HC Deb 06 July 1965 vol 715 cc1324-6
6. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what is the salary of and what expenses are allowed to the third secretary on the staff of the British High Commissioner in Lagos.

7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many of the staff at the British High Commission at Lagos are temporary; what is their status; and why they cannot be replaced by permanent civil servants.

Mr. Bottomley

A third secretary on the staff of the British High Commission at Lagos would receive a starting salary of approximately £965, rising by annual increments which vary from £50 to £60. The salary is taxable. He would also receive an overseas allowance of £876 per annum and an accountable entertainment allowance of £321 per annum, both non-taxable.

Fourteen members of the British High Commission at Lagos are temporary staff. They are in the executive, clerical or messengerial grades. It is necessary to make temporary appointments of this nature because there is a general and continuing shortage of manpower in the Diplomatic Service.

Mrs. Short

Does not my right hon. Friend think that this unusual appointment of a person who has twice failed the Civil Service examination to a post that he would have got had he been successful is grossly unfair, not only to those other candidates who failed the examinations and did not get a similar appointment, but to those who were successful?

Does he not also think that it is high time this country was represented abroad by skilled, trained professionals? Will he, therefore, undertake a review of these appointments in his Department with a view to the replacement of those holding them at the earliest possible moment by trained people whose social and educational background gives them more sympathy, understanding and knowledge of those conditions in the countries involved?

Mr. Bottomley

It is necessary to make temporary appointments because of the specific and fluctuating shortages of people with the right qualifications for certain posts which fall vacant from time to time. When the case of the applicant to whom my hon. Friend refers was put to me, I asked, "How would any other applicant fare who was making an attempt to get into the Service for this kind of appointment?" I was told that this would be the treatment, and I saw no reason to make any distinction between that applicant and any other.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say how many of those holding temporary appointments in Lagos, or any other overseas High Commission, have failed their Civil Service examination? Secondly, can he tell me whether he still adheres to the view that social background and education—the schools to which applicants went—are not taken into account? Thirdly, is it not the case that the previous Government refused to sanction this appointment?

Mr. Bottomley

With regard to social and educational background, my hon. Friend is already aware, because of information given elsewhere, that applicants have come from all schools and all sections of society. With regard to the particular appointment to which he refers, I again say that one does not make any distinction between any kind of applicant who is suitable for a particular appointment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Are not these mean expressions of crypto-republicanism by question and Motion from the party opposite quite unworthy and becoming a monumental bore?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That must be inviting an expression of opinion which the Minister is not responsible to give.

Mr. Hamilton

In view of the highly unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

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