HC Deb 17 December 1948 vol 459 cc230-3W
Mr. H. D. Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many applicants for the Colonial Administrative Service in 1946–47 and 1947–48 were educated in independent schools and how many in State maintained schools, respectively; how many were colonial subjects; how many from each category were successful; and what is the process of selection and the minimum educational qualification required.

Mr. Creech Jones

I regret that the figures requested regarding the schools of applicants, as distinct from selected candidates, for the Colonial Administrative Service are not available and could only be obtained after very extensive special research. The following figures, however, are available from a special review of recruitment made during the period 1st June, 1945, to 31st May, 1947.

During that period 13,726 applications were received in the Colonial Office for posts of all kinds in the Colonial service and of these 2,985 were selected for appointment. Appointments to the Administrative Service totalled 876. Further analysis of 683 candidates selected for the Colonial service between 1st June, 1945, and 30th December, 1946, showed that 363 of them came from independent schools and 213 from public elementary and state-aided secondary schools.

These figures are, however, apt to give a misleading impression if taken by themselves. In many Colonies, including particularly the West Indies, by far the greater administrative posts are already held by locally-born officers. The proportion of such officers, who do not pass through the appointments machinery of the Colonial Office but are selected under local arrangements, is continually increasing throughout the whole Colonial service. In order to encourage this desirable development, special steps have been taken in recent years to facilitate the entry of persons born in the Colonies themselves into the higher ranks of all branches of the Colonial service. A Scheme costing £1,000,000 has been made under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to defray the cost of training persons born in the Colonies who wish to fit themselves for such higher appointments. The number of scholarships awarded under this Scheme was 10 in 1946, 70 in 1947 and 95 in 1948.

So far as vacancies filled through the appointments machinery of the Colonial Office are concerned, the process of selection for the Administrative Service is as follows. Vacancies are normally publicised in the Press in the spring of each year and applications are examined during the summer so that selected candidates may enter the course of training for the Colonial Administrative Service which begins in October. When a candidate's application is received the first step is to examine the candidate's paper record and performance from his school days onwards, and reports are obtained from school masters and others familiar with his career. When these reports have been examined those candidates whose record suggests that they may be suitable are interviewed at the Colonial Office by officers in the Colonial Service Division who have normally had practical experience of work in the Colonies. These interviews are designed to ascertain whether the candidate possesses the character, intellectual capacity and other qualities required. Amongst the qualities looked for are a constructive interest in Colonial problems and freedom from colour or other prejudices which would hinder good relations with the people of the Colonies. Those candidates who are considered prima facie suitable for appointment are then seen by the Colonial Service Appointments Board composed of persons of the highest standing with a wide variety of experience, including inter alia experience in the administration of the Colonies and in public life, including trade union affairs, in this country. Candidates are appointed to the Colonial Administrative Service on the recommendation of this Board.

There is no minimum educational requirement for the Colonial Administrative Service, but it is desirable that those selected should be of the intellectual capacity of those who secure first or second class honours degrees at a university. Of late, however, there have been many successful candidates who have not been to a university, but whose war records and reports gave a clear indication that they were of the standard required. The door has always been open to those without a degree but whose other experience demonstrates that they have something to contribute to the Service.

There has recently been room for a number of appointments for men between the ages of 27 and 35 who go out to the Colonies without undergoing the course of training undertaken by the younger candidates, and these appointments, widely advertised in the Press, have attracted candidates with a wide diversity of experience.

Most of the candidates selected by the above process come from the United Kingdom, but there are also special arrangements to enable candidates in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa to be considered without the necessity of a journey to London. Colonial-born candidates who are in this country for educational or other purposes and who apply to the Colonial Office are considered on an equal footing. The figures given in the second paragraph of this reply include 12 successful Colonial-born candidates. No statistics of candidates selected in the Colonies themselves for local appointment to posts of administrative responsibility are available.