asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what consideration he has given to raising the age of compulsory retirement for members of the administrative service in Malaya in view of the shortage of experienced officers and the improvements in health conditions in the past 20 years.
The present age of compulsory retirement in Malaya is 55. That in tropical conditions is not too low as a general rule, but when the services of an individual officer who is nearing retiring age are specially needed it has been the practice to ask him if he would be willing to stay voluntarily beyond 55. Also the local Governments have notified all officers that permission will no longer be given automatically to those applying to retire at the age of 50 and have invited those approaching that age to consider carefully whether it is not their duty, in present conditions, to continue to serve.
Do not vital statistics show that officials who accept invitations to stay in Malaya over the normal age are very apt to live very little longer?
I appreciate that, but we have made an appeal to them that in the existing circumstances in Malaya we hope they will continue to serve beyond the retiring age, whenever possible.
Would it not be better to reduce the age of retirement so that many of the senior and less enlightened officers can be cleared away—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—so that many of the less enlightened officers can be cleared away—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—and more recruitment can take place from local inhabitants of Malaya, which is very much desired?
There is a good deal of recruitment. A large proportion of the officers in Malaya have served since 1945 in very difficult circumstances, and a very large number of them after years of internment in war camps. What we are asking them to do at the moment—and I know we are asking a big thing—is that, in view of the circumstances in Malaya, wherever they can stay beyond retiring age they should do so.
Will the right hon. Gentleman convey to these gentlemen that the majority of the House views with respect the manner in which they are discharging their duties, often at the risk of their lives?
I think the hon. Gentleman asked for trouble and I think he got it.