HL Deb 20 March 1962 vol 238 cc458-9

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have given "the most special attention", as promised by them, to the views expressed in the debate in this House on the February 20 last on the subject of the pensions of elderly former Colonial Service officers or their widows, and, if so, with what result.]


My Lards, I have conveyed the views expressed in the debate in this House to my right honourable friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation. He is studying the record of the debate closely and sympathetically, but he is not in a position at present to add to the general statement of Government policy made during the debate.


My Lords, would the noble Lord draw the attention of his right honourable friend to an article in The Times of March 5, in which a number of very hard cases were set out, including that of one lady, eighty years of age, once a matron responsible for most of the hopsital services in the West Indies, who is now on a very small pension of about half the rent she has to pay? She has said, "I pray I die before my capital goes." Do the Government really think this is the way to treat old and faithful servants?


My Lords, I will certainly draw my right honourable friend's attention to the article in question.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that some noble Lords on this side of the House are equally worried about this question? Is there really nothing to be done to hurry the matter up?


My Lords, my right honourable friend is well aware that noble Lords on this side of the House have expressed opinions of that nature.


My Lords, may I ask one further question? The noble Lord was kind enough to send me privately a certain amount of information about the references to Burma and Palestine as creating a precedent, and he was also good enough to say to me that this memorandum which he sent me was proof that they were not a precedent. Is he willing to put before his right honourable friend the fact that, in so far as I was able to read with intelligence the document he sent me, it seems to me to prove that they were a precedent? It leaves many of us still believing that. Is he willing to impress upon his right honourable friend to consider that side of the question—that if it is not a precedent, at least it is a very good analogy?


My Lords, I do not think I can enter into a long discussion in answer to the noble Lord's question, for it would be tantamount to reopening the debate we had a month ago. But I can assure the noble Lord that I will make his views known to my right honourable friend; in fact, I have already forwarded to the right quarter the letter he wrote to me.


My Lords, would the noble Lord tell the House how it is proposed to apply the new cost-of-living index which contains scooters and chickens to this particular group of people on this low fixed income?


I am afraid that that is an entirely different question, to which I do not know the answer.