HC Deb 24 March 1964 vol 692 cc220-2
4. Mr. Awbery

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that in many colonies there are designated and undesignated civil servants, of whom the designated receive greater privileges and terminal compensation; and if he will take steps to rectify this.

7. Mr. Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied with the present differences in terms of service between an officer recruited under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme and a non-designated officer; whether he is aware of dissatisfaction among non-designated officers, particularly in Northern Rhodesia, over their terms of service; and what action he proposes to take to rectify this situation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. R. P. Hornby)

The terms of service of all officers in the service of overseas Governments, other than those designated by the British Government under the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, are the sole responsibility of the employing Governments.

Some non-designated officers in Northern Rhodesia have expressed dissatisfaction with their terms of service but it is for their employing Governments to consider whether these terms of service should be improved.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Under-Secretary aware that we have created a system of apartheid in our Colonies, even among British subjects? Men who have gone from this country and worked for the Government are now treated differently from others. The designated man can get 15½ per cent. and other privileges from the Government which are not given to the non-designated man, who is doing exactly the same work. This is the feeling of the people in Lusaka, one of betrayal by the British Treasury on compensation benefits for those in Northern Rhodesia. Would the Minister give some serious thought to this matter, because it applies not only to Northern Rhodesia but to other countries? Would he give further thought to the problem and see if it can be solved?

Mr. Hornby

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said; some dissatisfaction has been expressed by some non-designated officers in Northern Rhodesia. I think the hon. Gentleman would feel on reflection that this is not a fair way of describing the difference between the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, which was very carefully considered and worked out, with the approval of the Northern Rhodesian Government, and then approved by the House, and those officers who were locally recruited or did not come within the terms of the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation is prepared to consider the point made by the hon. Gentleman, but I cannot hold out much hope of the terms of the original O.S.A.S. being widened.

Mr. Barnett

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the expression "some dissatisfaction" is a very wrong description of the situation? Is he aware that I have in my hands a petition signed by about 700 of these officers, complaining at the terms that they are having to endure? Is he aware also that some 400 of the 720 officers involved are of British origin and recognised by the Northern Rhodesian Government to have British domicile and that their terms of service are giving grave dissatisfaction in Northern Rhodesia, because, as my hon. Friend has said, they are doing precisely the same jobs and feel themselves very hard done by by comparison?

Mr. Hornby

I am aware of the petition to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, but I must emphasise again that the position of the non-designated officer is primarily a matter for the Northern Rhodesian Government. As I said earlier, my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation will consider these matters, but I do not think I can add to what I previously said.

Mr. Wall

In view of the original discrepancy in deciding whether an officer should be designated or non-designated, would my hon. Friend care to look it to the marginal cases and see if they could now be defined as designated officers?

Mr. Hornby

I think I must repeat that the marginal cases, by which I think my hon. Friend must mean those who are at present non-designated officers, are those cases which fall within the sphere of responsibility of the employing Government—that is, the Northern Rhodesian Government.

Mr. Bottomley

Although I appreciate what the Minister has already said, may I ask him to view this question from the point of view of hardship cases?

Mr. Hornby

I will certainly consider whether my right hon. Friend can look at that aspect.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, may I give notice that I wish to raise this on the Adjournment?

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