HL Deb 14 February 1961 vol 228 cc723-61

3.30 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I recall how, about six months ago, I made a statement in your Lordships' House about our intention to introduce a Bill to encourage those who serve in Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service to continue in their work in the territories overseas and at the same time so arrange things that the cost would not be too onerous on the Governments who employ them. At that time my statement was welcomed by all your Lordships, which did not surprise me. Subsequently we issued a White Paper (Cmnd. 1193), which set out in great detail the problem and what we proposed to do to deal with it. Now, with this Bill, we reach finality.

I am very happy and privileged to introduce the Bill and move that it be read a second time. It is a one-clause Bill which covers an important matter. Indeed, all the work we may do in the way of colonial government and economic development, in arranging for roads, transport, schools and all the things which go into the development of a territory, all the work done by such bodies as the Colonial Development Corporation and the industrial companies and others who go into the territories, is of no use unless we have good administration and a good Civil Service. The purpose of the Bill is just this: to ensure that so far as is possible the Governments of the colonial territories will have a good Civil Service and that those who go from this country to work overseas are happy in their work and ready to stay.

At this time, when many of these territories are nearly independent, it is important that they should be encouraged to maintain a good standard of administration, even though the cost of that standard might be something more than the Governments would ordinarily feel inclined to bear. This is the main driving force behind the Bill —namely, that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to find the money to encourage those officers who are serving overseas to stay.

How is that achieved? First of all by our undertaking to pay the inducement which is often given to those who serve overseas—the difference between the local pay in the territory concerned and what they would receive if working over here. Secondly, we undertake to pay the pension element. Thirdly, we are proposing to pay the cost of the education of the children of officers serving overseas, which is a matter of the greatest importance. Fourthly, there is the question of the cost of fares. Here we thought that it was right and proper that the local Government should share the burden with us, and we propose in any agreement with them that we should bear half the cost of the fares and that they should bear the other half. Lastly, when territories are nearing independence we ordinarily come to an arrangement with the Government concerned. known as the Public Officers Agreement, which provides for compensation in the event of an officer losing his position because of the hand-over, or compensation for the changed circumstances in which he works. Often that compensation element is an expensive item for a country which is about to launch into independence; and so we undertake again to meet half the cost of this compensation in the event of an officer leaving service.

In these various ways we hope to encourage officers serving at the present time to stay, and to stay on at a time which is often very difficult for them; because, clearly, when there is a changeover, of necessity there will be a certain amount of worry to the officers concerned and it is important that they should have some provision like this to give them further encouragement at such a time. This will also be of value to the country concerned, which probably does not have an adequate supply of locally recruited people who can fill the administrative services efficiently. There are no kinds of strings attached to our scheme: that is to say, when we come to agreements with local Governments, there will be no question of saying that we must have this or that or any right to watch over developments.

Your Lordships can imagine that this adds up to a pretty formidable Bill. The estimate shown in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill is of an expenditure of £16 million this year, and the expenditure will go on more or less at that rate for a long time. When we break down this figure on the assumption that the Governments want to come to an agreement with us—and all the experience we have had so far shows they generally do—it shows, in rough calculation, that one way or another we are going to contribute about £700 a year towards the cost of each individual serving overseas.

When such large sums are involved I think it is both right and proper that the Treasury should stand in as watchdog, and for this reason we find in Clause 1 (2) and (3) that the Treasury are to act as watchdog in two capacities. First, they are to have a look at the agreements that may be made between the Governments and ourselves, and secondly, they will have a say in the designation of eligible classes.

It may be asked: who is eligible for this scheme? The answer is: those who are designated by the Secretary of State and recruited by him, either directly or through the Crown Agents or otherwise. This may cover not only those who are pensionable in their service but also those who are engaged under contract. On the whole, it covers a wide field, and the estimate is that some 20,000 may be affected if the various Governments all wish to enter into agreements. About half of the whole number are in East Africa. The mention of East Africa recalls to my mind something which I want to say, because clearly all this provision is no good if the civil servants in the territory concerned are not happy. We have recently had the report on salaries revision by Sir Gilbert Fleming, to whom we are greatly indebted. We have said that in principle we fully support this Report, and my hope is that the East African civil servants will feel happy, having got both this leg and that of the Fleming Report to encourage them at the present time.

This is a one-clause enabling Bill and I think it is quite straightforward: indeed, I notice that the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum is somewhat longer than the Bill itself. I do not think there is anything on which I need further touch in the Bill except perhaps to note that subsection (4) of Clause 1 defines various of the categories which will be covered by the Bill and refers to the Overseas Service Act, 1958. It was found convenient, in the light of experience, to use that Act for definitions of various categories and various people, but otherwise that Act was much more limited. It dealt with persons, whereas this Bill deals with Governments and this is generally a much larger scheme. I know that a number of noble Lords wish to speak on the Bill and I will not delay your Lordships further. If there are any questions that arise, perhaps I can deal with them in the winding up. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Perth.)

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Earl for his admirable presentation of this Bill, and I think my only complaint is that he was perhaps a little modest about his merits. I do not think there is anyone in this House (and we have a fairly long list of speakers) who will not welcome the Bill; and that for the two reasons mentioned by the noble Earl. The first is that it will encourage that fine body of men in Her Majesty's Overseas Service to carry on the absolutely invaluable work which they are now doing—and this is a recognition of the value of that work. The second reason is that it will enable the Governments of dependencies overseas to retain the services of many of these men, which they would otherwise lose, during the next five to ten years when they will still lack locally recruited administrative and technical personnel.

I would go rather further than the noble Earl, and say that I believe this to be one of the most important measures of technical aid that any Government has ever presented to Parliament. It shows the new look of the Colonial Office since the present Secretary of State took over. I am not sure that a testimonial from this side is going to be a good thing for the Secretary of State, and that is why I hesitate to say anything. On the other hand, your Lordships always expect a personal opinion, and I feel (perhaps I may speak as one who has some knowledge of conditions overseas) that the Secretary of State has already won the trust and respect of most of the people for whom he is responsible in our overseas dependencies. Although he may be a controversial figure at the moment, and although one cannot say what the future will bring, he has acquired a reputation that will make him at any rate one of those who have done a great deal for progressive administration at the Colonial Office.

My only serious criticism of the Government—and I do not think the noble Earl would expect me to express no criticism at all—is that this Bill is, perhaps, overdue. I cannot help thinking that if it had been introduced, say, five years ago, before Ghana, Malaya and Nigeria became independent, they would still have the services of many excellent officers who have now retired. But further delay would have been much more harmful than the delay that has already taken place. The fact is, as the noble Earl pointed out, that the emergent territories in Africa, Southern Asia and the West Indies that will in due course, and in the not very distant future, become independent are much poorer than the new independent Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa. It will therefore be far more difficult for them to afford the expatriate officers they will desperately need in the early years of independence without assistance from the United Kingdom. So far as the scattered islands and strategic outposts are concerned, which are not economically viable and cannot expect total national independence, they are also extremely poor—indeed, the poorest of all our Commonwealth relatives—and when they reach the appropriate stage of internal self-government will need this assistance that Her Majesty's Government are offering them.

I am particularly glad that Her Majesty's Government are offering to pay half the compensation to which an officer is entitled on retirement. I should like to recall something from my own recollection of what happened before compensation was paid, even in part, by the United Kingdom Government. I remember the unfortunate effect in Ghana when the Ghana Government had to foot the whole bill for the cost of compensation. The administrative service in that country was threatened with breakdown because expatriate officers found (and they were absolutely right in taking the course that they decided to take) that the amount of their compensation would fall if they did not retire from the Service almost immediately after independence. The Ghana Government therefore had to pay the whole amount of compensation for lass of career, and subsequently had to re-engage many of these officers on contract terms far more favourable than the terms they had had as members of the Overseas Service. Not only was this a very costly business for a West African country, but, even more serious, it made the Ghanaians feel that they had had rather a poor deal from Her Majesty's Government. I am very glad indeed that under this Bill Her Majesty's Government recognise their continuing financial responsibility for emergent territories after they become independent, and I feel sure that the recognition of this responsibility will prevent the situation that arose in Ghana from happening again elsewhere.

Another lesson which I have learned, and which the noble Earl pointed out in the course of his remarks, is that overseas Governments need expatriate officers, and particularly technicians, even more urgently just after independence than while they are Colonies. I do not think the noble Earl gave what I feel is the most important reason for this. I venture to suggest that the reason is that the pace of economic development and the improvements in the social services, such as health and education, accelerates as soon as the local leaders have to show their own people that they can do better than a Colonial Administration. That is a perfectly natural and perfectly right attitude. But the hotter pace can be kept up only if there are sufficient expatriate officers, particularly doctors, teachers, agricultural experts and people of that kind, to cover the years before the locally recruited personnel have been trained to take their place. As the noble Earl said, the cost of this scheme is heavy, but I am sure that the dividends it will bring in good will and welfare overseas will be out of proportion to the additional burden on the taxpayer.

The noble Earl asked for questions, and I propose to put this one to him. I wonder if he can tell me on what grounds the Secretary of State is expecting a bill of about £150 million at the end of the ten-year period. This means an average figure of £15 million a year, which is only £1 million less than the figure of £16 million expected for 1961–62. I wonder what the basis for this is. I hope, as the noble Earl does, that all the Governments concerned will negotiate agreements, but I wonder whether, for reasons of prestige, some of them may not. I do not think these are valid reasons, and I sincerely hope that they will not be adopted. But that is a possibility.

The other thing is that as the expatriate officers are replaced by locally born officers (and this is a process which goes on from year to year) the amount payable by Her Majesty's Government to cover the various items to which the noble Earl referred—inducement pay and other things—will surely steadily decline. I wonder whether both these factors, and especially the second, have been taken into full account, and whether it might not be reasonable to anticipate a falling off of the annual expenditure, especially in the second half of the ten year period. I think we are bound to ask ourselves whether this measure, generous as its provisions are, is a sufficient guarantee of security for the careers of these officers to induce them to stay in the Service and to prevent it from running down—because this running-down is what is happening at the moment. It is a process which has been going on steadily since retirement and compensation began.

With deep regret. I personally do not think that this question can be answered except in the negative. I believe that the Service is running down, and I do not see anything in this Bill that will prevent this process from continuing. I do not blame the overseas officers at all, because they have to face the certain fact that they will be replaced by local men as soon as, and I am afraid sometimes before, they are adequately trained to do their work. I do not blame Her Majesty's Government, because I do not think any Government could guarantee to find a job for every officer who feels himself obliged to leave the Service. I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will do their best to use every possible method of placing these men and of giving them a better security in their careers.

I think one of the ways in which the absolutely invaluable experience of these officers could be used is by appointing them to the staff of High Commissioners in territories that become independent—because this process of independence is going ahead very rapidly. There will be more and more High Commissioners in countries that were formerly Colonies or dependencies, and provided that a man is not used in a territory in which he has had previous service, I am quite sure that he would be an invaluable assistant on the staff of a United Kingdom High Commissioner. There is an enormous amount to be said for employing a man who has lived and worked overseas and whose experience has not been mainly in Whitehall.

The Government have far better opportunities than I have of surveying all the possible means of finding employment for these men. But even so, when that is done I should not be at all surprised if the noble Earl were to say that it is impossible for him to guarantee jobs for everyone. The Government must look elsewhere, because it is just as important from the point of view of overseas territories as it is from the point of view of the Service, to provide the technicians who are required overseas.

May I ask the noble Earl whether he can say something further about the recommendation to set up a Commonwealth Advisory and Technical Service—which would also help a little in the direction of providing employment for overseas officers who retire—as recommended by the Committee on Estimates which went into this matter in discussing the work of the Colonial Office. The Government say in their White Paper (Cmnd. 1193) that they are examining the recommendation of the Select Committee on Estimates about a Commonwealth Advisory Technical Service. I am not asking the noble Earl, unless he feels in a position to do so, to say anything about that now. There is to be a debate on technical aid, and aid generally, in your Lordships' House next week, and perhaps he might prefer to reserve his remarks until that debate. But I think your Lordships would like to know what the opinion of the Government is—whether this is likely to help the Overseas Service, and whether anything on these lines could be organised to help Commonwealth countries who urgently need technical skill. I believe that when we contemplate the resources of this country and the needs of countries overseas the most valuable service we can render to them in the coming years is technical aid. My Lords, we welcome this Bill, both for what it does in a limited way in providing a further measure of technical aid, and because it is the expression of a policy which we hope will bear further fruit as time goes on.

3.56 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome this Bill and congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon presenting it to us. I also have had some experience of the situation created by Commonwealth countries coming up towards independence. It has always been a considerable difficulty when a country has to, as it were, provide large sums to the expatriate officers for compensation. Also, very often the officers whose service they most wish to retain are those who desire to go out under the compensation schemes. It has always been an immense problem, and I congratulate the Government on at least going a considerable way towards solving this problem.

This is a highly important Bill, because the situation in East Africa at the moment is one which gives considerable concern to all of us. Quite apart from Central and South Africa, even in East Africa, because of the impacts of events in Central Africa and South Africa, there has been a considerable withdrawal of credit in the last few months, and the economic and social situation has been greatly affected by it. This is one of the anchors which the Government are, quite rightly, putting down in an attempt to stabilise the economic and social situation in East Africa. They are quite right to do so. I need not mention the other anchors, because they do not arise on this Bill. One of them which I could mention is the setting up of a university for East Africa, to train Africans to come along and, in the future, to take the place, among others, of these expatriate officers.

I thought the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, struck a rather funereal note, a sort of Moore and Corunna note, about the Secretary of State, Mr. Macleod. I hope circumstances will not soon arise when we shall lose the benefit of the work of Mr. Macleod in the Colonies. Not long ago, I sat on the other side of the table from him and also the noble Earl, Lord Perth, when the affairs of Uganda were being discussed, and I must say that he made a great impression on all of us, as did the noble Earl, Lord Perth, for the obviously sympathetic way in which he appreciated the problems which we, on the other side of the table, were putting before them. I was appearing with and for the Africans.

There is one point I would make on the general issue, and I think it has been touched upon by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. I, too, cannot quite see where this vast amount of money is going to be expended. As I see it, 21,000 is the number of persons affected at the beginning, but as the years go by and Africans and others are trained in the various countries to which this Bill applies the number of expatriates will undoubtedly diminish, and consequently There will be not nearly as much money to be expended. I should have thought that that amount was rather an overestimate, but no doubt when the noble Earl the Minister comes to reply he will be able to give us the basis upon which this figure has been calculated.

I would ask for clarification on two or three matters. First of all, there was an article in the Daily Telegrapha short time ago which said that the overseas officials were complaining that they have to sever their connection with the Home Civil Service and that they cannot resume links with it after the officers have retired. This article in the Daily Telegrap was published after Cmnd. 1193 appeared, but it does not seem to me, from reading the White Paper, that that complaint is at all based on fact. Indeed, in paragraphs 26 and 27 of Cmnd. 1193 the reverse seems to be the case, and the Government appear to promise these people that they will do everything they possibly can to assist them in getting work in various Government Departments, here and overseas. I think there must be a misunderstanding on the part of some of these overseas civil servants.

There is one point which is, I think. in need of clarification, and that is the taxation question. Compensation is to be paid under Clause 1 (1) (b) and is mentioned in paragraph 9 of Cmnd. 1193 Is this taxable? On the face of it, it would appear to be a capital payment for loss of future professional advancement, but I do not know that it has been clearly stated—it certainly is not clearly stated in the Bill and it is not too clearly stated, I think, in the White Paper. I believe it would be helpful if the noble Earl could tell us to-day whether compensation for relinquishment of career is in fact a capital payment or an income payment; in other words, will tax be payable on it, either in this country or in the colonial territory concerned?

The case is made more urgent by reason of the fact that in some previous cases where gratuities of this nature have been paid to overseas civil servants, even though those payments were thought by the servants to be of a capital nature they have attracted income tax; and, of course, if there is no double taxation agreement it means that the unfortunate man has to pay not only the full rate of colonial tax but also the full rate of United Kingdom tax as well. That is obviously a matter which needs examination, particularly where capital payments are being made by instalments. It is always a tricky business to get the Inland Revenue to accept that capital payments can be paid by instalments and are not, in fact, income payments which attract tax.

The third question I would put is the position of the East African High Commission officials. The noble Earl knows about those, because half a dozen came to see the Secretary of State a week or two ago—they may be here now, for all I know. The point, as I understand it, subject to correction by the Minister, is that when Tanganyika becomes independent the other three territories, Kenya. Zanzibar and Uganda, will not be independent at that time; it may be that they will be later, but not at that time. What the situation of Zanzibar is one does not Know. Will the provisions of this Bill apply to the High Commission Territories which will still remain under the High Commission? It is a conundrum, because one of the constituent partners of the High Commission will have become independent whereas the others have not. I gather that the ruling up to now has been that the East African High Commission officials will not come under the terms of this Bill, but I think we ought to know.

There is the question of exclusion of territories from the Bill. According to paragraph 10 of Cmnd. 1193, Nigeria and Sierra Leone have separate settlements. I hope that the settlements which have been arrived at in those two countries are at least as good as the one under the Bill, and that as far as the civil servants are concerned they will not suffer by the fact that this Bill was too late to deal with their problems. Secondly, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are special cases as they are in the Central African Federation. Thirdly, there are four territories —the Bahamas, Brunei, Bermuda and Hong Kong—where this form of help is not considered appropriate.

I would ask only these questions: what happens if the Central African Federation breaks up, as it may well do? Will Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland then be eligible and be able to come under the terms of this Bill? Secondly, what are the special reasons in the four territories which make the scheme inappropriate? I know something about the four, three of them particularly well and one not quite so well. Possibly the Bahamas and Bermuda may be a separate case; but Brunei and Hongkong certainly at first sight seem to be on a par with many other colonial territories, and it is a little difficult to see why they are left out.

I should like to support the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in this plea that the Government should do all they can to give employment to these officers in Her Majesty's Service. After all, they all went into the Service in order to serve Her Majesty and the country and they chose that form of employment as being the one which they liked best. If we could continue them in it, in all probability they would render very good service indeed. As I have mentioned before in this House, there is one problem: in order to become civil servants under the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Foreign Office or the Colonial Office one must have at least a second-class honours degree, and apparently you cannot become a civil servant unless you have got over that particular hurdle.

I would suggest in these circumstances, in view of the fact that there is this supply of excellent material and also in view of the fact that the Commonwealth Relations Office's need for men in the various territories which it serves is extending very rapidly indeed, that it would be a good thing, temporarily at least, as was done immediately after the war, to waive this question of a second-class honours degree in the case of suitable officers who have served overseas in the colonial territories. I do not think that the heavens would fall if a man who had not got a second-class honours degree but was otherwise suitable were posted to India or Pakistan or Malaya. Quite a number of people who have not got second-class honours degrees have been able to function quite well in those countries.

Finally, again in connection with this question of employment, there is the position of the Colonial Office staff. I am sure the noble Earl knows that some of them at the moment, and particularly the more senior ones, are feeling a little hurt at what they regard as the attitude towards them of the Commonwealth Relations Office. Some of them tell me they feel they are not wanted. I hope that is not so and that the noble Earl will assure us that it is not so. Many of the Colonial Office staff are men of great experience. They have served the Crown with great loyalty over the years, and it would be a loss of much valuable experience if men who had been in the Colonial Office for many years and served admirably there, who were of the necessary character and temperament, were allowed to drift off rather unhappily into the Ministry of Agriculture, and so on, in this country, where their great experience might not be put to the best possible advantage. I have mentioned these facts because they have come to my notice. With those few questions, I should once more like to express my gratitude to the Government for their imagination in bringing forward this Bill.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel said, there is nothing except welcome for this Bill in all parts of the House, and there is no question as to its merits. But I must confess that when I read this Bill my feelings were a mixture of admiration for the Colonial Office at its presentation and amazement that the Treasury should have given consent to its going forward in its present form. If your Lordships will examine for a moment the Bill and the Explanatory Memorandum, I think that your Lordships, on reflection—and particularly those below the gangway—will feel that were Mr. Gladstone with us he would be extremely shocked. The reason I say that is that the territories are unspecified; the ceiling of expenditure is only estimated (in 1961–62 the figure is expected to be about f16 million, and after that between £12 million and £16 million a year), and there is the big tolerance of the Treasury in accepting the amount to be reimbursed to the territories as being unspecified, except that it is to be in whole or in part. Then the officers are not defined, except that they are to be designated by the Secretary of State; and, finally Treasury consent to designation can be given generally.

My Lords, I think it is no exaggeration to say that never in the history of legislation has so much vagueness covered so great an expenditure. But even so, I think that it is good that it is that way, because it is Government recognition of the fact that the needs of the hour require fresh methods and outlook. So when I make those observations about my surprise at the Treasury's agreeing, it is not in criticism but, I repeat, in admiration of Ministers who have been able to overcome the Treasury to the extent evidenced in the Bill. Undoubtedly, we can only welcome the throwing overboard of some of the rigid precedents of the past. Officers in these emergent territories are servants of the State, and I think that in the past they have justifiably felt fears, because those fears are natural and human. Governments get many kicks. Kicking a Government is a pastime not always confined to the opposite side of the House to the Government. In this case, I think that the Government deserve praise for prompt and wise action.

As the Minister said when introducing this Bill, approximately half the officers concerned come from East Africa. It is really almost a record in administration that while the East African Salaries Commission Report certainly helped to allay fears, Her Majesty's Government's prompt action has been of much greater help. The Report was published on January 7, and acceptance of the main provisions was announced on the same day. Since then, the Kenya and Uganda Governments have reacted favourably. So, in the event, within one month of the publication of the Report, decisions have been taken which mean that Her Majesty's Government take over direct responsibility for between one-quarter and one-third of the salaries, the passage costs and, in part, of the pension rights.

I therefore echo what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said—namely, that this Bill is a real step forward, and I think the Colonial Office deserve much praise for their prompt administrative action. This Bill is an earnest to emergent territories of our continued goodwill as our Colonial policy comes to fruition. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, speaking with his first-hand knowledge—and some of us have also been in the colonial territories—civil servants are the very background of administration in those places. Indeed, the tragedy of the Congo has shown that up so much. My worry is rather that of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. Is this going to save the Service running down? That is the doubt. If it does not, where is the provision of the technical personnel, which these emergent territories require, to come from?

Shortly, we in your Lordships' House are to have a debate covering the case of such territories. I do not want to do more than just touch on it, in the same way as other noble Lords have clone. The quality and the quantity of technicians that we require in the future is going to amaze even those of us who to-day try to visualise the future with some degree of imagination. I do not believe that the numbers, even if there is no run-down of the Service, are going to be enough for the future requirements of these territories. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take up with energy and fervour the suggestion which was put forward in the Report of the Select Committee as regards bringing in the Commonwealth. I hope that perhaps one day we may see a Commonwealth pool of qualified technical men0 and a Commonwealth Board which would assess needs and allocate resources on a Commonwealth basis.

Then we shall learn, I hope here from the Government, that industry can do more than it has been asked to do in the past. The boards of directors of great enterprises, like leaders of great trades unions, may have certain positive views on certain matters; but by and large they are both bodies of great patriotism who love their country, as we all do. I believe that industry has only to be called upon and it will be prepared to make a great effort and some sacrifices, perhaps to the efficiency of their enterprises, perhaps some sacrifices to those who own industry—that is, the shareholders. I believe that boards of directors would do that if they were appealed to. I believe that we shall require the secondment of young executives, medium-grade executives, and senior executives from industry to colonial territories if, in the future, we are to fill the gap which I see yawning ahead in regard to the requirements of the emergent territories for technical aid in so many directions. Your Lordships have only to look at page 18 of Cmnd. 1193 to see the wide scope of technical help already given. All that, and more, will be required many times over. We cannot do it alone.

There is a danger that this Bill may not even, as we hope it will, hold the level; but even if the expectations of the Government are fulfilled and the level is held because of this Bill, that level will not be enough for the future and it will be necessary to bring in the Commonwealth and industry. I know, of course, that we are ourselves short of technicians in this country. Nevertheless, I believe that the greatest good we can do to the Free World is to support these emerging countries with technical help, as well as the financial and other help we can give in other directions. And so, in the completion of our colonial task towards which this Bill is yet another step, I think we should ourselves find rewards, moral and material, in making quite sure that these emerging territories have the full benefits of British skill and enterprise.

4.21 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to preface some rather critical remarks which I wish to make in relation to this Bill with a personal apology which perhaps your Lordships will accept. I think that as I spent the whole of what is called my working life in the Colonial Service I am perhaps in a better position to know what the "toad beneath the harrow" feels like. We have heard a lot of very interesting views from those who studied this question from what I may call, with great respect, the outside, but I should like to tell your Lordships, rightly or wrongly, how an ex-colonial civil servant looks at this Bill.

I need hardly say I welcome this Bill as evidence that Her Majesty's Government have been giving serious, if somewhat belated, attention to the joint problem of the personnel of the Colonial Services and also of the territorial Governments under whom they serve. The Bill before us, as it says, sets forth to give legislative authority to carry out the policy announced in the White Paper (Cmnd. 1193) dealing with service with Overseas Governments. I welcomed that Paper when it came out and appreciated its inherent desire to help both the territorial Governments and the members of the Overseas Service to continue, as far as might be mutually desired, a collaboration which would satisfy both the employer-Government and the Overseas Service employee. No doubt it will go some way towards succeeding in this endeavour but I feel its success will be limited by the fallacies on which, as I view it, it rests.

To call the Colonial Service the "Overseas Service" does not alter the fact that a group of contract officers does not and cannot make a Service. The Colonial Service, with its proud record, is dying, theoretically functus officio, and what we are trying to do is hand over its priceless traditions and the fruits of its experience to other hands. I do not think we ought to delude ourselves about this. As former colonial territories become independent there are undoubtedly individual officers whose help they value and whom they are, as yet, unable to replace with local substitutes. They wish to retain those officers as individuals for a limited time, and the terms, however we may disguise it, are really contract terms which take into account their previous service and the conditions under which they were enlisted.

It is true that their loyalty to the Government they serve is superficially unchanged, but in fact it is a different Government in that it has now a local and independent centre. The newly in. dependent Government welcomes their help and is glad to retain it for a while. but is naturally reluctant to have the subtle change in emphasis obscured. My personal opinion is that it would have been wiser, when territories attained independence, to arrange for all Overseas officers whom that Government wish to retain to change to a contract basis, with compensation assessed as at present to be paid at once, and pension rights frozen at that date and payable when the contract ended. I also think that all new appointments to independent territories should be only on a contract basis, whether they are new recruits or transferred officers. However, the Colonial Service have suffered a sea change; and I want now to return more directly to the Bill.

I have studied the White Paper (Cmnd. 1193) with great care and also the debates in another place. There seems to be an underlying idea that if the United Kingdom takes over the expatriate element of Colonial Service Officers' pay and allowances, the local Governments will be prepared to keep them for an indefinite number of years. This reasoning seems to me fundamentally unsound because it takes no account of two factors: the man himself, and the attitude of local politicians. First, payment of a man's salary and allowances by the United Kingdom is not going to keep him in the Service when his career prospects have been heavily slashed. For instance, since independence in Malaya the topmost rank open to an expatriate (with the exception of two posts) is that of what is called "super-scale D" (Permanent Secretary), the higher ranks—Chief Secretary, Financial Secretary, British Adviser and super-scales A to C—having been abolished. Even the rank of Permanent Secretary is becoming less and less open to expatriate officers in Malaya and elsewhere. Western Nigeria has recently Africanised all its Permanent Secretaries.

The men of the Colonial Service have certain qualities and abilities. It is, I maintain, denying the facts of human nature to expect such men who joined for a career to accept, in their thirties and forties, a dead-end job with no prospect of advancement beyond a comparatively low level. The best will naturally seek a career elsewhere as soon as they have reached the limit open to them in the Service; and the younger ones will leave straight away, because of lack of prospects. I am not overlooking the sense of vocation and devotion to their work and pride in their achievements which is an essential ingredient of this or any other good Service. But, as I have tried to explain, when independence comes, the Colonial Service ceases to be a Service. It becomes a group of individual officers on contract with a very restricted scope of activity.

To return to the second category I mentioned, it is equally starry-eyed to expect politicians in a newly independent country to permit expatriate officers to stay on for an indefinite period. Even if the leaders wished to do this—which generally they do not—the Opposition and the aspiring young local officers would soon make life too difficult for the Government there to adopt such a policy. I am not for a moment decrying this local attitude; I regard it as the most natural thing in the world. It is a very natural resultant from the exhilaration stimulated by independence. By all means let us give full credit to the Colonial Service for its magnificent work, past, present and in a diminishing future. But do not let this obscure the point. The only things that will keep men on in the Service are either the prospect of a further career—and when I say "career" I mean "career", not a junior temporary post —in the Commonwealth Relations Office or the Foreign Service, or the near certainty of getting a job after retirement should their posts be abolished prematurely.

As regards the C.R.O., the Foreign Service and the proposed Commonwealth Technical Service, it is obvious that only comparatively few can be absorbed; but all such jobs help. If I may make a constructive proposal, could not a stated number of posts be allocated each year for competition each year by colonial officers only? They should be, of course, at various levels, so that it would be worth while a man's remaining in the Colonial Service for a few more years in the knowledge that he could compete for a higher level. The competition no doubt would be strong, so that only the best would succeed. As regards other jobs, the Overseas Services Resettlement Bureau (referred to in paragraphs 28 to 30 of the White Paper) is the one hope. I understand that the Ministry of Labour employment offices have had little success in helping colonial servants because they know so little of their background and because few employers go to them for the level of men we are discussing. By contrast, the Bureau has had remarkable success, despite the lack of publicity it has so far enjoyed. I made some inquiries and I am informed that out of 1,920 registered, 1,180, or over 60 per cent. have so far been resettled.

I suggest that the Colonial Office should cease to do good by stealth and give far greater publicity to this Bureau. The languages, the customs, the way of thinking of a large part of the world's population is the hard-won knowledge that these men can supply. They are a potential source of manpower for business concerned with the export trade, a source which needs to be tapped quickly before it is lost. Large numbers, I understand, are likely to retire from East Africa as well as from West and Central Africa in the near future. The Bureau should, I suggest with respect, have the support of the Government at a high level, Ministerial and official, in approaching the business community and in stressing the advantages of these men when it comes to competing for export markets, especially in the newly independent countries.

I should entirely disagree, with respect, with my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye in suggesting for a moment that business would have to lower its standards to admit these men. The knowledge that many of these men possess of the countries in which these businesses are trying to establish their export trade is of infinitely more value and far harder to acquire than that business technique which can be picked up by the right sort of man in a relatively short time. My Lords, there is, I suggest, a regrettable lack of knowledge in commerce, industry and other spheres of the recruiting opportunities afforded by a disbanding Colonial Service. And, my Lords, if we look at it like that, I suggest that this is a golden opportunity for business which is not likely ever to recur.

To turn to another aspect, speaking on January 24 on this Bill in another place, the Secretary of State for the Colonies said— and I ask your Lordships' permission to quote this, since it is a very important statement [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 633, col. 42]: We have a duty also to make certain that the administration of any country is as efficient as we can make it, that increasingly local people take an increasing part in it, and that, if the time comes in any particular territory for Her Majesty's Government to hand over their responsibilities to any other Government, we should leave as, perhaps, the most precious heritage of all, a well-tried, efficient, independent and incorruptible public service. It seems to me that those are the two duties which we should have in mind all the time as we consider the Bill. Those were the words of the Secretary of State— very lofty sentiments, my Lords; so lofty that they lose sight of the time factor. It takes many, many years to fulfil these conditions, and the Secretary of State's actions— I say this with respect— and apparent intentions do not, in my opinion, agree with those words. I do not wish at all (this is not the occasion) to discuss the personality of the Secretary of State, but in view of what the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, if I had to select a motto to embody the feeling of the Colonial Service I would say it would be: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes". Their trust, my Lords, has been shaken from time to time recently.

The Secretary of State's dream of a Service like that can be achieved only before independence and while experienced guiding hands are there. It is, I suggest, unreasonable and unnatural to suppose that such training can be done after the achievement of independence. You cannot have it both ways. The Secretary of State's words seem to me to constitute a strong plea in favour of hastening slowly in East and Central Africa, where the people are far behind Malaya and West Africa in their ability to carry the responsibility of independent government. Apart from absence of haste being wiser and better for the people, the dissatisfaction about retention of some control over the pace of advance is easier to handle than the reorganisation of chaos after imprudently premature independence.

In passing, may I point out once more— take this as one instance of the sort of things that members of the Colonial Service have to look at; it is a silent service and we do not hear their views but they must be thinking— that if the declarations of some African leaders in Kenya are correct, that independence within a year or two is linked with the release of Kenyatta to be Chief Minister, it is fairly certain that no European officers will wish to remain in the Government service of that country after that date; and I suggest that no good purpose is served by obscuring that fact.

To return to the Bill, perhaps the best way of attracting new men to go to colonial posts would be to get it accepted in Britain that three to five years' experience abroad, whether it be in America, Canada, Australia or tropical countries— and I stress the words "or tropical countries"— adds to a man's business value in experience of responsibility, in breadth of vision and adaptability. The habit, from Soviet Russia to the United States of America, of depreciating the honourable record of British colonial rule should be fought on every occasion it arises. You have only to look round the world to note the achievements rendered possible by thousands of colonial civil servants: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.

In conclusion, my Lords, when this Bill was being considered in another place (if I may be forgiven for what is, if I may call it such, a relevant irrelevance) a great deal was said about the inadequacy of Colonial Service pensions, including widows' and orphans' pensions, because they were based on salary scales which the depreciation in value of the pound had made completely inadequate. In another place, Member after Member, on both sides of the House, rose and pleaded the case of the Colonial Service pensioners, particularly the widows and orphans section of them. There is an obvious and very lamentable discrepancy between the purchasing value of pensions granted over the past years and the current cost of living. In this country attempts have been made by successive grants of percentage increases to alleviate the hardships due to this drop in the value of money. Colonial pensioners have repeatedly asked for similar concessions to meet their own cases, but the attitude of Her Majesty's Government has been that, while they would do all they could by persuasion to induce Colonial Governments or newly-independent Governments to translate a similar sympathy into similar action, the ultimate responsibility was not that of Her Majesty's Government. In some cases they have succeeded in getting some improvement, but in others they 'have not. There is thus no uniformity in the treatment of pensioners, all of whom are, or have been, to quote from White Paper 306: …servants of the Crown, and the conditions of their employment are embodied in Colonial Regulations. These Regulations constitute the Secretary of State as the ultimate authority for appointments, discipline, promotions, and general conditions of service". I know that the principle that the respective Territorial Governments are responsible for pensions and for adjustments to meet depreciated values is technically correct. I would not dispute that for a moment. Nevertheless, I suggest, with respect, that that view is morally indefensible. Fears about the future safety and adequacy of pensions afflict both old and new officers. The older officers, whose pensions were granted on the older rates of salary, before inflation had forced a reassessment of salary rates, suffer most, but none will remain unaffected in the future.

My Lords, I suggest that the Government's attitude of detachment is unworthy of a good employer. The Treasury hand out millions in grants-in-aid, and are willing to grant more millions for the purposes of this Bill. Yet they grudge assistance to the pensioned men and women about whose services to this country and to mankind such beautiful and inexpensive tributes are constantly paid in speeches. It has been said that "Man shall not live by bread alone." It is also true that lofty sentiments constitute a very unsubstantial diet. I hope that the noble Earl will have something to say about this when he replies to this debate. With these misgivings, I support the Bill.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, when the Government announced their intention in July last to bring in a Bill of this nature, I remember saying at the time that it might well prove to be one of the soundest investments this Government have ever made, provided, of course, that it effects what it sets out to do— and I bear in mind the speech of the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat. But, of course, if it does not effect what it is designed to do, then much of this money will not be called upon, because the overseas civil servants will not, in fact, stay on in the newly-independent territories. Therefore, I agree very much with the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in his surprise at the modesty with which the noble Earl the Minister of State introduced the Bill. Personally, feel that he could have boasted about it a great deal more, and not have introduced a perhaps somewhat apologetic note on the ground that it might cost the British taxpayer £16 million in the first year. My own feeling is that, if the Bill does effect what it is designed to do, then even if it were to cost double that amount it would be well worth it. Therefore, I hope that it will be approached from that angle, and that it may be made quite clear to the British taxpayer what a very sound and valuable Bill this is from every point of view, not least of all financially.

Taking that attitude, I rather wish that, when the Government decide to do something of this nature, they would go into it wholeheartedly. I pick upon one small point. For instance, the noble Earl, when introducing the Bill, said it was thought right and proper that only half the passage costs should be paid by Her Majesty's Government. They are to pay the full inducement pay, the children's education and the allowances, but only half the passage costs. Yet the purpose of the Bill is to enable the colonial territories, and also the emergent territories, not to have any extra cost beyond the local rate of pay. There is therefore a certain disincentive to these officers if they are required to pay half the passage costs. It is a small point, but, as I say, I wish the Government had decided to go into this matter wholeheartedly, and had included the full passage costs.

My Lords, my speech will be confined narrowly to the Bill, and I have a series of points to put to the noble Earl, of which I have not, I fear, given him notice, though I feel he will undoubtedly be able to answer them quite easily. There is a question in relation to pensions which the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, brought up— and this, again, is a limited point. It is said that the cost of pensions attributable to the inducement pay will, of course, fall upon Her Majesty's Government. But, as we have heard, these pensions need increasing from time to time; and, by a process of negotiation with the ex-Colonial Governments and the present Colonial Governments, the pension rates of those who retired some time ago have in fact been raised more or less to a level obtaining in the United Kingdom. I believe it was said that there were only about 11 out of the 40 territories where negotiations remained to be completed. But, my Lords, if, in the future, it is considered necessary to raise these pension rates— and I am afraid that it probably will be in due course— presumably Her Majesty's Government will be able to increase the pensions attributable to the inducement pay without reference to the Colonies. I think that point is of some interest to those in the Service at the present time, or will be to 'those going into it in the future.

I now turn to the question of inducement pay. I want to confirm that it is possible, and, indeed, that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government, to use the inducement pay, that is apparently going to be negotiated with each individual territory, which in turn will offer different rates of basic salary, according to its own wealth, or lack of it, to level up all the salaries of the Overseas Civil Service, wherever the individual civil servant is serving. It is well known now that the poorer territories have the greatest difficulty in attracting first-class civil servants for their Governments, because they are not able to offer sufficient salary. It seems to me that, if the Government are going to pay inducement money, there is every reason why that inducement pay should be used to standardise the salaries in each grade, in whatever territory the individuals concerned are serving. That would be of immense help to the poorer territories. One of the territories with which I am acquainted, and which I have particularly in mind, is British Honduras, where not only have they never been able to offer sufficient salary in order to get the sort of people they want, but they are also very much under-staffed.

My Lords, that brings me to my next point; that is, the establishment of the Colonial Governments. It is said in the White Paper, at line 4, on page 10, that: Any variation in the number of officers to whom the scheme will apply which results from the establishment requirements of the territories concerned will be determined annually by H.M. Government in discussion with the territorial Government concerned. This, of course, is also where the question of Treasury control will enter the arena. Will the Government use this inducement pay, and the powers given to them by this Bill, to bring up to full establishment all colonial territories which at the moment are not? And will they be able to put that over to the Treasury, so that every colonial territory will have its full establishment and an even level of pay for all the officers serving in the Overseas Civil Service?

There is also a particular class of overseas civil servant. It has been mentioned, to a certain extent, in respect of the Fast Africa High Commission, but I am thinking more of those people who are employed in the various research institutes. It is said in the White Paper that overseas civil servants who at present are paid out of Commonwealth Development and Welfare Funds will also come under this new scheme, as a result of which much of their pay will be borne directly by Her Majesty's Government and the savings resulting will return to the vote of that particular Fund in the territory concerned. But, my Lords, if I remember aright, the people employed in these research institutes are already paid direct from the central research funds of the Colonial Office, and are not paid by the territorial Governments. I should like to know what their position is going to be, and whether they are affected by this Bill. I have particularly in mind the admirable agricultural, forestry and veterinary research institute in Kenya, not far from Nairobi, which at the moment is under-staffed, yet has been doing quite exceptionally fine work. I wonder if it is possible under this Bill to bring that research institute up to establishment, too.

Now I come to the question of new appointments. It is said in the White Paper, at line 2 on page 10, that fresh appointments will normally be restricted to dependent territories. Presumably, that is because, in the independent ones, the lower ranks will always be filled by the people who are domiciled in the country. This problem has been dealt with both by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, but it is a little difficult to see how new people are going to be recruited for the Overseas Civil Service. It is pretty clear that this can be done on contract only. If the noble Earl could give any further information as to what progress is being made in the approaches, referred to in paragraph 33, to various Government Departments and industrial organisations, I am sure the House would be most interested to hear his reply.

That brings me to this question of the technical assistance. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that the figure given in the White Paper, of 200 people appointed as technical assistants in 1959, is a gross under-statement of what can be done in the future. Therefore I hope that this matter will be pushed very hard. I see no reason why, in the future, the appointments made, not only within the Commonwealth but in other places, should not easily run into four figures. And this would, of course, very greatly assist the re-employment of the members of the Overseas Civil Service.

My Lords, I think there is one other point worth mentioning—I am not sure whether the noble Earl, Lord Perth, mentioned if in his introduction; and if he did, apologise. It concerns the contract officers in Kenya. It was pointed out by the Secretary of State in another place that the very large numbers of people recruited before October 1, 1954—and even some others, under special conditions which I need not go into—are to be included in this Bill. That, of course, has done an enormous amount to restore some confidence in the Service in Kenya. Perhaps the noble Earl would say if there are other similar cases in other Colonies, and whether they will be dealt with in the same way.

I do not think I have anything more to say of detail on this Bill. I have asked a considerable number of questions, I am afraid, but I think they are the kind of matters that need clarifying if we are to get an idea of the real potentiality of the Bill before us. In closing, there is just one thing I want to say (it was also said by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore), and it concerns the Colonial Secretary. As the noble Lords pointed out, he is a controversial figure. I am not going to enter into the present controversy or to express an opinion in any way on political and constitutional matters, but I think one thing should be emphasised. That is, that the Secretary of State has been responsible for certain practical measures which, whatever the political and constitutional changes which have been brought about, or will be brought about (and we all know they change, both before and after independence) are likely to succeed only if practical measures designed to underpin the security of the State are taken. This is one of these practical measures. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, doubts whether it will succeed. I hope that he is wrong; but we cannot ignore what he has said, with his vast inside experience of the Colonial Service, which none of the other speakers to-day have had directly. I hope very much that it will succeed, and certainly it is designed with that in mind.

Other practical measures have been taken, such as the setting up of the Committee, over which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, presided, which has just reported on the future of legal education for Commonwealth and Colonial students, both in this country and their own, and the Commonwealth Teachers Act with which my noble friend, even, if not directly associated, no doubt had something to do. I think that we can congratulate the Colonial Secretary and the Colonial Office for having introduced these measures, and I only hope that in future they may be able to apply their minds to practical matters of economics. I hope that they will continue in this way. They will certainly do so with the blessings of all in your Lordships' House.

5.2 p.m.


My Lords, I shall detain your Lordships for only a few moments. I shall lend just one more voice in full support of this Bill, even though a layman like myself is left in some confusion, after having listened to the doubts raised by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, speaking from his great experience, and I shall listen carefully to any reply that the noble Earl is able to give to those doubts. As it seems to me, it does not matter very much whether you regard this as a matter of a number of individual contracts of the officers concerned or whether you regard it merely as a measure to ensure the continuation of the service of these men. What does matter is that these men shall be made available in these territories for the task of helping the territories, and exactly how we define the purpose does not seem to me to be so important.

I should have thought that the Bill would have been based on the experience which has already been gained. I should have thought that the territories must by now have expressed their desire to keep a number of these men, and the men themselves must have already expressed their desire to stay, provided provisions such as outlined in this Bill are made available. To me the Bill just recognises a principle which is recognised on all sides— that good men make for sound administration and that sound administration is the foundation of a healthy State. It seeks to retain men who are as much the bricks and mortar of these developing countries as are the blessings of the accumulated Welfare and Development Acts. Indeed, without these men, these blessings might well have been negatived.

I propose to raise only two points in regard to the Bill itself— first of all, the point which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, touched on. He expressed both surprise and delight at what he described as Treasury tolerance. I would share that delight; but where the Treasury is concerned we are always suspicious, and I do raise a suspicion over subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 1 of the Bill, which state that the designation of a person or a group of persons under this Bill shall be subject to Treasury consent. I should be grateful for some elaboration of this point from the noble Earl. I assume that if a territory wants a man and Her Majesty's Government agree, it will not be for the Treasury to veto an appointment or a group of appointments. The noble Earl described the Treasury as a watchdog. I hope that the watchdog does not stop anybody from getting in.

The other point I want to raise partly arises from the actual terms of the Bill itself but, in my view, it is a very important point. Here we have a Bill more imaginative in its effort to supply man- power to developing countries than any measure, national or international, that has yet been undertaken, and one doubts whether the British public are going to hear anything whatsoever about it, still less the world outside. I say this, remembering that yesterday's Daily Express, referring to the launching of a sputnik up to Venus, said "Russia's hour of triumph is Britain's hour of shame." In my view— we all have our own views of this— the measure before us, representing £150 million of taxpayers' money over 10 years, is an infinitely greater achievement, in terms of human welfare and human progress, than sending up space ships to wander around in the solar system. The dividends may not be visible; nevertheless, they are there; they are real. My general reflection is that certain sections of the British Press may prefer to praise up the far more obvious accomplishment and ignore our own great contribution in these terms to progress, and I hope that the Press Department of the Colonial Office will bear that kind of thing in mind.

We shall have another opportunity to cover this field when we come to the Motion in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. I have only one other point to make. We hope that local officers will be available to fill these appointments at present held by expatriate officers under the terms of this Bill, so that, in a real sense, the training of local personnel is linked closely with the operation of the Bill. Paragraph 31 of Cmnd. 1193 tells us about a conference to study this problem of training local personnel, under the title of "Public Service in Colonial Territories" which was held in London just under a year ago and was attended by representatives of all the African territories, with, I think, the possible exception of Ghana, for some reason. If the noble Earl can tell us anything about the decisions which may have emerged from that conference, we shall be grateful. For the reasons given, I fully support this Bill. I judge that it must effectively bridge that gap of which we have all been aware ever since the Overseas Service Act was passed in 1954.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, it is not my intention to attempt to sum up or to discuss this Bill in detail, but I should like to ask the noble Earl about one matter that has been brought up already by other noble Lords, in connection with the Treasury control under this Bill. We can all understand that the Treasury should have a say in the agreements that may be entered into by the Government with overseas Governments, because those probably involve continuing liability for finance. But the quest ion of Treasury consent to a person designated under this Bill and this scheme seems to be breaking new ground: indeed, I would ask the noble Earl whether there is any precedent for such a provision in any of the public services. It seems to be carrying Treasury control rather far.

Then I wish to ask the noble Earl a question slightly outside the Bill, but arising from it. All noble Lords agree that technical personnel to help the emergent and dependent countries in their progress is the most important thing that we can provide from this country, and the object of the Bill, which all noble Lords have welcomed, is to assist in that direction. But the requirements of overseas territories in trained personnel go beyond the strict ranks of Government employees. There are whole classes of people, men and women, holding employments overseas who are not Government employees and, therefore, are not covered by these provisions. The Secretary of State was asked directly what he was doing about such people, and he replied that the present Bill was costing a great deal of money and that there was no question of extending its provisions. There are people employed by local authorities in the strict United Kingdom sense— such as city councils, public health departments, labour boards, railways and so on— in overseas territories; that is to say, not under the Government, but under some other authority. Those people are just as important in their way as the members of the different branches of the Overseas Service. Her Majesty's Government must have been discussing these matters with other Governments, and I wonder whether they have considered this matter at all, and, if not, whether they propose to raise it at any future time so that some provision can be made to ensure the continuance of the careers of these officers overseas.

5.14 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a debate which has ranged far and wide and has given me many questions to answer, some of which I shall be able to answer and some not. Perhaps it will teach me to boast more loudly about a Bill, and then I may have fewer questions put to me. But, on the whole, I think it right policy to leave it to other noble Lords to say what an admirable Bill it is— it is all the more pleasant coming from them. Almost without exception, this Bill has been welcomed. It is true that we have to thank my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for it, in the sense that it came in under his rule, and I know that he will be glad to hear what noble Lords have said. I do not think it is appropriate for me to get involved in controversy as to whether my right honourable friend is going too fast or too slow, or all the other things that one or two noble Lords raised. I am content to stand on our record of the colonial territories that have been launched into independence.

I think the only point I should make— and it is quite right, as I say, that my right honourable friend should get credit for this Bill— is that this has been a continuing process of trying to find ways and means of encouraging the Overseas Service to stay with us. I well remember that his predecessor (now with us in this House, the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton) was also, whenever he got occasion, extremely anxious to do all he could in this way. But it is a difficult problem to find ways and means to encourage these overseas people to stay. I do not think that in that connection we are in any way starry-eyed, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, accused us of being. We realise that this is an extremely difficult task, but what we are anxious to do, and what I believe this Bill does, is to make it easy for these people to stay. We are under no illusions that, by making it easy, that guarantees that they will stay. We cannot force them to stay, and it would be quite wrong for us to do so. But we want to make them feel that they will have encouragement and to know that we are with them if they want to help the country in the difficult period which it is entering into.

It is true that, at the time when countries are about to launch into independence, there is every likelihood that the local Government will want to have its own people in positions of great responsibility. It is for that reason that we enter into the public service agreement with each of the Governments before they reach independence, and why we have compensation arrangements. It is not that we do not realise the problem; but we do not lament (if I may put it that way) the fact that the countries are growing up. We recognise that that happens, and we do our best to give them encouragement while they are growing up and when they have grown up.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked: why the figure of £150 million? I think the answer is twofold. Of course, it is only an estimate. If, for one reason or another, various of the countries do not wish to take advantage of the Service, then the estimate will prove to be too high. It may be, on the other hand, that we shall find an increasing demand— indeed I should expect it. You may find it likely that with these new Governments, for the very reason given by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel— that they want to show what a good job they can do— the demand will stay, even if they get more and more from their own sources. But the main reason for the fact that if people do go, none the less the estimate will remain high, is that the element of compensation in our calculations will increase, while the other elements will go down. It is an estimate, but it is about as good a guess as we can make. As the noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, said, this £150 million is something of which we should be proud and about which we should tell the world; and I will certainly see that all we can do is done to make it known to the world.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, asked me to say something about the Advisory and Technical Service. I am afraid it is a little early to say anything about this, but there will be an opportunity in a future debate— I think it is next week. I can only say at this moment that we have not forgotten it: we have it very much in mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, asked me several specific questions, and I will do what I can to answer them shortly. He asked what was the position in regard to the East African High Commission Service, and in particular in regard to the delegation which came over here and made certain representations last week. I think the result of those representations will be known very shortly. What they wanted to know was whether they could have compensation in the same way as Tanganyika is proposing to have compensation— a public service agreement at the same time as Tanganyika. That is a very difficult question. It does not really come within the ambit of this Bill. Moreover, the fact that one out of four countries has independence is not necessarily a good reason why that service should then say, "We are also in the same boat." It is a problem about which, as I say, there have been representations, and we are looking at it very closely.

The noble Lord then asked me about the position of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. He asked whether they could come into the scheme in the event of Central Africa in some way or another— I think he used the words "breaking up". Even if it does not break up— and certainly I hope that will not happen— we are prepared to see that Nyasaland or Northern Rhodesia come within the orbit of the scheme. The noble Lord mentioned two or three countries which were not coming in at the present time, such as Brunei. I would say two things on that. One is that there are the words, "at present", and the other is that clearly a country like Brunei has not the need of the help we are talking about. It is a very rich country— I am happy that it should be— and one must assess to whom we shall give on the basis, in some small degree, of their circumstances.


Before the noble Earl leaves that point, I do not think that should be so as regards Brunei. Certainly it does not apply to Hong Kong. I should never have regarded Hong Kong as rich, in view of the enormous poverty there. If they really went into a big scheme of resettlement, they might need help.


That is why I said that the important words were, "at present". The noble Lord asked me whether the compensation which might be received in instalments on retirement was taxable. I am glad to say that the answer to that is, No.

Many of your Lordships raised the question of jobs and how important it was for those who were leaving that they should have jobs found for them. I think it was quite right that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, should refer to the excellent work done by the Overseas Service Resettlement Bureau. He said that over 60 per cent.— and I think it is over two-thirds— have been found jobs. Of course, the Bureau is in close touch with industrialists and the business world, who I feel certain myself know the work of these people and are anxious to get hold of them. But there can be no guarantee of jobs. We do all we can, and the Resettlement Board does all it can. I should like here to pay a tribute to the readiness of the Commonwealth Relations Office, whenever they can, to take people from the Colonial Service into their scheme of things as they grow and have need of new recruits. I think they have been both forthcoming and helpful on that. I am not surprised, but I should like to make a record of it.

The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, asked me quite a few questions, and I am afraid I am not able at this moment to give him all the answers. I think what I had best do is to write to him in the case of one or two of them, and see what I can do to help him on others. He asked, for example, with reference to the question of designation which has been arranged for Kenya— a group of about 700 who will come into the scheme although they might or might not ordinarily qualify— whether there were similar groups in other territories. I think the answer is that there are a certain number in the East African High Commission, but probably not in the other territories. There may be the odd one, but I think that is generally a correct answer.

The noble Lord asked whether this Bill could be used for levelling-up (I think he made the point) all through the territories, so as to ensure that, wherever the people might serve, they would get exactly the same terms. I think that is a rather difficult concept. After all, some of these territories may have more attractive living conditions than others, and in some of them the cost of living may be different from that in others. The idea of getting everybody on to the same scale, particularly when one remembers that the basic responsibility lies in the particular territory, is one that I do not think would work. But certainly we will look at it.

Then there is the question of whether, as a result, we can be sure that each one of the territories will get their full establishment. Of course, whether there is a full establishment or not is not only a question of money. There are many other questions, particularly that of the difficulty of finding the right people who are ready to go to the territories. While the levelling-up might help in that respect, I am afraid that it would not give any guarantee that, as a result, every territory would get all the people it wanted.


I should like to impress upon my noble friend the importance of levelling up the salaries if possible, because of the effect it has on the ultimate pensions.


My Lords, I understand, but there are certain practical difficulties involved.

The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, and many of your Lordships, referred to the generosity of the Treasury; and he said that he was astonished at their "readiness to play", if I might put it that way. On the other hand, the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, was less certain, and asked whether it was not a strange thing that there should be this provision in the Bill about each person having to be approved by the Treasury. I think we must look at the Bill in regard to that point. This is a Government-to-Government arrangement; it is not with each individual. What we are trying to do is to say that broad categories can or cannot come within the agreement. We make that arrangement with the Government concerned. If we had no control, or the Treasury had no control, we might find all sorts of people whom we did not think appropriate coming within the ambit; and at the beginning of these arrangements it is important that the right categories, the right designations, should be arranged.

We have had this problem, for example, in regard to Kenya, where we have a designation agreement. This is very important. In it 700 civil servants who received some inducement have been included, although, if the Treasury had not been ready to accept a wide interpretation— if they had stuck to the strict letter of the law— they could have said that these people do not qualify. What I am trying to say is, that the agreements are between Government and Government. The categories have to be agreed with the Government concerned, and "there has to be some measure of control."


My Lords, if I may intervene, is the noble Earl quite satisfied with the wording of the Bill, or does he think there might be need for amendment at a later stage? The wording of the Bill quite specifically says "person" in the singular, which to an ordinary layman would be an individual, a particular officer. Subsection (2) of Clause 1 says that no person shall be designated under such an agreement… The noble Earl says he is in fact thinking of categories of persons, in the plural; categories of officers. Is there some special reason for using a word which does not, I think, according to the ordinary dictionary sense, mean what he intends?


My Lords, I had felt satisfied about it, but I will certainly look into the point further. What I think is important is the spirit in which it is operated. The first proof we have had of this has been a very satisfactory proof in what has happened in Kenya.

This question of Treasury approval is not something that worries us very much in regard to these colonial territories. Indeed, we have had a similar position ever since the first days of the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts: every project has to be approved by the Treasury. I think you might take the same point and ask, "Have the Treasury to approve some small detailed scheme here or there?" In fact, we have had no trouble, and I think it is a necessary means of ensuring that there will not be abuses. One has not to deal with the individuals: it is the Governments with whom one is dealing. The point I want to stress is that the Treasury have shown great understanding here and have been most forthcoming. We are satisfied with the provision as it stands, because it follows a practice with which we are familiar in regard to the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts.

A question was raised as to whether local authorities could be covered by this Bill. The answer to that at the present time is no, because it says quite specifically that this is in connection with employment in the public services of the territories. One of the difficulties you find is trying to draw a line. If you included local authorities, would that include, for example, harbours or railways? In the case of harbours and railways is it not appropriate that they should be paid for— as indeed they are paid for— on quite different terms? It is quite a different proposition; it is almost a public enterprise which is run on commercial lines, and the same sort of factors do not come into it. We have felt it important and right to restrict the arrangement to the public service— that is to the Governments concerned.


My Lords, I appreciate that, but the point I was trying to make is that these employees of the non-Government authorities also suffer anxiety and are liable to throw up their careers, to the detriment of the country they are now serving.


I recognise the point, but one can only hope and expect— as in some cases has proved to be the case— that the local authorities will be ready to do what is necessary to ensure that their employees remain.

The noble Lord, Lord Birdwood, asked if I could give some further detail about training arrangements which have been made since we had that meeting at the beginning of 1960. I am very glad to have that opportunity, because, of course, all this work in the Overseas Service is going hand in glove with our attempt to help the development of the local services themselves and the training of local recruits. It is of great credit to the Overseas Service expatriates that they should do such a good job in training, because in a sense they are training themselves out of a job. But they do it in a completely selfless and valuable way. We have had recently the Adu Committee working in Nyasaland to recommend what should be done. Mr. Adu is a senior civil servant from Ghana, and we are very grateful to the Ghana Government for releasing him. In Kenya we have had Mr. Thurston doing a similar study. He has come from the Ford Foundation and we are very grateful to them. In Kenya there has been set up the new College of Administration, the building of which is going to cost £350,000. Lastly, our own Royal Institute of Public Administration, which has courses here, has already arranged to send out someone with an official from the Colonial Office to study what they can do in the way of making further use of what we all know are such valuable services.

My Lords, I have endeavoured to answer most of the questions that have been put to me. If any noble Lord feels that I have not done it adequately perhaps he will get in touch with me, and I will see what I can do to write to him about it. This is a far-reaching Bill which I believe is generous; and while it will not achieve miracles I think that it can do great things Ito ensure that the Service goes on, both at this time and, more particularly, when the countries have just about reached independence. It is, I believe— and I know that many of your Lordships have said the same thing— the best possible form of aid we can give to these territories. I think I shall echo your Lordships feelings when I say that our record shows that we in this country are specially suited to give this type of aid. When I look back to what we have done over many, many years in the way of bringing countries to independence, I see that again and again that has been due to the selfless work of the Overseas Service. This is an attempt to ensure that they will carry on with that work. I hope that your Lordships will now agree that this Bill should be read a second time.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.