HC Deb 15 November 1977 vol 939 cc103-4W
Mr. James Johnson

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what action she is taking to safeguard the position of the East African Community's expatriate pensioners paid in the United Kingdom to whom the British Government have a special obligation.

Mrs. Hart

The expatriate pensions in question, which are still the responsibility of the East African authorities, are paid by the Crown Agents acting as the pay- ing agents. Although steps are being taken locally to resolve the problems of the East African Community, at present the flow of monies from East Africa to the Crown Agents is insufficient to cover fully the cost of the pensions. The shortfall has been included in the sum of the Community's external liabilities which are to be discussed in the near future between representatives of the former partner States. We hope that these talks will also facilitate the completion of arrangements for the early transfer of responsibility to Her Majesty's Government for these EAC expatriate pensions under the British Government's pensions takeover policy—arrangements which had been agreed with Community Ministers and had been partially implemented.

Meanwhile, I have decided that, as an exceptional and temporary measure, it would be in the best interests of the pensioners and assist in bringing about the permanent solution we all seek if monies were made available to East African Community's account with the Crown Agents for the specific purpose of meeting the shortfall in the funding of the expatriate pensions, and my Department in making arrangements for this. It is proposed to insert a new item within an existing subhead of the Pensions etc. (Overseas Service) Vote (Class II, 10) in a suitable Supplementary Estimate in the near future. Sufficient funds are available in this vote. In taking this step, I am mindful that any expenditure incurred can and will be offset against the substantial sum which was due to the Community under the pensions takeover arrangements by way of reimbursement of the pre-independence element of pensions.

I shall be keping this matter under continuous review and will report to the House again as necessary.