HC Deb 20 June 1966 vol 730 cc143-5

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham)

There are three points that I should like to raise on the Clause. The object of the Clause appears to be to bring the 1965 pension increases into line with those paid in 1959 and 1962, both of which were liable to Income Tax. It has been put to me that it was only after representations had been made to the Treasury that two specific classes of pensioners were included in the 1962 pension increases. The two classes to which I refer are the widows of men dealt with by the Indian Civil Service family pension funds and the superior services pension funds. I appreciate that it may be difficult for the Financial Secretary to give me an answer to this point immediately, but we on this side would like to press for an assurance that those two classes will not be left out.

8.30 p.m.

The second point is that the India, Pakistan and Burma Act of 1955 has never been properly implemented. It will be recalled that the object of the Act originally was to exempt from Income Tax all those from the United Kingdom, India, Burma and Pakistan who live abroad and outside those territories. In fact, in only one of those countries— India—has a suitable agreement been reached with the United Kingdom, although negotiations have been going on between the Treasury and the Governments of Pakistan and Burma for nearly 20 years.

It was on 1st April, 1948, that Sir Stafford Cripps gave an assurance that an arrangement was being made with Pakistan. I recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) said that it would be in a matter of weeks that a similar arrangement would be made with Pakistan.

The second point, therefore, is whether the Financial Secretary can give some indication as to whether progress has been made with the Governments of Pakistan and Burma, because pensioners from the Indian Civil Service who live abroad and outside those territories are better treated than the pensioners of Pakistan and Burma.

The third point arises from a request of mine to the Financial Secretary for information about the effect of the recent Indian devaluation. He was kind enough to give me an assurance that it would have no effect at all on pensions granted by this Act. He went on to say, however —I trust that he will take the opportunity to reply to this point—that similar pensions awarded since 31st March, 1955, other than those contingent payments are paid by the Indian High Commission in London. Some are sterling pensions and some are rupee pensions. No reason was known why the sterling pensions should be affected by the devaluation, but the Financial Secretary said that he was not yet in a position to say whether the Indian Government would be prepared to make any special arrangement to protect the rupee pensioners.

On this side of the Committee, although we know that it is difficult to give a precise answer, we think that we ought to have a general assurance that, whatever happens to the rupee pensioner paid by the Indian High Commissioner in this country, those pensioners will receive precisely the same rates as are paid in sterling by that same Indian High Commission.

These are the three points which we should like to put to the Government and it may be that some of them are a little difficult to answer now. We should, however, be happy if the hon. and learned Gentleman could provide the answers on Report.

Mr. MacDermot

The hon. Gentleman's questions are highly technical and without notice I cannot answer them. We have no further information to give with regard to the Indian pensions payable in rupees. I have nothing to add, in other words, to the letter which I sent him on these points. On the other two points, I will write to the hon. Member, and if he feels that there is anything in the reply to which it would be valuable to give greater publicity, we can no doubt find a way of raising the matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.