HC Deb 22 February 1971 vol 812 cc25-7
19. Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied that the South African Government are meeting their legal obligations under the Simonstown Agreement; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir. I had asked our ambassador in Cape Town to make inquiries on this point, and I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the information he received.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Will the right hon. Gentleman look back to the report of an answer given early last week which specifically avoided any mention of job classification, of equality in rates of pay and equality in pension rights—all three of which are the most significant aspects of apartheid, in terms of job employment? If we are to sell arms to South Africa we should ensure that that country abides by its obligations under the agreement.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I hope that the hon. Member will read the information that the ambassador has given me. It covers all those points. If he wants to come back at a later date on that question I shall be happy to answer. The South African Government are fulfilling the terms of the Simonstown Agreement.

Mr. Thorpe

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, is he aware that we shall read the ambassador's report with close attention? Is he further aware that since 1968 Simonstown has been declared as a white group area, as a result of which 400 coloured persons who have lived there for 200 years are being moved arbitrarily from the area, in direct contravention of one of the conditions of the Simonstown Agreement in 1955?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

That is curious, because actually more Africans have moved into the base, and are receiving fair conditions, as laid down in the Simonstown Agreement. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will read the ambassador's account.

Following is the information:

  1. 1. At the date of transfer of the Simonstown Naval Base on the 1st of April 1957, 597 European and 713 non-European employees of the Admiralty were transferred to the South African Navy. Of this number only 23 European and 4 non-European employees were established, i.e. those who held permanent pensionable posts. The remainder were all casuals employed on a twenty four hour hire and fire basis.
  2. 2. At present 854 Europeans and 1,231 non-Europeans are employed in the dockyard. Of 27 this number 540 Europeans and 167 non-Europeans are in permanent pensionable (established) posts. With the expansion of the dockyard these posts are being further increased.
  3. 3. More non-Europeans than Europeans have been recruited and appointed subsequent to the transfer.
  4. 4. There is no discrimination whatsoever based on colour in the rates of pay for comparable jobs. The conditions of service of all employees irrespective of race are governed by the Public Services Act of 1957.
  5. 5. Further privileges now enjoyed by all established employees irrespective of race are, inter alia,
    1. (a) Accumulative vacation leave of between 30 and 38 days per annum depending upon length of service, including Admiralty Service, and 120 days sick leave on full pay during a three year cycle. Under the Admiralty they got ten days leave per annum.
    2. (b) 100 per cent. housing loans plus subsidies on bond repayments.
    3. (c) Working hours for industrials reduced from 44 hours per week to 42 and a half hours per week.
    4. (d) Pension contribution reduced from a minimum of 6 and a half per cent. to a fixed 4 per cent. on pensionable salary.
    5. (e) More posts of titular artisan have been created for employment of semi-skilled non-European labourers.
    6. (f) Salaries have nearly doubled: e.g. an artisan on the 1st April 1957 earned £894 per annum as compared to present salary of £1,725 per annuam.
    7. (g) All employees get all the paid public holidays of the Republic of South Africa.
    8. (h) All employees are eligible to join the Civil Servants' Medical Benefit Association under which approximately four-fifths of all medical expenses for an employee and his dependents are paid for by the Association.
  6. 6. Several former non-European employees of the Admiralty have been transferred to the public service where they now fill senior posts in other Government Departments.
  7. 7. No European or non-European ex-Admiralty employee or those recruited subsequently have been dismissed from the service other than through gross misconduct or inefficiency.
  8. 8. From the foregoing it will be seen that the South African Government complied in all respects with the conditions laid down in the Simonstown Agreement and has in fact improved considerably thereon.

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