§ 2.57 p.m.147
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government what arrangements were made by the Government of Cyprus to accommodate the families of officials in the Colonial Service when they were evacuated from Palestine to Cyprus during February of this year, and whether the cost of their lodging in Cyprus has been met by the Colonial Office.]
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (VISCOUNT HALL)
My Lords, I understand that those families of Palestine Government officials who went to Cyprus elected to do so, instead of coming to the United Kingdom, under arrangements made by the Government of Palestine, on the clear understanding that they would have to find their own accommodation in Cyprus. Their passages were paid for by the Government of Palestine. The Palestine authorities have considered what assistance can be given to Government officers to meet the additional financial commitments with which they are faced in maintaining two establishments. It has been decided that married ex-patriate officers whose families are outside Palestine will be paid with effect from March 1, 1947, compensatory allowances of£17 a month for the wife and£8 a month for each child under 18 years of age. Married British sergeants and constables of the Palestine Police Force who are already eligible for certain family allowances under existing regulations where their families are not with them in Palestine, will receive double their present allowances. The revised allowances are£9 6s. 4d. a month for a wife without children,£10 8s. a month for a wife with children and£5 8s. 4d. a month for each child. These allowances will be payable for a period of four months from March 1, 1947. The question of an extension will be reviewed at the close of this period in the light of the circumstances then prevailing.
§ LORD DE L'ISLE AND DUDLEY
I should like to thank the noble Viscount for his reply and to ask two supplementary questions arising out of his answer. Does the noble Viscount think this is the proper way to treat the families of those devoted servants of the State employed in Palestine under conditions of great danger and privation—I do not mean actual physical privation, but great danger for so long a period? Does he 148 think this is the way to treat them: that because those families were told they could come home, therefore, the Government have been considering for the last two or three months whether they ought to have any allowances? Does he really think that the delay in coming to this conclusion (which may have been announced before; I stand subject to correction) is justified? I know that there has been considerable feeling among the families of Colonial officials that their treatment is not equal to that, let us say, of commercial firms in Palestine, who made arrangements for billeting immediately those families arrived from Palestine?
§ VISCOUNT HALL
I cannot accept the statement which has been made by the noble Lord that there has been any delay in arriving at a decision as to whether compensatory payments should be made, and, indeed, in view of the figures which I have already given I cannot agree that the amounts are ungenerous.
§ VISCOUNT HALL
It may have been the first announcement, but the families themselves—who are the most important parties concerned—were informed some time ago of the amounts which they will receive, and indeed there has been no direct complaint from them as to those amounts.