HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1240-1
8. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to increase the number of reciprocal arrangements that ensure that a retirement pensioner who, having earned his pension in Great Britain, resides in the Commonwealth, does not thereby suffer a financial penalty by loss of subsequent increases.

Mr. Dean

We seek to increase the number of these arrangements where possible and, in fact, negotiations for a reciprocal agreement with Jamaica, under which each country's pensions and future increases will be paid in the other, are well advanced.

Mr. King

Is my hon. Friend aware that if an eminent civil servant on retirement accepts a lucrative directorship, his pension with cost of living increases is paid in full, but that if a similar civil servant—I have in mind the former head of a Department—elects to go overseas to devote his remaining years to service to an under-developed country in some unpaid capacity, his Civil Service pension is reduced? Is this not so unethical that it cannot possibly be defended?

Mr. Dean

My hon. Friend is talking more about Civil Service pensions, which are not for me, than about National Insurance pensions.

Mr. J. T. Price

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that these discriminations between ourselves and our overseas partners in the old Commonwealth are not restricted only to the benefits referred to in the Question but apply also to health service benefits? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I was astonished the other day to discover that two of my constituents who are British subjects and who enjoy all the facilities and benefits of the health service, could not, on going to Canada, be guaranteed the same facilities? Bearing in mind that Canada is one of our closest partners for whom we have the greatest respect, could not there be a political move towards some kind of reciprocal arrangement with Canada? After all, Canadian subjects coming to this country have the service of our hospitals. British subjects going to Canada, on the other hand, cannot get the same service there without paying heavy fees.

Mr. Dean

We are anxious to encourage reciprocal arrangements in the social services generally, and considerable progress is being made. But it takes time to work out details with any country.

Mr. Marten

In view of a recent announcement by a Government Department or agency that it intends to employ retired people in developing countries, will my hon. Friend look again at the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King)?

Mr. Dean

I explained just now that it was not really a matter for me. However, I will see to it that my right hon. Friend primarily responsible has his attention drawn to it.