HC Deb 13 December 1962 vol 669 cc717-20

Lords Amendment: In page 11, line 16, at end insert: 3. A pension in respect of service under the Egyptian Government by a person who, in the opinion of the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, entered the service of that Govern- ment in a pensionable capacity before 15th March 1922, and who was a British subject when he entered such service

Mr. Tilney

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This is a new category under powers conferred by Clause 3. It will be in the recollection of the House that there are British pensioners of the Egyptian Government who entered the service of that Government before 1922. Their position has been raised in another place. Great Britain had, indeed, from 1882, a special position in Egypt, and from 18th December, 1914, after Turkey entered the war against us, Egypt became a British Protectorate.

That Protectorate lasted until 15th March, 1922. The British citizens who worked for the Egyptian Government were, in essence, in the same position as the British officials who worked in the Sudan, and I believe that it would be only right that, as those who worked for the Sudan Government receive supplements under the Bill, so should those who worked for the Government of Egypt, although they were, of course, British citizens and were recruited before the Protectorate was ended.

I think that the House should know that there are about 435 pensioners who will benefit from the new provision—145 officials and 290 dependants. The Egyptian Government, apart from an interval of about a year after Suez, have paid the basic pensions but no increases, and therefore the pensioners, if this Amendment is agreed to, will receive supplements based on all the increases under all the Pensions (Increase) Acts from 1944 onwards. This will cost the not unsubstantial sum of £70,000 per annum. I think that the House will be glad to waive its financial privilege in favour of these deserving people.

Mr. Redhead

Again, I express my pleasure that the Government have been responsive to the more recent representations on this point. It is gratifying to know that, although in the last Amendment we were dealing with only a handful of people, the Government have not been deterred by the more substantial numbers concerned in this category. Had we realised that they were not included in the Bill as originally drafted we would, at an earlier stage, have sought, in equity, to have included them. I am aware from individual representations I have had that since we parted with the Bill some of those affected have had an unhappy feeling that perhaps they have been forgotten.

We are grateful that the opportunity has been taken, through the matter having been raised in another place, to rectify what would have been a grievous anomaly, and it is right and proper that these pensioners should be treated in common with other overseas pensioners. Although their position may be a little different technically, their case and claim is substantially the same as those the Bill was originally intended to cover.

Dr. King

This is a larger group but the principle is exactly the same. We are bringing under the umbrella of the overseas service pensioners some people who served Egypt before Egypt became independent. If the House accepts the Amendment it will mean that every conceivable public service pensioner in Egypt and the Sudan is covered. If by chance it should happen that this is not the case, then the Secretary for Technical Cooperation will have power to include any missed out.

Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry.]

Lords Amendment: In line 17, leave out from "pension" to "the" in line 18 and insert: for the payment of which the Crown assumed responsibility under

Mr. Tilney

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This is rather a technical matter. The purpose of the Amendment is to remove any possible doubt, a doubt that has been expressed by the Chief Justice of Sarawak. It can be said that these pensions are not, strictly speaking, payable by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, and the proposed Amendment is designed to remove any-doubt by referring to a pension for the payment of which the Crown assumed responsibility under the Instrument of Cession of Sarawak.

Mr. Redhead

I find myself in an extraordinary degree of agreeableness tonight in being able to concur to a greater degree than when we were discussing the Bill at an earlier stage. Certainly, if there is any dubiety in respect of this paragraph, it is right and proper that it should be clarified, and I have no hesitation at all in agreeing to the Motion.

Question put and agreed to.