes with the Bill, it is stated in paragraph 12, on page 7:It is intended that the initial duration of the agreements shall be for a period of up to ten years.I can see that that would be a very suitable period for a man in his early or middle forties whose career in the old Colonial Overseas Service was likely to be interrupted by the restriction of the Service, but' if the initial duration is to be for ten years, I am not so certain that it will be very attractive to new entrants. My right hon. Friend rightly said that the provisions of this Bill are not to apply only to those already serving. He hopes, as I do, that they will attract new entrants. But on the basis of a contract of ten years I am not certain how attractive they would be.
There is a third complication which, I hope. will be dealt with by my hon. Friend. Under the provisions of the Bill, how do we guarantee employment for anybody between the termination of one appointment—say, for the sake of argument, with Ghana—of ten years' duration and the provision of some other employment elsewhere? Is the officer to be left high and dry in England for a couple of years, perhaps after he has been a technical, an engineering or an agricultural adviser to the Government of Ghana? I understand that the Government will do what they can to find him other suitable employment in 73 another overseas territory but that is unlikely to happen straight away. There must be an interim period during which he may have to continue to maintain a wife and children and be faced with problems regarding their education, and so on. From the terms of Cmnd. Paper 1193 I am not certain what sort of guarantee Her Majesty's Government have in mind regarding that problem.
Finally, I think that the general conditions in which officers under contract within the provisions of the Bill are expected to live in a newly emergent territory must be reasonable. I am not speaking so much of conditions of pay and allowances; that is dealt with in the Bill. I am_referring to the general facilities for living. I do not think it right to expect officers who take on such contracts with newly emergent territories to live in conditions far different, far more uncomfortable or far less convenient than the conditions to which they were accustomed as officers in the Overseas Civil Service.
As I say, I welcome the Bill and I am glad that it has been blessed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I hope that it will have a speedy passage through all its stages and, more important, that it will achieve the objects which we all have in mind.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
I apologise to the Minister for the fact that I was not in my place when he made his speech. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough. East (Mr. Marquand) explained my inability to be present. I agree with hon. Members who have said that this is an excellent Bill, but it has been produced rather later than it might have been. There must be quite a number of first-class individuals who could have rendered more useful service to the State and continued in active employment had this Measure been placed on the Statute Book earlier. Therefore, while we welcome the introduction of the Bill we also regret that it was not introduced earlier.
I understand from my hon. Friends that the Minister announced that the provisions of the Bill will not come into operation until the middle of April, which I think is a pity. After all, the next few months may prove a period which will make a difference to quite a 74 number of people and it would have been a good thing if they could have benefited. One of the difficulties confronting those who serve overseas arises from the fact that, not unnaturally, their pension rights are fixed at the time when they enter the service. By the time that they leave to return to this country they find that conditions have altered so considerably that their pension, owing to a fall in the value of money, is not worth anything, like what it was estimated it would be worth.
Some of these people find themselves in considerable difficulty. They have to set up home afresh and the cost of furniture and the rent of houses is more than they can bear. I think that the Government should take note of these things, to see whether it would be possible to help people who find themselves in such circumstances. After all, they served this country well during the time that they were in the Colonial Service, often in isolated posts and at risk to their health. We should take all these matters into account when passing legislation of this kind.
During the time when the Pensions (Increase) Bill was passing through the House in 1959 it was put to the then Financial Secretary—I do not think it was the hon. Baronet the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) but one of his many predecessors—that while pensions were being increased in this country something ought to be done to establish a similar principle for those serving overseas. The then Financial Secretary said:Most overseas Governments are at least as generous as Her Majesty's Government in this matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd June, 1959; Vol. 606, c. 130.]He went on to indicate that what was being done under the legislation which was being discussed would be conveyed to the colonial Governments in various parts of the world in the hope that they would take note of what this country was doing and would follow suit. Is it possible for the Under-Secretary of State to give some indication of the extent to which the colonial Governments responded? It would be of general interest, not only to the House but outside, to learn whether those who have returned after service abroad and found the value of money has dropped, as it has, can have that taken into account by the 75 colonial Government concerned in the pension they are drawing.
A part of the Bill which disturbs me and to which I want to draw attention is that which lays down that the consent of the Treasury is essential to every agreement. Why should this be necessary? It is not likely that the Colonial Office or the colonial Government concerned—and it takes the two collectively to come to an agreement—would do anything rash or silly. After all, they are the people who know the facts. I take it that, generally speaking, the Treasury would act only on advice received from the Colonial Office. If Parliament can be trusted to put these powers into a Bill for the Colonial Secretary to use when making agreements, why should it be necessary, in adition, for the Treasury to have to give its consent?
I wonder whether the Treasury can be trusted sometimes to act justly in circumstances of this kind. I ask because, as my right hon. Friend earlier pointed out, a case has come to our notice and perhaps other hon. Members have had correspondence from people similarly placed,of an Indian civil servant who had to retire as a result of the constitutional changes that took place and found that the conditions under which he then retired had been materially altered in recent times. I have had correspondence with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has been very patient and good over this, but, unfortunately, very stubborn. Our only way of ventilating what we think is a grave injustice is on an occasion such as this.
In February, 1949, on behalf of the Government, I personally made a statement from the Dispatch Box and, speaking of Indian civil servants who had been forcibly retired and thus had their careers cut short, I said:If they obtain permanent and pensionable employment under His Majesty's Government within a relatively short period, an alternative career has been provided, and compensation for loss of career becomes inappropriate. It was, therefore, laid down in the White. Paper, Cmd. 7116 (1947) that, where a person obtained permanent and pensionable employment under His Majesty's Government within two years of leaving India, he should not receive compensation. but only a resettlement grant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1949; Vol. 461, c. 2025.]76 The particular individual to whom I refer was fortunate—if that is the right word to use—to obtain employment in the Colonial Office. It was temporary employment, and from that day to this it has been temporary. So far as he knew it would not be pensionable and would never become permanent. Now the Treasury has offered him permanency, but on one condition. That is that he should refund the whole of the compensation he received all those years ago. I do not know whether the officer concerned still has that money intact. The chances are that much of it—perhaps all of it—has been spent, but he can only now become permanent and pensionable if he refunds the amount of compensation he received at that time.
The Treasury says that as he has been made permanent and pensionable and his pension by permanency has been dated back to the time I made that statement in the House, which was less than two years after he left the Indian Civil Service, the rule there laid down does not apply. If we look carefully at the statement I made—I made it on behalf of the Government and therefore a following Government should accept what was then said, and it was accepted by the House—it will be seen that I indicated, on behalf of the Government that fhe employment had to be permanent and pensionable within two years. No one is going to say, I hope, that to be offered after all these years, permanent and pensionable employment is in keeping with what was then said.
I therefore think that when we look at this Bill in Committee we should hesitate long before we pass the subsection which gives the Treasury power of veto without giving any reason whatever. No criteria are laid down in the Bill. It is just the word of the Treasury, and that alone, which in individual cases can prevent any agreement made on behalf of an individual or classes of individuals and the Colonial Office being carried out. Not only is the Treasury action I think mean in this particular case, but it is an example to warn the House to look closely at any Bill which gives the Treasury powers of this kind.
I hope that when we reach Committee we shall take steps to see that what has happened to members of the Indian Civil Service shall not happen to those 77 coolies by this Bill and who may be employed in the Colonial Service whereever that Service may be.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall), with his past experience at the Treasury, should have referred to the pensioner. If my plea later in what I have to say for these forgotten men takes some time, I hope that the House will bear with me. I am glad that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is on the Front Bench, because these men, although a fairly numerous band, are forgotten men. I am glad, also, that the right hon. Member has paid tribute to the vision which my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary has shown in the White Paper and to his imagination in bringing in this Bill.
Like the right hon. Member for Colne Valley, some of us on both sides of the House have urged for many years that some such action should be taken and some of us wonder whether it has been taken in time. I hope that it is not too late, because this vast scheme of technical aid, at considerable expense to the British taxpayer, is something which I believe is vital to the mutual benefit of the underdeveloped countries and the United Kingdom. There are, of course, some independent territories which may be somewhat sceptical of this aid and may be suspicious, possibly, of imperialist spies in their midst.
I hope that they will bear in mind what Mr. Kenneth Younger wrote in his book, "The Public Service in New States". He said:A second difficulty arises because, in the course of the transfer of power, there comes almost inevitably a period of exceptional psychological difficulty, when the new Ministers…still find it hard to believe that the old service is really going to relax its hold upon the Administration.…If there is this doubt about divided loyalties, I urge the independent Governments to bear in mind what the White Paper says when it points out thatalthough members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service are members of a common Service under Her Majesty… the claim of the territorial Government upon the loyalty of that officer is in no way affected.I hope that any independent territory which thinks it a blow to its prestige will remember that Europe did not think it 78 a blow to its prestige when it accepted Marshall Aid after the war.
Provided that the standards of living of the indigenous civil servants and the expatriate civil servants doing the same job are not too dissimilar, and provided that by some independent commission to administer this scheme the Government are not right in the middle of it, I believe that the independent territories will accept the offer, because there is no doubt about the benefits of this scheme to emerging territories and where their interests lie.
Perhaps I may quote again from Mr. Younger:Should it prove impossible, for whatever reason, to retain the necessary overseas personnel for a sufficient period, the price paid by the new states will be heavy… In Ghana … the major difficulty arose from the new burdens imposed on the service by the dynamism of the new Government. This pattern is likely to be repeated elsewhere. A new State will naturally wish to signalize its independence by accelerating development to the limit of its resources and often beyond. Ministerial decisions can be taken rapidly and each one sets a fresh task for the Administration.The Bill seems to be a kind of continuing marriage settlement, and in this case the beneficiaries are one of the trustees. Although it is only one support for a development programme—the other, in my opinion, being some form of investment guarantee fund for new private capital—it is still a vital support without which some States might degenerate into a quasi-Congo status, and I therefore congratulate my right hon. Friend on his imagination.
There are, however, numerically small but important sections of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service, and numerically larger ones which used to be in the Government service, to which I should like to refer. Taking the latter first, I refer to those who were in the service of the Nigerian Government before they were seconded into corporations such as those dealing with the railways, electricity, coal and the ports, being told at the time that they would be no worse off than if they had been in the Government service.
I will not go into the arguments which they put forward, but when I was in Lagos last November I found that the morale of both the expatriates and the engineers in the railway, both of whom 79 are badly needed, was very low indeed. I believe that the Nigerian Government is one of the soundest and most progressive in the whole of Africa, and I also think that possibly the fears of these people may not be based on fact. But they are very much present. I stress that it affects only the ex-Government servant.
If Her Majesty's Government could agree in some way to take the underlying securities of the corporations' pension funds and accept in return the pension liabilities, their erstwhile servants would feel that the future for themselves and widows was more secure. If that means taking out of the country money which the Nigerians are now using, perhaps that could be adjusted by a Government-to-Government loan.
May I turn to a numerically small but important group of civil servants both in West and East Africa who are questioning their future. I am thinking of those in the intraterritorial services, such as West African Cocoa Research, the West African Council for Medical Research and the West African Institute for Trypanosomiasis, whose conditions are now very different from those which they enjoyed a few years ago. At present, their morale is reasonably high. I hope that when he replies to the debate the Under-Secretary of State will say something about their future. I hope that their morale will remain high.
Unfortunately, this cannot be said of the East Africa High Commission, from members of which I heard, from Nairobi, on 16th January as follows:A large number of us are members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service and were formally members of the Colonial Service. We understand that the recent White Paper on Service with Overseas Governments is not intended to supplant paper Col. No. 306.I particularly want to refer to this Paper to show that those in active service now are as much interested in the question as are the pensioners. They continue:This latter Paper clearly stated: 'Constitutionally, all officers of the Colonial Service, using this term in the widest sense, are in the same position. They are servants of the Crown…I will not read all this quotation, because it can be found in the White Paper, but the letter continues:The above-quoted words have been embodied in the Colonial Office recruiting 80 pamphlet, Appointments in Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service '. This means that Her Majesty's Government has sought to use them as reassuring words to encourage people to join the Overseas Service. We who are servants of the Crown serving in the High Commission are certainly entitled to no less consideration on the part of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom than our brother officers serving with the territorial Governments.… I should be most grateful if you would draw attention to the position of the High Commission staff in the context of the intending political changes in East Africa and urge that we be treated in accordance with the spirit of… No. 306 to which I have referred. If we are not so treated but are required to serve on in what will virtually be a foreign country, without the benefit of diplomatic immunity which is enjoyed by members of the Foreign Service when serving in foreign countries, then we will have been betrayed and abandoned.I think that they may well have stated their case too highly, but I am not sure, from what my right hon. Friend said earlier, whether they are covered, or whether they will be treated in the same way as civil servants in territories about to be independent, such as Tanganyika. Although they may be sent into those territories to do the job of the High Commission, they have no doubt that in housing, medical benefits and general conditions of work, if they are sent, they will be undertaking work very different from which they have done in the past I hope that my hon. Friend will say something about this when he replies to the debate.
If this great salvage operation—and it is a salvage operation—is to be a success, the people to whom this money is to go will surely consider how they are likely to be affected when they decide whether they will stay on or not. They will consider how their predecessors have been dealt with. I urge my right hon. Friend, having offered so much, not to cheesepare on a small section.
The right hon. Member for Colne Valley referred to the pensioner. He may know, and the House may know, that the Service Pensioners' Associations have got together. They represent about 5,000 paid-up members, and they think that they will get about 10,000. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State will tell the House how many pensioners there are. The associations have produced a most interesting document, which I should like to show to the House, and in it they say:It is not, therefore, acceptable for Colonial Service pensioners now to be told, in reply to 81 representations about this differentiation in the matter of pension increases, that they were, in fact, employed by individual territories to whom appeal for redress must be made.They have shown in tabular form in black figures those territories which have been more generous about pensions than the United Kingdom and in red figures those which have been less generous.
The Bahamas, Fiji, Hong Kong and Mauritius have been more generous. Cyprus, Jamaica, and East and Central African territories have, to some extent, been more generous and in other cases less generous. There is no shadow of doubt that the red figures far exceed the black. No doubt those who are thinking of staying in the Overseas Service will take note.
I believe that Nigeria, in the near future, may be taking action to lift her pensions. If she does it will be another example of a sound and progressive Government and will increase the good will of this country towards her.
Many of the pensioners here are receiving £2 a week less than pensioners of the Home Civil Service on a similar basic pension. Their increase is that much less. When I find that a rich island such as Bermuda has nothing but red figures, I hope that those who have anything to do with sending capital to Bermuda, or helping Bermuda, will bear her parsimony in mind. Many of these people have served, not only Her Majesty, but her father, her grandfather and even her great-grandfather.
I regret that on the 9th January, 1961, I received a letter from the Transvaal, dealing with this table, which reads:… The difference in pension scales as given in a recent Association circular, is remarkable and varies much more than did salary scales in different colonies prior to the Unified Colonial Service scheme, which came into being about 1929–30. That scheme was a long term one for the benefit of colonial officers and was planned to eliminate the very abuses which have now occurred among pensions. Its immediate effect at the time was to make it difficult to get technical and scientific officers to come to West Africa when conditions of service were the same in healthier East African colonies. Prior to the scheme pension conditions were more favourable in West Africa. Now Ghana is the worst of the lot, thanks to pensions having been passed on to the Ghana Government which I and my confreres never served.The writer then makes some possibly regrettable remarks about the Ghana 82 Government which I will not repeat to the House.
Her Majesty's Government continue to say that it is the responsibility of the overseas Governments to pay pensions. Those who we want to stay on in the Overseas Service will remember what happened about the pensioners in Somaliland. This year, Somaliland virtually promised to look into the question of raising pensions. I have seen a letter from the Colonial Office to that effect. I wrote to the Minister of State for Colonial Affairs weeks before Somaliland became independent, yet nothing was done. If that happens how can independent territories be expected Ito "pony up" to the level of the United Kingdom?
May I refer to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said at the Corona Club Dinner, that he would always make it his responsibility to see that the services of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service were constantly in mind. I believe that the Bill shows that he has carried out his promise.
A report of what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the same dinner says:To the Overseas Service, he would say that they were happy and proud to remember their services in the past…Have we remembered, or are we remembering?
I have a number of letters with me. One letter, dated 13th January this year, from Yorkshire, says:For the information of anyone whom it may concern in the efforts being made to improve the retired Colonial Civil Servants' lot, please note that at the age of 88 and after many years of struggle on the most meagre of pensions my parents have finally had no recourse but to resort, most unwillingly, to help from the National Assistance Board.I have two more letters here, both of which deal with widows, one of whom had to go to the National Assistance Board and the other the widow of a man who served for thirty-five years in Malaya. She has a pension of under £80 per annum and total assets of just over £200.
Another letter from which I would like to read says:My husband and I cannot understand the discrepancies in pensions between one Colony and another. considering the people concerned 83 were all appointed by the Colonial Office and liable to be seconded to any other colony or protectorate. It seems the Government help financially with roads and bridges in West Africa, but not the human beings who have given many years' service to them.My husband was in the administrative service of Nigeria over 25 years. Had he been, for example, in East Africa, he would now be receiving a bigger pension. He may also have been in better health.…We are living in a boarding house at the moment, having recently sold our house because we could not afford the upkeep.… My husband does not know I am writing".On 2nd June, 1959, the House will remember that there was a debate on the Pensions (Increase) Bill. During that debate my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General said:Most overseas Governments are at least as generous as Her Majesty's Government in this matter.…The Government have that question very much in mind, but it is not appropriately dealt with in a Bill which deals only with increases in pensions paid by Her Majesty's Government. I can assure hon. Members that the Government have and will keep this matter under review."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd June, 1959; Vol. 606, c. 130.]That was over eighteen months ago.
A few months later I received a letter from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies in which it said.We must, therefore, look to the Governments who employ overseas officers and are responsible for their total emoluments, including their pensions, to make such increases in their pensions as they consider to be right… But it is fair to say that in the past the majority of overseas Governments have treated their officers in this respect as well as Her Majesty's Government has treated its officers … a comparison made immediately after the passing of the United Kingdom increase measure would be no more valid on a long-term basis than a comparison made, possibly to the detriment of Home Service officers, immediately after a particular overseas Government had introduced its own increased service scheme".That may be so, but that was eighteen months ago. The red figures remain. If it is still argued by my right hon. Friend that, despite Colonial No. 306, the Secretary of State is not responsible for his own servants butt only the colonial Governments, I would refer him to two photostat letters I have. They are of some age, but we are dealing with people who are old. The first letter is dated 13th April, 1921, and says:I am directed by Mr. Secretary Churchill to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th instant, and to inform you that your transfer from Sierra Leone to the Gold Coast 84 does not in any way affect your status as a confirmed officer in the Colonial Service.It did, however, affect his pension.
The second letter is dated the 16th July, 1915, from Mr. Bonar Law, and says:…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. … It is not, however, for the individual officer to decide in what capacity he can best serve his Majesty the King. As, moreover, such conduct,… may cause most serious detriment to the public service… I am compelled to regard it as a grave dereliction of duty which cannot be excused.This was dealing with those who wanted to serve His Majesty in the Army.
The letter continues:It must, therefore, be understood that. should any member of the Colonial Service hereafter resign his post without permission he will be treated as absent from duty without leave, and will be gazetted as dismissed from the Service, with the result that he will be debarred from further employment under the Crown in any capacity, civil or military.There is not much control by overseas Governments indicated in that letter. It is firm control from the centre—from Whitehall. Admittedly, it was a long time ago, but there are still people alive who were directed under Mr. Bonar Law, though I regret to say that they are rapidly dying. They are the people who have the lowest pensions. They did not derive benefit from the rise in salary scales immediately after the war. They are the people who served in the tropics before the days of Paludrine, or refrigeration, or air-conditioning, or any of the amenities we have today. Well may they say, "It would have been better if we had stayed at home". That lesson may not be lost on those that we want to keep in the Overseas Service today.
I ask my hon. Friend to give us some idea of the cost of bringing their pensions up to the United Kingdom level. Is it a few hundred thousand pounds? Does it go up to £1 million? Nobody appears to know. If the Government cannot find out, can there not be some form of Gallup poll by taking a few individual cases through the Crown Agents?
As the right hon. Member for Colne Valley said, inflation is our responsibility, not the responsibility of the overseas Governments. They do not control the cost of living in this country. I do 85 not believe that it is the job of an overseas Government or an underdeveloped country to be burdened with the increase in our pensions.
I want to read one final passage from Mr. Younger's book. The passage appears on pages 87 and 88:The argument appears to be that the undoubted obligation which is owed to the pensionable officials is an obligation of the Government of the territory…It is at least arguable, however, that the obligation is essentially an obligation of the United Kingdom Government. The United Kingdom has always kept enough power in its own hands to ensure effective control of the Colonial Service, and has always claimed credit for deliberately following a policy leading to self-government and independence. It is all the more appropriate that it should accept at least a share of the obligation to officials, because it has insisted that the Government of the territory should pay compensation not only to officials whose careers it cuts short, but also to any official who desires, for whatever reason, to leave the Service.…This is essentially a political and moral rather than a legal issue, and it would seem to be very much in the interest of the United Kingdom to handle it liberally, all the more so since United Kingdom technical assistance is likely to be given after independence, some of it devoted to sending men to replace officials who have left.I appeal to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to take powers in the Bill, if necessary, to pay for the lifting up of existing pensions to the United Kingdom level. There is bound to be a time lag, even if my right hon. Friend's Circular Despatch No. 1065 of 2nd October, 1959, achieves better results in the future than it has in the past. No British Government for long in the past have been callous, and this is a dying commitment.
I apologise to the House for the length of my plea for these forgotten people. I urge the Government not to spoil a most imaginative Bill, which will help the Civil Service tremendously, by failing to do that little extra which will make all the difference.
Having said all that, I assure the Government that I welcome the Bill. It is a new charter for overseas civil servants, who work in difficult conditions, who will see promotion of less able Africans and Asians over their heads, and who will have to be more and more advisers on contracts. The Bill will give them scope to go on for as long as they wish for the benefit of the mutual trade and well-being of the overseas 86 Governments and of the United Kingdom. It is a great advance. I congratulate the Government and the Minister, and I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) on the strength with which he presented a strong case. I hope that he receives a satisfactory answer from the Under-Secretary later tonight, and that action follows. Action is certainly overdue.
I share with my hon. Friend and the Colonial Secretary the belief that the Colonial Service as a whole has made a vast contribution to the progress of civilisation. I share the belief that this contribution need not necessarily end when territories emerge into independence. The thirteen rebellious Colonies in North America would have got over their teething troubles a great deal more easily if, following the surrender of Yorktown, they had kept a few Colonial Office administrators on their books.
In far too many instances in the past compensation schemes have been designed, so it would seem, to encourage the expatriate civil servant, regardless of his wishes and the wishes of the new Administration, to pack his bags and go home. It has been clear for a long time that what we needed was a scheme which would make expatriate administrators no more, but at the same time no less, expensive than local civil servants of a similar grade locally employed.
In essence, that is what this scheme brings about. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on introducing the Bill. The fact that a reform is obvious and has been obvious for some years does not mean that action is always taken. As a result of the Bill more men and women will be able to stay at their posts for longer with better pay.
The Bill cannot be a comprehensive Bill. A number of items have not been dealt with which I wish could be dealt with. For instance, Hong Kong is specifically excluded from the benefits of the scheme. We know that Hong Kong is a comparatively rich Colony. The salaries and pensions offered there are high in comparison with those offered 87 in other parts of the world, but in the past few years Hong Kong has tried to deal with a vast influx of refugees from Communist China. It has tackled the problem with great courage, almost independent of help from this country. It seems a pity that we are not extending to Hong Kong this form of help that is to go to other parts of the Commonwealth.
Again, there is the question of the Armed Forces. We have seen in the Congo what a vital part the maintenance of discipline in the Armed Forces plays, and, just as it is important that British administrators should not too hurriedly leave the emergent nations, so I hope that there will be no outflow of officers seconded from Her Majesty's forces to the armies of these emergent nations. Yet, only too often, it seems that we have quibbled over the amount of extra allowances to be paid to those officers. I hope that the Army will itself adopt a scheme similar to this one.
Then there are the local government employees. There have been a number of pleas today on behalf of employees in various nationalised industries—in particular, in Nigeria—but I believe that the position of expatriate employees in various local government organisations should also concern this House, although I do not see how we can help them under this Bill. It has seemed to me that the way in which Her Majesty's Government stood aside and allowed the expatriate employees of the City of Singapore to be driven to the wall by a new, unfriendly Administration was a shameful episode in the history of that part of the world and of the colonial Administration.
Good as this Bill is, it cannot provide a career structure for the men who remain in the Colonial Service in these emergent territories; by now I think that most of us have reluctantly come to the conclusion that in a large number of cases there is really not very much that can be done about it. But this certainly does not apply to every one in the Colonial Service.
A new Department is about to be formed for the channelling of overseas aid. The Commonwealth Advisory and Technical Service will no doubt form 88 part of that new Department, as will the Colonial Development Corporation and other branches. It may be that Her Majesty's Government will choose to start this new Department with displaced civil servants or displaced officers of the British Transport Commission, but I should have thought that the Colonial Service could claim a large number of the new posts that will presumably become available.
Then there is the question of the merger of the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. I believe that the Colonial Secretary's reply to the debate that we had just before the Recess, in which he advanced the reasons why the Colonial Office could not merge now with the Commonwealth Relations Office was exceptionally convincing, but it is perfectly clear that the situation is changing, and that within two, three or four years the reasons advanced against this merger will have largely disappeared.
I believe that at this moment we should be discussing the marriage settlement between these two great Departments of State, and that representatives of both Departments should be going through the lists to see who can fill what job when this marriage takes place. There will be a need for a much expanded Commonwealth Relations service in the technical, the administrative and the semi-diplomatic fields. I cannot understand why so many people seem to think that work in the Colonial Service should debar a man from diplomatic success. It seems to me that having to deal with Dr. Banda or Mr. Mboya is a supreme form of diplomatic examination, and that those who can pass that particular examination with flying colours might well be called upon to fill any diplomatic post anywhere.
I therefore think that a case can now be made out for approaching those people whom we want to attract—and particularly those of about 30 to 40 years of age today, to whom special reference has already been made—and saying to them, "We shall need you in the future. Please do not seek employment elsewhere." Unless something like that is done, it is probable that the best of those young men will slowly drift from the Service and will be lost to it for all time.
89 The Overseas Civil Service does lot work in a vacuum and, as has been said by speaker after speaker in this debate, this Measure is very largely designed to help the great emergent territories of East Africa. It will certainly have a major part to play in strengthening the Administrations there, but it will do little good if the economy in that part of the world continues to run down at its present pace.
The Bill is designed to restore the confidence of those in the Civil Service but, regrettably, it would seem that almost nothing is being done to try to restore the confidence of those who have to support the economy in those parts. I refer, in particular, to the British farming community in Kenya. Those people fear, reasonably enough, that with the passage of real power to an independent African Government there will be a sort of Congo. The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) says that he does not think that there will be a Congo in East Africa, but it seems to me that the safety margin is perilously small and that if things go wrong, as they can so easily go wrong, we could easily have the sort of tribal fighting and administrative chaos that we have seen in the Congo.
The Bill, as I have said, is designed to strengthen the morale of the Overseas Civil Service in that part of the world, but the fact is that the Colonial Secretary has managed to give the impression that he does not understand and does not care about the problems of the British farmer in that part of the world. Certainly, the statement about safeguards that was made shortly before the House went into recess did absolutely nothing to dispel that impression. It would be a disaster if the Civil Service in Kenya disintegrated. It would add enormously to the problems of a new Kenya if the British farming community there were allowed to slip into a state of gloomy, cynical fear.
We have no duty to protect this community from loss, but we have a duty to protect it from absolute ruin. I hope that this Bill, which does so much for the Civil Service, will be followed by other realistic Measures to protect this other vital part of the community in East Africa. The ending of imperial obligations can be as expensive as, if not more expensive than, the winning of an 90 empire. The Bill is expensive, but it is an expense which we shall bear with willingness because I am sure that it will perform its jab excellently.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
I should like to say how much I too welcome the Bill and I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. This Bill incorporates many ideas that were discussed some time ago. but I think it is due to my right hon. Friend personally that the Treasury has been induced to foot the bill. Most hon. Members, I think, were amazed and pleasantly surprised when we first heard the Bill proposed.
This Bill has been doubled in importance by the publication since Christmas of the Flemming Report on salaries in East Africa. The Bill is one not so much for colonial servants as for colonial or ex-colonial Governments. The Flemming Report is designed for colonial servants themselves, and possibly had this Bill and the Flemming Report been implemented two years ago I might have stayed in the Service and been one of those people, to whom reference has been made, who would be better employed than they are now.
The Flemming Report marks the end of an old principle that one always suspected is revered in the Colonial Service. namely. that one can afford to pay a man a good deal less than he is worth so long as he has a sense of vocation for the job. Now we have a now principle, that money may not solve all the problems of the Colonial Service but it goes a long way to make them easier.
I can honestly say that the Hemming Report has done everything that I hoped for and has gone a lot further than I expected it would. Certainly any members of the Colonial Service to whom I have talked since the publication of the Report have agreed on that. We all talked in terms of a 10 or 15 per cent. increase. Since we have heard that it is to be in the region of 25 to 30 per cent., a lot of champagne has been opened in the last few days. I wish to congratulate the Flemming Commission.
There are two or three extremely pleasant things to debate this evening, but there are some snags also. The mere fact that we give colonial servants an 91 increase in salary of 30 per cent. means that we have been paying them far too little in the last four or five years. Why was there not a 10 per cent, increase in salary three years ago, a 5 per cent, increase two years ago and another 10 per cent. increase last year? That would be more logical than increasing the salaries by 25 per cent. all at once.
I wish to refer particularly to the Flemming Report itself. It states in paragraph 34:We think it most unfortunate that the Colonial Office did not draw the attention of the East African administrations to the changes that were taking place in United Kingdom salaries over the years 1956–1959.For four or five years, ever since the Lidbury Report was published in 1954. the Colonial Office has done nothing. Every time an increase in salary was suggested, it was stated that it would cause inflation in East Africa. Inflation came to a limited extent, but there was no increase in salaries.
I should like to have an assurance from the Under-Secretary that from now on there will be continual reviews of salaries in the Colonial Territories; and in ex-Colonial Territories there should be a review of the overseas portion of salaries which will now be paid by the Treasury. There must be regular reviews, we must not have these appalling delays which cause so much hardship in the Colonial Service. There will be a lot of passports coming out of Indian shops in Dar-es-Salaam in the next two or three months, for a large number of colonial servants have had to leave their passports there to cover their debts. Let us not have that state of affairs again. Instead, let us have regular reviews and decent salaries. The Colonial Service has been driven to the end of its tether, and I hope that the present Bill will bring the members of the Service further back from the end of their tether
I should like some clarification of the position of the officers serving in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Although their future is entirely tied up with the Federal Review Conference which is still going on, could we be assured that as soon as that Conference presents a report we shall get a statement from the Northern Rhodesian and Nyasaland Government and from the Colonial Office on the future of the 92 officers there, on how the present Bill will apply to them and what guarantees they have been given? I had a letter the other day from an officer who is the secretary of an association that represents overseas Civil Service officers in those countries, and I understand that they are very concerned about their position, particularly as their own Government have hardly mentioned the existence of the present Bill.
Having done so much by means of this Bill and the Flemming Report, let us now have something done for pensioners. I cannot equal the eloquence or the good argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who made the best of a case which is unanswerably strong. The Colonial Office has hidden far too long behind the principle that it is the responsibility of the Colonial Territories to raise pensions. Many of the colonial pensions are based on the cost of living in those countries before the war. People who retired in 1938 in Sarawak had possibly been living in Sarawak on £150 a year and were possibly paid between £300 and £400 a year. Any increase in their pensions which they now get will have been based on those low levels. We must pay those people pensions commensurate with the positions which they held and which will enable them to enjoy a good standard of living in this country. If we are going to spend £16 million, I do not imagine it will cost more than £1 million or £2 million to give these pensioners a square deal.
There are one or two points which arouse strong feelings still, but, nevertheless, I congratulate the Secretary of State on the Bill and on the Report which goes with it. In my opinion, it will do a great deal for the Colonial Service and it will undoubtedly strengthen the Commonwealth, which we all desire to do.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I, of course, add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the Bill, but, having said that, I wish to make my observations on the subject of pensioners. I noticed with great interest that when my right hon. Friend was introducing the Bill he went out of his way to congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 93 He spoke of the wonderful reception he had had when he went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to his predecessor to negotiate the terms of this new Bill. I try to notice all these things. I think it is very important that we should. What my right hon. Friend did not say, however, was whether, when he went to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he put forward to him the case for the pensioners. This is what I want to know from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, unless, of course, he gives us—as I hope he will—a wholehearted pledge that when the Bill reaches Committee we shall find that the pensioners are covered.
To a certain extent, of course, it is one of the problems of democratic government, but in this House it is extremely difficult to get at the person who has responsibility. When we ask Questions about Colonial Service pensioners, as we do from time to time, the Questions have to be addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It may well be that he has put up an eloquent and magnificent case to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and that the blame lies with the Chancellor, but the House of Commons does not know this. The freely elected representatives of the people are thus denied the information on which they can press the case they wish to argue and they are prohibited from getting at the Minister who may have the responsibility.
I want to know, since the Secretary of State so generously paid his tribute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his predecessor, whether he did, in fact, include the pensioners in the list. I am sure that the pensioners would be at the bottom of the list of priorities. Long experience in arguing on behalf of people living on small fixed incomes has made me realise only too well that they are always at the bottom, even if they get on the list at all. Did the Secretary of State for the Colonies put them on the list at all? If he did, was he refused? If he was, those who are interested in this matter will know on whom to turn their thunder, because, of course, the Budget is soon to come.
I well remember the occasion when several of us, led most ably by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Waver-tree (Mr. Tilney), went on a deputation to 94 discuss the problem of these particular pensioners. It seemed to me then that the responsible Ministers really had not the facts before them. That is not to say that the facts were not available in the Colonial Office or in the Commonwealth Relations Office. Of course, we have to attack over the whole field. I believe that the future unity and happiness of the Commonwealth depends to a very large extent on the colonial territories as well. We have been to see all the people concerned, and, as I say, my impression has been that the matter has never been examined at the top level at all. The Ministers concerned were, of course, extremely charming. They always said that we had a very good case and they would look into it. The fact remains, nevertheless, that, in spite of all the Questions which have been asked over recent months and years, no proper examination on the basis of justice has ever been undertaken.
This brings me to a point which, although it may be a little unfair, should be made because we so rarely have an opportunity of putting such a case as this. When Members of Parliament ask Questions, do the Ministers who reply have personal knowledge of the subject? When my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, for instance, answers Questions, or when he winds up a debate such as this, has he himself seen all the papers and documents setting out all the arguments, or does he just take a brief? Has he done any arguing? I know that he has not been at the Colonial Office very long, but has he ever bothered about these people?
Anyone who has a sufficient number of voices in this country, whether in the House or outside, to speak for him can gain a hearing, but if a person who has served the country well is old, is retired, or has not powerful trade unions or powerful business interests to speak for him, nobody from the Prime Minister downwards cares at all. I think that the Prime Minister is vulnerable because he certainly gave pledges, as did the Home Secretary in his capacity as chairman of the party to which I belong, that those who are retired will benefit from the prosperity which this country at present enjoys. If those promises and pledges mean anything—and they have been repeated by every single Conservative Member of Parliament and by 95 every Conservative candidate in the country—how is it that the people for whom I am now speaking are now included under the Bill?
The next thing we shall be told will be that there is no time in the legislative programme. As it will be a matter involving money, we shall not be able to do anything about it by a Bill under the Ten Minutes Rule. Therefore, we must press for an assurance tonight. I see that my hon. Friend is going to consult the Official Box. Perhaps he is going to send for the Secretary of State. I see he is there, too. Good for him. I should like to put the question to my right hon. Friend himself. Perhaps he will give me an answer now and say whether he did, in fact, argue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter.
We all agree that we must build up the morale of those who have gone to work in very difficult circumstances in the Colonial Service, but, human nature being what it is, people pay attention to what has happened in the past. There are grandfathers and fathers and sons who are concerned to watch how Governments look after those who have served their country well. However proud we may be—and I am sure we are proud—of the independence which the new nations are gaining, we know that they would not have been able to gain their independence if they had not been well served by the officers of the Colonial Service who went there in the past. Reasonable people in the territories themselves would not disagree with that. However much the new emerging territories may wish to assert their views against the Colonial Office, the individuals who served them over the years are regarded as their friends and the friends of the people who will continue to live there and help to build up their countries in the future.
Now is our opportunity. Otherwise. we shall be told that Ministers have the greatest possible sympathy with these pensioners, but, of course, there will be no room in the legislative programme for them. Moreover, we have not, as far as I can remember, had an opportunity since the last General Election of discussing a Bill which does, in fact, give an opportunity to redeem the pledges made by my party on behalf of those 96 who are retired. I say again that the opportunity is now here.
I suspect that when the Under-Secretary replies we shall be told that something will be done. I can think of no other way of protecting the interests of those who have served the Colonial Service well in the past than by speaking for them in this House. I know that it is always said that one can vote against the Bill, but that would destroy a Bill which has been acclaimed on all sides. Therefore, that is not a course which can be followed. I can think of many things which could be done, but it is very difficult to find the right Parliamentary opportunity to do them. I could not be better pleased than to find myself on the back benches here tonight with all the Ministers concerned sitting on the Front Bench. I shall wait with the greatest possible interest to see what answer they give.
I am reaching the point of judging my Government on whether they are interested in those who have served them in the past and on whether they propose to keep their pledges. My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree put forward a forcible and well-argued case. I feel that the future of our party depends on how we treat those who have served our interests well. Woe betide any Minister who does not remember the pledges which have been given and does not say that they will be honoured.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hugh Fraser)
My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemoutdh (Dame Irene Ward), with her usual vigour, has put forward a case which is peripheral to the Bill. She has, however, put it forward with great tactical skill. She has chosen her moment well. In the course of my remarks, I hope to turn to the points which she and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) and others have raised.
I am sure that every hon. Member will welcome the general tone of the debate which, I may say as a newcomer to the Colonial Office, although I was there many years ago, has been extraordinarily well informed and very much to the point. Inevitably this is an enabling Bill, but it is one which raises questions of considerable complexity in 97 each territory. I think that it would be advisable if I were to start by saying something about the territorial limitations of the Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clark), who has bad a distinguished service in the Overseas Civil Service, and the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehause) asked whether the Bill would be applied to the Services in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. As hon. Members will have noticed, there is reference in the Command Paper to the fact that these territories would be temporarily omitted. We have looked at this matter again. As hon. Gentlemen know, there was mention in the Monckton Report of the fact that all three Services of the Federation should be looked at together, and in 1959 there was an agreement that eventually this should be the position. We have. however, come to the conclusion that the review should start now and that this would not be inconsistent with the recommendations of the Monckton Report or of the agreement. We therefore expect shortly to begin discussions with the Governments of these territories on the terms of the agreement necessary to apply the scheme having regard to local circumstances. Of course, as one of my hon. Friends said, the scheme does not apply to certain areas, such as Hong Kong and other places where there are special circumstances.
To continue with the point about the importance of the territorial aspect, we have spoken a great deal today about East and West Africa, but the impact of the scheme will be very great outside these areas. This is one of the great advantages. The benefits of the scheme can, I suggest, be divided into two parts. One will help the overseas Governments with the heavy but just burden of compensation, and the other will make possible the improvement of the conditions of service. The second part can apply to all territories which wish to take advantage of it and still require expatriates in their public service apart from those listed in paragraph 10. Thus, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland will be included.
This will be a very great benefit to smaller territories which may not be independent for many years and which will never be, to use that odious word, viable in the economic sense. It will make a 98 tremendous difference to places like the Seychelles, the Solomon Islands and British Honduras to be able to obtain a forestry expert, as the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) said, because under the scheme we will be able to ensure that the rate which will attract the expatriate officer for the job will be paid. This will apply not only to the smaller territories but to territories like Sierra Leone and Singapore. This may be quite an advantage in these territories.
I was pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North and the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East and other of my hon. Friends referred to the Flemming Report. I believe that the Report, in conjunction with the Bill for which my right hon. Friend has received high praise from all hon. Members, will do a great deal to allay the fears which rightly have been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Sir H. Oakshott), who has just returned from Kenya, and the hon. Member for Wednesbury. The combination of these two documents will be a great steadying influence in the East African Territories. I could not agree more with my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington about the problems which await our civil servants in these territories. On the other hand, I could not disagree more with some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Wednesbury. Surely, at this stage, what we have to do is to reinforce the administration wherever we can throughout the Colonial Empire or the emergent territories. Wherever one looks, the growing problem, almost the greatest problem, is the burden which the modern State puts on the emergent territory.
Let us take some quite simple statistics. Recent reports show that between 1954 and 1960 in a country like Uganda, which has been a peaceable country, the number of people in the public service has gone up from 16,000 to 22,000. To take another East African example, in Zanzibar the number rose from 4,000 to 4,700 in six years or so. This is the great problem and this is where the hon. Member. despite his knowledge of Africa, is wrong. What we have to ensure is that the injection of overseas skill remains and is encouraged so that these people who are emerging towards self-Government acquire the requisite skills against the 99 day when they will govern their own countries. I cannot see a more valuable use of money at this stage than to put f16 million or so a year into the colonies to make certain that their administrations remain efficient and are powerful.
The Flemming Report sets a standard which is of great value to all Colonial Governments throughout the world. It sets a standard which is not immediately applicable everywhere, because there must be variation between the enormous continental spaces of Africa and remoter areas like the Solomons or the Pacific territories. It lays down, however, the principle that there shall be paid the rate for the job. Vital economic factors will be taken into consideration, not only concerning the cost of living, so that there shall be comparable salaries to those which can be earned in this country and which will attract the efficient man from overseas. The Report is an important document, and I am pleased to say that my right hon. Friend has accepted its main principles as far as they apply to action which can be carried out by this country.
Several hon. Members have referred to the question of contract officers. My neighbour from Staffordshire, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), referred in his excellent speech to the encouragement which should be given to younger people, especially to those with professional qualifications between the ages of 30 and 40, to accept a contract in one of the overseas emergent or Colonial Territories. I wholeheartedly support what the hon. Member said.
Here again, the Flemming Report has dealt with the question of contract officers. Hon. Members who know Africa will, I am sure, agree that over the years, the number of contract officers is bound to go up while the number of pensionable officers is likely to go down. The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East asked how we made our calculation. It is made partly on the basis of the former figure increasing and the other going down. Obviously, here again, we shall give great study to the question of contract. Indeed, various propositions put forward in the Flemming Report are receiving our attention.
A question was raised reflecting feeling in Tanganyika concerning the use of the 100 instalment system of compensation and the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East, raised the question of the differential between a man who is required to leave and somebody who leaves of his own free will. All these are matters for negotiation between this Government and the local government in consultation with the staff association.
There are clearly two principles which should be observed in the negotiations. One is to ensure that the compensation is such as not to induce people to desert the service. The other is to see that it is fair to all parties. The Tanganyika negotiations will, I hope, be begun at Dar es Salaam in February this year. These are complex points, but as the evening is drawing on I do not think I need go further into the question of the actual compensation.
§ Mr. Marquand
Are these negotiations to be between three parties together discussing the matter, or are the two Governments to negotiate and then to go to the staff association with a fait accompli?
§ Mr. Fraser
Strictly, it will be negotiation between the two Governments, but it is naturally in the interests of both Governments to keep the staff association informed. Obviously, the people negotiating will have consultations with the staff association. That will be well worked out.
Various other points have been raised in this interesting debate. One to which I should like to refer especially is the question raised by the right' hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) concerning the permanent appointment of persons coming from overseas to the Civil Service in this country. This is an extremely complicated matter, and I will not attempt to anticipate my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary in his dealings with it. I can, however, give to the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East and to his right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley, as well as to my hon. Friends who touched on the point, the assurance that it will have my most serious study. I hope that in Committee on the Bill, we will be able to make the point clear. This is without commitment concerning the case raised by the right hon. Member for Colne Valley but is on the question of principle.
101 Similarly, my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) asked whether a person who had finished his term in one territory could get a contract job in another territory without loss of compensation. I think it is quite clear that he could. A man who has finished his career and has been compensated for loss of office in, for example, Tanganyika could then get a job on a contract in, say, the Solomons or elsewhere under Her Majesty's Government. He would be under the same Government here, so to speak, but working in a different local office. I can give my hon. Friend reassurance on the point.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Perhaps I did not nut it clearly. The case I had in mind was an officer from the Overseas Colonial Service who had already retired and received his compensation for a disrupted career. Under the terms of the Bill, is he eligible to go into Service again in one of the new territories without paying back the compensation which he has already received?
§ Mr. Fraser
I would have said so. if he did it under contract with a gratuity instead of pensionable terms, he would be eligible. I thought that my hon. Friend raised the question in terms of a contract, in which case it would be all right. I am sorry if I misunderstood my hon. Friend. Taken together, the Flemming Report, which in general principle the House is clearly prepared to accept, and the Bill will go a long way to reassure and to give confidence to our overseas officers.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth and other hon. Members raised the question of the responsibility for pensions on retirement. We must abide by the principle which has always existed that the pensions are the responsibility of the overseas Government concerned. My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that there has been a good response to the approach made after the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1959, and that a large number of territories have increased their pensions. I am happy to say that within the last few minutes I have been informed that the Nigerian pensions system has been improved.
102 There have been many other points raised—
§ Mr. Tilney
What happens when an independent territory, possibly Ghana or one of the other territories, just does not do this? Are we to abandon our ex-servants?
§ Dame Irene Ward
Can my hon. Friend say what would happen? What would we do? If I am right, did not he just make the half pledge that we would not abandon them? Let us have it in black and white in HANSARD. What would we do?
§ Mr. Fraser
I am not prepared to answer hypothetical questions however charmingly put by the hon. Lady. I must stick to the principle. The principle must remain.
§ Mr. Fraser
I said we would not abandon them, but the principle still remains that the responsibility for their pensions must be to the overseas Government. If the overseas Government fail in the discharge of their responsibility a new situation arises, which we should have to consider.
§ Mr. Fraser
Thank you, thank you very much.
There is only one other point I should like to touch on before I conclude, and that is the situation of the East African High Commission. Here the situation is rather complicated. What it really means is that it is not necessarily when the first of the countries of East Africa becomes independent, that the time would come to negotiate a compensation scheme for the members of the High Commission. We have to review the whole of East Africa as a totality, and I think the tendency 103 will be for us to decide that the time when the members of the East African High Commission will be free to opt for compensation terms will be when the Commission itself is subject to constitutional change. That is to express simply a very complicated series of events.
I welcome the way the House has received this Bill. I thank hon. Gentlemen and my hon. Friends for their co-operation and I with great pleasure recommend it to the further support of the House.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
I am sorry to be tiresome to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House and rather particularly, on personal grounds, to the Under-Secretary of State who has just wound up for the Colonial Office. but really I think the importance of the matter which he dismissed in one sentence, until he was dragged back to utter one or two more sentences, is such that it would not be decent were something more not to be said. I do not flatter myself that I am going to add to the strength of the case which has been put. but I am at least adding one to the number—I shall be very grateful if the Colonial Secretary will listen to me and allow the Under-Secretary of State to listen to me—of those who have made plain that they are on this matter extremely dissatisfied.
There are perhaps only two political crimes which are also blunders and always punished as such. Lots of crimes can be got away with and a good many blunders, but there are two political crimes which also constitute blunders which one cannot get away with. One is not providing, and not even looking as if one wanted to provide, protection for those who properly look to one for it; and another is not maintaining the currency.
Now the question which has been put to the Treasury Bench is, do they not really think that more ought to be done than has yet been promised or indicated for those former members of the Colonial Services who are not now in a position to persuade themselves that the remuneration they are receiving in retirement is what they have a right to expect?
104 We have had this matter up before the House over and over again. It is one of the important arguments against inflation, which is itself necessarily dishonesty, and a dishonesty we never cease paying for. We have had it over and over again—about teachers, about home civil servants, about Members of Parliament—that there ought to be surely some system of priority about the order, the numerical order, in which we do our best to put things right for people who have been ruined by inflation. Surely at the top of that queue should go those people who demonstrably and undeniably have nothing to do with the cheat which we are now trying to buy our way out of. Members of Parliament, therefore, should always come last. I think that probably home civil servants should come next to last, and in an honest world—we all know it is not possible in this world—I think that probably trades unions should came next to last after that.
But on these men—men who went abroad to earn their livings with very little hope of reward except the hope of a certain kind of retirement—no blame can be put for the inflation from which we are all suffering, at least all those of us who are not very clever in the property market.
It is no way out of this to say, as the Under-Secretary of State was put up to repeat, "These things"—that is to say, superannuation for overseas servants" have always been the responsibility of the Government concerned." Who were the Government concerned responsible to? The Government concerned were responsible to the Secretary of State and thus to this House. But by the act of the Government, I am not going now to argue whether wisely or unwisely, these Governments have no longer any such responsibility.
I say with the deepest conviction that we have heard a good deal of hypocrisy about this over and over again, about our anxiety to help under-developed areas. I am alone in this House apparently in always being extremely dubious whether it is right for Her Majesty's Government to tax Her Majesty's British subjects in order to do that, in order that Her Majesty's Government then may do good to somebody else and especially somebody else not one of Her Majesty's subjects. I consider it is dubious in 105 morals, I think it is very dubious in economics, I think it is extremely dubious in economics, whether that is the best way of helping them. But that is not now to be discussed.
But it is Her Majesty's Government's business to see that territories overseas which require and get service from Her Majesty's British subjects in a technical or non-technical sense get the best service and the right sort of servant, and they have to go on doing it while they abdicate, whether the abdication is wholly noble generosity or whether it is mainly a tiredness or weakness: there are some foreigners who take the second view.
It is our business to think about that, and how we can go on doing that: if we demonstrate to the world day after day in this House—we are going to have a Trustee Investments Bill in a day or two, are we not—that we despair of protecting the currency; that we do not much care about protecting persons in territories for which we are responsible, least of all when they are our own first cousins; and also that when our own first cousins find themselves in these sorts of situations, find their incomes ruined by our failure to protect the currency, we then write the thing off in one sentence from the Under-Secretary of State after a short debate: If so the chances of our helping underdeveloped territories with the best services and the best advisers will not be very great.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
Perhaps I might ask for the leave of the House to make a short reply on this most important matter. I made no reference to this question in my opening speech because, frankly, I did not realise that it was within the scope of the Bill on Second Reading.
§ Mr. Macleod
All right. I am just explaining why I did not deal with this matter at the beginning.
I should like very briefly to make a few points on this. Yesterday I had a long meeting—it lasted one and a half hours—with representatives of those whose case has been urged—the pensioners' associations—and we arranged to meet again in the summer or the 106 autumn to review the progress of the 1959 Act. I mention that to show that this is not a matter which is forgotten. On the contrary, as with all matters relating to the Service, whether those concerned are serving now or have served, nothing has a higher priority in the Colonial Office and on my desk than that.
What we discussed at the meeting yesterday was the follow-up, as it were, of the 1959 Act. It has always been the position that although people may be recruited by the Secretary of State for the Colonies or by the Crown Agents, they are employed by the Governments concerned to Whom they have given their service, and different rates of pay have always been paid, and they have accordingly, because these things obviously have close correlation, had different rates of pension.
The problem arises that people who have served in the territories come back to this country, and then, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) says, if inflation occurs it eats away at the value of their pension, and it is, after all, understandable that overseas countries should take the view that they do not see why they should, in effect, pay for Britain's inflation.
This is the heart of the problem as I see it and as my hon. Friend has put it, but I do not think the picture is as black as he suggests. It is right, I believe, if we possibly can, to hold to the position that it is the responsibility of the Governments concerned. I can speak effectively at this Box only for the Colonial Office, but my predecessor and myself have tried on the basis of the 1959 Act to bring the territories up to—and some of them have gone beyond—the comparable British standard. Eighteen territories are still shown as in the red, as it were, in the list which was discussed with me yesterday by the representatives of the associations, but there are already passing through the different legislative councils, or in preparation before the legislative councils, or in contemplation by them plans for twelve of those eighteen to bring them up to the United Kingdom standard. When that happens the balance will swing from those who were behind the United Kingdom standard to those who are in front of it.
107 It is arguable that this is too optimistic a view. I cannot tell, because I am prophesying about other countries. However, I can tell my hon. Friend and all other hon. Member's who have spoken on the matter that they are wrong if they think for a second that this matter is neglected. It has, and always has had, a very high priority with ma, arid I should be very glad to tell them the details of the success that we have had in following up the 1959 Act. I believe that if we hold to that policy of pressure upon the Governments we shall be able, as far as the Colonial Office is concerned, at least to produce a very satisfactory answer within a comparatively short time as the result of the 1959 Act and the follow-up.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Peel.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.