LEGISLATIVE Councillors yesterday urged the Government to ''fulfil its moral responsibility'' and resettle former Special Branch officers who may face persecution after 1997. Resettling the officers was the price the colonial Government should pay for using them for politically sensitive jobs, said the deputy convenor of the Legislative Council's Security Panel, James To Kun-sun. ''Special Branch was the dirty name the Government gave them. Since these people have worked under the dirty name, they should be given compensation and passports to be resettled overseas,'' he said. Sixteen officers from the police vetting section of the branch have been left out of a $600 million premature retirement compensation scheme which provides money and passports to resettle in Britain after 1997. They complain they have been denied protection, even though they undertook sensitive tasks such as political vetting to prevent communist infiltration of the police force, guarding political prisoners and escorting Chinese dissidents. They have been appealing against the Government's decision since 1988. Their application for a judicial review failed last month. The officers have threatened to disclose details of their jobs if they do not get passports and money. Mr To said: ''Although the Government argues that these people have not performed sensitive duties, there will not be anyone here [after 1997] to prove that. All those who know will have gone. ''I cannot agree to excluding them from the compensation package.'' His United Democrat colleague, Cheung Man-kwong, said there was no reason for the Government to single them out of the 1,000-strong Special Branch and deny them the benefits. ''To the future Hong Kong government, 'Special Branch' is a sensitive word. We [the party] consider that this group of people should be treated the same as other members of the unit,'' Mr Cheung said. Emily Lau Wai-hing said the 16 officers should be given passports and money to leave Hong Kong to avoid being victimised. Hui Yin-fat added that the Government had the moral responsibility to resettle its employees if they were endangered. ''It is unfair to leave them alone in Hong Kong if they consider their jobs sensitive and they fear they would be persecuted.'' Mr Hui said at the very least, the Government should explain clearly why the officers did not qualify. Martin Barrow said he was sympathetic to the officers after reading their story in yesterday's South China Morning Post. ''I'll make some inquiries to the administration myself. The Government should tell us why these officers are given different treatment,'' Mr Barrow said. A government spokesman said there were no positive reasons for the 16 officers to be included in the scheme since they did not meet the criteria. He refused to disclose the criteria. ''The claims of these police officers have been fully considered at all levels of Government, by the Legislative Council Security Panel, and in courts by way of judicial review,'' he said.