HL Deb 06 November 1962 vol 244 cc205-7

2.51 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Milverton, I beg to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Working Party set up by the Secretary for Technical Co-operation to study the problem of increases in Colonial Service, Overseas Civil Service and Sudan Civil Service pensions, including dependants' pensions, as announced in the debate of June 6, 1962, have yet reported; and what, if any, decisions have been taken by the Government.]


My Lords, yes, the Working Party has reported, and I am glad to inform the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government propose to bring the pensions increases received by retired officers of the Colonial Service, Overseas Civil Service and Sudan Civil Service and their dependants up to the level of those received by retired United Kingdom public servants. The Government's proposals are contained in the Pensions (Increase) Bill, now available in the Printed Paper Office. This means that in addition to this topping up of pension increases for those who have reached the age of 60 to the United Kingdom level existing before this Bill, all the pensioners referred to in the noble Lords Question will also be eligible for topping up to the level of the new general increases under Clause 2 of the Bill, ranging from 2 up to 12 per cent. Furthermore, pensioners in those categories over 70 years of age will also be eligible for topping up to the special level provided under the Bill for these older pensioners.


My Lords, I should like to ask my noble friend whether he is aware that his Answer will have given great satisfaction to those in all quarters of the House who have advocated these increases. May I ask whether the House may congratulate my noble friend, Who himself when he occupied a more independent position was an equally keen advocate with all of us of these increases, on his success as an advocate of the Bill?


My Lords, may I add the thanks of my noble friend Lord Milverton for a not unsatisfactory Answer to this matter?


My Lords, as this was a matter concerning equally both sides of the House, may I say, while sympathising and agreeing with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has said and with what has been said by the noble Lord who asked the Question, that I should like to ask if the noble Lord could reply to two further questions both of which are of some importance. First, do the Government intend to introduce this Bill at an early stage in the present Session, because if a Bill is introduced late we all become rather concerned about its fate. And have the Government decided whether to introduce the Bill first in your Lordships' House or in another place, because of course there are advantages from the point of view of expedition in introducing a rather un-controversial Bill into your Lordships' House?


In reply to the noble Earl who has just sat down, I am under the impression that the Bill will be introduced first in another place. Of course it is a Treasury Bill; he will realise that. It is a general pensions increase Bill which concerns not merely these overseas pensioners in whom your Lordships are most interested, and it will be introduced in another place and, I understand, in this present Session without undue delay. May I express my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and to the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, speaking for Lord Milverton, and also to the noble Earl opposite for their expressions of pleasure and also for their kindness in congratulating me for the little I have been able to do in this matter; but I think it would be most improper for me to take any credit at all without mentioning the assistance which has been received also from my noble friends the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Perth, and without making it perfectly clear that the major credit is due to my right honourable friend the Secretary to the Department of Technical Co-operation for his initiative and painstaking efforts in this business.


My Lords, is this "topping up" what Englishmen used to call "increasing"?


For the benefit of the noble Lord's information that was the phrase used almost throughout by every noble Lord in this House during two debates this summer, and therefore although the more common usage "increase" was in the original Answer, to make it quite plain to all noble Lords I changed it to "topping up". I beg the noble Lord's pardon.


I hope it will not be all froth.