§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords, as colonial territories have approached self-government and independence, problems have arisen regarding the position of expatriate civil servants. These are the very civil servants who have played such a vital part in the progress of the territories towards their independence. Noble Lords will remember that in 1954 the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, then Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, proclaimed the formation of Her Majesty's Overseas Service as successor to the Colonial Service, and he recognised our responsibilities towards these officers. Subsequently, in 1956, Her Majesty's Government issued a White Paper (Cmd. 9768), which set out two new proposals for Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service.
Before touching on these proposals I should like to pay my personal tribute to this great Service. I must confess that until I had my present job I was sadly ignorant of their great and selfless work. I knew well the work of another overseas Service, the Diplomatic Service; but my knowledge of the Colonial Service was very scanty. Theirs is often a dedicated life. They give the best of their lives to the welfare of the people entrusted to their care; and it is an "up and doing" life. Their very success in their work may often lead to their posts becoming filled by local recruits to whom they have taught the art of administration; and as time passes they are likely to have new masters, local Ministers from the countries concerned, particularly in stages immediately before independence is achieved.
Here I should emphasise that these countries which are shortly to gain their independence willingly recognise two facts: one, the essential need for their public service to continue independent of politics, and the other, the need to retain for a time many of those expatriate officers who have served them so well and devotedly. It is with the second of these needs that we are concerned to-day, and this Bill is designed to encourage those 587 serving abroad to remain as long as necessary with their new employers, as well as recognising Her Majesty's Government's responsibility towards them.
I have so far dealt with a special group of overseas servants—those who have served colonial territories. But, very rightly, all Parties here have been anxious that we should equally meet, if demand arose, the needs of other territories, notably in the Commonwealth, for skilled administrators. Here I use the term "administrators" in the broadest sense, to cover doctors, teachers, engineers, police, nurses, post-office officials, technical advisers on agriculture, town planning et cetera, as well as the purely administrative staff.
With this in mind the 1956 White Paper, as I have already said, made two proposals: first, to build up a central register of those available and prepared temporarily to go overseas, and, if the demand arose, a central pool of officers whose permanent job would be so to serve; secondly, to establish a Special List of officers of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service who, while in the service of Her Majesty's Government, would be seconded to the employing Governments. This scheme in the first instance was to apply to the Federal and Regional Governments of Nigeria only. The thought behind this was to help to create conditions which would encourage officers to remain at their posts even though the original terms of their service had been altered, for the fact that they would have new masters would in itself entitle them to retire and receive compensation for premature termination of their careers.
I can deal with the first of these two aspects of policy quite briefly. The idea of a central pool has, anyhow for the time being, proved difficult. There is, for example, at this time not sufficient demand to ensure regular and progressive employment. A central registry has been found unnecessary as Government Departments concerned have their own records which serve the purpose just as well. Moreover, we have discovered that ordinarily it is easier to get older officers, possibly after retirement, who are interested in temporary jobs, rather than younger ones who are wanted very naturally on a permanent basis. How 588 ever, we are extremely anxious to encourage the younger ones who are already in jobs in the United Kingdom or territories to volunteer, and Clauses (2), (3) and (4) of the Bill will enable arrangements to be made to ensure that in so volunteering they in no way lose or prejudice their existing pension rights, and cover their pensions earned while serving abroad. Clause 5 and the Second Schedule cover the same ground for the police temporarily transferred to overseas service.
I turn now to the Special List, which is the second aspect of policy dealt with in the 1956 White Paper. Here officers will be in the service of Her Majesty's Government seconded to the employing Government. As I have said, these arrangements apply in the first instance only to the Federal and Regional Governments of Nigeria. To date, out of about 2,000 officers who are eligible to join the Special List, only 250 applications have been received, almost all from the North and the Federal Government.
During the debate in another place on the Second Reading of this Bill a short while ago, my right honourable friend mentioned that Sir John Martin, a senior official in the Colonial Office, was at that time visiting Nigeria on a special mission connected with the staffing of the Federal and Regional Governments. He has just returned from his extensive tour, and we shall be considering his report very soon. I would only say at this moment that Her Majesty's Government are extremely anxious to ensure that the administrative needs of Nigeria are adequately met, for both we and the Nigerian Governments recognise the vital importance of the expatriate officers at this stage in their constitutional development. Noble Lords may like to know that conversations are proceeding with Malaya on Special List arrangements. It is too early to say more about this, and in any case it is the responsibility of the noble Earl the Leader of the House rather than mine. Similar talks are also going on with Singapore.
So much for the background of this Bill. I have dealt in my review with several of the clauses, and I will briefly talk on those not so far mentioned. Clause (1) gives general authority to the Secretary of State (who might be the 589 Commonwealth Secretary, or the Foreign Secretary, as well as the Colonial Secretary) to appoint officers with the concurrence of the Treasury. This can cover the Special List, temporary appointments or the central pool as required. Clauses 2, 3, 4 and 5, as already mentioned, deal with pensions. Clause 6 covers financial provisions and applies both to moneys provided by Parliament and to moneys received from other Governments under Special List arrangements. Clause 7 interprets various terms used in the Bill. Clause 8 gives the short title.
My Lords, the Bill is one which I believe will be welcomed by one and all in this House. The story that I have outlined may not fulfil all that we would wish in providing those countries, and especially the Commonwealth, with a regular and constant service of administrative officers, but it is, I hope, an important step forward. If experience shows that any new arrangements can further help to this end, I can assure noble Lords that we are both ready and anxious to examine them. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(The Earl of Perth.)
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LUCAN
My Lords, I should like first, on behalf of noble Lords on these Benches, to underline and support what was said by the Minister about members of the old Colonial Service, and to say that if this Bill restores confidence and establishes them in their posts we shall be more than glad to support it. Some years ago I had a most striking testimonial to the officers of the Colonial Service. It was on the occasion of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association tour through certain territories in East and Central Africa. The delegation included distinguished members of the Parliaments of all the Comonwealth countries, and after the tour had been proceeding for some weeks, during which we had visited a number of remote and not so remote places, one of the Canadian delegates with whom I was travelling said to me: "Why don't you British tell the world what you are doing in your Colonies?" He, an educated Canadian, had no idea that there were Englishmen devoting their lives in all these countries to the welfare of the colonial peoples. That is something that Her Majesty's 590 Government might bear in mind when they are considering their overseas information services.
To come to the Bill, there is nothing very controversial in it. We hope, of course, that the provisions will do what they are intended to do; we hope that it is not too late. But what is rather disquieting is the reference in the first clause of the Bill to the power of the Treasury in regard to appointments under the new system. Subsection (2) lays down that:The power to appoint officers…shall not be exercisable except with the consent of the Treasury,…Subsection (3) also refers to the question of consent. Does that mean that the Treasury, and not the Secretary of State, is going to say what officers or what classes of officers are to be appointed to posts under the system? That point was discussed in another place, and the present Secretary of State said categorically that he himself had "blanket" authority, and he added:I shall not refer to the Treasury all the individual applications to join the Service.If that is so, why does the Bill contain a clause which, if the words mean what they appear to mean, gives the Treasury a complete power of veto, not only in regard to the class of appointments but in regard to the appointment of a particular officer? I hope that the Minister will give us an assurance that that is not so. We know of old that the hand of the Treasury has lain heavy on establishments and rates of pay for, among many others, the Colonial Service.
Most of your Lordships will have had friends in the Colonial Service, and will have known the long years they had to spend in bad climates, with long periods without leave, because the Service was understaffed. They will know also that the conditions were not sufficiently attractive. I wonder whether the present Bill will offer more attraction to potential recruits to the Service. Can the Minister say whether he thinks this present Bill will, in fact, increase the flow of applications for the Service? Because unless the number of applications greatly exceeds the establishment vacancies that have to be filled it is almost impossible to make a selection; and if that is the case the quality of the personnel in the Service is bound to suffer. It was announced in another place that the establishment situation is improving; 591 that the number of vacancies on the last day of last year in the administrative branch was 130, whereas the year before it had been 170; and that in all branches it was 1,384, whereas a year before it had been 1,456. But those are still unfilled vacancies. It will be a long time before all the vacancies are made good, and I suggest that the Government should direct their attention to increasing the attractiveness of the terms of service.
Of course, times have changed from the days when a young man was attracted to the Colonial Service by the type of duties he would have to perform. The extraordinary position of the district officer in the old days is something that is disappearing; and it will never reappear. The adventure and responsibility for a young man who had to rule large areas had tremendous glamour, and there was a tremendous attraction in it for people who felt a vocation for that kind of life. But the type that is wanted in future is surely something entirely different. The officers who will be wanted in future will have to work as advisers, technical and otherwise, with the indigenous legislators and others of the colonial territories—what these young men's grandfathers would have called "the natives". In other words, the overseas civil servant must be an adviser, willing to work with, and subordinate to, the Africans or Asians to whom we in the United Kingdom have entrusted the government of their country. That is why the call of the Service has changed and why, in future, it is bound to appeal to a different type of person. We can only hope that the Bill will fulfil what Her Majesty's Government hope, and that it will restore confidence and fill the vacancies in the Overseas Service.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, while not wishing to oppose this Bill I must say, with considerable regret, that I do not view it with the complete satisfaction which seems to have marked its reception in other quarters, both here and in another place. I would suggest, to begin with, that it is very puzzling if one tries to understand the Bill without familiarising oneself with the two White Papers referred to, Colonial Paper No. 306 and Command Paper No. 9768. I have wondered how I could best put 592 my views to your Lordships. Certain questions would immediately arise in the mind of a civil servant on reading those White Papers and this Bill, which is specifically said to be founded on the policy enunciated in those Papers.
Perhaps the best way to make clear what I want to say would be to make a very brief reference to Paper 306 and to mention one or two of the questions which arose then and which still arise in my mind. That Paper was very vague and did nothing specific for the Service. It enunciated a policy in very vague terms, recognising the conditions which were arising, but, to take the case of the Gold Coast, it did nothing to improve the salaries of officers or their conditions of service. It did not improve or even guarantee their pensions. There was nothing but a vague reference to compensation on termination of appointment. Did it do anything of these things for Malaya? Has it yet done anything for Nigeria? Those are questions which I am not able to answer. In that Paper there are references to the effect that the terms of service will not be altered. It is a matter of common knowledge that in at least one of the territories a system of supernumerary local appointments was instituted which, without obstensibly doing so, enabled local appointees, who on the ordinary system of judgment were probably not qualified, to be given appointments and, in the final effect, promotion. How, in fact, are pensions to be safeguarded? There is a reference to this matter in paragraph 62. Is there an ultimate guarantee of pension by the British Government or is there not?
I should also like to ask whether the procedure in the case of the Gold Coast, Malaya and Nigeria, was exactly the same as that for Ceylon India and Burma. Or was there a departure from the precedent established in those cases, and an avoidance of making the same declaration at the same time in the House of Westminster and in the Colony concerned? If so, why was there that departure? If I remember rightly, the Secretary of State himself gave Gold Coast officers an assurance that such a declaration would be made. Then there is the point of adequate notice being given. Is it not a fact that some very inadequate notices have been given, such as would be considered unjust on any system of judgment?
593 I should also be glad if, at some point on the Committee stage, the noble Lord who introduced the Second Reading of this Bill could give us the comparable figures for pensionable posts occupied by European officers in the three territories, Ghana, Malaya and Nigeria, say on October 1, 1954, and to-day. It is very confusing to mix up numbers as between officers on the pensionable establishment, officers on contract, those doing temporary business here and there, and all the different sections of Government service. I should like to see the sections taken separately, for only in that way can one get a fair judgment. Then Command Paper 9768, on which this Bill is founded, contains a reference, in paragraph 7 (4) to the fact that posts might be guaranteed for certain officers up to the age of fifty. How can an officer to-day regard retirement at fifty with equanimity? If he has drive and energy he will obviously wish to do the best he can for himself now and will go to another post.
There is very little I wish to say on the other Paper, except that it seems to me that the ideas of the Colonial Office are calculated to keep the dead wood and to drive out the best men—the very men we want to keep; because they are the men who, seeing the writing on the wall and having some enterprise in them, will decide to go while the going is good. And in the circumstances who should blame them for doing that? Moreover, the people who need help are not those at the top, or those who have been picked for higher appointment, but the ordinary run of men who have been doing very good work and who are to be turned out when they are no longer needed, men whose pensions will not only be inadequate for themselves but will be grossly inadequate to support a wife and family. Those men are willing to work, but who is helping them to find work? Has the Colonial Office done anything in setting up organisations to find employment for such officers.
Before saying in a general way what I think of the Bill, there are one or two questions that I wish to raise. Under Clause 1, is it likely to create confidence that an appointment must be made with the consent of the Treasury, with the underlying principle one of finance and not of security? Secondly, is it not clear 594 from this that the application is to the few and not to the many? What is to be offered to those (who must be the majority) who are not acceptable to the Treasury? Then, in Clause 1 (5) there is a note on procedure. I can only say that if this procedure is to be followed it will have to be speeded up, and there must not be the appalling delays that have occurred in this regard in recent times. If the provision in Clause 2 applied to the pensions of all officers in a territory, it would go far to give confidence; but if it relates only to the select few, is it not a reasonable inference that there is no guarantee of pensions for those who are left out?
I am sorry to have developed this suspicious attitude but, turning to Clause 7, I feel that the lumping together of pensions, gratuity and compensation, gives rise to an uneasy thought that for income tax purposes they may all be treated as the same thing; and that is a point which should be carefully considered. There is a minor point arising under Clause 2 on which I would ask a question. What about quasi-Government bodies? What about service with marketing boards and organisations of that kind?
I approach this Bill with mixed feelings. In so far as it is an attempt to save what is left of the Colonial Service, it comes too late and is hedged about with too many hesitant half-concessions. I am not concerned with whether or not the heavy hand of the Treasury or the lukewarm advocacy of the Colonial Office is responsible: I am trying to look at the facts against the background of recent years. It is easy to obscure these facts by eulogies of the magnificent work which has been done by all branches of the Colonial Service, and which is still being done under increasing difficulties by what is left of it. I shall no doubt be told of the numbers of recruits and of the still urgent need of trained officers to help the emergent nations over the difficult initial period of independence. But, my Lords, statistics, as ever, are apt to give a very false picture if looked at in bulk. They certainly require analysis in this case. I should have liked to see the figures split up under the different headings: first, the administrative service proper, and then all the different unified services, from the agricultural service 595 down, through the alphabet, to the veterinary service. They are all set forth in the appendix to Colonial Paper 306.
It would have been interesting, and illuminating, to have the services outside of the Administrative Service further analysed into career members who have joined for life and contract members who have joined for a specified time and job. The Administrative Service, as we all know, has been crumbling away for some years now because the background of security and tenure has been crumbling away too. As to the facilities for training, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, spoke of obtaining recruits, but the facilities for training recruits do not exist to-day. The more junior posts in these territories are all now, quite properly, being filled by local citizens and local inhabitants—that is exactly what one would naturally wish and expect. The administrative officer certainly cannot possibly be trained to-day. He does not spring full-grown from the brain of Whitehall; it takes years of training and experience to make a good administrative officer. Incidentally, I should accept only with the greatest reluctance—in fact I would not accept at all—the noble Lord's definition of an administrative officer given when introducing the Second Reading of this Bill. The term certainly does not, in my opinion, in its ordinary meaning, include the professional and technical branches.
One has to remember, too, that the administrative officer has no market value per se in the world outside as the professional and technical officer has. It is true that if he leaves early enough he may well have personal qualities that will appeal to commerce or to industry. That is not quite the same thing as the standard qualifications which are possessed by a doctor or engineer or agricultural officer, and so on. To put it briefly, that is why, some years ago, I described Colonial Paper 306, with its grandiloquent title of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service, and its lumping together of all branches of Colonial Service and careful avoidance of all specific obligations, as a misleading prospectus; and I think that was a fair description. The Colonial Service indeed suffered a sea-change—an oversea change—into something which was not rich and was certainly very strange. It is small wonder 596 that the idea of a Central Pool had disappointing results in its failure to attract recruits. In my view, neither the idea of a Central Pool nor the more extravagant dream of Commonwealth service makes any sense whatever.
My Lords, the people of the territories emerging into independence want, above all else, their own men and women in their own jobs, whether it be Malaya or Ghana or Nigeria or the Federation of the West Indies or the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. In differing degrees, according to their background and their history, they need temporary assistance until they are able to run their own show in their own way, with their own people. But, as I see it, the Colonial Empire is now being wound up as regards all sections big enough to stand alone. It is, if you like to look at it that way, feeding the Commonwealth with new members. But, in relation to that process, why not face the fact that the Colonial Service is being wound up too? For the trained administrative officers, those who are willing to stay and who have wanted to stay, there is, of course, work of vital importance to be done in helping the initial changes; but there is no future for new recruits. Such future as there may be will be confined to the small territories which could never support independence, and this means a very different sort of Colonial Service.
For the immense immediate need of professional, scientific and technical help an elaborate contract service seems to be the only answer, and that is what the Special List really is in its essence. In fact, to my mind, the Special List disguises a glorified employment agency which is prepared to gamble on success by underwriting the future of its clients. And even in that respect it will be very natural if these territories wish to run their own employment agencies, as indeed they are beginning to do. But, my Lords, you do not need from me a definition of what constitutes a service and of the loyalties and corporate feelings that the phrase implies. But may I say that you cannot manufacture a service out of a hotch-potch of career men and contract men and men on loan or agreement. You cannot be loyal to a Special List—it is about as inspiring as belonging to a telephone directory. The Special List members will really be the liquidators of the former Colonial Service. In looking at this 597 Bill all sorts of questions arise. For instance, apparently there are to be two services—I am very puzzled by this—an Overseas Service and a Special List Service. Can one be a member of both, or are they mutually exclusive? One must remember that all the time there are two points which really matter to serving officers: first, the preservation of pension already earned; and, secondly, the prospect of future employment. But I will leave arty further questions to the Committee stage.
If a Service implies anything, it surely implies a career. Men want a career, not a temporary job; and if you want recruits you must offer them a career. They also want to know what are likely to be their possible destinies, and all the usual things, such as the conditions that a married man with a family would have to face. Hanging about in England for five years, waiting for a draft, with the Treasury scowling at him, is not an attractive prospect to offer in any so-called Service. The differences in cost of living and the lack of a settled home have all, surely, to be considered.
My Lords, you cannot buy the spirit of service with money: it is based on trust; and the trust the Colonial Service should have in the institution known as the Colonial Office has been undermined by recent events. In my opinion, the Overseas Service is a dream incapable of fulfilment. The scale and nature of demand and its fluctuation, could not be predicted, and the political difficulties would be well-nigh an insuperable handicap. In the past, the expatriate colonial servant was welcomed and appreciated. To-day, he is increasingly unwelcome, not for personal reasons but just because he is a foreigner, and inevitably there are many local aspirants, however unqualified, who want his job. Increasingly the new local Government authorities will find it difficult to face the unpopularity of retaining these expatriate colonial servants, however personally conscious they may be of the need to keep them. It may well be that at least a nucleus of such men is essential to reasonable efficiency for some time to come and it may be that the peasants and humbler ranks in these territories in a vague way will miss and lament the old Service, but the general tone of public opinion as formulated at the 598 top will resent their presence and aim to accelerate their departure.
I am not opposing this Bill. I have tried to explain why I think that its scope is so limited, both in time and extent. As the major members of the Colonial Empire grow up and achieve independence and become independent members of the Commonwealth, the Colonial Service must die. There has been talk of a Commonwealth Service. If such a thing were a practicable possibility, which I most emphatically deny, it could not grow out of the Colonial Service. It would be fundamentally different in composition and ideals and it would function quite differently. Nor would it be likely to commend itself to the Commonwealth membership. Members of the Commonwealth, as we know, are linked by mutual self-interest and by certain simple ultimate beliefs. They are ready to share knowledge and experience and at times to borrow experts from each other, but there is no desire whatever for a special, dedicated, common Service.
The real reason for the difficulties in which we find ourselves to-day is that none of us foresaw the world-wide growth of nationalism, the craving for self-determination and the speed with which our own doctrines would bear this fruit. Nor did we see the need for a sense of urgency in training the citizens of the colonial territories for self-government, which was the acknowledged aim of our colonial policy. The emotional and mental upheaval of two world wars accentuated the process. if blame there is, we are all to blame—all Parties and all concerned with colonial policy. Time overtook us; and so the Colonial Office was taken unawares. As has been well said:Time takes his revenge for all the counsels to which he is not called.In varying degrees, the nascent nations emerging from colonial status into independence are unready, in that they lack within their ranks an adequate supply of trained personnel for all the functions and responsibilities of government. Of course, it is our wish, as well as our duty, to help them over this difficult period until their own people are trained, and this Bill is trying to make the best of a bad job. My support of this Bill may seem to be couched in curiously critical 599 terms, but perhaps I can claim indulgence in being frank about a Service in which I spent thirty-nine years. It is nice to hear the universal eulogies which have been pronounced upon the work that has been done, and is still being done, by members of this Service in all its branches, but I cannot lend myself to pretending that changing its name can obscure its demise within foreseeable time.
In my early days, from the many separate Services pursuing their way in detachment under the ægis of the Secretary of State, I saw come true in the 1920's the dream of Sir Ralph Furse of a unified Colonial Service, buttressed by unified services of all the professional and technical branches of government. It was a great machine, made largely by the constructive imagination and fiery zeal of one man, whose faith burned so strongly that he imposed his will on others. But it has done a great work, and that work is now coming to an end. As the larger Colonies, for whom independence is a viable conception, one by one attain that independence, it remains for those experienced officers still in the Service who are willing, and wanted, to stay and write the epilogue to the tale. After all, the final aim of the Service has always been to render itself unnecessary. Its work was impeded and slowed down by the impact and the aftermath of two world wars, which at the same time made the dependent territories more eager to control their own affairs. It is wonderful, with all these distractions, how much has been achieved during the past sixty years, which is all there has been of a connection with most of them.
My justification for speaking so frankly as I have is the old one:The Toad beneath the harrow knowsExactly where each toothpoint goes.The butterfly upon the roadPreaches contentment to the Toad.Noble Lords who have supported this Bill with such undisguised enthusiasm will pardon me for comparing them to butterflies, but one cannot effectively preach contentment to the Colonial Service to-day. I do not see how new recruits can be attracted by the terms of the Bill, though the arrangements indicated therein may well induce some serving officers to stay and complete the work 600 to which they have given the best years of their lives. The least we can do is to try and make their devotion a feasible task. I hope that the Bill will help in the task of at least some of them; and so, without much enthusiasm, I support the Bill.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, it is not an easy task to follow the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, in a colonial debate and I think that it is even more difficult to follow him after his speech this afternoon. However, I cannot agree with him that there is an early end in sight for the Colonial Service, or, as it is now to be called, Her Majesty's Overseas Service. When we look around the Commonwealth we see that there are vast tracks of land full of raw materials and space for agriculture which are practically untouched. I believe that there is a great opportunity for the world in developing these areas; and to develop them we shall require an Overseas Civil Service. I should like to endorse the words of appreciation of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for the services rendered to this country and to our Colonies by the old Colonial Service. I personally have a number of friends who have spent many years in the Colonial Service, and one of the things that always struck me was their complete devotion to duty and, possibly even more, their love for the country in which they were serving. This afternoon I speak for two reasons: first, to give a general welcome to this Bill; and secondly, to ask for some information and some assurances on matters of which I have given notice to the noble Earl, Lord Perth.
I welcome this Bill, for I believe it is a step in the right direction, and it is one that has been advocated from this side of the House on many occasions. But that welcome must be qualified, in that we cannot be sure how this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be worked: everything will depend upon the initiative of the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the treatment meted out by the Treasury. The fact that in the Bill one territory is specifically mentioned would indicate to me that the Treasury have already given some warning in regard to this Bill. I personally believe that we need a unified Colonial Service which can offer a lifelong career to a man who is inclined to such a Service, and 601 who has the necessary qualifications. This Service should not merely include administrators—and here I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, on his description or an administrator. An administrator, to me, is the man who is the district officer. But the Civil Service in the Colonies requires doctors, nurses, engineers and surveyors—people of experience and skilled knowledge.
I do not think it is appreciated that in our Colonies we have men who are serving a variety of employers and under a variety of conditions. We have the civil servant who is in the employment of the Secretary of State. This individual is most fortunate, in that he has a career with the Ministry stretching out before him: he can anticipate promotion within the Service and a pension when he retires. We have the civil servants who are in the employment of a Colonial Governor. From what I have seen of it, I have thought that it was these men who were the backbone of the administration and the development of the territory, in that they would be spending all their Service lives in that territory. We have also civil servants in the employment of local authorities, such as municipal and city councils. Then we have men on contract to the Colonial Government or the local authority, serving a set time and for a set purpose. I am not concerned about the men on contract or the men who are employed by the Secretary of State: the former have their terms of service, and the latter have their set careers. I am, however, concerned with the civil servant, the expatriate, in the employment of the Colonial Governments and the local authorities. It is these people whom I should like to see brought within the scope of this Bill. Colonies require men who will devote their lives to their territory, but you cannot expect men to do this if at the end of their service there is no pension available to them to provide them with reasonable comfort.
I should now like to turn to the matters of which I have given notice to the noble Earl, Lord Perth. As your Lordships are aware, Her Majesty's Colony of Singapore will shortly become a self-governing State. As Singapore progressed to this status, it became obvious that the British colonial civil servants should be replaced by officers of that Service locally born. A Government Commission was set up, and they reported two years ago 602 that local-born officers would replace these expatriate officers. The Report was fair and sensible and was accepted by all concerned. It recommended a lump sum to an officer for loss of career, and a pension according to length of service. Many officers have retired, but many have remained at their posts at the request of the local government.
The problem is this. The political situation in Singapore is far from clear. I am loth to anticipate the results of the August General Election in Singapore, but I think we should take note of the gains that were made at the municipal elections in November by the People's Action Party. The leader of the People's Action Party, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, has repeatedly stated that if the People's Action Party wins the August General Election they will rescind the agreement entered into by the Singapore Government with the expatriate officers. What I should like to know from Her Majesty's Government is what steps they propose to take to protect the interests of these expatriate officers. There is grave anxiety, particularly among those who have remained within the Service at the request of the Government and who have not, as yet, received their lump sum in lieu of loss of career.
I turn now to the other part of the problem. The Malayanisation Commission also reported on the city council expatriate officers and recommended similar treatment. Last October, agreement was made between the expatriate officers and the city council and this was approved by the city council at their last meeting. I think I should point out that that particular council was part-nominated, part-elected. I have already recounted that the People's Action Party, which is completely anti-European, gained control of the city council, and one of the first things they did was to rescind the agreement that had been entered into by the old council with the expatriate civil servants. I have recounted the facts as I know them. I certainly do not wish to embarrass any of the parties concerned by making comments about how this unfortunate position has arisen, but I should like to point out that these local authority expatriate civil servants have given many years of loyal service, not only to the city but to the Colony. I 603 have raised this matter to ask Her Majesty's Government to give an undertaking that these men will be fairly treated and that the local authority will meet its obligations to its expatriate officers; and, further, that Her Majesty's Government will ensure that there will be no opportunity for a future Singapore Government to rescind its agreements with its expatriate officers.
In conclusion, I should like briefly to return to the Bill. I give it a welcome. I believe that if it is properly implemented it will give an Overseas Service that we shall require. When it becomes an Act, I hope it will be implemented imaginatively; but if the Treasury, for the sake of economy, restrict the entry and participation within the scheme, I do not think the Bill will be worth the paper upon which it is written. I hope that this Bill will give us the Service we require.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords, my welcome to this Bill must be somewhat tempered with caution, in view of the critical analysis, and the great experience with which it is backed up, of the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. Nevertheless, I think I can say that its purpose, which is twofold, must be wholly good. That twofold purpose is, first of all, the increase of security and the widening of the scope for Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service and, secondly—and this point I think has not been sufficiently emphasised yet—the vital contribution that can and must be made towards the steady and stable development, economic, administrative and political, of the self-governing Colonies and the new independent members of the Commonwealth. There is no body of men who are more worthy to be entrusted with this vital task, or who are more capable of fulfilling it to the entire satisfaction of the Governments of the overseas countries concerned, than the Overseas Service.
I cannot follow the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, to the extent of agreeing that there is no future at all for an Overseas Civil Service, although I am sure that in the administrative branches it must fairly rapidly decrease. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd—that the real need is for doctors, technical officers, agriculturists and so on, of all 604 sorts, whose numbers, I believe, have increased tenfold since the war. It will be quite impossible for the overseas Governments who are acquiring or about to acquire their independence to do without these technical officers for a long time to come, and I feel sure that it is in this field that the Special List will have its good use.
To take up a point made by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, I am not sure that he is right to say that a different type of recruit will have to be enlisted. After all, a technician is a technician. He lives with his job, and will no doubt learn to live with the people with whom he is working. As regards the administrative side of the Service, there are many now in it in all parts of Africa (where I have come across them from time to time) who are perfectly willing and anxious to work with what were called the natives and will now be called the masters. They will no doubt work extremely well with them if only they are given the chance and the encouragement so to do; and I believe that this Bill is a step in this direction.
To return to one or two specific points, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, referred to the anxiety expressed in another place, on both sides of the House, about the part the Treasury will play in this matter. This links up with a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, who described the Bill as, "very confusing". I think that is a right description. It is largely in legal jargon, not easily intelligible to the layman reading it for the first time. If it is to serve as a recruiting paper, so to speak, for circulation amongst the members of the Service overseas, then I feel that, if it is not possible to clarify certain clauses in the Bill, the Explanatory Memorandum should be of much greater length and much more explanatory.
May I take a particular instance? Clause 2 (4) says:Any order under this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order thereunder.My right honourable friend the Secretary of State in another place, when challenged on that point, said it had been put in for the purpose of enabling the Secretary of State to improve the pension rates if they should be varied in the territories or at home. Now surely that could be stated either in the Bill or in the Explanatory Memorandum, for any civil servant overseas reading these words 605 would quite clearly be alarmed by that particular subsection. There is one more point in regard to the Treasury aspect, and that is in regard to paragraph 7 of the Explanatory Memorandum, which says that it is difficult to gauge the scope of the expenses falling upon the Treasurysince no forecast can be made at the present time of the extent of the demand by Overseas Governments.…".Does that mean that the overall limit to this Service will depend upon a demand of the overseas Governments, as indeed I hope, or is there any possibility of an overall veto remaining in the hands of the Treasury and of the overseas Governments being starved of the necessary recruits?
May I turn from that aspect to the methods of payment which are laid down in Clause 2? Subsection (3) says that provision may be madefor the operation of the order to be different in relation to different cases or classes of cases.Of course, that is so at the present time in the Oversea Civil Service, the old Colonial Service, in regard to wages and salaries, and must obviously remain so, because different territories are richer or poorer, as the case may be, and pay different rates. But when it comes to pensions—and Clause 2 deals with pensions—I wonder whether it might not be possible for Her Majesty's Government, who, according to the White Paper they issued previously, are willing to guarantee the pension of each individual officer, to equalise the pensions wherever that officer has served. It is laid down that the Government shall recover the pensions from the territories in which the officer has served. But as transfers of an officer are envisaged, whereby he may serve in two, three or even four territories up to the age of fifty—and, after all, those territories have made their actuarial calculations and their proper contribution towards the pension—would it not be possible for Her Majesty's Government, if it should be necessary, to fill in any gap that may exist, so that the officer on the Special List, wherever he serves, will at the end of his service receive pension according to his category and not according to the territory in which he served? It seems to me that that would encourage officers to enlist for any territory. And, of course, it is the most backward territories which are most in 606 need of the skilled officers, whether in the field of administration or technocracy.
Referring to the Special List and the Central Pool, I note that no distinction is made between them in this Bill; and I think that is perfectly right, for they are bound to overlap, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said. A Special List officer might well be transferred for a temporary job on contract and back again, perhaps, to the territory from which he had come, in a higher grade. So there seems no point in distinguishing between the lists. But here I should like to refer to the difficulties which have been mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and which were mentioned in another place by the Secretary of State in regard to the Central Pool. It has been found that they can get senior officers or retired officers only on short-contract jobs, and this refers in particular, I think, to Ghana because no arrangements were made in regard to a Special List.
The only fundamental criticism I would make of this Bill is that it was not introduced many years ago. I am not criticising Her Majesty's Government on that score. We started the ball rolling, so to speak, in 1954. It occurs to me that the experience which was gained as a result of the independence of India and Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma ten or more years ago might have been put to good effect in Africa, and I think noble Lords opposite must take their share of the blame for not having thought of this and foreseen it before, because it could have been foreseen that Ghana was on the road to independence in 1949. There had been the Watson Report, which the Labour Government accepted, resulting in the appointment of the Coussey Commission to advise on the new Constitution. If, at that time, something like this had been promulgated, and a few years ago had been brought into effect, then Ghana would have been in a far better position than she now is, and the officers serving in Ghana would also have been in a very much stronger position.
I wonder whether the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when he replies, could say if any progress is being made, or is attempting to be made, in Ghana to put the situation right, for 50 per cent, of the officers entitled to compensation under the terms which the Secretary of State very properly 607 arranged with the Ghana Government have already left. Is it possible to arrange that the other 50 per cent. will remain where they are so badly needed? Already half the Service in the senior grades is staffed by Ghanians; and here, if I may say so in parenthesis, the standard is quite wonderfully high—it is most impressive. I do not say that in any spirit of condescension, but because I think it is not fully realised in this country, or in other parts of Africa, that the standard of the senior African civil servants in Ghana is comparable to that of our own, though there are not enough of them. If half the Service is staffed by these people, and they are going to lose another 400, what will happen in that country cannot be of benefit to anybody, either there or here.
In regard to the Central African Federation, I must emphasise the point which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, made. They do, of course, want their own home-based Civil Service, and under this Bill the scope for people in the area will be severely limited. Of the 11,000 posts which are in the European branch of the Federal Civil Service, 7,000 men have been recruited directly, but 3,000 have transferred from the territorial services, and have accepted Federal terms of service, and therefore, presumably, are no longer a liability on Her Majesty's Government. Only 700 officers remain on secondment.
There is one small point arising out of this matter. The noble Earl may not be able to answer it on this occasion. I agree that it is a little outside the scope of the Bill, but having got so far I may as well put the question. It concerns the Service in the two Northern Territories, which of course remains under the Colonial Secretary. Recently there was a regulation that no member of the Oversea Civil Service in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland—it may apply also to other territories—was entitled to buy any land or a house to which he might retire after his service, for fear that he might be considered prejudiced in the course of his duty. Does that rule still pertain? I have an idea it may have been revoked recently. Certainly it would be the wish of the Federal Government that it should be possible for all civil servants to regard that territory as their home, so that they 608 may become citizens if they wish and settle in that territory at the end of their service. That question is a little outside the scope of the Bill and I apologise. With those closing words I would say that I welcome the Bill, and hope that it has a very important function to fulfil, one which the new Commonwealth and the world cannot well do without.
§ LORD MILVERTON
Before the noble Lord sits down may I put a point? I am very anxious not to be misquoted in the Record. He misquoted me, I think inadvertently, as saying that this Bill covers not only the Special List but Her Majesty's Government's Overseas Service. My difficulty is precisely that I do not understand that it does. What I should like would be a declaration from the Government that it does; that there are no special privileges reserved for the Special List; that the pensions of members of Her Majesty's Overseas Service whom the Treasury will not accept for the Special List still do not lose these guarantees. I do not want to be quoted as saying I think they are covered, because precisely my point is that they are not.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I hope the noble Lord is wrong in believing I said that—though I may have done so, inadvertently. In my remarks I was referring entirely to the contents of this Bill and I think I was talking exclusively about the Special List until the end when (it was my own fault) I diverged somewhat to mention the local conditions in Central Africa and the conditions of the ordinary members of the Oversea Civil Service in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was somewhat outside the scope of this Bill. I am sorry if I misled the noble Lord.
§ 5.20 p.m.
My Lords, if I rise it is to detain your Lordships for only a few minutes, and I do so because I have recently returned from West Africa where I have had occasion to discuss the subject of the Bill which is before us to-day with a number of the officers who will be affected by it. I am sorry to say that as a result of these conversations and of my own reading of the Bill I find myself pretty completely in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton.
I am not in the least inclined to oppose this Bill; I cannot conceive that it can 609 do any harm. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, I should wish that it had been introduced earlier. On the other hand, I am extremely pessimistic as to any good arising from it in the immediate future. The noble Lord spoke of the loss of officers from Ghana. In actual fact, in spite of the Bill, equal loss of officers has been suffered already by Nigeria and, I am sorry to say, additional losses are expected. I do not, however, go the whole way with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, when he describes the disappearance of our Overseas Service. I believe, like the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and my noble friend Lord Shepherd, that there will be an Overseas Service of the future. It may not any longer operate in the style that it has done hitherto, but for many years there will be invaluable work to be done by administrators which will tend less and less towards administration and more and more towards specially skilled and technical trained work. Such a Service could. I believe, under this Bill—this is where I am more optimistic than the noble Lord. Lord Milverton, about this particular Bill—be organised, and it is just that kind of a Service which I believe will be needed in the future.
I expect many of your Lordships will have noticed a leading article in The Times this morning about the Economic Development Institute set up by the World Bank. That reminded me of our Own problem here and what I thought we should be doing with the object of obtaining this kind of specially skilled technical corps of civil servants for overseas work. We should, I believe, be setting up a kind of staff college, Clearly the Institute set up by the World Bank is for a rather more developed, a more senior type of civil servant. But I believe that for the type of servant that we need for the future, one who would be doing invaluable work in the Commonwealth for a long time, some such staff college would be essential.
It is in regard to the short term objects of this Bill that I am most pessimistic. I spoke, as I say, to officers in Nigeria and in Ghana, and they are all of them—I speak of Africans as well as Europeans—profoundly disturbed by their loss of expatriate personnel. Unfortunately, however—it was put to me this way—the Special List is a "dead 610 letter". I was not immensely impressed, though still slightly surprised, to hear of the noble Lord's 250 applications; though even that, out of 2,000, possibly is not very considerable. I notice, however, that the figure has gone up—I think doubled—since this Bill was debated in another place. Perhaps that may be a good sign, and I may have come across unduly pessimistic people when in Nigeria. However, the fact remains that already nearly one-quarter of the expatriate personnel in Nigeria have left, and I was told that it is confidently expected that another quarter will leave.
It was put to me that the disadvantages were due to insufficient generosity on the part of the Treasury. Men who may he devoted to, and entirely taken up with, their work, none the less have duties to their families. It is impossible for them to gamble with the future of their families, and they are bound to take the compensation which is offered to them when it is a question of considering their own domesic problems. Here I should like to make a suggestion. It is right and proper that the compensation to such expatriate officers should be generous, and I think it has been generous. Unfortunately, it has had this result, which I have already mentioned: that officers feel that in the interests of their families they must take their compensation and leave.
Would it not be possible—indeed, I am sure it would be—when an officer reaches the age where he is entitled to compensation on a scale which he would find it impossible to refuse, for the sum to which he would then be entitled to be paid into a kind of blocked account with, say, the Crown Agents, where it would remain until such time as the officer claimed it? In the meantime, any interest accruing would return to the employing Government, any pension rights would be suspended, and the officer would be in a position to sign a contract with the local Government and continue to serve them. I was told when I was in Ghana—I was not able to confirm it—that many Ghanaian expatriate civil servants have in fact obtained contracts in Nigeria. I do not know whether the same thing has happened in reverse; but can anything be more fantastically silly? In this connection, I would commend to 611 the attention of Her Majesty's Government the arrangements which were made by Pakistan in similar circumstances. I must apologise that I have not the details of that scheme in my head, but I believe it is along those lines that we must go if we wish to retain these expatriate officers who wish to remain and whom the Governments wish to retain in their territories. It can be done, I suggest, only along some such lines as those which I have suggested. My Lords, I said that I spoke only because recently I have returned from those parts and because I have been in a position to discuss this matter. I do not oppose this Bill, and, like the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, I hope it may do some good. I do not think it can do any harm, so I wish it well.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ THE EARL of PERTH
My Lords, first I should like to thank all those who have taken part in this debate on Second Reading for their welcome to the Bill, at any rate in the sense that, if they have not commended it, they have not damned it altogether, and we, have just heard from Lord Faringdon his hope that anyhow it will not do any harm. That, I think, has been the purport of a number of other speeches. The first matter upon which I think I ought to touch, because it was a point raised by many noble Lords, is in regard to the Treasury. Perhaps quite rightly, noble Lords are most suspicious of the Treasury, knowing that it is a watch dog in regard to expenditure. Various noble Lords have made points in that connection on one part or another of the Bill. I should like to repeat an assurance given by my right honourable friend in another place, that ordinarily the Treasury is not concerned with individual applications and that, as will be seen, there is an opportunity for the Treasury to give blanket approval to a whole class of officials. In fact, this has already been done in one case. The Treasury has said that all members of the Nigerian Service who were in that Service in June of this year can be appointed to the Special List. That, I think, is an example of how we may expect that the Bill will be interpreted—generously and in the spirit which I know noble Lords would require and hope for.
612 The noble Earl, Lord Lucan, asked whether, as a result of this Bill, we may expect an increase in recruits. He further asked whether there was a chance that as a result of the Bill we might get recruits of better quality. I am afraid I can give no categorical answer on this point. There is certainly some improvement in the potential terms of service, and to that extent the Bill may help in the problem that we recognise is before us. I believe we all have a feeling that the position is not perfect but that, as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, pointed out, there is no easy solution. To my mind it will have a particular value for a class of servant which is becoming more and more needed, namely, those who are temporarily called in for specific jobs and who will be moving from one place to another. But we do not really know the answer. We can only feel our way.
The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, raised many points. I am afraid I shall not be able to give him the answers to some of them. Perhaps he will recognise that some will be more appropriately dealt with at the Committee stage. The answers to others I might be able to give by correspondence or after I have had more time to study his speech. The noble Lord has the advantage of me because of his very great experience—thirty-nine years in the Service—and we are all very fortunate to have his penetrating analysis of the Bill, even though I cannot say that I liked all he said about it. The noble Lord asked whether the Gold Coast (or Ghana, as it is now called) was to offer civil servants there the same treatment as was given in the case of Ceylon, India or Burma. Broadly, the arrangements made with Ghana last March under a Public Officers Bill were along the same lines as those in Ceylon, with some small improvement. There is no ultimate guarantee of pensions, but I feel that it would be almost improper for Her Majesty's Government to expect that Ghana will not honour her word; and to ask for any such guarantee at this time would, I think, be both inappropriate and unnecessary.
The noble Lord asked for various figures about pensionable positions in 1954 and to-day; these I can best provide in writing. He also made the point about the age of fifty not being one at 613 which people are necessarily ready for retirement. On that I can only say that service in colonial territories usually leads people to retire earlier than from other careers; but in the case of Nigeria an arrangement has been made by which the retiring age will be not fifty, but fifty-five, and in some degree, therefore, the noble Lord's point has been answered. He asked whether arrangements would be made to take care of those officers who have been retired early, and steps taken to ensure their re-employment. The question of compulsory early retirement has so far arisen only in the case of Malaya, and there is a special Malayan Resettlement Bureau working for that purpose. It goes without saying that the Colonial Office are at all times very anxious to help in securing other employment in cases of need.
Then the noble Lord raised various questions on the Bill itself. On Clause 2, he asked in regard to Nigeria what was the position for those on the Special List in relation to pensions. The answer is that Her Majesty's Government will pay pensions to the vast majority of pensionable officers if they opt to join the Special List. The noble Lord showed certain suspicion about gratuity and compensation being grouped together under Clause 7. My honourable friend in another place made it clear that this was a question of drafting and said it has been agreed that legislation should be embodied in an early Finance Act so as to ensure that officers who join the Special List will not incur any additional liability to United Kingdom income tax.
Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, criticised what he called the lukewarm advocacy of the Colonial Office and their negative approach on the whole of this problem. In that connection I can only say that if the noble Lord has anything constructive to suggest or any ideas by which we might do better for the Service, we are only too anxious and ready to receive them. We are under no illusions but that we have here a very difficult task, and it is helpful to have all the doubts and dangers pointed out; but it would be even more helpful if, perhaps on the next occasion that we face this Bill, we could have from the noble Lord something constructive which would give us new ideas on how to proceed.
614 May I now take a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who kindly gave me notice of the two questions he wanted to raise? He asked about the position of the Singapore Government and Government officers serving there. He wished to know whether they were to be ensured compensation or pension rights in the event of their wanting to leave. The Singapore Government have agreed that officers' pension rights and rights to lump-sum compensation should be safeguarded by embodying suitable provisions in the new Singapore Constitution. Again I do not think that at this stage it would be appropriate to doubt whether what has been agreed will happen; so I think that the answer that I give there is all that could be expected.
When we come to the noble Lord's second question concerning the position of those employed by the city council, the position is more difficult because these are not officers serving Her Majesty's Government but officers who chose to serve a city council. There has been no change in the status of that city council. It is true that the original arrangement suggested for compensation or terms of employment by the last city council has been rescinded, but it must be remembered that warning was given that it was felt that such an arrangement, just before elections, was unwise. At the same time I do not think one need be too depressed. The Party now in power on the city council have made a statement recognising the need for efficient expatriate officers and their desire to keep them, and have undertaken to negotiate some new arrangment with them. I hope that those who are concerned will enter into negotiations with the city council on this matter.
The noble Lord asked whether we—that is to say, whether the Secretary of State—would intervene or take over responsibility. It is, as I have explained, not for the Secretary of State to take on this responsibility. At the same time, he is naturally extremely anxious to see that things are satisfactorily settled, and would hope that the two parties will in fact get together, and the sooner the better; and if there is at any stage something which he can do in the way of using his good offices if there is a difficulty, he will, of course, be very ready to try to help. But I think it is fair to 615 point out that the real responsibility, or the real way of handling a situation like this, is for the two parties concerned to negotiate, and only if they fail should other steps be taken. But there are some indications that it ought to be possible to reach agreement.
Several noble Lords took me to task for using the name "administrators" and then giving a whole list of different people who I maintained came into that category. But I would point out that I did use the word in the broadest sense, and it has come out in our discussion this afternoon how, in fact, that is right—namely, that administrators in the broadest sense to-day do cover, and will cover more and more, a wider field than just the administrative service, and it is with them, just as much as with anybody else, that we are going to be concerned in the future.
The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, said that he found the Bill confusing. Perhaps I should make a confession: I do not find it too easy myself; but I think it is perhaps inevitable with a Bill such as this by which we are legislating and taking care of a great number of points which have to be taken into account. At the same time, he made what seems to me to be a most helpful suggestion—namely, that we should consider whether there could not be some form of memorandum, a fuller Explanatory Memorandum, so that the officers concerned will understand the position without doubt. I think that that is well worthy of consideration, although I would just, in passing, make the comment that it is extraordinary how when one's own interests are concerned one understands the most difficult things. Then the noble Lord asked me one or two points on the Bill itself. On Clause 2 (3), I am not quite sure what the point was.
§ LORD HASTINGS
My Lords. I asked first about the overall veto and whether that was with the Treasury or was the demand of the overseas territories. The point on that particular subsection was the question of evening Out pensions at the end of service, wherever they serve.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
I think the idea of evening out pensions to cover people wherever they may serve is a difficult one, but again we will certainly study it and see what may be possible. But 616 when people originally take on their service they know where they are going to serve and the conditions of service there. However, it was a point referred to by several noble Lords and it is certainly one worth looking at. Again, other suggestions have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, threw out the idea of a form of staff college. I think we feel that the Government service here, in its broadest sense, is in fact a pretty adequate staff college; but, so far as there is anything in it, by all means let us look further.
The noble Lord quoted certain figures on the number of people who have left Nigeria as opposed to those who have left Ghana. I think I am right in saying, though I may be corrected subsequently, that it is not quite so bad as he thinks. His figures may be true of the Western and the Eastern Regions, but they are not, I think, true of the Federation or of the Northern Region. Lastly, the noble Lord touched on the question of difficulty about the compensation fund and the fact that the compensation fund terms were pretty generous and were apt, as a result, to encourage people to leave. On that matter we have been in something of a cleft stick. Very naturally when people have retiring terms we try to give them the best possible compensation; and I should pay tribute to the generosity of the various Governments which have willingly agreed to pay such compensation. At the same time, I recognise that by that very generosity there is a temptation for the expatriate officers to go rather than to stay. Various suggestions have been put forward in that connection. For example, the one of the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, which you listened to, and which I should like to study further, was that there should be some partial drawing of the lump sum and not the whole. But we recognise the problem and will do what we can to meet it, if it can be met.
I hope that I have touched on the various questions raised by noble Lords. I will finish more or less as I started. We are not completely satisfied with the position with regard to the Overseas Civil Service. We are feeling our way. The suggestions that have been made to-day are most helpful in that connection. We are not confident that this Bill will be 617 the last thing on this subject—indeed, I should be very surprised if it were. Rather do I expect that as time goes on there will be new requirements and new ideas on how to meet them. I would only repeat what I said at the beginning: I hope that this Bill represents a step forward and it will achieve something we have been seeking. But if experience shows that new suggestions or new arrangements will help us even more, then we are very ready to consider them and to act upon them.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.