HC Deb 21 January 1964 vol 687 cc915-6
Q9. Mr. Callaghan

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a letter from the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, enquiring about the prospects of a double taxation agreement with Ghana in relation to Ghana pensioners, was passed by the Treasury to the Commonwealth Relations Office and later by the Commonwealth Relations Office to the Department of Technical Co-operation; and if he will arrange for better co-ordination in these matters to achieve clearer definition of departmental responsibilities.

The Prime Minister

I am sorry about the hon. Member's letter. I agree that it ought to have been passed direct to the Department of Technical Co operation.

In general, I think the arrangements for co-ordination work well.

Mr. Callaghan

I am much obliged for the Answer and for the acknowledgment of the responsibility. Will not the Prime Minister inquire into the reason why the Chief Secretary in the first place passed the letter on? Is he aware that it contained two simple questions which are essentially the responsibility of the Chief Secretary, namely, whether there is a double taxation and, if there is, what effect the Government's proposals would have on United Kingdom pensioners? That was what I was concerned with. I was aware of the representations. Why could not the Treasury answer it instead of playing postman's knock?

The Prime Minister

None of the hon. Gentleman's questions is quite as simple as he makes out. This is not very easy. Some Questions ask for representations to be made to the Government of Ghana. That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Some ask about taxation and the application, perhaps, of our standards to Ghana. Those are matters for the Treasury. Some ask about the substance of pension arrangements. When the question is one of substance, I think that on the whole it is probably better dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation.

Mr. Wade

Is the Prime Minister aware that certain Ghana pensioners are faced with a very real hardship and that, if the British Government are able and willing to do anything about it, the sooner an answer is known the better?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the hardship.