Sudan (Special Payments) Bill

– in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 25 Gorffennaf 1955.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Order for Second Reading read.

5.1 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

It is almost two and a half years since the Agreement with the Egyptian Government was signed which provided for self-government, and ultimately for self-determination, for the Sudan. Since the signing of that Agreement events have moved swiftly. The first all-Sudanese Government have now been in office for eighteen months. Last November many hon. and right hon. Members from all sides of the House were able to welcome to this country the Sudanese Prime Minister and two of his colleagues. The majority of British officials have left, and the administration is now being run by the Sudanese.

It was feared, at one time that, as we handed over the power to the Sudan, ancient sectarian disputes between the Khatmia and the Ansar would flare up and make effective Government impossible. In fact, there has been only one regrettable incident. That was on 1st March last year, when riots in Khartoum caused the postponement of the opening of Parliament.

Things have gone so smoothly in the Sudan that the Sudanese have now reached the stage when they can exercise the right of self-determination afforded them by the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement. We are, at the present moment, discussing with the Egyptian Government the setting-up of an International Commission to supervise the process of self-determination. It is expected that next month the Sudanese Parliament will pass a resolution asking the Co-Domini to set the process in motion. Within three months of that date we and the Egyptians will have withdrawn our troops, and preparations should be well in hand for the election of a Constituent Assembly. That Assembly is to make the choice between union with Egypt and independence, and draw up a permanent Constitution for the Sudan consonant with that choice.

Seven years ago, when the Legislative Assembly was established, the picture was very different. At that time our relations with the Egyptian Government over the Sudan were far from good, and many of the Sudanese were distrustful and hostile. As hon. Members will realise, a transitional period of this sort imposes a great strain on all those responsible for the continuing good administration of the country, and especially upon the head of the Government. I am sure that the whole House is deeply grateful to the Governor-General and to all British officials in the Sudan for the signal services which they have rendered during this period.

As an essential preliminary to self-determination, the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement provided for the Sudanisation of the various branches of the Government machinery. This meant that no British or Egyptian official should retain a post which, in the judgment of the Sudanisation Committee set up under the Agreement, might be influential and prejudicial to the free and neutral atmosphere of the Sudan if it continued to be held by a British or Egyptian official at the time of self-determination. These posts included all appointments in the Sudan Defence Force, the police and the administration. Altogether, about 1,000 British officials will have left the Sudan by the end of this month.

The process of handing over to the Sudanese was one of considerable delicacy, especially in view of the little time in which it had to be accomplished. The Self-Government Statute which formed part of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement, while removing many of the powers formerly exercised by the Governor-General, placed a considerable responsibility upon him for the efficient functioning of the Administration. Article 87 and paragraph 1 of Article 88 of the Statute gave him discretionary powers which he might exercise to ensure proper maintenance of the Public Service, it being his duty to see that all members of the Service received fair and equitable treatment.

Accordingly, in the light of the Sudanisation process to which I have referred, Sir Robert Howe, the Governor-General, took the lead in negotiating with the Sudan Government terms of compensation for expatriate officials whose careers were to be brought to an end as a consequence of the Agreement. At that time—1st March last year—the situation was very delicate, and indeed the very security of the British officials was threatened. In these circumstances, the Governor-General gave the officials an immediate assurance that they would receive fair and equitable compensation. The outcome of the Governor-General's negotiations was that the Sudan Government agreed to make provision for the compensation of expatriate officials.

I have already mentioned that these officials lost their posts as the result of an Agreement to which the Sudan Government was not a party. The situation was, therefore, unique, and altogether distinct from that which has arisen, or may in future arise, when a Commonwealth or Colonial Territory achieves self-government. The Sudan Government, nevertheless, accepted as a proper burden on their own Exchequer the cost of compensating these officials for loss of career.

The scale of compensation, as laid down in the Sudan Expatriate Officials Compensation Ordinance, which came into effect on 17th July, 1954, whilst by no means ungenerous, did not quite come up to the level which Sir Robert Howe had described as fair and equitable in his assurance. In view of the special conditions at the time and the exceptional responsibilities of the Governor-General, Her Majesty's Government consider that we have a duty to honour the pledge which he then gave. We are, accordingly, setting aside a sum not exceeding £160,000 to meet this expenditure. This sum will be distributed amongst—it is estimated—some 270 officials who have been hardest hit by Sudanisation, because they were serving towards pension and would have expected, but for the provisions of our Agreement with Egypt, to have completed the full length of their service with the Sudan Government.

Most of the other officials whose posts were prematurely terminated were serving on short-term contracts or contracts of longer duration containing a clause awarding them a gratuity in the event of Sudanisation. By making these additional payments, we shall increase the maximum compensation payable by the Sudan Government to pensionable officials and women officials serving towards an annuity from £E8,000 to £E8,500. Calcu- lations are at the rate of 97 and a half piastres to the £E.

The effect of the detailed provisions of Clause 1 (2) and (3) is that if an official qualifies for compensation under the terms of the Ordinance, he will qualify for the additional gratuity that is being paid by Her Majesty's Government. If he qualifies under the Ordinance, he will qualify under the terms proposed in the Bill.

During the whole of this difficult period, Sir Robert Howe was Governor-General of the Sudan. He was in a unique position in that he was serving two masters, Britain and Egypt—the Co-Domini—whose Governments, unhappily, did not always see eye to eye. It was for that reason essential that there should be no break during these years in the office of Governor-General of the Sudan. Had there been such a break, the whole outcome of history in this matter might have been very different.

When, for personal reasons, he finally resigned his post in January this year, Sir Robert had served in the Sudan for eight difficult years, far longer than seemed probable at the time of his appointment. In performing these exceptional duties, he has, in fact, lost money. Throughout this period he has had to deal with a variety of very special situations, and I think the House would agree that he did a very good job indeed. In particular, he was able to remove a considerable amount of Sudanese suspicion of our intentions and finally to win the confidence of all sides in the Sudan.

The sincere sorrow expressed at his departure in March by the Sudanese who had hoped that he would be able to stay amongst them until the Condominium came to an end, is another testimony to his achievement. In the light of all the special circumstances, I hope the House will agree that an additional pension of £250 per annum and an additional lump sum of £750 should be granted to him, as is proposed in the Bill.

I hope that after my explanation, it will be fairly easy to follow the Bill. Clause 1 provides for power for the Secretary of State to pay gratuities and sets the limit, which I have mentioned, of £160,000 and the limit to any particular recipient of £E8,500 from the two sources of the Sudan Ordinance and the Bill.

Clause 1 (2) and (3) set out the conditions which have to be met before payment can be made. I would call attention to the condition in subsection (2, d), which makes it necessary for a person to have served either in the Sudan or in Cairo as his last post. That excludes from the provisions of this Measure those officials who are serving in London. The reason for this exclusion is that they are receiving a separate scale of compensation under the Sudan Ordinance, and the pledge made by Sir Robert Howe was not intended to include those qualifying under that part of the Ordinance. Clause 2 deals with the payment to Sir Robert Howe. The remaining Clauses are entirely formal.

On 12th May, 1953, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, speaking in the debate on the Sudan, said in the House: I think they"— meaning the British officials in the Sudan— can count upon the support of all hon. Members in their endeavours to do their duty in these respects, and we intend to watch over their interests to see that they are fairly treated."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1953 Vol. 515, c. 1079.] I submit that this Bill fulfils that pledge, and will provide fair treatment for these men who have served this country and the Sudan well.

5.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I should like to associate myself with what the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has said about the Sudan's progress towards self-determination. This is yet another country which, under British guidance, has arrived at a stage where it can determine for itself its own future. We must rejoice at the successful development of the policy which leads to this fruition, and we can all only hope and trust that the relations between the Sudan and this country will be as happy as those between this country and other countries which have also arrived at the stage of self-determination.

I should like also to associate myself with the Minister in his tribute to the officials. The development of the Sudan over generations past has been due mainly to the great work which has been done by the officials in that country. They have had, particularly in recent years and months, an extremely difficult task when, of necessity, in a period of transition, there are bound to be strains and difficulties.

Quite clearly, we must see that those officials have fair and equitable compensation, and the Government, speaking on behalf of this country and this House, must honour the pledge which has been given to them. Therefore, I am certain that nobody on this side of the House will oppose a Bill which has such an admirable purpose. I should like to ask how far these proposals are acceptable to the officials, including those who are in London.

Now, I come to the provisions of the Bill. The Explanatory Memorandum appears to me to be anything but explanatory. It does not set before us why the Bill is necessary. I want to probe this matter a little further. There are two categories of provisions, first for officials in general, and secondly for the Governor-General. With regard to the officials generally, apart from the Governor-General, what is the basis of compensation? How has this figure been arrived at? How is it decided that it constitutes fair and equitable compensation?

The right hon. Gentleman has given some explanation of how the Government come into the matter of providing this compensation, but that is not primarily, of course, the responsibility of this country. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer which the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs gave to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth, South (Sir J. Lucas) on 30th July, 1953. The hon. Gentleman asked the Secretary of State if he can give an assurance that the pensions of British subjects employed or formerly employed by the Sudan Government will be safeguarded in any change-over that may take place. The answer given by the Minister of State was: The continued payment of the pensions of servants of the Sudan Government is a responsibility of the Government in the Sudan and its successors. Her Majesty's Government are naturally concerned to see that the constitutional changes which are to take place do not adversely affect the interests of pensioners, though I have no reason to believe that they will."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1953; Vol. 518, c. 214–5.] The Government were being asked by an hon. Member of this House if they would see to the safeguarding of the pension rights of these officials, and the answer was that it was a responsibility of the Sudan Government and that it was the concern of Her Majesty's Government to see that the Sudan Government carried out that responsibility. Why now have Her Majesty's Government failed to see that the Sudan Government carried out their responsibility to provide these payments so as to constitute fair and equitable compensation? If that concern of Her Majesty's Government had been carried out there would have been no need for the Bill. What has happened is that the Government have fallen down in the negotiations and failed to see that the fair and equitable compensation is provided. They were in negotiations, and they had the opportunity to deal with this matter, and they have not provided for it.

The Governor-General apparently falls into a different category. I should certainly like to associate myself with the tribute paid by the right hon. Gentleman to the work which the Governor-General has done in the Sudan, and I am sure that no one would wish to be niggardly in dealing with the Governor-General. I was perturbed to hear that the Governor-General had been out of pocket as a result of performing these duties as Governor-General of the Sudan. It really is lamentable if officials of this country, carrying out duties for this country in the interests of this country, find themselves out of pocket in the process of doing so.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

What I said was that the Governor-General had lost money by holding on for eight years—not that he was out of pocket in his post. If he had concluded his appointment after three years in the normal process he would be drawing higher salary or emoluments in another place.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I see the point he makes, but it does not make the matter any better. If that is the position it means that we ought to be examining the provisions which are made for gentlemen in the Governor-General's position —if it is possible, at the request of the Government, for him to continue in any post and, if I may use the right hon. Gentleman's words, be "out of pocket" in comparison with what he would have gained if he had gone to another post to which he normally would have been entitled and expected to go. If that is happening, or is apt to happen elsewhere, it is obviously a matter to consider, with a view to ensuring that that sort of occurrence does not recur.

I come to Clause 2 and the provisions there made for the Governor-General. I see that an amendment is involved of an Act of Parliament. Am I right in saying that this is being dealt with as a quite exceptional case of exceptional treatment, and that it does not apply to any other Governor-General? Obviously the House is bound to be a little reluctant to deal with a matter in this kind of way. I am sure that everybody, no matter on which side of the House he sits, is concerned about this.

There is an Act which, if I understand the matter correctly, provides scales of pay, and in this case we say that those scales are inadequate, and we have to make a retrospective amendment to do justice to the Governor-General concerned. It is a very undesirable method of proceeding, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman himself will agree. I should like to know whether there is any provision to cover such cases generally. There should be some provision that can be generally applied, rather than that we should have to resort to a special retrospective amendment to do justice to one Governor-General in a particular case.

I understand, too—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that the responsibility for the Governor-General's payment is different from that for all the other officials' payments. I am not quite certain whether that should be the responsibility of the Sudan Government, like that of the other officials' payments, or whether it is the responsibility—as I understand it is—of this country in any case.

Taking the Bill as a whole, of course we are in favour of it on principle, but I should appreciate it if the right hon. Gentleman would deal with the points which I have mentioned, particularly the extent to which the officials concerned are satisfied with the provisions of the Bill and the extent of the Government's failure to see that the Sudan Government shouldered the responsibility which the Minister of State said was theirs and not ours.

5.28 p.m.

Photo of Sir David Campbell Sir David Campbell , Belfast South

I share with other hon. Members pleasure in seeing this Bill brought before the House. I join in the tributes paid by my right hon. Friend to the splendid work carried out in very difficult circumstances by the Sudan officers and by the Governor-General in particular. There is just one matter I want to mention, which has been briefly referred to already, and that is the case of the officials employed in London in the Sudan Agency.

I trust that my right hon. Friend will be prepared to reconsider their position and to include them in the provisions of the Bill. They are also covered by a Sudan Government ordinance which provides for the payment to them of compensation, either in the form of increased pension or in the form of gratuity. The additional compensation which they get is not so great as that which will be paid by the Sudan Government to officers who served in the Sudan and in Cairo.

I do not for a moment wish to query that decision. In view of the very special circumstances with which those officers were faced in the Sudan, I think that they deserve compensation over and above that paid to the officials in the London office. However, I submit that the officials in London are entitled to fair treatment.

My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State said that the Bill covers only those in respect of whom the Governor-General gave a definite promise. I am personally unaware of the exact terms of that promise, but I thought that it referred to all the officials who are covered by the Sudan Government ordinance. That ordinance definitely lays down rates of compensation for the officials in London, and I believe it right and proper that we should examine the case of the London officials and see whether the compensation granted is adequate. If it is not adequate, which I believe to be the case, we should amend the Bill in Committee so as to include the officials of the Sudan Agency in London.

5.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

I am in the happy and rather unusual position of wishing to support a Bill introduced in relation to the Continent of Africa. I join with others who have already spoken in tribute to the British Service in the Sudan. If the test of the British Service, whether under the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office or the Commonwealth Relations Office is to be the progress which is made towards self-government then the Foreign Office Service in the Sudan stands highest in the whole of Africa. Already, we have a Government there which is completely Sudanese, and next year we shall have a Government which has the right of full self-determination.

At the last Election, a party which supported some form of unification with Egypt had a majority. I think it very likely that when the moment comes for self-determination, the attitude of the Sudan will be in favour of independence rather than of unification with Egypt. I believe that the attitude of our Service has contributed considerably towards the degree of good will which exists there. I have been to the Sudan and have been tremendously impressed by the attitude of our Service there. The Sudan is probably the only territory in Africa where the schedule for the Africanisation of the service has been exceeded. The schemes for the Sudanisation of the service have gone forward more rapidly than they were scheduled to do. I know of no greater tribute that could paid to the service of any country than that it should proceed faster in handing over its duties to the people of the territory than has been the record in the Sudan.

In one sense, the people of the Sudan have been fortunate. They have had both the British and Egyptian Administrations competing for their support. Perhaps it is because there has been that degree of rivalry that progress in the Sudan has been greater than it otherwise would have been. I remember an amusing instance of that when I visited the headquarters of the trade union movement in the Sudan and, to my astonishment, found a large mansion being built for the trade union federation. I asked the trade union representatives how they could possibly afford such premises. They answered that it was easy. They had gone to the British and asked what contribution they were prepared to make towards the cost of the premises. The British had answered that they would give £1,500.

They thanked them for that donation and then went to the Egyptians and asked what contribution they would make. The Egyptians replied by asking what was the donation from the British. When they were told, they said, "We will give you £3,000." In that way the trade union movement was able to obtain the magnificent premises which stand in Omdurman. In that sense the Sudanese have been fortunate in having had a condominium representing two Governments in which there has been a certain rivalry for the good will of the people.

After recognising that, I want to pay my unqualified tribute to the ability and spirit with which the British Service in the Sudan has contributed towards the economic and political development of the country. If there have been any defects they have not been the defects of our Service. They have been the defects of our Government and Parliament here in Britain. Those defects are undoubted —the rather slow progress of education and the rather slow progress of the medical services.

One of the tributes that should be paid to our service in the Sudan is to the readiness of those concerned to work during the transitional period under Sudanese Ministers. I found the British medical officers there quite prepared to serve under a Sudanese Minister of Health. No one can speak of the Sudan without speaking particularly of the services given in connection with the Gezira scheme, the most inspiring economic enterprise in the whole Continent of Africa, by means of which the standard of life of the peasants has been lifted beyond recognition and their education and health developed. The whole House should pay tribute to our service in the Sudan for its contribution, politically and economically.

I want to emphasise the point which was made by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) and to ask whether we can have some clarification of the position of officials of the Sudan Government who have been working with the Sudan Agency in London. I did not altogether follow what the Minister said on that point. The Sudan officials of the Agency in London are subject to the Sudan Government's Expatriate Officials Compensation Ordinance. Is it equitable that they should be excluded from the provisions of the Bill? They are subject in this country to our Income Tax while the Sudanese officials in Khartoum or Cairo are not so subject, and their compensation is less for a longer period of service than that of the officials in the Sudan and in Cairo.

I plead with the Minister that there should be some consideration of their exclusion from this Measure. It may be, as the hon. Member for Belfast, South has said, that they are not in exactly the same position as the officials who have been serving in the Sudan or in Egypt, but I suggest that when the House is acting with some justice towards our Service in the Sudan we should not forget the officials of the Sudan Agency who have served in London.

5.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Airey Neave Mr Airey Neave , Abingdon

The officials who are mentioned in the Bill have given long and devoted service for the best part of their lives to the development of the Sudan. It must give very great satisfaction to the House that we are honouring our pledges to them in this matter of compensation. I remember that the Prime Minister, then Foreign Secretary, in 1953 described the Sudan Service as second to none in its integrity and its efficiency. I join in the very proper and worthy tribute which has been paid.

There are one or two matters to which to which I should like to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend. The first is this. Is he satisfied with the progress of the resettlement of these officials and of their re-employment through the resettlement bureau that has been established through his Department? A great many of those who have come from the Sudan are now seeking jobs. If there is anything he can say about the progress of that re-employment bureau, I should be grateful indeed.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) mentioned that there were amongst those who had done magnificent service to the cause of the Sudan a number of other officials, and he cited in particular the Sudan Gezira scheme. That scheme is administered by the Sudan Gezira Board and now by the Sudan Government since the Sudanisation of those officials. In considering this Bill, it might be permissible for a moment to consider the position of officials compensated by the Sudan Government, for example, through the Sudan Gezira Board and those governed by this Bill.

The maximum compensation allowed under the Gezira scheme is £9,000 (Egyptian) in comparison with E£8,500 maximum under the Bill. Under the Sudan Gezira Board scheme, however, the officials do not receive the same pension rights. The negotiations were based on a post-service benefit scheme for the older employees, but that was superseded. They do not get that benefit extra to the compensation which had been promised to them. The scheme has been amended in a way which to many of them seems rather unfair. In drawing this comparison, it may be that my right hon. Friend can say something as to whether he is satisfied that the same moral obligations are being carried out towards those officials as to those under the Bill.

I realise that this is a matter about which he may find some difficulty because of the position of the Sudan Government, but I am hoping he can say something to the House about it. As the hon. Member for Eton and Slough said, they are a worthy body of officials, and it is those who have had long service who are likely to suffer in comparison with the officials under the Bill. It is a little unfortunate that those who had such long service should have fallen between two stools, as it were, between the Sudan Gezira Board and our own Government, and may not have had fair and equitable treatment. My right hon. Friend may also feel some grounds for criticising the new scheme of the Sudan Gezira Board as now advanced.

I want to close by saying that the Government are to be congratulated in honouring their pledges and doing everything possible under the Bill for this magnificent body of men.

5.44 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Spens Mr William Spens , Kensington South

I have to apologise that I was not here when my right hon. Friend opened this debate. I want to make only one remark and to ask one question. When these Bills for compensation come along I always look to see whether or not the members of the judicial service are or are not included. It is quite clear that anybody who has been in the judicial service ought not to be described as a former Government official or a former official of Parliament. I assume the members of the judicial service are not included in this Bill, but I ask the question and, if they are not included, then I should like to know what arrangements are being made for members of the judicial service.

I would remind the House that the members of the judicial service have been forgotten on other occasions when compensating arrangements have been made and special legislation has had to be introduced at a later stage to deal with that problem. I only hope that all members of the judicial body in the Sudan have been considered in these arrangements and that proper compensation or other forms of employment have been provided for them.

5.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Slater Mr Joseph Slater , Sedgefield

A great tribute has been paid to the Civil Service staff who are now being compensated by the Government under the terms of their agreement whereby compensation ought to be paid for loss of earnings. On so many occasions in this House the Civil Service has been upbraided by hon. Members on both sides, so that when there comes a time to praise them it ought to be done, as it is being done today.

What concerns me is Clause 2, because I am not at all clear what it means. It says that £250 is to be paid to Sir Robert Howe and an additional allowance is to be given of £750. Could we know what the actual allowance is and what this will amount to through the increase of £750. According to everything that has been said, Sir Robert Howe was a good man in the position he held. Great tribute has been paid to him, and I am one of those who believe that compensation should be paid when people suffer loss of employment, whether in the higher Civil Service or in local government. All I should like to know is how these amounts involved in the total allowances were arrived at.

5.47 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

With permission, I should like to try to answer the questions put to me by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas), my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) all asked me whether these provisions are accepted by the officials. The answer is that certainly all who are benefiting are satisfied with the provisions of this Bill.

It must be remembered what this Bill is doing: it is giving compensation for loss of future earning power to those who are Sudanised. As to the London office, I believe I am right in saying that nobody has been Sudanised. Their position is entirely different from those who left their homes to seek their careers in the Sudan, which have been cut short by Sudanisation. These have not left their homes; they are here and, if any are Sudanised, then they will get employment in this country. We are trying in this Bill to see that those who left this country and went abroad are fairly dealt with.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

If at a later stage members of the staff of the Sudan Agency are Sudanised, will they come under the terms of compensation in this Bill?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

I thought I had made that quite clear. Those whose last post was not in the Sudan or in Cairo are excluded from this Bill, and I am trying to explain why we are doing that. It is because this Bill is compensation for Sudanisationnot pension—which means that men who left this country hoping to make a career in the Sudan and had it cut short are receiving compensation under the Bill. I submit to the House that it is quite wrong to mix up the position of those in the Sudan Agency in London, who in fact have been dealt with quite fairly, with those covered by this Bill.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

One consideration advanced by the Minister for not giving compensation to the people in London was that they will get other employment here. Perhaps I am anticipating what he will say by asking this question: is the fact that other employment is provided for any of those who come within this Bill taken into consideration in deciding what compensation they will get under the Bill, or is it completely ignored?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

It is completely ignored. As I see it, the position is entirely different. If an Englishman goes into another country to work on a long-term contract and then suddenly, by an Anglo-Egyptian Agreement, we cut short his career, we have an obligation to see that he has fair and reasonable compensation for loss of office. The position of those in the Sudan Agency in London, who have done very valuable work, is that they are Englishmen living in London and working there. If they were Sudanised, it would be easier for them, without having to shift their homes, to get other employment.

What the hon. Member for Belfast, South did not understand, when I talked about the Sudan ordinance, was that it must be remembered that this Bill is implementing a definite promise given by Sir Robert Howe that certain expatriate officials should receive compensation up to a certain figure; and when the Sudan Government did not give that figure, Her Majesty's Government came in and honoured the pledge given by the Governor-General.

That deals with the second complaint of the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East. The hon. and learned Member asked how this figure had been arrived at and he found the Explanatory Memorandum rather difficult to disentangle. Although I know that the hon. and learned Member is learned in the law, and is very able at disentangling legal conundrums, I assure him that had we put the whole of the Sudan ordinance, showing the tables and how the Sudan Government gave compensation, this Explanatory Memorandum would not consist of one half-page but of six or seven pages; and I am certain that hon. Members would have found it almost impossible to disentangle.

I have studied it, because I wished to understand the position. It is governed by the rate of salary on the date of termination, and that is multiplied by a factor extracted from a table showing the age of the man at the time of the ordinance. It would be a pity if we complicated this debate by going into that question, but there will be a topping-up from the £E8,000 maximum to £E8,500. The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East asked why had the Government fallen down on their responsibility. I think that he was making a slight mistake when he quoted a Parliamentary Question. If I am wrong, I hope that he will correct me, but I have been trying to trace the Question and I seem to remember that it was dealing with pensions.

We are not here dealing with pensions. The officials have their pensions and their pension position is preserved. We are now dealing with compensation by reason of Sudanisation, which is a different thing. We cannot interfere with a Government which has the power of self-government. As we did not think they had treated the officials completely fairly, we gave them this provision of a topping-up nature in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

Surely the Minister would agree that that would be a matter for negotiation when these matters were being considered, in exactly the same way as the pensions? Surely, it would be the responsibility of the Government employing them? Surely the same principle applies?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

These people were not being employed by the British Government

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

That is why it is a Sudanese responsibility.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

It is between the Co-domini, represented by Sir Robert Howe and the self-governing Sudanese Government, not the British Government. We have come in as a result of Sudanisation. We do not wish to see these men suffer in any way.

I was asked about the payments to Sir Robert Howe. The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East asked if this was an exceptional case. Certainly, this is a unique case. So far as I know there has been only one case of a Condominium, and that is why the position is so exceptional. We are not here amending any superannuation statute; we are merely reciting the fact that Sir Robert Howe is getting a certain annuity and a lump sum paymentunder the Superannuation Acts, which are at the rate worked out for those in the Civil Service who have his seniority. But because he lost some years' seniority in the Sudan, he has been given these amounts of £250 per annum and £750, so that he will not be at a considerable financial disadvantage. That is the answer to the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Slater).

However, he will not be at an advantage, and I wish to make that perfectly plain. That is no provision in any other Act of Parliament under which we could do this, and it was thought that the most tidy, honest and fair way was to come and ask the House to make this provision.

My hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) asked about the Gezira Board. The officials were not employed by the Sudan Government. They were employed by the Gezira Board, which is something quite outside our purview, and we cannot interfere with that compensation figure. I have noticed the case, and I think that all will agree that the compensation afforded by the Gezira Board is fair and reasonable. I know there are certain people who feel that they have not been treated so fairly as the others. But it is a matter in which we cannot intervene. We have full sympathy with those who voice that complaint, but it is not a matter with which we can deal by an Act of Parliament.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spend asked about judges. So far as I know, if there were a case of a judge being Sudanised, he would be covered by the provisions of this Bill. I think I am right in saying that the only judge who might possibly be affected is a New Zealander. Were he Sudanised, and if he qualified under these provisions, he would not be debarred by reason of being a judge. I think that the best way to put it.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Wills.]

Committee Tomorrow.