HL Deb 15 June 1976 vol 373 cc431-2

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 what is the present position regarding their undertaking to take over responsibility for the payment of overseas pensions.


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government remain as firmly committed as ever to their undertaking to assume responsibility for the payment of overseas pensions. Of the 37 countries concerned, transfer arrangements have now been completed for 17. As the list is rather long I will, with the leave of the House, circulate it in the Official Report. In view of this progress, Her Majesty's Government are optimistic that the takeover programme will be substantially complete by the end of this year.

The countries referred to are as follows:

Sudan St. Lucia
Gambia St. Vincent
Burma Malawi
Lesotho St. Kitts
Dominica Fiji
Mauritius Malta
Swaziland Ghana
Grenada Seychelles
the last two having been finalised only two weeks ago.

Formal agreements have been concluded with five more countries and the detailed transfer arrangements are being completed as soon as possible.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for that reply, may I ask her whether she is aware that her statement this afternoon will give great satisfaction and comfort to overseas pensioners, former servants of the Crown? Is the noble Baroness further aware that, as an overseas pensioner myself, and a member of the executive committee of the Overseas Pensioners' Association, I am aware of the hard work of the present Government in this connection to bring these matters to a satisfactory conclusion? Is the noble Baroness aware that we are grateful to the Ministry of Overseas Development and its officers, who at this moment in overseas territories are trying to iron out some of the difficulties which arise? I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply. May I receive an assurance from her that the work will be completed with all despatch?


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, for what he has said, in particular about the hard work of the officials. I think the whole House knows of the concern and hard work which the noble Lord himself puts in on these matters. I can assure him that we are proceeding as fast as we possibly can.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether these pensions are to be indexed? May I further ask her whether she is aware that indexed pensions were first paid to civil servants 700 years ago by Edward I, the great law-giver, and that Mr. Heath, in following that example, did so much more belatedly than he knew?


My Lords, I am afraid I do not remember 700 years ago, but on the question of indexing, I will write to my noble friend Lord Bowden.

3.8 p.m.


My Lords, since it got a little garbled in the pipeline, I do not wish to ask the first Question standing in my name on the Order Paper; namely:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a person who unknowingly receives a dose of heroin at a hospital as treatment for a heart attack and who subsequently feels better and discharges himself, may in the event of an accident be properly charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

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