Paying for civil servants' children to be educated in Britain is an outdated policy which should be reviewed, legislators argued yesterday. The Government plans to stop giving the allowance to new recruits from next month. Current employees will keep the benefit, which costs an estimated total of $400 million last year. Deputy Secretary for Civil Service Michael Stone told the Legislative Council Public Services panel this would avoid the accusation of changing civil servants' terms of employment. But legislators were worried about continuing the policy after the handover. Independent Emily Lau Wai-hing said $400 million was too much to spend on the 3,653 youngsters who were eligible during 1995-96. 'The burden for taxpayers is really heavy. How long do they have to go on bearing it when there are still 180,000 civil servants who can claim the benefit at any time during their service?' she said. It was old-fashioned to send children to Britain to receive an education, she said. Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said axing the scheme should be considered. Staff employed on contract or permanent terms are entitled to the allowance. But those on contract terms will lose the benefit when their terms of employment are renewed, if the proposal wins Chinese approval. Mr Stone said most civil servants were aged over 35 and the amount of money claimed would fall off after a number of years. Secretary for the Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong said: 'The earth is rotating. Policy will also be changed. It is the policy at this stage. It will be reformed as time goes by.' The president of the 110,000-strong Chinese Civil Servants' Association, Peter Wong Hyo, said he opposed the proposal as it would divide serving and new staff. Mr Wong said the union regretted the Government was launching a policy conveying a message to the staff that the terms of employment would be changed in view of the handover. The Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service, Patrick Lau Lai-chiu, revealed 287 officers were now required to declare their overseas investments because of the sensitive nature of their work. Apart from those in the disciplined services, Mr Lau said staff working in areas includingthe Audit Department and Constitutional Affairs had to declare interests.