HC Deb 08 May 1962 vol 659 cc194-6
11. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the contraction of British Colonial possessions and administrative responsibility, to what extent his staff and the number of overseas officers have declined during the past ten years; and what further reductions and reorganisation are contemplated.

Mr. Maudling

As the Answer is long and contains a number of figures I will with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Sorensen

The Answer, I assume, at least indicates that there has been a considerable reduction in the right hon. Gentleman's staff in view of the contraction of our previous colonial responsibility. In view of this and of the still further contraction that is possible in the future, may I ask whether any further consideration has been given to the possibility at the same time of transferring the Colonial Office to a sub-department of the Commonwealth Relations Office?

Mr. Maudling

There has certainly been a contraction of staff. I am publishing the details in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Some of the reduction has been due to contraction of responsibility and some because of transfer. The second point in the hon. Member's supplementary question raises something rather wider than the usual Question.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the French territories which received independence recently, civil servants remained servants of France? The result is that they do not feel that their careers are at stake if they train successors and they have been able to stay on in the newly independent territories in far greater numbers than civil servants have been able to stay on in ours. Will the right hon. Gentleman try to do something about this?

Mr. Maudling

I will look at that. I cannot understand how an independent country could have its civil servants employed by a separate nation. I do not think that that would be acceptable to our tenets.

Mr. Thomson

As the right hon. Gentleman is relatively new to his responsibilities, may I ask whether he could take advantage of this fact to have a look at another problem? Is he aware that there is a desperate need among the new countries for trained experts of various sorts? Is it not tragic that when a man has gained expertise and has done good service in the Colonial Service he should have to give up that jab to become secretary of a golf club in Surrey?

Mr. Maudling

I absolutely agree. This is one of the reasons why we supply finance through the Overseas Aid Scheme to enable these countries to employ these expatriates. What the hon. Member said is that we should continue to employ people working in Tanganyika. I do not think that that is practicable.

Following is the Answer: The staff complement of the Colonial Office was 1,664 in the financial year 1952–53 and is now 874; but this reduction reflects the net position after taking account not only of reductions arising directly from the independence of former Colonial territories but also of certain changes in the organisation of Government business affecting the Colonial Office, i.e., the transfer of work previously done by the Colonial Office in respect of territories which are still dependent to the Department of Technical Co-operation and the Central African Office and the taking over by the Colonial Office from the Commonwealth Relations Office of responsibility for the South African High Commission Territories. A reduction of approximately another 50 on the Colonial Office establishment is expected by the end of the current year. The rate of contraction beyond that time cannot at present be foreseen. As regards the Overseas Service, in 1955, the earliest year for which general statistics are available, there were about 25,000 officers classed as expatriate officers. The present numbers are much the same despite the fact that several territories have since become independent and of this total about 14,000 are designated officers under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme serving in dependent territories.
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