HC Deb 22 November 1971 vol 826 cc951-2
31. Mr. Allason

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he can now make a statement on the pensions of former employees of the Zanzibar Government.

Mr. Kershaw

The authorities in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar continue to disclaim responsibility for the payment of these pensions. Her Majesty's Govern- ment do not accept this view but have now decided on humanitarian grounds to offer loan advances in lieu of pensions earned before independence to pensioners who can provide adequate evidence of their entitlement. Advances will be with effect from 1st December, 1971. Applications should be made direct to the Overseas Development Administration or through the British diplomatic mission in the applicant's country of residence. The estimated cost will be about £150,000 a year.

Mr. Allason

Is my hon. Friend aware that this act of justice will be warmly welcomed by these unhappy people, who have been without their pensions since 1964 and who are described as follows in a letter which I have received: Most of us are over 70 years of age and are marking time, before we meet our Creator, in utter destitution"?

Mr. Kershaw

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for tabling this Question and giving me the opportunity to say what I have in this regard.

Mr. Paget

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind also that the servants of this country who have come to England have had their property expropriated and seized? I have written to him on the subject telling him how a number of houses have been seized in this manner. Can they also be assisted?

Mr. Kershaw

That is a different question. As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, we have made representations about this, so far without satisfaction, I am afraid.

Mr. Braine

As my hon. Friend will know, I raised this question first with the former Government, and I am delighted that at long last Her Majesty's Government have recognised the justice of the claims of these deserving people. As my hon. Friend has spoken of loans, are we to understand that repayment will be charged not against these people and their heirs but against the Government of Tanzania or Zanzibar?

Mr. Kershaw

I described the payments as loans in the hope that at some time the Zanzibar Government will accept responsibility and pay the pensions retrospectively.