HC Deb 20 February 1962 vol 654 cc202-4
Q3. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Prime Minister what reply he has given to the petition sent to him by the Civil Service Association of Kenya; and whether, in view of conflicting statements issued by the Government, he will state whether non-designated overseas officers in the Kenya Civil Service are accepted as the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has repeatedly made it clear that his responsibility in respect of non-designated officers serving on overseas leave terms in East Africa generally are of a different nature from his responsibilities in respect of designated officers. Since non-designated officers were both recruited and are employed directly by East African Governments it must be the responsibility of those Governments to reach a final decision about their future. My right hon. Friend has recently asked these Governments to inform the various staff associations, in reply to representations which he has received from them that he has learned with regret that the East African Governments are unlikely to implement certain proposals which he made last November for retirement benefits for these non-designated officers including provision for voluntary retirement. The petition from the Civil Service Association of Kenya to which the hon. Member refers was received in the Colonial Office on 12th February and is at present under consideration.

Mr. Thomas

I thank the Prime Minister for that detailed reply. Is he aware that the non-designated officers hold the conviction that the former Colonial Secretary, now the Leader of the House, committed himself in December, 1960, to protecting them and that Her Majesty's Government accepted a responsibility that when independence was being negotiated they would not wash their hands of these people who have given faithful and loyal service to the Crown? Will he bear in mind that many of us would feel that if these people were betrayed the honour of the House would also be betrayed?

The Prime Minister

What I would call the formal, legal responsibility is laid down in the White Paper. There is a moral responsibility on Her Majesty's Government to do all that they can to make local Governments face what we believe to be their proper course. That we shall continue to try to do.

Mr. Wall

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that in the negotiations in December, to which he referred, an undertaking was given that if there were to be any major change the meeting would be reconvened? Can he see that the meeting is reconvened in the near future?

The Prime Minister

I will consult my right hon. Friend about that.

Dr. King

Is the Prime Minister aware that the distinction is not between officers who were recruited in this country and those who were recruited abroad, since some of the previously non-designated officers have been given the status of designation? Will he look into this matter very seriously, because an injustice is being done to the men who remain non-designated?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I will certainly consult my right hon. Friend on this detailed point. My answer dealt with the broad considerations which Her Majesty's Government follow.

Mr. Wade

Would the Prime Minister agree that assurances were given in 1960 and that there is obviously some doubt about the reliability of those assurances? Would he not agree that it is in the interests of Kenya as well as of these overseas officers that nothing should be done to give the impression that the British Government will let them down?

The Prime Minister

Of course that is so, but paragraphs 7 and 12 of the White Paper make the position clear. It is also very important that these Governments should face their responsibilities and take them on their own shoulders.

Mr. W. R. Williams

Will the Prime Minister assure the House that until this matter is settled satisfactorily, he himself will retain a personal interest in it, because it seems that the honour of the Government and the honour of the House are involved in the many promises made on this issue?

The Prime Minister

Of course, I will continue to be in close touch with my right hon. Friend in whose judgment and skill at managing these matters I have absolute confidence.

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