HC Deb 07 June 1962 vol 661 cc645-7
24. Mr. Tilney

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations when he received a reply from the Government of Ceylon to his letter of October 1959 drawing the Government's attention to the United Kingdom Pensions Increase Act, 1959; what was the content of that Government's reply; and in what year the salary scales were fixed on which the pensions of ex-colonial civil servants of the Government of Ceylon are calculated.

Mr. Braine

A reply was not called for and none was received.

The pensions are calculated in accordance with the salary scale in force at the date of retirement.

Mr. Tilney

Will my hon. Friend tell the House what hope there now is of any of the Ceylon pensioners ever getting an increase? Will he try to expedite the report of the working party which has just been set up so that the House will know what the recommendations are by, say, the end of July?

Mr. Braine

I cannot answer the first part of that supplementary question. This is a matter wholly within the responsibility of the Ceylon Government. I should not have to remind my hon. Friend that independence really does mean independence. On the other hand, my right hon. Friend is perfectly prepared, through our High Commissioner, to forward representations made by the Ceylon Pensioners' Association.

Mr. Wade

Is it not very desirable that there should be a consistent policy in the rate of pensions granted to all ex-colonial civil servants? Are Her Majesty's Government endeavouring to achieve that?

Mr. Braine

There seems to be a general misunderstanding about the position of these pensioners. They are the employees of former Colonial Governments or independent Commonwealth Governments. They are their employees and not ours. That does not mean that we do not have a sense of responsibility towards them. We bring to the attention of all independent Governments in the Commonwealth any increases in pensions which are made here. We are perfectly prepared to forward any representations through our diplomatic channels.

Sir G. Nicholson

Are my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend satisfied that it is both just and expedient to place the full burden of these pensions upon the Commonwealth Governments, bearing in mind that the necessity for increases in these pensions may stem from policies in this country over which the Commonwealth Governments have no control?

Mr. Braine

Neither my right hon. Friend nor I is completely satisfied with the position, but I would once again point out that these people are the former employees of other Governments. A good many of these Governments are in fact paying good pensions and increasing those pensions in line with what we are doing in this country. To assume responsibility for the whole lot would be a grave disservice to the cause of good Commonwealth relations.

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